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Alto Saxophone Frequently Asked -
Alto and Tenor

You asked?

What is the difference between the Alto Sax and Tenor Sax?

The Alto Sax is smaller than the Tenor Sax.

The Alto Sax is in the key of Eb and the Tenor Sax is in the key of Bb. The music that either sax can play looks the same on paper, but the size difference makes the same note on the Alto Sax sound higher than the same note played on a Tenor Sax.

The size effects the range on the Alto Sax. The Alto is higher pitched and plays higher notes than the Tenor Sax. Smaller instruments play higher and larger Instruments play lower sounding notes.

The smaller size of the Alto Sax also makes it a better choice for younger students of the Saxophone. Smaller hands, smaller lungs, smaller overall body size makes the Alto Sax a great first sax for a beginner.

What is the same between the Alto Sax and the Tenor Sax?

They are both transposing instruments which means neither of them sound the same as Concert Pitch Instruments like a piano.

They have the same buttons, fingerings, number of notes they can play, and the mouthpiece and reed is the noise maker on both. They both are very popular and are the most common of the Saxophones in the Sax Family.

For more on the Sax Family - Alto Saxophone History discusses the different sizes of Saxophones.

For more on Transposing and what the Key of Eb means - Alto Sax Basic covers Transposing for Alto.

For more on Transposing for Bb Tenor Sax - Tenor Sax Basics covers the same info for the Tenor Sax.

Where do you want to go now?

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