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Alto Saxophone Lesson II

Alto Sax parts and accessories

What you need to Play Alto Saxophone?

First thing you need is an Alto Saxophone. See How to Buy a Sax.

An Alto Sax has 2 main parts - the Alto Sax body and the Alto neck that goes on the top. Both are made of metal, usually brass and should fit snug together with an adjustment screw making a tight fit.

The Mouthpiece and supporting parts

The Mouthpiece

The Mouthpiece goes on the cork covered side of the sax neck. They are made of plastic, hard rubber, wood and various metals. Student sax mouthpieces are usually made of plastic or a hard rubber and can cost around 40.00 for a basic mouthpiece. Pro mouthpieces can be wood or metal and made of Brass, Cooper, Steal, Bronze and any number of other metals, often plated with silver or gold. Pro mouthpieces can run over 500 dollars.

The Ligature

The Ligature goes on the mouthpiece and hold the reed in place. Basic Ligatures are made of brass or a band of material (made popular by Rovner). Basic ligatures cost 12-20 dollars. Options are numerous with many wild ligatures available, ranging from 100 dollars and up.

Sax Reeds

Saxophone Reeds are necessary to make any noise. They vibrate when assembled properly, with the mouth in the right position and then blowing into the mouthpiece. Basic reeds like Rico reeds, are made of Cane, and look like a piece of wood. They cost around 15 dollars for 10 reeds and need very careful handling to keep from breaking. Pro reeds can be cane, cane coated with plastic, and synthetic. These can range from 2-10 dollars each.

The Mouthpiece Cap

The Mouthpiece Cap fits over the tip of the mouthpiece and protects the reed. Caps are often made of plastic or metal and usually come with a mouthpiece so they fit together.

The Neck Strap

The Neck Strap hooks onto the Saxophone and goes around the neck to helps support the weight of the Saxophone and playing comfort. A Basic strap will run around 15 dollars and can run 60 dollars or more for really comfortable straps.

Other Stuff you should consider - Accessories

Cork Grease

Cork Grease is used to lubricate the cork for easy movement and adjustment the mouthpiece for tuning. It also extends the life of the cork. Cork Grease can run around a dollar.

Reed Cases

A Reed Case protects your reeds in transport and can extend the reed life by causing the reed to dry flat each time. These can cost anywhere from 12 dollars to 100 dollars.

Chromatic Tuner

A Tuner is a small electronic device that will tell you if your notes are in tune. For proper use of a tuner see How to use your Tuner. A Tuner can run around 20 dollars.

Music Stand

A Music Stand holds your music at a good height for ease of reading. Every music student should have a music stand. A basic wire stand costs around 20 dollars.

Beginning Saxophone Instruction Book

A Basic Saxophone book like the Rubank Method I started with will teach you how to read music, finger the notes and slowly progress to more complex music. A beginning Sax book will cost around 12 dollars.


A Metronome will give you an even beat to try to play with. Some Metronomes are part of the Tuner functions. Metronomes run around 15 dollars.

Cleaning your Sax

There are swabs with strings attached to pull thru your sax or long pad dryers that look like a fluffy stick that you can just leave in your sax to dry the pads. Swabs and pad dryers start at 12 dollars and can run 25 dollars. They also make swabs and dryers for the sax neck and mouthpiece. I use a swab that I pull thru the neck and mouthpiece at the same time - usually made for a clarinet. The only other thing of use is a cloth, soft and cotton, for wiping finger prints and dust off the metal areas of the sax.

In Conclusion

Although there are probably tons of other little gadgets also available for you sax, the list above pretty much covers it.

Just remember, all that you really need is a sax, sax neck, mouthpiece, ligature, sax reed and neck strap to get started. When in doubt, have the saxophone checked out by a qualified repair man to make sure it's all working right. And remember that a private teacher can really help out when your getting started.

So, How Does it all Go Together?

More Alto Sax Lessons

Alto Sax Lesson 1 - Buying My First Alto Saxophone

Quick Notes or full article - Buy, Rent or Borrow?

Alto Sax Lesson 2 - Alto Saxophone Accessories

What do you need to play an Alto Sax?

Alto Sax Lesson 3 - Alto Sax Assembly

How do I put my Alto Sax together?

Alto Sax Lesson 4 - Play Alto Sax

How do I blow and finger my Alto Saxophone?

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