Know your alto saxophone from the first note
Invented by Antoine-Joseph "Adolphe" Sax, a Belgian man whose father was also an instrument manufacturer, the alto saxophone is a member of the saxophone family. Arguably, the alto saxophone is the most common sax played by beginners and experts alike. The alto sax is small in size and also deft when it comes to the dynamic range, which makes it a mainstream for genres running from Pep Band to Jazz Band. The affordable price for introductory models coupled with the charm sparked by some well-known Jazz musicians promoted the alto sax into what it has become today.
The alto sax, pitched in Eb, has a higher range than a tenor or a baritone but warmer than a soprano. Just like other saxes, a progression of keys is pressed so as to create a sound. The concept is the same in every sax, only with somewhat different fingerings. The alto sax is smaller in size, which makes it the ideal choice for younger students. Due to the fact that it requires a tighter and smaller embouchure, the mechanics behind the instruments makes it less difficult for new players to understand before graduating to playing bigger saxophone types.
If your kid is small in size and has little hands, the alto sax’s minimal physical requirements make it a great first sax for younger players as well. if you are selecting a sax based on category or genre, almost every type of sax is utilized in jazz music, especially the alto saxophone. Thus, if your kid seems to be mostly interested in jazz music, the alto sax is the ideal option.
How to determine which level saxophone suits you or your student best
After choosing the type of saxophone you want to play, a second huge decision to make is the level of saxophone that suits you. The saxophone levels are student level, intermediate level, and professional level, and choosing one of the three options will have a huge impact on your experience with alto saxophones.
As suggested by the name, student and beginner saxophones are specifically designed for the unexperienced musicians making first steps in learning how to play the instrument. They are affordable, easy to play, and engineered with accuracy in mind so that you can learn tunings and notes easily. For younger students Ammoon Professional saxophone would be a smart buy since it’s the lightest student sax around.
A great student sax will produce a pleasant sound even when it’s played with crude technique. However, keep in mind that quality is still an important factor. Despite mostly being affordable, all students saxophones aren’t created equal, which means you need to take your time to figure out the model that provides you with the best value for your money, like YAMAHA YAS-280.
As soon as you’ve got a hang on the fundamentals of the instrument, you are ready to promote to an intermediate sax. These instruments are capable of producing a tone that is near to a professional saxophone in terms of quality. You will find that the action and keys will feel a lot more responsive and smoother than those of a beginner or student sax, and these horns usually have a beautiful yet simple look, with high-quality finishes but few cosmetic details like handwork or engraving.
If you are looking for the next step after you have mastered your beginner/student sax, find an intermediate unit. Or, if you are an experienced player that is playing an alto saxophone for the first time, you can choose an intermediate model to learn the dissimilarities between alto saxophones and the one you used to practice before taking the leap to the professional-level sax. For this purpose Lazarro 360-BN saxophone will be absolutely the best choice.
Just like the student and intermediate levels, the name is also self-explanatory as regards professional saxophones. Built and designed for professional needs, these tools produce the best tone, response, and intonation. They are usually visually appealing, with hand-hammered, hand-engraving keys and likewise crafted details. Also, they provide the most deluxe finishes, from colored and clear lacquers to silver or gold plating.
From the soldiers and metal alloys to the pads and key surfaces, every material in these instruments is high in quality. Unsurprisingly, though, the higher quality materials directly equate to higher price tags, which is one of the reasons why a professional saxophone is not ideal for a student. If you are an experienced professional, you shouldn’t look at any instrument below this level. For beginners, go for a beginner or intermediate saxophone instead, until you have gathered adequate experience to make the most of the benefits of a professional model.
How to clean your alto saxophone
The primary parts to keep clean on a sax are the neck body, mouthpiece, both exterior and interior. The mouthpiece ought to be cleaned regularly for purposes of obstruction and sanitation. You can clean it easily by removing it using a cloth to wipe its interior.
You should also clean the neck body’s interior at regular intervals. It is very easy to do this – simply disassemble as required and then use a cloth and cleaning rods to clean the interior. These cleaning rods usually come as part of the accessory kits of several alto saxophones. However, if you don’t have any, it is necessary to buy them.
The exterior of the sax is a lot easier to clean and does not need the same amount of attention or regularity. Simply wipe the outside of your sax down once in a while to ensure it stays free of dust, grease, and dirt.
How to test an alto saxophone
Most more reputable musical instrument manufacturers test their alto saxophones severally before releasing them to consumers. These instruments are usually tested after production in the plant, then at the distribution center of the company before shipping them to local retailers. Nothing about the sax testing process is intricate at all. It is just going through the vital parts of the instrument and making sure everything is working properly. The major parts to cover are the key function, intonation, and ensuring there are no leaking pads.
To check the intonation you are essentially looking to see if the sax can be properly tuned. To tune an alto sax, you only need to move the mouthpiece up into the sax’s neck for sharper tones, and to play flatter, just pull the mouthpiece from the neck. It’s fairly simple to check key function – you only need to press the keys down and check for a rapid response. Also, check the quality of the sound of each key whilst playing. Check if there are leaking pads is done easily by the fashion of a nippy visual.
