All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Beginner Sax Alto size

Chende118

New Member
Messages
2
Locality
England
Hi all,
I’ve decided I’m going to learn the saxophone. I was just wondering if I were to get an alto if I’d find it too small? I currently play guitar. If you’ve got any advice from me that’d be much appreciated! Thanks
 

lydian

Member
Messages
66
Locality
USA
No. People of all sizes play alto without issues. Get whatever you like the sound of. I personally prefer the sound of a tenor. Size isn’t really a factor ergonomically unless you are unusually large or small. I’ve seen 400 lb people play alto and 4.5’ tall people play bari. I’m a big guy, and I manage to play the harmonica and the ukulele just fine, both quite small instruments. If you are so large that you can’t reach the center of your body with your hands, then you may need to rethink the sax.
 
Last edited:

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
Café Supporter
Messages
4,770
Locality
France
Hi there. Interesting question. What makes you think it can be an issue?

I'm 6'2" and started on alto. That was never a problem. I have since added tenor, bari and soprano. All are just fine.

Just pick one and get started. Don't over think it.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,948
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
6'1" 20 stone. Big hands. Arthritic fingers. I play Sop, alto, tenor, baritone and clarinet. No problems regarding size saxophone wise. GP wise a different matter.

You may want to consider that the saxophone is a transposing instrument and the alto is Eb.

The tenor is Bb and simpler to transpose. Also a little more popular for guitar based music. Blues Rock etc.

If you're looking to play jazz or funk or similar, the alto is perfect.

Bear in mind that the saxophone is a frustrating, instrument that needs daily practice. It doesn't play in tune by itself and needs player input. It's annoying, addictive and needs regular adjustment and maintenance, but on a good day it's the most rewarding, wonderful instrument ever. You have been warned. :)
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,948
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
The struggle is the whole point with saxophone.
Another thing to watch out for is that they attract eachother. My 9th is in the post ;)
 

Dr G

Member
Messages
490
Locality
Northern California
Thanks guys! I’m glad someone told me I might struggle but good to get proper opinions!

I wonder what size piano that person would recommend.

Seriously tho’, are you quite tiny? It might be useful to get some first hand experience by holding each of the instruments. Beyond that, if you are physically comfortable with the instrument(s), choose the one that best matches the sound you prefer. Listen to music featuring the various horns and find the one that speaks to you.
 

mizmar

Senior Member
Messages
1,017
Locality
Trondheim, Norway
I still don't understand the question.
People worrying about a tenor or above being too big, i understand. But Too small?

Hipster: "I can't play mouth organ, it's to small and gets lost in my beard.." maybe?
 

saxyjt

Saxus Circus Maximus
Café Supporter
Messages
4,770
Locality
France
Thanks guys! I’m glad someone told me I might struggle but good to get proper opinions!
You might not. You will struggle. That's the only certainty. But you will have a lot of fun as well! >:) ;) :p
 

nigeld

Too many mouthpieces
Café Supporter
Messages
7,437
Locality
Bristol, UK
Go to a shop and try holding alto and tenor. See what feels best in your hands. But also choose the one whose sound you like the best.
 

squeak

Member
Café Supporter
Messages
369
Locality
St. Mungo's
Thanks guys! I’m glad someone told me I might struggle but good to get proper opinions!
As you can tell, it is a mean-spirited bunch here just waiting to pray and punch on new members. Thankfully, there are also a few very unique and truly helpful individuals on this forum such as myself. Therefore, let me explain: There are pianos made with smaller keys (piaggero), kids size violins, cellos, acoustic guitars, etc, but these are obviously fine instruments made for refined people and their offspring. In contrast and despite Adolphe's lofty intentions, the saxophone rapidly degraded into a proletarian object, where one size fits all, and it is for you to accommodate. Hence, the goal in saxophone manufacture is generally to space the keys to fit average adult hands irrespective of the size of the instrument and with complete disregard for the physique of person playing it. Not sure how well this works on sopranino and contrabass saxophones, as I thankfully never have been tempted by either of these silly-sized instruments. However, this is likely not where you want to start anyway, if you have not played saxophone before. You don't really want to start on alto either, as it is hard to play. Tenor is what everyone plays, each desperately trying to sound different from the next by constantly changing part of their gear, especially mouthpieces, which will set you back a fortune over time. I suggest you start on baritone, which is the best of all the saxophones by quite some margin.
 
Last edited:

DavidUK

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
5,950
Locality
Near Lutterworth, Leics.
I recommend you get lessons whatever size you choose so why not find a local sax tutor who will let you try out alto and tenor, the two most popular sizes, and also have an hour lesson to test your aptitude. Don't expect too much.
 
Messages
306
Locality
Dartmoor, SW UK
I'm tall and play mostly alto, never found it a problem (I was a clarinettist first though). Most of my sax playing these days is in a rock band and I keep thinking the alto looks a bit small - a tenor would look much cooler - and it puts me in some freaky keys, but I haven't caved in and bought a tenor yet (I've got a baritone as well though, so sticking to Eb saxes makes things a bit easier).

Harry Gold the bass saxophonist was about 5-4 and played the bass hanging from a strap.
After reading that I imagined him dangling from the ceiling by a strap so he could reach the mouthpiece - then realised what you meant :D
 

Vetinari

Senior Member
Café Supporter
Messages
1,704
Locality
East Manchester
I have 5 sizes of sax and all finger spacings are pretty much the same. From curly sop to bari the 3 main differences are emboucher, distance of right hand from left, and the worst difference is the weight. Sop is light and looks like a toy and the bari, well hernias and broken back are the usual result.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,948
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
He was a sight to see and hear. I saw him on his 80th birthday tour back in the 80's. They brought a cake on and everything. I was in my thirties and am only now realising what a feat it was. ;)
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Café Supporter
Messages
6,466
Locality
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
You may find a sax tutor who will let you try instruments. There is very little difference between modern altos or tenors of any make apart from minor ergonomic ones (different story with older vintage instruments).
 

Hassles

Member
Messages
46
Locality
Australia
now you've realised an alto is a great choice - start thinking about which one.
 
Last edited:

Popular Discussions

Top Bottom