Since their inception in the mid-1800s, saxophones have enjoyed a steady rise in popularity.
Their ability to synchronize well with other musical instruments has given them a place in various music genres including jazz, bepob, soul, and pop.
Saxophone meteoric rise has also seen a surge in the number of saxophone brands, with each brand promising something new and increased versatility.
A Saxophone Brand for Everyone
While it’s not easy to tell the best among saxophone brands, a few brands have levitated to the top.
These premium brands are rated for their quality craftsmanship, durable products, the versatility of their sax and construction methods.
Even though brands play a critical role in the selection of a saxophone, your needs and playing context takes the first seat.
For example, a jazz musician will prefer a sax with a deep bass sound, while a classical musician prefers a fancy sax that allows them to move through notes quickly and swiftly.
While it’s critical for every musician to know which saxophone matches their needs, it’s also prudent to understand what brands rock.
Fortunately, I’ve explored some of the best saxophones brands to consider.
But before then, let’s see why you should consider a brand when choosing a saxophone.
Why Should You Consider brand?
When purchasing a sax, it’s easy to get tempted into buying from just about any brand. After all, any sax will do. Right?
Saxophones are expensive to purchase, and buying from the wrong brand can leave you frustrated with a useless instrument after a few months of use.
There’re plenty of benefits to consider before purchasing a saxophone brand.
Some of them include:
An existing reputation
Some brands, such as Yamaha, have built a reputation and a perception of providing quality instruments.
This has earned to trust of consumers.
On the other hand, unknown and new-entrant brands don’t have such a reputation, and most of them may not even pass the test of time.
Having a brand in mind helps you narrow your sax choice and save you time spent making a decision.
For instance, if you’re searching reviews for any sax, you’ll get tons of results and reviews.
However, if you narrow your search to a specific brand, you’ll find it easier to find the horn you’re looking for.
Brands help you avoid risks
Picking a brand for your sax presents you with an opportunity to read reviews online, so you know what to expect.
It helps to keep your expectations in check and reduces the risk of disappointment or failure of your investment.
Brands make a Statement
The type of instrument you play talks more about your personality and who you’re.
For instance, you might prefer a horn from Selmer as they’re often labeled as the Rolls Royce of the industry. Or you might settle for a Yanagisawa since they use bronze on their saxophones.
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The Best Brands of Saxophones for The Money
Now that we know why you should consider a brand in your next horn purchase let’s look at the different brands of saxophones in the market.
#1 Selmer Paris
Saxophones don’t come more prestigious than Selmer.
This legendary French company has been making woodwind instruments for more than ten decades.
It’s also a true family business, and the current president Jerome Selmer is the great-grandson of founder Henri.
Selmer entered the industry with the launch of its first saxophone in 1992. Going forward, it has created some truly iconic models like the “Cigar Cutter,” the Balanced Action, the Super Balanced Action, and the Mark VI.
The saxophones of Selmer bring out the perfect synthesis for multiple sound possibilities. Along with this, they offer a variety of timber for constructing their saxophones.
However, as you’d expect with a crème de la crèmet of the industry, its products don’t come cheap.
Selmer produces some of the more expensive units in the market. This is partly because over 80% of each product is still hand-crafted, including all the engraving.
Nonetheless, each product has everything good about a saxophone, and the quality built is unrivaled.
Notable Selmer Products
The Mark VI Selmer’s iconic sax of all time and has been the horn of choice for different legendary players such as Sonny Rollin, Michael Brecker, Dexter Gordon, Phil Woods, and many more.
Other fantastic products from the Selmer line include Reference 54, Reference 36, and Super Action 80 Series II.
Selmer’s Signature Model
Selmer has plenty of products in its stable, but one sax stands out from the other.
Selmer SAS280RB are fun to play, and saxophonists love them because they respond better.
They’re a great option for beginners and can be used for creating different musical rendition.
