10 Best Saxophone Brands – Comprehensive Guide

Photo of author
Written By Will Fenton

Founder of MidderMusic. From numerous bands to stints working in music shops, read more about me on the 'Here's My Story' page!

Are you ready to buy your first saxophone or looking for a new sax brand?

Buying a new instrument can be tricky, especially if you’re a beginner. Even experienced saxophonists can get lost in all the models and options.

But before digging into online catalogs or visiting a music store, there are several things you should be aware of.

As saxophone manufacturers produce instruments with different features and target audiences, you need to know what type of saxophone you’re searching for and whether you’re up for a new one or a second-hand piece.

To help you make the right decision, we’ve made this buying guide that will introduce you to the best saxophone brands.

Best Saxophone Brands

The best saxophone brands suitable for beginners, intermediates, and more advanced players:

  1. Selmer Paris
  2. Yamaha
  3. P. Mauriat
  4. Yanagisawa
  5. Keilwerth
  6. Conn-Selmer
  7. Mendini
  8. Cannonball
  9. Borgani
  10. Elkhart

1. Selmer Paris

Selmer is a legendary French manufacturer that has been making woodwind instruments since 1885. 

They started making saxophones in 1922, and today they offer a wide range of beautiful and quality saxophones for all styles and levels.

Selmer Paris Saxophone

Their timeless Super Action 80 Series is considered one of the best professional alto saxophones.

There are also great models for beginners, such as Selmer BS500 Baritone Saxophone and Selmes AS42 Alto Saxophone.

Selmer instruments are still being hand-crafted in Paris. In fact, they’re made in one of the oldest factories of that kind.

So, as you might assume, Selmer Paris saxophones can be pricey, but they’re without a doubt one of the top saxophone brands in the world.

Therefore, if you’re not on a budget and you’re seriously considering working on your saxophone skills, then you can’t go wrong with Selmer Paris.

2. Yamaha

Yamaha is one of the most popular names when it comes to manufacturing all sorts of products.

They’re also one of the best saxophone brands. Their instruments are durable, good-looking, and often within a reasonable price range.

Yamaha saxophone brand.

Unlike Selmer, they’re also focused on producing student saxophones and instruments for intermediate players. And despite the level they’re for, these models produce a good-quality sound.

The Yas 280-Alto is a great saxophone for beginners and students. It has a gold lacquer finish, a sonorous tone, and it comes with a case.

And the Yamaha 82Z Custom is the right choice if you’re playing jazz. It’s a free-blowing, wider-bored model.

Yamaha also makes great tenor saxophones such as Yamaha YTS-26 with quality horn, nickel keys, and adjustable thumb-rest. You’ll have to spend more on that one though.

3. P. Mauriat

P. Mauriat is new on the market in comparison to some other saxophone manufacturers on our list.

This Taiwanese brand quickly became a huge success in the saxophone world as they produce high-quality instruments suited for all levels.

P. Mauriat saxophones.

What helped them stand out from the competitors is the option of rolled tone holes on their professional alto and tenor saxophones. So, the tone holes are completely extruded from the brass, which results in providing better resonance.

All P. Mauriat saxophones are fully hand-made and hammered from French brass. 

You can choose from amazing baritone, alto, and tenor models. However, as they can be quite pricey, you should consider them if you’re planning to really dedicate yourself to your saxophone practice.

4. Yanagisawa

Yanagisawa saxophones are known for their quality, durability, and carefully crafted details.

This Japanese company started with the saxophone business in 1951 and grew to be one of the top sax brands.

Yanagisawa AWO20PG Alto Saxophone, Pink Gold.

They are mostly focused on saxophones for advanced players.

Yanagisawa saxophones are sought-after in a professional musical world due to their rich sound and high-quality ebony mouthpieces.

Also, you can buy them for a cheaper price than many other professional saxophones.

5. Keilwerth

This German saxophone brand was founded back in 1925 when Julius Keilwerth and his brother Max started building saxophones with a European concert hall tradition in mind.

Over time, they started to manufacture instruments for the jazz market as well.

Keilwerth JK3000-9-0 MKX Tenor Saxophone.

Keilwerth saxophones soon became famous for their distinctive sound, unusual ergonomics, and long-lasting quality.

The Keilwerth Shadow is one of their most popular models. It has both amazing design and performance. It’s made of black nickel and it produces a rich, solid tone.

The Keilwerth saxes range from student and intermediate saxophones to expensive professional instruments.

6. Conn-Selmer

Conn-Selmer is one of the leading saxophone manufacturers in the United States.

Their saxophones are well-built, reliable, and durable. Many would agree that they produce a tone worthy of a much more expensive instrument.

Conn-Selmer PAS380V Premiere Alto Saxophone | Wind Section

After all, saxophone legend Courtney Pine described Conn-Selmer saxophones as modern-day classics.

The Premiere PTS-380V has a beautiful, vintage-looking design and modern features. And the Rosseau ebonite mouthpiece is a nice touch. It’s recommended for advancing players.

7. Mendini 

If you’re looking for cheaper, beginner saxophones, you should check out Mendini by Cecilio saxophones.

