SATB (or even C), what's your favourite?


Well-Known Member
I've always considered myself a tenor player, although I've been lucky enough to have other saxes for years now. I currently have sop, alto, tenor, bari and C mel, and they're all pretty good horns. Of them all, I've always preferred tenor. I've always liked the coarse R & B tenor approach, which also masks my basic lack of talent. However, over the last two weeks something odd has happened. I'm being seduced by the charms of my newly repaired, slightly battered but very fine playing Yanagisawa alto. I've been enjoying playing it more than any of the others, which is odd. I've had a sort of honeymoon period with non-tenor saxes before, but this is different. It is a great sax, but then so is my tenor. It's been such a strong pull that I've found it difficult to motivate myself to play tenor, even with the added attraction of a PPT Bronzite on loan at the moment.

So, am I having some sort of Damascene conversion after playing for nearly thirty years? Or is a mid-life crisis on the way?:))) Which sax type do other people prefer? Anyone else changed their preference after such a long time? And was it just a brief flirtation followed by a return to type, or a permanent thing?

I'm feeling the urge to go and play it now. In fact I think I will.


Phil Edwards

Senior Member
Alto for me, I've only ever owned Alto's, never had anything else, never wanted to.

(Well, I owned a 'tenor needing repair' for a while, but as I had absolutely no inclination to play tenor I sold it as-bought a few months later)


Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
Started off as a young man on alto (grafton) and loved the thing.
Until it fell apart. Didn't play sax again until 25 years later when the kids had grown up and got a tenor. Absolutely love the sound of the tenor and don't think I will change again. Unless Sue lets me have a bari!


I love my Alto but I'm itching to try a tenor because they sound so good, so I'm watching ebay closely at the moment.


Well-Known Member
Definately Tenor for me - love the awesome sound and presence :welldone I find it easier to play than Alto or Soprano and when I have picked my Alto up it soon goes back in the case:(


ex Landrover Nut
Funny... My teacher has a fine Kohlert Winnenden Tenor, which he mostly uses for my lessons, as I'm learning Tenor. Fine sax and he sounds great on it, but he also has a King Zephyr military alto with a white (Brilhart?) mpc. Sounds fabulous so much so that I'd love one. However I only started playing this year and promised my self & my wife - no messing with other mpcs and no other saxes until I master the tenor.

Itchy fingers..... But if I were to get another, it'd mess me around and I wouldn't be able to do either horn justice. But later..... I'm going to get Stephen's book when it's released and bet some fixer uppers. I'm sure there'll be some altos in the mix.... And if it fits........
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Formerly known as "nachoman"
Tenor all the way for me, though I'm loving my little curved soprano at the mo... Baritones are fun, but always felt limited (plus they're a huge amount of hassle to transport) and I've never felt I could get a tone I liked out of an alto....


Senior Member
Alto was the only sax I had for 15 years or so. recently got a Soprano (just a cheapie), am loving the switching back and forth, and the sound difference. Tryed some tenors in a sax shop, even the most expensive one's I found hard work, needing heaps of breath!



Well-Known Member
Tenor for me! I like Rocksax (R&B, Rock 'n' Roll, Soul, Funk, Blues ..) so the tenor sax is the right sax for me. I have other saxes as well but 90 % of my playing is on tenor.

Sopranino: No, no, no ... nothing for me.
C-soprano: Why? I still own a C-sop but I'm not playing it.
Soprano: Fun to play, but hard. I'm awful on soprano.
Alto: I can't get along with it. But I love the voices of Earl Bostic, David Sandborn, Cleanhead, Tab Smith, Maceo Parker, .... . Best sax for ballads, funk and reggea sax.
C-melody: Even more unintelligible than the C-soprano!
Tenor: Bingo! I bought my first tenor in -72/-73 and from that day Clarence Clemons also moved in to my life. Nothing can beat the big sound of a tenor. You can do so much with a tenor with good results: High screaming tones, play barilines, the Rocksax effects comes out best on the tenors ... . Flexible sax!
Baritone: I love the baritone but to make it sing well I have to practise a lot.
Bassax: To develope the bassax sound you must have a wider range of mouthpieces. I owned a Selmer bassax for some months. I couldn't find a mouthpiece. Beside, the bassax costs a lot to repair/renovate.

You can sum up the tenorsax in Rockmusic as follow:

"It's sound is the voice of R&B and the short, heavily structured sax-solos of R&B-songs that crossed over into Rock and Roll, and the sax riffs that built these songs are forever engraved in the hearts and souls of a generation. The encounter with wild, extroverted and totally uninhibited sax players in the early '50s predates but had a "Presleylike-effect" on white youngsters." (Jonas Bernholm aka MR R&B, holder of the Saxophonograph label)


"I took my loved one out across the tracks
So she could hear my man a-waling sax
I must admit they had a rockin' band
Man he was blowin' like a hurricane!"

(Chuck Berry, "Rock and Roll Music")



For me, it's more a question of what's appropriate for the music. Some stuff just sounds better on tenor, some on alto, or soprano (for instance a lot of Jan Garbarek's music only works well on soprano, in my opinion), "Take Five" works best on alto, "Pink Panther" is best on tenor, to name two obvious examples. I find myself currently drawn mostly to tenor music, but that may change.


If my hands were built different I'd probably spend time with a sop'an'ten but the alto is the only one I can pick up any speed on. And you know, when you fancy playing sax like Jerry Garcia ... :shocked:

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Supporter
I started off on alto. (Another Grafton), but wanted to branch out so soon got a very cheap tenor and even cheaper and almost unplayable baritone. Once I got into college they made me play lead alto in the big band, as I was the loudest alto player. However after college most of my work was on tenor (rock and roll).

However I still think alto is my real voice somehow. When I started I had no idea it was a transposing instrument, so I leant all the notes as concert pitch. To this day, this has stuck with me and I can site transpose for alto, and have to try very hard not to think of C on the tenor as concert Eb. Very odd. This may explain why alto still seems to be the horn I prefer to play.

But my wife prefers lower instruments, loves the baritone and positively hates the sopranino.


Well-Known Member
I've dabbled twice with altos and given up both times after only a few months (mind you, in retrospect, they were rubbish instruments). I've got a Walstein soprano which is fun but hard work, but for me nothing comes close to the tenor. Not just the sound, but it also just looks and feels right in a way that none of the others do. I can quite happily just look at my Cannonball as play it - it is a beautiful bit of kit. I tend to look on the tenor as the perfect sax and all the other derivatives as lesser versions - which is grossly unfair of course, but that's my underlying prejudice!

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Tenor for me and most of my sax heroes play(ed) tenor. However, when I took up the sax there was already my son's discarded alto here at home so I started with that. Having progressed to the lovely Mauriat I'm going to stick with it until I am a good bit more proficient before moving on to tenor. Having tried Mr Git's Hanson though, it is still on my mind to make the change sometime.

The only person I ever heard play C melody at all decently was Frank Trumbauer.


Busking Oracle
I have an alto that I started on five years ago, I still play it occasionally but my main horn is my tenor. I prefer the versatility of the tenor sound and playing with a rock 'n' roll band, it fits with the sound of that era. I am hoping to get my hands on a bari after Christmas, so we'll have to wait and see if that becomes my sax of choice!


passion for saxophones

i love the sound of all sax saxophones especially that lester young bottom end style of playing so therefore for me. its got to be the tenor !
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