Selmer SAS280RB is also known for its fluid keys, which makes it more comfortable to use. It can also control the tone and blend sound with diverse musical aspects.
The best feature, though, is the professional key styling, which ensures accurate finger usage.
If Selmer was our Rolls Royce, then Yamaha is our Bentley in the saxophone industry.
This Japanese brand has put its name on nearly all products, from motorbikes, audio equipment to sporting goods.
It also makes a selection of musical instruments. In fact, it’s the biggest manufacturer of pianos worldwide.
Yamaha also manufactures woodwind instruments, brass instruments, keyboards, and drums.
The brand was founded by Torakusu Yamaha in 1887 and over the years, the brand has grown to be a giant in the manufacturing industry.
Though it’s considered a relatively newer brand, especially when compared to Selmer and Conn, it still has a huge market share.
The brand is known for its excellent craftsmanship and is quite popular among top sax players such as Phil Woods, Bobby Watson, and Jeff Coffin.
While the brand may not carry a prestigious tag as Selmer, it has a reputation for products that offer excellent money value.
Secondly, unlike Selmer, which focuses on professional use products, Yamaha manufactures horns tailor-made for beginners, students, and intermediate-level players.
Notable Yamaha Products
The YTS-280 is recognized amongst Yamaha’s entry-level or best student sax.
It’s a beginner-friendly option and easy to use. Yet, it comes with quality craftsmanship and fantastic sound output.
Other products in Yamaha’s stable include the Yamaha Custom, a top-of-the-range sax, YAS-280 alto, and Yamaha 480.
Yamaha’s Signature Model
YamahYas-280, a student sax, flaunts a wealth of features.
It also has an elegant and attractive appearance, thanks to its gold lacquer finish.
Another notable feature of this sax is the neck strap, which ensures easy control of the instrument.
Yas-280’s sound performance is also top-notch, allowing different musical renditions.
Lastly, the beginner-friendly mouthpiece and ergonomic keys are effortless to use, making it suitable for beginners.
Yanagisawa is Japanese-based manufacturer known for creating professional saxophones.
Along with Yamaha, they’re among the established manufacturers of saxophones in their country of origin.
As with Yamaha, Yanagisawa is also a small family business based in Japan.
It dates back to 1895 when Tokutaro Yanagisawa began repairing woodwind instruments in Japan for military band members.
In 1921, Yanagisawa established their first factory, specializing in the manufacture of trumpets and cornets.
Yanagisawa would also mentor young instrument makers, including Kouichi Muramatsu, who would eventually build his flute company.
Yanagisawa began producing saxophones in 1951, and today, it’s among the most established brands in the world, alongside Selmer and Yamaha.
However, the brand tends to focus on selling a relatively streamlined selection of products. It specializes in the manufacturing of sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones.
Since 2014, Yanagisawa has produced the WO Series, which further split into the “professional” WO1 models and the slightly more expensive “elite” WO10 models.
While Yanagisawa doesn’t manufacture student or intermediate level horns, its professional saxophones offer great value for money.
Yanagisawa’s products are also considerably cheaper than Selmer or Yamaha’s saxophones.
Yet, they’ve a reputation for high-quality and hand craftsmanship.
Yanagisawa saxophones are known for producing warm sound and extremely smooth ergonomics.
The brand’s fantastic performance is underlined by endorsements from renowned sax players such as J.D Allen, Jess Gillam, Christina Leonard, ad Lakecia Benjamin.
The W01/02 and the WO10/W020 range are the most popular Yanagisawa models.
The O10/O20 may help with playability, but their greatest selling point is the sound resonance. They’ve a series of long ribs running down the body, which increases weight and, consequently, the sound’s density.
On the other hand, the W01/02 are seen as the more beginner-friendly options, coming with everything newbies would hope for in a saxophone.
#4 P. Mauriat
Mauriat saxophones are relatively new in the market, but this Taiwanese brand has become a real success story since it began manufacturing sax in the mid-2000s.
