Types of Saxophones

Types of Saxophones

One of the richest families of the Woodwind instruments is the saxophone family and the variety of types of saxophones which that belong to it is quite outstanding. The most used of them are the alto and the tenor saxophones, but there are many more, like the soprano, the sopranino, the bass saxophone, the contrabass, to name some of them. Let’s summarize some of the mains features of some of them.

Tenor Sax

This saxophone, is in the medium size range of the saxophone family, been pitched in the B♭ key, and contemporary Tenor Sax have a range from A♭2 to E5, when have a high F♯ key.

The ligature mouthpiece and the reeds of the Tenor Sax are bigger in size that the pieces utilized in Soprano and Alto Sax. This instrument is highly known because the sound that releases blends really well whit those of the Soprano and alto, and is visually distinguished from the aforementioned, for the twist on the curvature.


Playing in Jazz music an important role especially in big bands forming a trio with the baritone and Alto Sax, the Tenor is occupied in Classical music mostly as a supporting instrument and sometimes have part in symphonic pieces, been the most popular the Ravel’s Bolero.

Some of the most recognized Jazz musicians for playing the Tenor Sax are: Coleman Hawkins John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz and numerous more.

Tenor sax fingerings ,Tenor sax keys and tenor sax range can be found in this tenor sax fingering chart video  or  in our Alto Saxophone Fingering Chart article.

Bass Sax

The Bass sax is an especially big saxophone, even bigger than the more popular Baritone saxophone, is not very often utilized in any kind of music, but can be found in some jazz records that come from the beginning of the 20th century. The most prolific composer of musical arrangements that use the bass saxophone is the American composer Warren Benson.

The instrument was use often between both world wars years but almost never was use like a solo instrument. In our days is used sporadically and normally is not the main instrument in which the players are specialized.

Outstanding players of Bass sax are between others:  Billy Fowler, Adrian Rollini, Otto Hardwicke,  Boyd Raeburn and  in more recent years Jan Garbarek .

Curved Soprano Saxophone

Being the third smallest in the saxophone family the Curved Soprano Saxophone is the type of saxophones that sometimes people prefer because the position that the player have to use make less stressful to grab and it is also possible to use a neck strap , which for lots of players feels more comfortable. Many find that with this kind of sax is easier to stand that when playing Straight Soprano Saxophone.

Also some musicians say that in the lowest range the instrument can produce a greater variety of tone shades.

Contrabass saxophone

The contrabass is exceptionally big, standing 6 feet four inches tall, 2 times the width of the baritone saxophone and 45 pounds of weight; the instrument is pitched one octave below the baritone saxophone on the key of E♭.

Having a rich tone it can be warm and soft or strong and punitive, depending of the intention of the player and the combination of the reed and the mouth piece that the musician chooses.

The growing number of musicians that uses contrabass saxophone, have provoked that the variety of pieces that have sections especially dedicated for the instrument have increase exponentially and is frequently used in big bands that use an important saxophone section.

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Bari saxophone

The Bari saxophone is a narrowed tube of tiny brass. At the end has bell form, and is linked to a mouthpiece. Like the clarinet, this saxophone uses a sole reed mouthpiece. There are two sizes of Bari sax , one that is low B♭4] and the other  that is low A. Even though, that at the beginning all the Bari were low B♭,the practical fact that musicians started to demand low A instruments, made necessary that the producers started to having them regularly in stock.

Of the Saxophones most utilized the baritone sax is the lowest-pitched and also the biggest.Only Th subcontrabass, the contrabass and the bass saxophones are bigger than the Bari, but they are rarely used.

The instrument is often used in many kind of music formation like for example; Jazz combos and big bands, concert formations and chamber set ups, or also military bands. It also can be frequently seen in marching band, but its big size is regarded a drawback.


The family if saxophone is if not the biggest one of the biggest family of woodwinds instruments,and for us was important to reflect the type of saxophones that we love to listen to.Even though the difference in sounds and colors are big,we think that exactly this difference is the fact that allow us to get such a great experience when we listen or play saxophone.

It doesn’t matter if is Jazz music, Classical music or any kind of music band that use  the saxophone, the instrument have immense presence making impossible t not be recognized as one of the most important segment of numers of orchestras and bands.

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