Jazz musicians and students alike have long known the appeal of the saxophone. The melody from this instrument was the basis for many of the great jazz hits. There are three different styles of sax, all with their own unique sounds.

What are the different types of saxophone?

Saxophones are classified as a woodwind instrument. There are a number of different versions within the saxophone family. The four common series are as follows.

  • Soprano: This has a higher register than the other versions and is the third-smallest type.
  • Alto saxophone: Along with the tenor, the alto is a standard version of the saxophone. Altos have range all their own.
  • Tenor: Along with the alto saxophone, this is a standard sax.
  • Baritone: This is a large type of saxophone.

Additional saxophone types, in order from highest pitch to lowest, include the sopranino, bass, contrabass, and subcontrabass sax. While the sounds and sizes of these instruments vary, the method of playing is the same. The ability to play one saxophone translates into the ability to play any pitch of saxophone.

Why are saxophones considered woodwinds?

Woodwind instruments are different from brass instruments because of how sound is produced through them. When playing a brass, the player's lips press against the mouthpiece while valves are being pressed. For a woodwind, reeds are used in order to push the breath through the instrument. Saxophones are typically played using a single reed in the mouthpiece, thus classifying them as a woodwind.

What are the different types of saxophone mouthpieces?

There are different things to consider when choosing what mouthpiece to use with your sax. This includes the style of music you want to play and what is more comfortable in your mouth. Mouthpieces come in a variety of materials as well. Some choices you might see include:

  • Ebonite: This vulcanized-rubber material helps create a cultivated sound.
  • Metal: Metal mouthpieces typically create a contemporary sound.
  • Wood: Wood mouthpieces are reinforced with metal so they don't break easily.