Difference Between Alto and Tenor Saxophone (With Table)

Who doesn’t appreciate music? Music astonishes us and transports us to another dimension. Various instruments are employed to create appealing sounds that pull us into the musical realm. Saxophones generate a wonderful sound, and they are used by most ensembles and orchestras. Alto and tenor and two different types of saxophones. Alto and tenor are favourite instruments of musicians. John Coltrane and Charlie Partner brought these two instruments into the public.

Alto vs Tenor Saxophone

The main difference between Alto and Tenor Saxophone is the size of these instruments. The Alto saxophone is slightly smaller than the tenor saxophone. On the other hand, the Alto saxophone is ideal for persons with tiny hands, while specialists prefer the tenor saxophone.

The Alto saxophone is a standard instrument used in concerts. It is most commonly heard in jazz music. It is classified as a woodwind instrument. It is also called Alto sax or Alto. It is small in size and also affordable, therefore beginners mostly prefer Alto saxophone. It’s also less cumbersome to transport. The Alto saxophone produces brighter notes, and students frequently use it to study. In addition, playing the alto saxophone requires less air. As a result, it’s a good idea for younger kids to practice Alto Saxophone.

The Tenor saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax in 1840. The place of origin of the Tenor saxophone is Belgium. When compared to other saxophones, the Tenor saxophone is quite large. However, it generates a richer, deeper tone. Learning the Tenor saxophone is challenging for a beginner, and it also requires more air. It’s a B flat instrument that’s very popular in bands. It is mostly used in concerts and jazz music. When compared to other instruments, the Tenor saxophone is quite costly.

Comparison Table Between Alto and Tenor Saxophone

Parameters of ComparisonAlto SaxophoneTenor Saxophone
SizeThe alto saxophone is a smaller and lighter instrument. It’s also simple to transport.The tenor saxophone is slightly larger than the other saxophones, and it is not suitable for beginners.
PriceThe alto saxophone is a reasonably priced instrument.The tenor saxophone is a bit pricey.
PitchAlto saxophone is an E flat instrument.The tenor saxophone is a B flat instrument.
SoundBrighter notes are produced by the alto saxophone.Mellow, rich, and deep notes are produced by the tenor saxophone.
NeckAn alto saxophone’s neck is straight and facing upwards.A tenor saxophone’s neck is slightly curved down.

What is Alto Saxophone?

Alto Saxophone is an E flat instrument. Beginners choose this model of saxophone because it is light and easy to play. This device is frequently used by students to study with ease. It is cost-effective and easy to use. It also requires less air to play, making it an excellent instrument for beginners to learn. Yamaha, Buffet Crampon, and cannonball are some of the brands that make alto saxophones.

The Alto saxophone is rarely heard in classical music, preferring instead to be heard in jazz, funk, and pop music. Adolphe Sax created the Alto saxophone in the 1840s. Brighter notes are produced by the Alto saxophone. The Alto saxophone is also known as the Alto sax. The range of Alto saxophones is concert Db3 to concert Ab5.

An Alto saxophone’s neck is angled upwards. Since the alto saxophone is a transposing instrument, it does not sound like the piano or other concert pitch instruments. When playing the Alto saxophone, you’ll need a durable case, extra reeds, a mouthpiece, and a cleaning cloth as accessories.

What is Tenor Saxophone?

The Tenor saxophone is larger and heavier, with a crook at the mouthpiece and a neck that bends slightly down. The Tenor saxophone produces a mellow, rich, and deep sound. The Tenor saxophone is around 3.5 kg in weight. Tenors require more air, resulting in a richer tone. The Tenor saxophone, like Alto saxophone, is a transposing instrument. Tenor can only play notes in the low register.

The tenor saxophone has a B-flat tuning. The tenor saxophone has a tapered barrel and is made of brass. It is commonly used in concerts, big bands, jazz groups and symphonic bands. “Tenor saxophonists,” “tenor sax players,” and “saxophonists” are all terms used to describe tenor saxophonists.

The tenor saxophone rose to prominence in military bands. In classical music, the Tenor saxophone is also utilised. The Tenor saxophone’s fingering system is simple to grasp. Since the fingering method of the Tenor saxophone and the flute are identical, anyone who has mastered the Tenor saxophone may simply learn the flute.

Main Differences Between Alto and Tenor Saxophone

  1. The Alto saxophone is a smaller, lighter, and more approachable instrument. Meanwhile, the Tenor saxophone is a huge and heavy instrument.
  2. The Alto saxophone generates brighter, higher notes, whilst the Aenor saxophone creates deep, mellow tones.
  3. The Alto saxophone is classified as an E flat instrument, while the Tenor is classified as a B flat instrument.
  4. The Alto saxophone’s neck bends upwards, while the Tenor saxophone’s neck bends downwards.
  5. The Alto saxophone requires little air to perform, but the Tenor saxophone requires a lot.


The Alto and Tenor saxophones have numerous similarities. However, there are some minor variances. The Alto saxophone is a beginner-friendly instrument that is low in weight and easy to transport. As a result, the majority of beginners and students prefer to learn the Alto saxophone. If you’re a professional saxophonist looking for a richer, mellower, deeper tone, the tenor saxophone is the way to go.

In addition, the Tenor saxophone is more suited to playing jazz music. Higher notes are played on the alto saxophone, whereas lower notes are played on the Tenor saxophone. However, the accessories necessary for both saxophones are the same.

The Tenor saxophone, on the other hand, is substantially more expensive than the Alto saxophone. Because saxophones have universal fingerings, anyone who has mastered the instrument can play any type of saxophone. In the meanwhile, both the alto and tenor saxophones generate lovely sounds and are a joy to play.


  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/0c321ff1adf19cf8b69d4dc1f37938b0/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y
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