Best Tenor Saxophone Review – Top Rated Models with Buying Guide
Are you tired of looking for the best tenor saxophone, without finding the perfect one for you? This guide is here to help you if that, and if you are in a hurry, just check our top to see our favorite saxophones. A tenor sax should make you feel happy when playing it, and that’s why our team analyzed the most popular models out there, and we found out that the Jean Paul USA Tenor Saxophone TS-400 is a sax that should be recommended. It has a beautiful lacquer finish that protects it against damage and corrosion. Furthermore, when playing it you will be helped by the precise power-forged keys that make playing easier. You can rest assured about this product’s quality, as it has been tested twice before exiting the factory. If you can’t find this tenor sax for sale, look for the Yamaha YTS-62III Professional Tenor Saxophone.
Our Top Choice
With the lacquer finish, this instrument will look really nice, while the coating will protect it against corrosion and damage. Beginners will feel how they can play it easier with the help of power-forged precise keys. The instrument is tested twice before exiting the factory so you know it’s of great quality.
The sound it produces isn’t a great one for experienced players.
Easy to play thanks to the intuitive keys, this instrument is a great choice for beginners. It is also well-protected, so if you’re a bit clumsy and drop it, it will still deliver a good sound and look great.
This saxophone has a better low B to C# connection, meaning that you won’t be having problems with air getting out when switching from one to another. It has a hand-engraved bell that adds to its beauty. The narrow bore will allow you to better control the response, while the neck is an improved version.
This is a hard saxophone to maintain and it needs constant reparations.
Being a complicated saxophone, this one will require your care and attention, but it can deliver a great sound, and it does that while allowing you to play it with ease, as it offers superior control.
Also To Consider
To increase playability, the makers of this instrument placed its keywork close to the instrument’s body. You can start playing it right out of the box as it comes with everything needed. Hand-engraved decorations and the black lacquer finish ensure that this instrument is a beautiful one.
It comes with a case that is too big for it and in which it can get damaged.
Offering you everything you need to start playing, this saxophone is a complete set for any beginner looking to start his or her career. It is also a beautiful model that is easy to play.
7 Best Tenor Saxophones (Updated Reviews) in 2021
To find the most suitable saxophones for you, we had a look at many tenor saxophone reviews, we consulted the expert’s opinion and we judged which of these instruments offer more value for the money. Let’s see our top 5 picks below.
- 1. Jean Paul USA Tenor Saxophone TS-400
- 2. Yamaha YTS-62III Professional Tenor Saxophone
- 3. Selmer Prelude TS711 Tenor Saxophone
- 4. Yamaha YTS-480 Intermediate Tenor Saxophone
- 5. Selmer TS44 Professional Tenor Saxophone
- 6. Mendini by Cecilio MTS-L+92D Tenor Saxophone
- 7. Glory Gold Laquer B Flat Tenor Saxophone
- Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Frequently asked questions
1. Jean Paul USA Tenor Saxophone TS-400
This is probably one of the better instruments for beginner players or intermediate ones. That is due to the tone that it can deliver, which is superior compared to others in its class. It offers an even key action and placement, which will help those that want to develop faster. The body is made of yellow brass and the construction is a nice-looking one.
Its keys are power-forged, and the bell brace is strong, and all of these make it a durable instrument. The pivot keys are tapered and easy to use. When buying this saxophone you also get a strong carrying case to transport it easier and to keep it protected. That is another reason why it’s a nice starting point for saxophonists.
This sax is a robust model that feels nice when played. Having a lacquer finish, this instrument is a beautiful one that will last for a long time. The large collection of accessories includes everything from a cleaning cloth to a mouthpiece with cap, ligature, and even reeds and a neck strap.
You can even carry it backpack style thanks to the padded straps, and the case has a number of pockets where you can place small accessories.
The lacquer finish will make this instrument a beautiful one to look at, and will also protect it against corrosion or easy chipping.
Its power-forged keys are easy to use and will feel great on the fingertips of beginners.
With this saxophone, you get a great number of accessories that will make your playing experience a complete one.
It’s an instrument that is easy to carry, thanks to the protective case it comes with, but also due to the straps that will let you carry it like a backpack.
The manufacturing process this sax goes through is a complex and precise one, and before it is released from the factory, it’s tested twice to ensure it up to the set standards.
The engraved pattern on the bell is a nice touch.
Although the sound is a decent one for a beginner, professionals will find it limited and lackluster.Buy from Amazon.com
2. Yamaha YTS-62III Professional Tenor Saxophone
Proving itself an instrument of great durability and quality, this saxophone is what many band directors would suggest to their students. It comes with an interesting design with a 62 neck style that has a bore narrower than usual. This should offer a quick response and better control. Because the neck is narrow, it will also allow players to get a stronger volume while blowing just as hard.
