- Do you feel confused by all the saxophone equipment available out there?
- Do you want to eliminate all that confusion and start playing today?
If so, you are in the right place! My main goal is to provide suggestions for basic equipment so the beginning saxophonist can start playing as soon as possible. Let’s get started!
Most saxophones come with a beginner level mouthpiece. Some come with a professional mouthpiece. Generally speaking, many student model mouthpieces will work well enough for you to get started. Go to your local music store to check out these mouthpieces. Try them out before you buy. Find a mouthpiece that is easy to play and produces a good tone. Here is an example of a beginner mouthpiece:
Yamaha 4C (try the 5C for Tenor and Bari)
Do You Already Have A Mouthpiece?
If you purchased a used mouthpiece, be sure it does not contain nicks or major scratches, as this could make the saxophone more difficult to play.
If you already have a mouthpiece and are not sure if it is right for you, feel free to contact me at [email protected]com and I can help you find the right mouthpiece. You don’t want to start on a professional jazz mouthpiece just because it came with your saxophone.
A Quick Note about Reed Strength
On each read there is a stamp that provides a number (see image on left). This number identifies the strength of that reed. As the number goes up (or the strength number is higher) the reed provides more resistance when playing. As it goes down the resistance is less. If you go too low or too high, the tone suffers. Reed strength suggestions are in the next section.
The following are a good choice for a beginner: they are easy to use and cost effective
Rico Royal or Rico:
- 2 ½ for alto
- 2 ½ or 3 for tenor
- 3 for bari
Any generic ligature that holds the reed to the mouthpiece will work well. They can be found at any local music store that sells band equipment.
Reed holders store the reed when you are not playing. They are designed to help your reeds retain their quality as long as possible. Returning the reeds to their original packaging will reduce the quality and effectiveness of the reed.
There are many options in this category too. I have listed one option for alto, two for tenor, and one for baritone.
- Vito Pocket Reed Guards (Alto and Tenor Only)
- Rico Reed Gard II (Baritone or Tenor)
Metronome & Tuner
You can buy a physical metronome, use one online, or use an app on your smart phone or tablet. Be careful to read the reviews before using an app., as some of the free metronomes are not accurate.
If you buy a physical metronome, I would suggest the KORG TM-40 or TM-50. They are accurate and also have a tuner built in as well.
For a louder metronome try the Seiko brand.
Any physical tuner should be fine, and like the metronome, there are online tuners and apps available. Check out their reviews if you are using an app!
I have spent additional time experimenting with free metronome apps, and I was not able to find one that I liked. So, at this point I cannot recommend any free apps. (Updated 2/10/14)
You now have the basic equipment information you need to begin. Contact me by email or leave a comment below if you have a question. If you need help with beginner lessons, click here for free lessons. Ready? Start playing and have fun!