What Saxophones Are Used in Jazz? (Explained)

What Saxophones Are Used in Jazz
Written by Corey Morgan

What kind of saxophones are used to learn jazz?

Knowing which models are popular can help you focus your search because there are many options to choose from.

Here’s how saxophones are used in jazz:

Jazz saxophonists favor Yamaha and Selmer instruments like the Mark VI and YAS-875EXII, respectively. Every saxophone family from soprano to baritone can be found in jazz settings.

1. Yamaha YAS-875EXII

If you’re looking for a professional saxophone, look no further than the Yamaha YAS-875EXII. To achieve the desired aesthetic, either gold or black lacquer can be applied.

It comes with a decent neck and mouthpiece; all you need to do is to provide the reeds yourself. If you enjoy playing both jazz and classical, you will appreciate the model’s responsiveness and sound quality.

A Yamaha saxophone is a popular choice for beginners, but the brand also produces high-quality instruments for professionals. To put it simply, if you’ve played and enjoyed other Yamaha instruments, you’ll probably enjoy this one as well.

2. Selmer Paris Series III

The Selmer Paris Series III is another fantastic alto saxophone for jazz musicians. It has a special matte lacquer that makes it look and sound different from anything else.

The new octave key mechanism in this model reduces weight and improves playability. This can be especially helpful during solos, when you may need to play in the upper register. The gold lacquer, however, keeps the sound warm, making it suitable for use in an ensemble.

It’s a great option for many professionals and comparable to other Selmer models used by jazz musicians.

3. Yamaha YTS-62

The tenor saxophone is widely regarded as one of the finest instruments for jazz. The Yamaha YTS-62 is a professional tenor sax that can be had in either a silver-plated or a regular lacquer finish.

It has a high F# key, so you can reach that note without switching to a different finger position. When you play solo with your jazz band, having knowledge like that can come in very handy.

This model isn’t as pricey as some might think, but it’s still not exactly budget-friendly. It’s best for people who play the saxophone professionally or very seriously.

4. Selmer La Voix II

For experienced jazz musicians, the Selmer La Voix II is a great choice of tenor saxophone. The copper body gives it a distinctive look and sound.

The yellow brass bell, meanwhile, will help your sound travel throughout most venues. The layout allows you to play both solo and in an ensemble, while still maintaining a high level of musical harmony.

If you’re on a tight budget, this is a great alternative to the Yamaha. Still, it’s a tad more costly than entry-level and intermediate versions.

5. Yamaha YBS-62

The Yamaha YBS-62 is a great entry-level baritone saxophone. If you like the tenor sax with the same model number, you’ll probably like this one too.

The price tag is high because of the high cost of the materials and the labor involved in creating the instrument.

However, many modern bari saxes feature a low A that allows for lower register playing. You can achieve a nice tone that is ideal for amplifying the bass line. It’s durable and long-lasting, so you won’t be wasting your money.

6. Yamaha YSS-82Z

If you’re looking for a great soprano saxophone to learn on, I highly recommend the Yamaha YSS-82Z. It has a straight neck and a body made from a single piece of brass.

A layer of lacquer has been applied over the brass for added protection. As long as you have a soprano sax reed on hand, you can start playing because you will also receive a mouthpiece and case.

The high F# key also makes it easier to sing some of the higher notes that are frequently heard on the soprano. It is best for professionals because this model is a little more expensive than some.

These Are the Models That Jazz Professionals Use the Most. For example, many jazz musicians favor the Selmer Mark VI saxophone. All Mark VI models, from soprano to tenor, are included. Although, it’s no longer for sale brand-new, but there’s always the Mark VII.

You can find a used Mark VI, but you may have to look around to find one in the right size.

The Selmer Balanced Action sax was another popular vintage model in jazz communities. Possibly even more difficult to locate than the Mark VI, this model is even older.

In today’s jazz scene, many musicians favor saxophones made by Yamaha and Selmer, though they may also use other brands. Every player has unique requirements, so it’s great that there are so many options.

Is there a difference between jazz saxophones and classical saxophones?

In contrast to its popularity among classical musicians, the Selmer Mark VI series was widely adopted by jazz musicians. A classical saxophonist like Marcel Mule played the model, though.

It’s standard practice to switch mouthpieces depending on the style of music being played. Some mouthpieces, like the J.D. Hite, are better suited to jazz than classical music due to differences in facing, materials, and other design elements.

This, however, means that saxophone players can benefit from having a separate mouthpiece for each style. It’s more cost-effective to replace just the part that needs replacing, rather than buying a whole new instrument.

Which Saxophone Is Best for a Jazz Newbie?

There is not much of a difference between the best beginner saxophone and the best beginner jazz saxophone.

Consider a few popular saxophone models.

You’ll be able to select the perfect model after that. Try different reeds and mouthpieces before shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars to upgrade your instrument if nothing seems to work.

7. Yamaha YAS-280

Amongst entry-level saxes, the Yamaha YAS-280 stands out as a top choice. The gorgeous gold lacquer finish of this alto sax will have you looking as good as you sound.

This model, unlike some cheaper student versions, has a high F# key so you can easily play the note. It also has a front F auxiliary key, which allows you to access the next highest note in the range.

You should be able to find this model with little trouble; however, it can be a little pricey. If you don’t have the cash on hand to buy it outright, you always have the option to rent or take out a loan.

8. YTS-480, Yamaha

The Yamaha YTS-480 is an excellent choice for beginners learning to play the tenor saxophone. Although it is classified as an intermediate model, there aren’t very many tenors at the beginner level.

You’ll receive the horn ready to play with a neck and mouthpiece; all you’ll need are reeds to make music. The warm tone and beautiful gold finish are a winning combination.