Using the brand’s new engraving technology, this instrument comes with elaborate and fine details that make the end product a beautiful one. The saxophone also has an improved mechanism from B to C# and that ensures a better seal when playing these notes. The end result is a saxophone with a clear response in the low ranges.
Furthermore, the manufacturers put multiple key posts on a singular plate and that helps with reducing resistance when you’re blowing in the instrument. This also adds more color to the tone of the instrument. For a swifter and more sensitive key response, the instrument has integrated steel springs.
It is a saxophone that has been around since 1979, and that is proof that it is a model that can do its job as it should.
Thanks to the better low B to C# connection, the instrument will be sealed well and this will help you get a clearer response from the saxophone.
The sax is a beautiful one and it will look nice in any home, especially thanks to the intricately engraved bell.
Coming with a backpack-type case, the instrument is well-protected and easy to carry around.
Its new and improved neck has a distinct design that has a narrower bore, and as a result, it offers better control and swifter response.
You can see the high-quality craftsmanship put into this instrument.
This saxophone is capable of delivering rich and warm tones thanks to its build.
Thanks to the multiple keys mounted on the same plate, the resistance is reduced.
The reeds that come with this sax don’t fit it well. You will need to find better ones.
It is a complicated saxophone that will require plenty of maintenance.Buy from Amazon.com
3. Selmer Prelude TS711 Tenor Saxophone
Known for the top-quality high-end saxophones that they provide, Selmer is a great brand in the industry, and they can also produce more a more affordable tenor saxophone, such as this one, which is aimed at beginners. The model has a yellow brass frame that is elegant, and thanks to the ribbed construction it will be more durable than expected.
Furthermore, it also comes with a body-to-bow connection that is reinforced and detachable. This will also increase its durability. One feature that makes it stand out from the crowd is the unique bore design that will let you have a better projection and thus will help you have a more enjoyable performance.
This is a saxophone that comes with a molded mouthpiece that has a cap and ligature, and they all together provide a warm and round sound. To improve sound projection, the instrument also makes use of leather pads and metal resonators.
A hand-engraved bell adds to the beauty of this instrument’s body, while the keys have a dark lacquer finish, which also looks nice. This finish helps protect against corrosion and scratches. Placed close to the instrument’s body, the keywork is great at enhancing playability.
Coming with a molded mouthpiece complete with cap and ligature, this saxophone won’t require you to change it and it will work great.
You also get all the things you need to take full advantage of the quality of this instrument, including a neck strap to support the sax.
Thanks to the dark lacquer applied on the body and keys, the instrument is an attractive one, and the hand-engraved decorations on the bell add to that.
It comes with an adjustable metal thumb rest, meaning that playing the sax will be a comfortable experience.
The saxophone is a durable one, thanks to the ribbed construction but also the body-to-bow connection.
Although sturdy, this instrument is a lightweight one and easy to handle.
The case is way too big and you will find your instrument rattling around in it, maybe even getting some scratches in the process.Buy from Amazon.com
4. Yamaha YTS-480 Intermediate Tenor Saxophone
Coming with a design that resembles the style and feel of high-end models, this saxophone is one that can offer you the accurate intonation you are looking for. It also provides a warm tone, and all of that with a quick response. Being made of durable materials, it is also lightweight.
This saxophone has a new type of neck, the 62-style one, that will help you get a more mature sound, easier. Because it’s narrower, the neck will require the player to blow with less pressure for the same sound volume, which is a great thing for beginners with lungs that are not well-trained yet.
The model has an improved mechanism when switching from low B to C# and the fact that the C# key now closes more consistently, will help you get a clearer response, especially when playing notes in the low range. To add some extra touches of elegance to the instrument, the bell has a hand-engraved pattern on it. Thanks to the newly-improved octave key system, you now have the flexibility needed to play the sax how you want.
To make it more comfortable to play, the sax also comes with a left-hand seesaw key designed to increase playability.
When listening to this instrument you will feel that the tone is a warm, mature, and rich one.
The contoured and redesigned keys will help you make use of the improved action.
Playing the instrument you will benefit from the comfort offered by the thumb rest and well-designed keys.
The B to C# mechanism has been upgraded so now you can have swifter switches from one note to another, all while the key closing is a proper one and the low range response is enhanced.
Another important aspect of this saxophone is the fact that the screw cap stoppers are fully adjustable on each keyguard.
The instrument is a beautiful one, and the hand engravings on the bell add to its style.
The soft-shelled carrying case can feel like it doesn’t offer the required protection.
You will feel that the mouthpiece hinders you from getting the best of this instrument.Buy from Amazon.com
5. Selmer TS44 Professional Tenor Saxophone
Being the first collaboration between Selmer US and Henri Selmer Paris, this instrument has been created to be used by professional tenor saxophonists. It has a rich and warm sound that is ideal whether you want to play classical music or jazz. With the well-designed Henri Selmer Paris neck, the saxophone is easy to play.
