Basic Alto Saxophone (could Be Applied to Tenner, Barritone, Ect.) Guide




This is a basic guide to maintaining and using an alto saxophone. This could kind of apply to other saxes as well. Im sorry about having no pictures, I will get them up as soon as I find a good camera in my house.

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Step 1: Basic Information

I believe a saxophone was created by Adolphe Sax as a replacement for the clarinet, due to the fact that clarinets project sournd downward, instead of to a crowd. I guess if you really wanted, you can look up info on Wikipedia.

Saxophones range from from bass to sopranno (Lowest to Highest pitch)The most common are alto and tenor.

Step 2: Required Things

Some of the requred things for playing a saxophone are
Saxophone- Mouthpiece,neck, the body, and ligature(holds reed onto mouthpiece)Most saxes come with all of this stuff
Reeds- Reeds range from lowest number(1) to higher numbers. The difference between them are that the higher the number, the thicker the reed.
Cork Grease- gets your mouthpiece onto your saxophone easily
Neck Strap- connects to your sax and acts as a strap so you dont have to hold onto it
cleaning and polishing supplies- self explanitory

Step 3: Putting the Sax Together

First off, if you have an instruction manual, you should probably use that instead of this guide. This guide is pretty basic and general for all saxophones. First, you take the neck, and attatch it to the body, On the body, there should be some screws towards the front of the sax (use the picture if you're not sure). Tighten those screws. Next, take your reed, and place it in your mouth. This is to wetten it so then its soft enough to vibrate, which produces the sound. Place it on the underside of the mouthpiece and position it so that the tip of the reed is at the tip of the mouth piece. Slide the ligature in from the top and tighten the screws. Put cork grease on the cork on the neck and slide the mouth piece on. Attach your neck strap to the ring on your body and you're done!

Step 4: Playing

Theres not really much to playing the saxophone. What I can say is that you need to blow on the mouth piece like you are saying "ta" and use the fingerings on the chart below. Basic knowledge of the musical staff will provide further meaning to the chart and is a must for playing any instrument, so I shouldnt need to explain that.

Step 5: Where to Begin...

To buy a saxophone and all the required things you can visit your local music store, or a good website is

You can also buy music from stores, or you can buy music online and print it out at home. I'm in the school band so I dont worry about music.



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    33 Discussions


    6 years ago

    FYI, the reed strength should be as follows: softer reeds (like #2) for mouthpieces with wider openings (between reed tip and mouthpiece tip); and harder reeds (#3 or higher) for closer openings ( between reed tip and mouthpiece tip). Soft reeds can flex further; harder reeds don't shut closed as easy. (And if you get a really fuzzy, airy, reedy sound, your reed might be too hard!)


    10 years ago on Step 5

    A Rico 3-3 1/2 are good beginner reed, but when you get to where your not breaking reeds for about a month or two go straight to a Vandoren 3(strength) do not pass GO, do not collect $200

    5 replies
    mr b1scu1tsbbzbz

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    no way! for an alto saxophone the best reeds to start with are 2- 2 i/2 vandorens are the best no matter what but they can be very hard to play if you don't shave them down a little bit. also, yamaha saxophones are probably the best in my experience.

    Rockroxmr b1scu1ts

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 5

    i'd have to disagree with you. Selmer is better. I have played yamaha, bundy, keilworth, and Selmer, and selmer has always been my favorite


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    It's really all based on preference. Many of the top players will swear by their horn, but it all depends on what the player wants/expects from his/her sound, how nice the horn is, the player's setup, and the physical differences between their bodies. I play a Yamaha Custom (wish it was mine) for classical and it sounds great, but for jazz it doesn't really cut it for me. I'm still looking for my one true (horn) love...


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I have a Selmer Aristocrat Alto. Though I've never played any other brands on alto, I play a Yamaha Tenor for school, and of the two the Selmer is the clear winner. I've had it since 5th grade and no problems.

    JohnJYmr b1scu1ts

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     I agree for a new alto, Vandoren is the only, and best way to go. For a starting alto I also agree to use a 2- 1/2 reed, but I use a 3-4 reed. Hard wood.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You have the inventor correct but the purpose of it's creation wrong. The alto sax was created as the mediator between the woodwind and brass sections of the band.

    Wikipedia Quote:
    He wanted to create an instrument that would both be the most powerful and vocal of the woodwinds and the most adaptive of the brass, which would fill the vacant middle ground between the two sections.

    The range on the saxophones actually goes from the Tubax to the far lesser known Soprillo Sax.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    another missed sax is the c melody ,and the best reeds are the Rico plasticover if you are playing several horns ,I use them in a 5 strength .

    Timofte Andrei

    8 years ago on Step 4

    i want this paper on high resolution please!!!!!!!!!!!! my email is


    Very nice instructable. One thing though, the range is not correct. the Lowest sax ever made was the contrabass saxophone. it is very very rare and i am guessing only like 200 in the world were made. if you would like to buy one today you would have to do it customely. The next higher would be the bass, looking like a bigger baritone. than the highest sax, (one octave higher than the tenor), would be the sopraninio, one higher than the soprano. this is also very rare and probobably just as pricey as the contra bass b/c of all of the fine key placement and stuff. its true man, i know i am a saxophone nerd, but hey! its my favorite instrument! yeah,man. utube this stuff. you can see people playing them.

    8 replies

    There's actually a saxophone lower than the Contrabass saxophone. It's called the Sub-Contrabass. It takes two people to play it. There's probably, say, 10 in the world. I don't know that, but how many do you see around?