They’re quite popular saxophones and they’re great if you’re just starting out. Mendini saxophones are lightweight, consistent, and reliable.

Mendini saxophone.

The Mendini by Cecilio Eb Alto Saxophone has a sleek lacquered body, a large bore, quality leather pads, and faux mother of pearl inlays. In other words, it’s an elegant instrument that will do more than fine for both beginners and intermediate players.

However, with cheaper prices usually comes poorer quality. While this is not entirely true for Mendini models, you’ll have to be aware that they don’t offer the top-notch quality that some other sax brands entail.

Some materials used for these saxophones are simply not durable, so it’s likely you’ll have to do repairs from time to time.

8. Cannonball Saxophones

Cannonball is another well-known brand with headquarters in the USA.

They produce fine instruments for advanced and professional players, within a price range of P. Mauriat.

Cannonball Saxophones - Stone Series, Vintage Reborn, Sceptyr, Alcazar,  Gerald Albright Signature Series

Cannonball saxophones have the advantage of having a customizable sound and look, and they’re great for upbeat tempos.

Their patented silver-plated FAT Neck is hand engraved by Salt Lake City artisans, and it’s a pretty unique piece.

However, the Big Bell Stone is one of their most popular series. This Cannonball signature range includes instruments with a unique sound and construction. They come with two necks: a traditional-style neck and the “Fat” neck.

Experienced saxophonists will undeniably appreciate the sound and design of these distinctive pro saxophones.

9. Borgani

This family-run company was founded in Marcerato, Italy, back in 1872.

While the fourth generation runs the company, Borgani is successfully keeping its place among the best saxophone brands.

Borgani Jubilee Tenor Saxophone in Pearl Silver.

They have the famous Joe Lovano as the ambassador.

“This beautiful instrument, with its Pearl Silver body and Gold 24K keys, gives me such a warm, brilliant sound, with a dynamic range, beyond my wildest expectations” is how Joe Lovano described his custom-made Borgani saxophone.

Some of the Borgani saxophones you can purchase are straight soprano sax, half-curved soprano sax, alto sax, and tenor sax.

Most of the instruments are available in different materials, including the 24K gold-based alloy. Along with Pearl Silver, it’s a material that allows you to produce a powerful sound.

10. Elkhart

We have one more suggestion for beginners – it’s Elkhart, an affordable sax brand sought after students and music schools.

The Elkhart 100 Series is a good budget-friendly option. These alto and tenor saxophones are well-built and they produce a nice sound.

Elkhart saxophone brand.

There’s also the SXAD Deluxe, a student alto saxophone that is more robust, reliable, and elegant-looking. The mouthpiece is plastic though, which doesn’t come as surprise in cheaper saxophone options.

All in all, Elkhart saxophones is great for saxophone students and beginners as it ensures good value for money.

How to Buy a Saxophone

To make the buying process easier, make a couple of decisions first.

As there are both new and vintage saxophones on the market, think about what’s the best option for you.

Second-hand saxophones are, of course, more affordable than new pieces. You can get a professional sax brand for a good price.

However, vintage saxophone can be in bad shape, so make sure that the instrument is well-kept. If it’s going to need repairs soon or you need to buy a lot of missing parts, then it probably doesn’t have a good value for money.

But if you find a saxophone that’s been carefully maintained by the previous owner, you can get yourself a really good deal!

How to buy a saxophone

On the other hand, new saxophones will make you spend a bit more, but you’ll get a warranty guarantee and a saxophone in a top-notch shape.

And in case you decide to buy a new one anytime soon, and you have a sax brand that is sought-after, you’ll easily resell it.

Also, besides relying on valuable professional advice and buying guides, it’s always interesting to check what some great musicians prefer.

Buying a Saxophone Online Vs In Store

So once you know which way to go, you’re ready for some shopping!

You can either find your future saxophone online, or you can visit a nearby music store.

Music stores are great because you can get a professional opinion and someone with a lot of experience will help you. And it’s simply a different feeling when you can hold an instrument in your hand before purchasing it.

Online instrument shopping has also become quite popular though. You can get all the info there, it’s much more convenient, and in some cases even cheaper.

Many good saxophone brands have online stores. Their websites are often detailed and easy to navigate.

In the end, the most important thing about buying a saxophone is to choose the right brand.

Final Thoughts

There are many great sax brands out there – from budget-friendly saxophones for beginners to professional saxes that will mesmerize you with their sound and looks.

Buying a saxophone is challenging though. If you’re considering good saxophone brands, it is quite an investment, so it’s important to gather enough information before making any decision.

There’s also a possibility to rent a saxophone. It’s an affordable option for those who are just starting out with their online saxophone lessons or other learning programs.

But if you believe your saxophone commitment will be long-term, it’s undoubtedly smarter to buy your own instrument. And if a new instrument is too expensive for you, you can always opt for second-hand pieces.

Nevertheless, your saxophone purchase will definitely be worthwhile. It’s a beautiful, creative, and rewarding instrument to play, and it offers a variety of possibilities after you master the basics.

It’s also one of the easiest jazz instruments to learn, so it’s ideal for beginners.

We hope this best saxophone brands review inspired you to keep improving your saxophone skills and helped you decide which model suits you best.