It also comes in a nice and large carrying case for easy transportation. When playing this instrument you will feel that it is a professional-level saxophone, although you might not expect it based on the price. You can find it in a black nickel finish, a regular lacquer finish, or in a silver-plated one, and all of them look stunning.
Being one of the newest models on the market, the saxophone is up to standards from a technical point of view. Its fully-ribbed body means that you won’t have problems with it deforming as it is really strong.
Great reaction time and durability are also ensured by the Pisoni pro pads and the blue steel springs that action them. The sax possesses many of the timbral and dynamic elements of a professional instrument. This ensures that it has everything needed for a professional player to offer great performances.
Its rich sound that has a full and warm feel will be ideal for those looking to play jazz, but it is a great choice for classical saxophonists too.
The carefully-designed and crafted neck will let you enjoy the instrument more, making it easier to play.
You can find this model in three different finishes, and all of them look great.
It is one of the most durable models out there, thanks to the fully-ribbed construction that ensures it doesn’t get deformed.
The steel springs along with the Pisoni pro pads will ensure that the reaction time is a reduced one, while the instrument’s durability is increased due to them.
This instrument feels like a professional one and the sound it produces is full of dynamism, which will help a professional player get the best out of it.
It would have been nicer for the instrument to be more adjustable to allow for a more comfortable playing experience.Buy from Amazon.com
6. Mendini by Cecilio MTS-L+92D Tenor Saxophone
If you study saxophone and you want a good quality instrument, you should check out this model. Approved by teachers, it is a perfect choice for anyone who is looking to hone his or her skills. One of the things that makes it so suitable for beginners is the large bore.
The youngest players will be able to obtain full-bodied sounds due to this particular feature. The fast action keys also contribute to the excellent playability of this instrument. Achieving a full range is easy, and you will be delighted with the rich tones of this tenor saxophone.
You can rest assured that this model is created with durability and reliability in mind. Made from 300 handmade elements produced exclusively by this manufacturer, it is a dependable musical instrument that will surely help you become a better saxophone player. A lot of accessories are included with your purchase, such as a hard case and 10 reeds.
This Mendini tenor saxophone is the ideal choice for players of all levels, and it is teacher-approved, so you can rest assured that its qualities will help you progress.
For beginners, this model is a convenient pick because of the large bore and the fast action keys that raise the level of playability.
You will receive a hard case with your purchase; it has a backpack strap for easy carrying, as well as a zippered pocket where you can keep all your accessories.
All the 300 elements that go into one such saxophone are made exclusively by this manufacturer, with no off-the-shelf items so that you can count on the overall craftsmanship quality.
Players will be pleased with the presence of cleaning supplies, and that of a pair of white gloves for spot-free playing.
Some issues with the octave key coming out of line may appear, and overall, you will feel that it’s mostly an instrument for beginners.Buy from Amazon.com
7. Glory Gold Laquer B Flat Tenor Saxophone
A good looking saxophone that can make an excellent gift for a young player, this model from Glory offers multiple benefits, especially for someone who is just starting. First of all, it is affordable, and for the money, it provides superior value.
You will find several useful accessories included with your purchase, such as a hard case that you can wear on your back or carry in your hand. The extra zippered pocket makes it easy for you to access all the small items you may want to keep somewhere handy. You will also get a mouthpiece, a neck strap, a cleaning cloth, a cleaning rod, grease, a pair of gloves, and a screwdriver.
As you can see, everything you need for cleaning and maintaining your saxophone is present in the package. In terms of playability, this model satisfies all the needs of beginners since the sound holes are positioned in such a way that their hands will rest in a comfortable manner.
Extensively tested for quality control, each saxophone is designed to abide by the highest quality standards to make sure that you receive a dependable instrument.
Beginners, in particular, will find it easy to use because they can rest their fingers comfortably due to the position of the sound holes.
The leather pads come with metal resonators, so playing this instrument will create the sounds you want without any unpleasant clacking.
It has a compact design so that the youngest players can get the hang of playing if they decide in favor of this instrument.
You will get 10 reeds, along with many other useful accessories, like a hard case, a mouthpiece, and all the needed supplies for cleaning and maintenance.
While it is a reasonably good performer, this saxophone may require some improvements, such as a new mouthpiece and larger corks on the keys for more comfortable playing.Buy from Amazon.com
Our Comprehensive Buying Guide
When you’re looking for a tenor saxophone for sale it’s not just the price that matters. A beginner tenor saxophone should be easy to play, while one made for experienced players should allow you to achieve anything you want with it. Here are some things we think are important.
New versus old models
When discussing saxophones, there are certain models that have been around for longer, and others that have just appeared on the market. Of course, those that have proven to be good in the past, are still good today. But as the times change, maybe those old models are not always good.