Features to Consider While Choosing an Alto Saxophone
One of the greatest mistakes anyone could make is buying an instrument as intricate as an alto saxophone without knowing the things to look for and features to check. We don’t want you to make that mistake, which is why we have painstakingly listed and described the most important features you need to consider before buying your alto sax below.
Alto saxophones usually come with either ribbed or non-ribbed construction. Ribbed construction usually adds more weight to your sax, which changes its vibration. Due to the increased weight, saxophones with a ribbed construction produce a warmer sound. Then again, having a weightier sax could have a negative effect on your instrument’s playability. But sometimes looks go along with the comfort like in a Jean Paul USA AS-400 saxophone.
Do you have a need for extra keys, or are you capable of playing some notes without them even? If you are adequately skilled, additional keys will only be additional clutter rather than being helpful. If you, however, require the help, a high G key or a high F# key might be very useful. Also, watch out for +-saxophones with alternative key positions and models with adjustable key height screws such as the Glory model and the Lazarro 360-BN.
The neck’s shape can be influential when playing a sax. If you seem to be incapable of playing your sax comfortably, a shorter or longer neck could solve the problem. Fortunately, necks are replaceable in the event that you purchase a unit with a neck that does not fit you.
Material and Finish
The bodies of most alto saxophones available in the market are made of yellow brass. Some other models have materials like copper, bronze, and sterling silver making up the other components of the sax. It’s worth mentioning that while materials like that may dim the tone, they could also be costlier. The standard finish for most saxes nowadays is a clear lacquer. A lot of saxes, however, come with other finishes including vintage, black nickel plate, colored lacquers, among others and can enchant you just with their looks like Glory Alto Saxophone does. But wait until you hear how it sounds...
While experimenting with your sax be certain that all the holes are covered by the pads particularly when looking at student and intermediate saxes. Also, ensure that the pads are very soft to touch to ensure they are of high quality and will last longer.
While experimenting with your sax be certain that all the holes are covered by the pads particularly when looking at student and intermediate saxes. Also, ensure that the pads are very soft to touch to ensure they are of high quality and will last longer. Some of the pads, like Ammoon Professional saxophone’s, are even water-resistant.
The thumb rest is another important feature to take into consideration when buying an alto saxophone. Nobody should endure discomfort or pain while playing their instruments, which is why you need to consider how comfortable the thumb rest is when playing a sax. In case you don’t know, the thumb rest is a hook-shaped piece of metal or plastic where your right thumb sits to balance the instrument.
The cut and shape of the sax’s mouthpiece change the quality of its tone. Differences like a square or round chamber on the mouthpiece’s inside, or the measure of space between the reed and the mouthpiece rails all provide considerably different responses and sounds.
Generally, saxophones come with a standard mouthpiece but several people prefer to customize their mouthpiece. Jazz, classical or ensemble performance will determine the decision of mouthpiece and several players have many mouthpieces close by for various musical settings.
Reeds help manufacture the unique tone of a sax. The reeds are tiny pieces of wood appended to the mouthpiece’s flat surface with the ligature. When air is blown into the mouthpiece by a player, the air travels between the reed’s thin tip and the mouthpiece’s slight opening which at that point vibrates the reed against the mouthpiece.
The reeds of alto saxophones come in various brands and powers to offer less or more resistance and also different sound qualities depending on the personal preference of the players. As a saxophonist, you need to regularly buy replacements and should also have not less than three reeds close by at all times.
If you are a beginner or student, an alto sax is probably your best choice. This is due to the fact that it is usually smaller than other saxophones and features a more compact key arrangement which can significantly help you learn everything you need to know about playing a sax. You must ensure your alto sax is lightweight, like an almost 6 pound Ammoon Professional, so that you will be able to hold it easily particularly in your developmental period so you get the hang of it without wearing out your hands.
Alto saxophones come in 3 major shapes – traditional shape, straight shape, and curvy shape. The one you choose totally depends on your skill level and your needs. The traditional one is the tightly curled sax that is often used in films and is the most common sax shape out there. The straight sax usually comes with a higher key range, and they tend to be more lightweight and more professional. The curvy shape is more similar to the traditional sax shape but is a bit more relaxed. Curvy saxes tend to be more stylish and ornamental.
If you are looking to get the best bang for the buck, you need to choose a model that comes with several handy accessories. You need to more attention to products that offer things like carrying cases, cleaning kits, gloves, tuners, and more. You can profit from a genuine bargain and get nearly everything required to begin playing this stunning woodwind instrument.
With cases there is a whole lot of possibilities since it is one of the most important accessories which will be protecting your alto saxophone from the moment you put it inside. We find Jean Paul USA AS-400 saxophone’s carrying case one of the most elegant options matching the incredible instrument it keeps safe. Some products even come with an additional DVD course or manual which can help you learn much quicker.