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How Do I Know What Kind Of Saxophone I Have? (Explained)

What Kind Of Saxophone I Have
Written by Corey Morgan

How do I know what kind of saxophone I have

Why does my saxophone sound the way they do? A curious thought a casual observer would ask, unaware that there is more to a saxophone.

But if you’ve seen a horn section perform, you may have discovered that the sax players commonly use various sizes and even dissimilar shapes when it comes to saxophone instruments. They even toggle out their saxes consequently in each session when performing.

Have you ever found yourself wondering why? You’d be correct if you had guessed that, but it’s because each type of saxophone produces a slightly different sound the disparities don’t end there.

In this article, we’ll look at what constitutes the four most common types of saxophones, but first, a little knowledge on this incredibly interesting and highly versatile instrument.

The saxophone has already demonstrated its worth in the entertainment industry and has been used in a large and diverse range of musical genres, including big bands and jazz pairings, classical music (such as symphonic setups, chorals, and solo classics), military bands, jazz bands and in contemporary songs.

A saxophone is an orchestral option that allows a variety of musical compositions and performances. Playing the saxophone in a  musical group, for example, can help with important life skills such as interpersonal interactions, and involvement and can help in workforce development.

In this article, we’ll uncover all of the other types of similar and different saxophones available worldwide. Let’s get started, enjoy!

Evolution Of The Saxophone

The basic vision was to construct an instrument that reconciled the acoustic gap between brass and woodwind instruments. The saxophone is the only woodwind instrument made of brass, but it has a reed mouthpiece used in playing it.

Originally, there were up to 16 various varieties of saxophones, which were mostly identified in orchestras and were used to play classical songs. Today, only a few of them are used in music and they include the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones.

The instrument is more frequently found in contemporary jazz and rock, where it is used for solo playing as well as the main melody which requires it and more.

The Four Top Prominent Saxophone Types

To begin with, based on appearance, all saxophones regardless of type are conical in shape. Their cylinders or tubing broaden from the mouthpiece to the extremity of the instrument, dependent on the design.

Furthermore,  each of the tubes of the saxophone develops into a bell-like shape, mostly at the end of its horn.

The majors in saxophone instruments include the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.

If you’ve never handled the saxophone ever, you may or may not be cautious that it comes in a multitude of patterns and designs. They are stacked in the same arrangement as voices in a vocal choir: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone, and they are grouped according to size

They all use a mono reed mouthpiece, have a cone-shaped tube with keys and loop covers, and have a curved bell at the extremity of the instrument, but several of them come in various sizes.

How Do I Know What Kind Of Saxophone I Have

1. The Soprano Saxophone

Just as compared to choir grading of different parts. The soprano saxophone has the finest pitch since it is the smallest and lightest of the four varieties of the instrument.

This makes it more delicate than the other three varieties and challenging to stay in tune. It can sound pricking and unpleasant if performed improperly, and if compared to the alto and tenor counterparts, it is egregiously hard to maintain the breadth and tonality of the instrument.

Regardless of everything, the soprano saxophone has maintained a special place in the world of Jazz music. As with many other orchestral instruments, such as the trumpet, soprano saxophones are customarily attuned to the key of B-flat.

  • Design Of The Soprano Saxophone

In contrast to its larger family members, the soprano sax is often straight, analogous to a clarinet. Although you can find some extreme occurrences of the other saxophones fashioned in this way, the Soprano has a unique appeal in that it is the only saxophone of which the bore is straightened up.

Sometimes some soprano saxophones have curving horns, giving them the appearance of a particularly diminutive counterpart of their larger counterparts. Curved sopranos, which closely mimic small altos, are additionally produced by select manufacturers.

2. The Alto Saxophone

After the soprano saxophone, the succeeding sharpest pitch and greatest size following is the Alto saxophone. Regarding the practical range and size, which is compact enough to fit little hands of youngsters learning to play it, the alto sax is the most prevalent saxophone for beginners.

The alto saxophone, which has an E-flat tuning also has a higher pitch than that of the tenor and a lower pitch than that of the soprano. The two most prominent saxophones are the alto and tenor.

Jazz music is also widely known as the alto sax.

In classical music, the alto saxophone is also preferential above the tenor as the solo instrument.

  • Design Of The Alto Saxophone

The alto saxophone has a “J” form, as opposed to the straight soprano. While soprano saxophones are straight, the J-shaped and bell-up design of the alto saxophone is the most recognizable.

The above is attributable to the principles of sound, which necessitates that the lower instruments must be feasible in size rather than abnormally long to generate the appropriate pitch.

3. The Tenor Saxophone

The most prevalently and most extensively deployed saxophone in popular music is the tenor, which is the next largest and the next lower in pitch compared to the soprano and alto counterparts.

Out of all the saxophones, you’ll hear it the most on songs, ranging from jazz to pop. It is almost always attuned to the key of B-flat and it comprises a larger mouthpiece and reed than the soprano or alto saxophones.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Coleman Hawkins, a popular tenor saxophonist from the swing era, helped establish the tenor sax as a jazz instrument, opening the door for later tenor saxophonists. Additionally, the tenor sax features prominently in rock, pop, classic rock, stage bands, and military bands.

