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Difference Between Alto Saxophone and Tenor Saxophone

Alto Saxophone vs Tenor Saxophone

Alto saxophone and tenor saxophone are the most well-known types of saxophone; a musical instrument belonging to the woodwind family. By mere looking at these two, one might find a hard time differentiating them from each other, so let’s see how these two actually differ.

Saxophones vary in sizes; there is soprano, alto and tenor. Tenor is the largest among the three while soprano is the smallest; alto is in between. Alto sax is saxophone most typically used in classical pieces. The range of this saxophone is from D♭3 -A♭5. In terms of sound, alto has a high sound. For starters, alto sax might be a good instrument to start with.

As mentioned above, the tenor sax is larger than the alto and soprano saxophones. Tenor saxophone has a much lower size among the three; actually, the smaller the saxophone’s size is, the higher is its sound. Its range is on B♭2 up to E5; octave lower compared to soprano sax. Because of its lower sound, some people think that tenor sax is more relaxing to listen to.

Choosing which one of the two is better is not easy; it is really up to individual preferences. According to size tenor sax is larger than the alto saxophone so if you are a skinny kid, don’t you think it is awkward to watch you carry a tenor sax? And one may choose according to their preferred sound. Alto has a higher tone which may appear to be energetic and upbeat when listened to. On the other hand, tenor has a low and deep sound, kind of sounding as lazy and relaxing; sometimes the sound of the alto sax can be annoying.

Alto and tenor sax differ in size and, with that, comes some differences, they differ in sound and in their ranges, as well.

In brief:

• Alto sax is smaller than the tenor saxophone.

• Alto has a higher sound compared to the tenor saxophone.

• The alto saxophone’s range is from D♭3 -A♭5while tenor sax is on B♭2 up to E5.


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