Vintage models can vary in quality and while some of them may have lost their uniqueness, some others still have special features that are still relevant today. One of the things that usually characterizes old saxophones is their durability. But they are also characterized by the fact that they can’t be found so easily nowadays.
Getting a saxophone that has been produced many years ago may come with the disadvantage that you don’t know if it has some structural damage that you can’t observe at first. Furthermore, saxes built in the past were made of brass that was of poorer quality. This can mean that the instrument is leaking in some places, where the brass has collapsed.
Furthermore, older models may require parts that are nowadays harder to find. On the other hand, modern saxes will be made of materials that are improved and offer better resistance to wear and tear. That is also the case when it comes to the finishes, as modern ones are more resistant.
Another advantage of modern saxophones is that their pieces can be found easier, as the manufacturers probably still produce them. From a construction point of view, new models are lighter, which is an advantage in the sense that it requires the player to put in less effort to play the instrument.
However, certain players prefer the heavier feel of an old instrument. Also, new models can feel a bit too soft on touch, preventing beginners from getting the sound they want. Of course, an older model is a cheap tenor saxophone, compared to a new improved one.
When looking at tenor sax for sale reviews, you will quickly find out that the build quality is important, but the material used in making the instrument and the finish that is applied on top of that also matters. Yellow brass is the material of choice for most manufacturers, but there are alternatives such as copper, bronze, and sterling silver which is a bit more expensive.
In terms of finishes, lacquer is the predominant one, while nickel, silver or gold plating is reserved for some of the more expensive models. Whether or not these materials have an effect on the sound of the instrument is an extensive topic. However, they do have an impact on how the instrument is protected against corrosion or damage.
Lacquered brass is the simplest of the coatings and doesn’t change the appearance of the instrument too much. Silver platings will increase the weight of the instrument, but it is a material that also increases sound volume and makes the projection clearer.
Black or matte finishes will also add to the weight of the instrument and make the sound a thicker one. Jazz performers may want to opt for a nickel plating, as this gives a more luminous projection to the sound. For a dark and rich tone, you should choose a bronze or copper plating, as these are softer and heavier.
Let’s not forget that choosing the best tenor sax depends on what you intend to use it for. This instrument first became popular after it fulfilled its initial purpose with great effect – it was an instrument made to be played in a military band, especially in France and Belgium. Although modern military bands use all kinds of saxophones, the tenor is still one of the main points in these bands.
The tenor saxophone music is a varied one. It is an instrument that can be used in classical music, in concert bands or quartets of saxophones. Also, after the American Civil War, the instrument started to be played by the wide public, especially in gospel music or jazz. This is where it does really well today, and many jazz saxophonists use a tenor model.
Frequently asked questions
Q: What’s the difference between an alto and a tenor saxophone?
Although at first glance, you may feel tempted to think that alto and tenor saxophones are very similar, there are some crucial differences you should be aware of. At a closer inspection, you will notice that the tenor type tends to be larger and heavier than the alto type. The latter is favored by some players based on this consideration, too.
The difference in size influences how the two types of saxophones are played and what sounds they can produce. An alto will be able to deliver brighter, sharper sounds than a tenor, while a tenor will produce deep rich tones.
Another critical difference is the note register. For an alto saxophone, that’s E flat, while for a tenor saxophone, the note register is B flat. For this reason, you need to use music sheets that were mainly made for the type of instrument you want to play.
Q: Which saxophone is hardest to play?
You may discover that the answer to this question has been a topic for debate for a long time, for the simple reason that saxophone players end up preferring one type over others. However, there seems to be a relative consensus that the soprano saxophone is the most difficult to play.
Keeping in tune is an absolute challenge, and a lot of players find themselves challenged when they try to play a soprano. It can take you quite a while to develop the correct posture and achieve a steady embouchure. The tone of a soprano is also tricky to adjust, so, for the most part, when you start, you may feel like the instrument is playing against you.
Trying to tame the timbre of this instrument can take a long time, and that is why when you find good soprano saxophone players, they will tell you that’s the primary sax they play.
Q: Which saxophone is best for jazz?
Among all the saxophones out there, one type has managed to seduce jazz players above all the others. This musical instrument is associated with jazz by default, but not many people might know what kind of sax jazz musicians prefer. It is the tenor saxophone they favor because it is not as bulky as others, and it is also easy to play.
Tuned in Bb, it is in the middle between the alto and baritone types, so the tonality range also qualifies it for this music genre. However, if you are a beginner, you might want to try an alto first, as it is reasonably good for jazz, but not as challenging to master as the tenor.
The least-loved type of sax among jazz musicians must be the bass. You might expect the soprano to receive the same treatment because of the difficulty of mastering it, but there are famous jazz players who made the soprano their main sax.