Is your child 'set-up' for Success? Part 3.



For a student to flourish with music making, enjoy the art-form and to excel at their instrument, the saxophone needs to be easy to play. A quality instrument in good working order will ensure ease of playability and lead to a far more enjoyable experience for all. It will also develop confidence and satisfaction within the student, encouraging them to persist with saxophone playing. 

At the very beginning stages, investment in a quality student model saxophone is strongly recommended. At the Saxophone Academy Sydney we only recommend Yamaha student model saxophones. A second hand YAS275 or new YAS280 or YAS26 are all excellent models that will produce a great sound, have an even response and accurate intonation. The Yamaha is a tried and tested brand that is made from quality materials and with an excellent design. Another brand that has some reputation are Jupiter saxophones. These saxophones are cheaper and use a lower grade brass that is much easier to ding and bend, however the design is very good and the instrument will be reliable for the student. 

Sometimes the financial outlay of a new or second-hand instrument is to great, in this case rental of a Yamaha saxophone is recommended. (This is available through the Saxophone Academy Sydney). In saying that, one of the greatest encouragements a student can receive is owning their own saxophone. 

Instruments of unknown brands purchased on ebay should be avoided at all costs, they are the best way to discourage a student from practicing. 


Once the student has been playing for 5yrs or achieved 5th Grade AMEB examination (whichever comes first), the student will be ready for a saxophone upgrade. There are many reasons for this. The beginner instruments are made of a very thin brass that results in a lightweight instrument ideal for smaller students, this thinner brass does not have the resonance and tonal complexity required for an advancing student. The keywork on student models is smaller and closer to the body of the instrument, ideal for small hands, but as the student grows these keys become more challenging to reach. The bore (width of the tube) on student model saxophone is smaller. This means that the student instrument requires less air, but will have a smaller sound with less projection. Finally, student instruments have less adjustable screws and mechanisms, this reduces weight and cost, however the instrument is harder to finely regulate and requires bending to make adjustments. 

Upgrade options at this stage are the intermediate and semi-professional instruments. At the Saxophone Academy Sydney we recommend sticking to the 3 most reputable and reliable brands: Yamaha, Yanagisawa and Selmer Paris. 

Their intermediate/semi-professional models are: 


YAS62 – The Australian standard for this level of upgrade. Excellent playability, tonal flexibility and secure intonation 

YAS480 – this instrument uses the same keywork as the student model but with the body of the YAS62 


AW-01 (A901) – A fantastic saxophone becoming one of the most popular upgrade saxophones. The highest quality brass available with excellent sturdy key-work. A more complex sound than the Yamaha. A favourite of mine. 

AW-02 (A902) – The same as a AW-01 but made of bronze rather than brass, this produces a more mellow tone. 

Selmer Paris 

Seles Axos – Selmer saxophones have been the industry standard for professionals since the turn of the century. Selmer in fact bought the original tools and machinery from Adolphe Sax. They have recently released their first ever ‘Intermediate’ model, The Seles Axos. A quality instrument with an excellent tone. In my opinion these instruments are expensive compared to the other options listed above and do not necessarily offer any additional quality or character. They are a good option for those particularly enthused with tradition.