Saxophones are one of the most popular woodwinds and overall one of the most versatile musical instruments. It is seen in jazz, pop, rock and symphonic musical genres.
Sax's are defined by their long S-shape, keys and and padding. They are often mistaken for a brass instrument, however they require a reed like the clarinet and bassoon, and are thus classified as a woodwind instrument.
The saxophone was originally created to fill the gap between the loud brass and the softer woodwinds like the flute and clarinet. While originally associated with military bands, it now is mostly known for jazz and making an occasional appearance in pop and rock music.
Saxophones, like many instruments come in student, intermediate, and professional models. They can be a very expensive instrument, and remember buying is always wiser than renting.
When it comes to student models, buyers beware. That is not to say all student models are bad, some are fine for playing, it is just best to proceed with caution.
These days many instruments are mass-produced, because there is a market for consumers who want the cheapest product. Avoid this trap of buying the cheapest saxophone. Read buyer reviews on the one you like and ask the seller questions.
Most common type, along with alto sax ; popular with jazz music
Lowest pitched sax in common use; popular in military bands
Large design and not commonly used
Largest of all sax's; lowest pitched of the family and rarely used
Buying a Used Saxophone
Used saxophones are a great decision as these instruments can be quite a costly investment. When buying used, you want to make sure there is no body damage and no damage to the keys, rods, corks or pads.
There can be some cosmetic damage, but too much may indicate damage to the sound of the instrument. No matter new or old, be prepared for extra costs such as cases, reeds and mouthpieces.
Buying a New Saxophone
Buying a new saxophone is the ideal option if you can afford it, as you can trust the longevity and perfect sound of your instrument. You can also get a manufacturer or dealer warranty (in most cases), and also be able to get all of the bells and whistles you want with your sax.
Buying new will obviously cost you a bit more, and with the addition of reeds, cases and other accessories, it can be expensive.
Other Things to Consider:
How you will be playing your sax will determine which one to buy. Tenor, Alto? Or maybe even bass?
As noted before, keep an eye out for hidden costs such as cases. reeds and cleaning supplies.
It is advised to buy a comfortable mouthpiece and high quality reeds for the best long-term saxophone playing experience.