Mauriat brand offers excellent value for both its intermediate and professional-level horns.
With the tone holes fully extruded from the bass as opposed to being soldered separately, P. Mauriat saxophones deliver superior pad fit and resonance.
Their sound performance is fantastic, and they’re loved for producing warm sound and annotated tones.
Some of the endorsements for this brand include high profile American jazz musicians such as Marcus Strickland and James Carter.
Mauriat’s Signature Product
Mauriat has an array of saxophone in their stable, but the 66R tenor saxophone is their standout option.
The 66R, regarded as a modern classic, is also their flagship product, and it inspires a generation of vintage-style horns.
The huge, dark tone makes this line of saxophones a superb option for different music styles, including jazz, blues, and electric styles.
Other notable options include the Le Bravo, which is an excellent intermediate saxophone. This option delivers a punchy, more contemporary tone, which makes it ideal for jazz.
The brand’s baritone saxophones are also well regarded, and for the doubling saxophonists who want a mid-level baritone, P. Mauriat could be a great pick.
Keilworth was founded by Julius Keilworth, who grew the brand from a humble beginning.
Together with his brother Max, Julius started building saxophones in 1925.
Originally, they specialized in the European concert hall tradition but later expanded their repertoire to include other products.
With the expansion of their business, the brothers sought a renowned saxophonist, Peter Ponzol, in 1986 to help build jazz equipment.
With Ponzol on-board, Keilworth was catapulted to success, becoming one of the largest brands in Europe. And today, it’s among the most established brands globally.
They’re particularly renowned for manufacturing some of the best soprano saxophones. One of their highly acclaimed ranges includes the David Liebman signature model built with input from legendary Peter Pozol.
Keilwerth’s saxophones also come with a distinctive hand engraving on the bell and the neck of the horn for a more ornate design.
Generally, I would recommend the Keilworth to the high-level players searching for something a little different from the norm.
Keilworth Signature Product
The SX90R range is the most popular Keilworth’s product range.
It has been endorsed by the likes of David Liebman, Courtney Pine, and Branford Marsalis.
The SX90R Shadow is an iconic saxophone that is known for its fantastic sound quality.
It flaunts a distinctive black nickel plating, so it would be hard not to identify it.
Additionally, the SX90R is somewhat different from most modern saxophones.
The ergonomics are unique, while the inclusion of an adjustable left-hand palm key is rather unusual.
Key Considerations When Buying Best Saxophone Brands
Purchasing a saxophone is a huge investment.
But with so many brands, finding the right one can be challenging.
Fortunately, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide or rather a few pointers to consider when choosing the best brand for our saxophone.
Reputation and Quality
Some manufactures are known for their quality construction.
For example, many saxophonists can agree that all the brands mentioned above are associated with quality products.
However, it’s also important to note that new entrants, especially from the Asian markets, are worth looking into.
Some of the new manufacturers, such as Dakota, Chateau, Jean Paul, and others, also manufacture premium products.
Price of the Horn
Reputable brands such as Senor and Yamaha have their products priced a little bit higher than other brands.
So, if you’re on a budget, you can consider some of the budget-friendly brands, such as Yanagisawa. Generally, though, most Asian brands are pocket-friendly since the cost of labor is affordable.
Experience Level of the player
Many brands make saxophones for musicians at different levels.
For instance, a brand such as Keilwerth doesn’t make student line or beginner saxophones. Instead, they have saxophones for intermediate and professional players.
The same case applies to Yamaha as it doesn’t have a student line.
Vintage or New
New saxophones don’t come cheap, though they often come with a warranty to cushion you against damage.
Some saxophonists prefer a vintage horn because of the price.
Some brands specialize in selling vintage horns, while others sell both new and used.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Choosing the right brand for your saxophone shouldn’t be so hard.
Choosing a reputable brand with reliable and affordable saxophones can help you get a horn to serve you for a lifetime.
Fortunately, our guide breaks down some of the best saxophone brands in the market.