  • Design Of The Tenor Saxophone

The tenor saxophone, like all saxophones, is made up of a body and neck that are fairly conical in shape, with a single-reed mouthpiece attached to the narrow end of the instrument.

The narrower end of the tube is connected to the single reed mouthpiece analogous to that of a clarinet, while the broader end is significantly arched to form a bell. It seems to be strikingly similar to its alto counterpart, but then after scrutiny, it is made known to be the first saxophone in the family to incorporate a curved neck.

The tenor saxophone is acknowledged by many saxophone players as the most demanding to play, although it offers an almost unfathomable assortment of tone potential.

4. The Baritone Saxophone

The baritone saxophone, widely regarded as the bari, has an octave lower sound than the alto and has the lowest pitch of all the conventional saxophones.

It is approximately four feet long from end to end, which is a tad longer than the other kinds of sax we’ve discussed so far.

Baritone saxes necessitate the strongest lung power and an especially “free” ( easygoing) aperture of the mouth to facilitate the guttural growl of its imposing timbre due to its massive size and extremely long neck length.

Notwithstanding this, increasingly young saxophonists are captivated by the baritone sax.

Notably, now amateur models are lighter and simpler to play, all thanks to innovative craftsmanship. There are some amazing uses for “The Bari” in jazz and funk music.

  • Design of the Baritone Saxophone

The top of the neck has a tangle or “curly-q” design to help elongate the baritone sax’s body and permit the lowest pitch conceivable. a characteristic lacking from all other saxophone variants.

Uncovering Saxophone Type And Branding Made Easy.

The brand, variant, and location of the factory where the sax was produced can all be ascertained with the aid of the serial number. Usually, the maker’s nom de plume and trademark are also discernible on the original stamp.

Serial numbers for saxophones are lengthier and primarily made up of numbers as contrasted to model numbers. On your sax, attach importance to the logo and other features.

Inside the bell is the very first place to look. Look behind the thumb rest, around 6 inches below the body tube and neck attachment.

Where Is The Saxophone’s Brand Name Written?

To identify the serial number of your saxophone, search under the thumb rest of the instrument. The thumb rest is a metal hook situated about six inches maximum under where the body tube links to the neck of the sax.

A manufacturer’s stamp is usually located on the contrary side of the body tube, close to the low D key. The stamp will contain an assortment of letters and number sets. In widespread view, this will include the patent number of the sax, the model number, the serial number, and even the key and pitch letters.

Regardless of the type of saxophone you play, it will always be branded, and recognizing your saxophone serial numbers can help you discern the difference between a great instrument and one to try and prevent being disappointed.

Amongst the best saxophone brands out there, six of the best brands are listed here for a reason modern sax manufacturers such as Yamaha and others do not have a lengthy ample background to criticize the reliability of their saxophones predicated on serial numbers.

They include;

  • The Buescher brand
  • The Conn brand
  • The Keilwerth brand
  • The King brand
  • The Martin brand
  • The Selmer brand

And their serial numbers help in identifying the best one for use during performance.

Let’s consider two out of the aforementioned brands.

Therefore, let’s get started by delving into one of the many oldest manufacturers on this list, Buescher, as well as one of the most prominent saxophone developers of all time, Henri Selmer.


Let’s take a look at the two prominent and exceptional Selmers models, they include;

  • The Balanced Action brand with serial numbers ranging from 20101 to 35800. (1935 – 1948)
  • The Super Balanced Action brand with serial numbers ranging from 33000 to 55200 (1946 to 1954)
  • These are the biggest and best and conceivably finest saxophones of the Selmers.

Another Top model from the Buescher Illustrious array, The ‘Big B’ model which was manufactured between 1940 and 1951, truly deserves an excellence award with serial numbers ranging from 292000 to 336999.

Another model from this brand is The Buescher 400 notably known as the Top Hat & Cane or Super 400, which incorporates alto and tenor models produced between 1941 and 1963 with serial numbers ranging from 296000 to 360000, is also a reputable brand.

Cases Where The Serial Number Wasn’t Provided.

The serial number is not only registered on the instrument.

First, ascertain if you still have a hard copy of your voucher. This works best if you procured the Saxophone recently and from a credible saxophone store.

You will indeed identify the brand, model, and serial number on your voucher; if you know which is which voucher you have, you won’t have to look any further.

Consulting the company is another option for determining the serial number. You can explain to them when you acquired it and they will provide you with the series of numbers pertaining to information required about your saxophone.


The saxophone comes in a variety of patterns and each has unique characteristics. In modern music, there are four primary types. Through constant usage, familiarity with the sound of each saxophone and the distinguishable tonal characteristics will be established.

Through the description of this article, an amateur who is interested in the saxophone will be able to tell which kind of sax is being played by paying close attention to recordings. But for now, someone at least will be able to recognize each one by appearance.