Sax on the Web Forum Archive / Alto Saxophone / Alto vs Tenor

User ID: 0401124
May 22nd 11:54 AM
Anybody who is playing alto, tenor & sop? Which one you think are more easy?

I start from alto since 2 to 3 months now and want to play either tenor or sop end of this year. I like both tenor & sop sound but don't know which I should pick up first (you know a good horn is nor cheap, can't buy both at the same time).
Dave Dolson
User ID: 9209903
May 22nd 12:54 PM
Alto: I can only answer for me. I'd go to soprano, only because nothing can approach the timbre of a soprano, while in MY opinion, alto and tenor have much the same timbre in the alto's low range and the tenor's mid-range. Subjective? You bet. I'm sure many tenor players may disagree, but . . .

Soprano may be the more difficult; the satisfaction may be greater. DAVE
Brice B.
User ID: 0972444
May 22nd 1:06 PM
I have played strictly alto for about 13 years, and just started playing tenor within the last year. I have to say that tenor is much easier for me to play. I especially like improvising on tenor because you can get away with a lot more things. I believe this is because the alto is much more audible and in the vocal range, so it's easier for people to hear.
Dr G
User ID: 0916684
May 22nd 1:22 PM
Hmmm, you must have a higher voice than me. <g> I've always had a preference for the tenor because I thought it had a more vocal quality. Regardless, I happy to hear that you're enjoying the tenor. I'm just coming back to the alto (again) after being away from it for almost 15 years but the tenor remains number one.
User ID: 1759784
May 22nd 3:44 PM
Soprano can be very lyrical. However, there is lots of repertoire for Tenor and much less for soprano. The bands that I play in have regular parts for Alto, Tenor and Baritone but only occassional opportunities for soprano. You can get a lot more chances to play if you play the horns that are widely needed.

I think Tenor is a lot of fun to play. Each of the horns has its own characteristics. Tenor for me is much easier than Soprano.
Dr G
User ID: 0916684
May 22nd 4:45 PM
If you're talking concert band rep, I agree that there's little call for sop. If you really want to exercise the sop, join/form a quartet. Much more interesting opportunities there for tenor and bari too.

User ID: 1759784
May 22nd 5:17 PM
Not just concert band, but big band/swing band/stage band repertoire rarely calls for a soprano - often for a clarinet - but very rarely a soprano.
Dr G
User ID: 0916684
May 22nd 5:29 PM
True. I play big band and swing band too. Swing band charts will often have clarinet. I don't even take my sop to those gigs any more. Our big band has very few clarinet calls - more flute parts instead. Still, there are very few sop parts - usually treated as a double, sometimes only for solo sections in either the lead alto or jazz tenor book. I take my sop to those gigs but usually leave it in the case until I know that I need it.
Data010101 May 22nd 6:24 PM
Also keep in mind that sop is a lot harder for a beginner to play in tune. You should probably let your ears get "tuned" before trying sop. IMHO
User ID: 2198314
May 22nd 9:37 PM
Brice B.,

A question for me. You said 'I especially like improvising on tenor because you can get away with a lot more things'.

What things you can get a lot in improvising on tenor? I think Improvising should not related to tenor or Sop..

PS: In fact, I aware when I start in alto 2 months before that Sop are more difficult compare to alto & tenor. Mainly because of the low lip tension requirement. For tenor, a bit relaxed embouchure than alto.
User ID: 0512724
May 22nd 11:34 PM
As the mouthpieces get smaller, the horns are harder to play. That is why there is people that says thath alto is mor demanding than tenor. Having a good embochure in alto is a little bit harder, though tenor may need a stronger phisical approach.
User ID: 9279843
May 23rd 12:49 AM
I switch between all three of the horns. Their all different.

Tenor takes more air support but a looser embouchure. Alto tends to play with a little more back pressure, but I find it actually takes less air support than tenor, and a little stonger embouchure. Soprano takes the least air support, you must really open yout throat up to produce good tone,but it also takes the firmest umbouchure. (These are just my opinions with the setups I use)

Soprano I would agree is the trickiest. There are so many poor horns out there that are difficult to play in tune. I had a Winston Pro1 straight my wife was glad to see go. I now play an Yanagisawa sc901 curved soprano and it's unbelievable. I love it! .................. and so does my wife.
novice May 23rd 1:07 AM
Soprano is much more difficult to play in tune, at least for me. It's the small mouthpiece and the tendency to try to handle it like a clarinet that make it so for me.

But play it like a sax and it should be no real problem!