If you want to play jazz saxophone, you may wonder what model to get.
You can choose from dozens of options, so knowing what models are popular can help narrow your search.
Here’s What Saxophones are Used in Jazz:
Jazz saxophone players use models from Yamaha or Selmer, like the Selmer Mark VI, the Yamaha YAS-875EXII, or the Selmer La Voix II. In the jazz world, you can find almost any type of saxophone, from soprano down to baritone.
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1. Yamaha YAS-875EXII
The Yamaha YAS-875EXII is an excellent saxophone to use at the professional level. You can choose between gold and black lacquer to get your desired look.
It has a good mouthpiece and neck, so you only need to provide yourself with reeds.
The model offers excellent response and sound quality for jazz and classical music if you like to play both.
Many beginners start on a Yamaha saxophone, but the brand makes excellent instruments at all levels.
If you’ve had and loved other Yamaha instruments, you’ll probably like this one.
2. Selmer Paris Series III
Another excellent alto saxophone to use when playing jazz is the Selmer Paris Series III.
It features a matte lacquer, so it looks unique, and you can also get a unique sound.
This model also has a new octave key mechanism that’s lighter and easier to use. That can make playing in the upper range much easier, such as during a solo.
However, the gold lacquer keeps the tone relatively warm, so it sounds good in an ensemble.
It’s an excellent choice for many professionals and similar to other Selmer models that jazz players have used.
3. Yamaha YTS-62
When it comes to jazz, the tenor sax is one of the best instruments to play.
You can use the Yamaha YTS-62 tenor sax, a professional model with either a silver-plated finish or standard lacquer.
It features a high F# key to help you play that note without alternate fingerings. That can come in handy if you play solo with your jazz band.
This model isn’t as expensive as you may expect, but it’s still not cheap. It’s best for professionals or other serious saxophone players.
4. Selmer La Voix II
The Selmer La Voix II is an excellent tenor saxophone for advanced jazz players.
It features a unique copper body, giving you a warm, resonant sound.
Meanwhile, the yellow brass bell helps project your sound across most performance spaces. The design makes it suitable for solo and ensemble playing, and you can blend well with other musicians.
It’s less expensive than the Yamaha, so it’s a nice choice if you’re on a budget. However, it’s still a bit more expensive than student and intermediate models.
5. Yamaha YBS-62
If you want to try the baritone sax, consider the Yamaha YBS-62.
It’s very similar to the tenor sax with the same model number, so if you like that sax, you’ll probably enjoy it.
Of course, it’s pretty expensive due to all the materials and time needed to make the instrument.
However, you can play down to a low A, which is becoming standard on many bari saxes.
You can get a nice tone perfect for cranking out the bass line. It’s also of good quality and can last you for quite a while, so your money won’t go to waste.
6. Yamaha YSS-82Z
The Yamaha YSS-82Z is a fantastic model to try if you want to learn the soprano saxophone.
It features a one-piece brass body and neck and a straight neck.
Over the brass is a layer of lacquer to help protect the metal. You’ll also get a mouthpiece and case, so you can start playing as long as you have a soprano sax reed on hand.
The high F# key also helps you play some of the higher notes, which can be common on the soprano.
This model is a bit more expensive than some, so it’s best for professionals.
These Are the Most Used Models Among Jazz Professionals
The Selmer Mark VI is one of the most used saxophone models among jazz players. This includes the soprano, alto, and tenor versions of the Mark VI.
Unfortunately, you can’t buy it new anymore, but there is the Mark VII.
You can find an older Mark VI on the used market, but you may need to shop for one of the right sizes you want.
Another older model popular in jazz circles was the Selmer Balanced Action sax. This model is even older than the Mark VI, so it could be harder to find.
Many jazz players today use a variety of saxophones, usually from Yamaha or Selmer. There are so many models, which is great because every player has different needs.
So try as many Yamaha and Selmer saxophones as possible to find what works for you.
Are Saxophones for Jazz Different From Classical Saxophones?
The Selmer Mark VI series was more popular among jazz players than classical players.
However, classical saxophonists such as Marcel Mule also played the model.
It’s more common to swap out the mouthpiece based on the genre you’re playing. Depending on the facing, materials, and other factors, some mouthpieces, like J.D. Hite, are better for jazz than classical.
But that means it’s easier for saxophone players to have a mouthpiece for each genre. You can swap out the accessory instead of the entire instrument to save money.
What Is a Good Beginner Saxophone for Jazz?
The best beginner saxophone for jazz isn’t much different from the best beginner sax.
Consider a few popular models for saxophone students.
Then, you can get the right model for you. If nothing quite fits, experiment with reeds and mouthpieces before you spend thousands upgrading your instrument.
7. Yamaha YAS-280
The Yamaha YAS-280 is probably the most popular beginner saxophone. This alto sax features a gorgeous gold lacquer finish that helps you look and sound good.
Unlike some student models, this one features a high F# key to help you play that note.
It also has a front F auxiliary key to facilitate the next highest note in the range.
Now, this model can be a bit expensive, but you should be able to find it easily. You can rent or finance the purchase if you can’t afford to buy it.
8. Yamaha YTS-480
If you want to start learning the tenor sax, try the Yamaha YTS-480.
It’s technically an intermediate model, but there aren’t a ton of student-level tenors out there.
You’ll get the instrument with a neck and mouthpiece, so you just need reeds to get it to play. The gold finish looks great and can help you get a warm sound.
Since it’s an intermediate model, it’s a bit more expensive than the Yamaha alto.
However, you can finance it or find a store that will rent it to you if you want to test it out before you buy it.