Alto saxophone is perhaps the most popular of all the saxophones and is the choice of many young players as the saxophone to start out on. The alto is also the focus of most classical saxophonists and as well as one of the most popular of the sax family in general for most players.
Alto saxophone is the fourth saxophone in the group of instruments. Sopranisssimo is the smallest followed by sopranino and soprano. Then follows the alto saxophone and after that, in order ranging in size are, tenor, baritone, bass, contrabass and finally the sub contrabass.
The range of the alto saxophone is from a concert D flat (below middle C) to a concert A flat two and a half octaves or so higher. Some instruments actually go a half step higher with a high F sharp key and of course the range can be extended by mastering altissimo fingerings.
Alto saxophones read music in treble clef and are in the key of E flat (Eb) which means that when a C is played on the alto saxophone, the actual pitch is a concert E flat. (Eb)
Alto sax players have a major role in concert band music as well as in jazz, funk, rock, pop, classical, blues and Latin music as well. It is a very popular choice for a new saxophone student or beginner, especially youngsters, due to its size and weight proportions.
Some popular brands for a new student player are Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Jupiter, Cannonball and Selmer. The price ranges from around $700 – 900 and can go all the way up to several thousand dollars for a higher quality saxophone instrument. I recommend a student getting a cheaper, yet high-quality instrument to begin with.
Here are the websites I recommend for purchasing an Alto saxophone: