The Ultimate Guide To The Best Bass Guitars You Can Buy in 2018

If you’re a bass player, you know the struggle of being constantly overlooked in favor of the lead guitar player. However, the bass is crucial in a band and having a good guitar will allow you to shine even if you can’t exactly play it with your teeth while kneeling and throwing up horn signs with your arms.

Playing the bass is tricky and requires a great feeling for rhythm and timing, but you’ll be able to manage it if you have the best bass guitar around. Today I’ll tell you how to get one and review the best ones on the market. So, let’s get this party started!

Before you even start looking at the guitars you need to know which brand you want to buy from, right? So, which one is the best?

Sorry to disappoint you but, strictly speaking, I don’t think there’s one, singular “best” brand out there – it simply doesn’t exist. There are good brands and bad brands, yes, but I can’t single out one as the best. Each brand offers something unique and something different, so it’s up to you to consider what you need and pick the best brand for you.

To help you choose, I’ll give you some info on some of the top brands and a few of their good and bad points.

Fender

 is a household name at this point, the legendary manufacturer who made the guitars for made bass guitars for some of the most accomplished guitarists of almost any genre.

Their best instruments are passive four-stringed guitars, but they do have five-string instruments as well.

Squier

is a subsidiary of Fender, but their guitars are different enough to deserve a section all about them. They specialize in making beginner instruments that cost less, aren’t quite as high-quality but are easy to play and, most of all, affordable. They also make some professional-level instruments as well.

If you’re a beginner though, you will want to take a look at this brand. Intermediate players on a budget should take a look at their guitars as well.

Ibanez

is the brand of choice for most metal guitarists, though their guitars have also found their way into pop and jazz bands. They’re a long-standing Japanese company that started out copying other brands but developed their own identity.

If you’re a metal musician or a beginner looking to start a metal band, you should consider Ibanez guitars as your choice.

Ibanez

 is not as well-known as Fender, but they have also been there since the beginning of rock music as we know it today. Plenty of legendary musicians have used their guitars and for a good reason – they make exceptional instruments that look great.

If you want a well-made, professional-level guitar, you’ll get one right here.

Yamaha

makes almost every instrument imaginable, so it’s no wonder they also make bass guitars. Their beginner offerings have been stellar in recent years – well-made, easy to pick up and play while remaining affordable. They also have some professional-level offerings in their lineup which won’t disappoint.

Overall, they have one of the largest catalogs out of all brands, and they make reliable gear. Take a look at them no matter what kind of bass guitar you want – they might have it.

Gibson

manufactures high-end guitars that look great, perform well and last for decades. Their products cost a lot, but if you’re looking for cool-looking guitars that play just as well as they look, you’ll find that at Gibson. It’s no wonder they are one of the top choices among rock bands.

Lakland

is a relatively new American company but one that has already made a name for itself. They offer high-quality guitars on the level of Fender while also having a lot of great beginner offerings in their lineup. Their guitars are particularly good for jazz musicians – if you’re one of them, check this company out.

Schester

is the ultimate choice for musicians on a budget. If you want great guitars that won’t set you back too much, you’ve got them right here. It’s the reason they’ve become one of the top choices for startup metal and rock bands. Their Stiletto series is a definite standout.

Those are just some of the top brands out there, but I’m sure you’ll find at least one that makes guitars you will like.

How to Pick the Right Bass Guitar

Not even the best of the best are quite sure how to pick the right guitar – they just go by feel and even then they sometimes fail. So, what can you do as a lesser player or even a beginner? Well, get yourself well-informed, first and foremost.

In this section I’ll tell you what you need to consider when picking the best bass guitar for you – I hope it helps.

The Tonewood Used in the Construction

Bass guitars can be made from many different materials, but the material used to make the body is arguably the most important factor. It greatly influences the sound of the instrument, and it should be an important factor when you choose your bass guitar.

Aghatis

 is wood commonly used to make starter bass guitars due to how inexpensive it is. It emphasizes the midrange tones over the upper ones.

Basswood

makes the guitar quite versatile since it’s soft and absorbs most of the vibrations. It is ideal for more complex playing due to having shorter sustain.

Maplewood

is dense which leads to guitars made from it having a crisp and bright tone as well as a clarity that makes it sound great on recordings. It’s not as good in a live setting, but it still sounds decent.

Mahagony

guitars sound fuller than most others and they emphasize the lower register due to its low resonance. You’ll find this material commonly used in some more expensive guitars.

Alder/Ash

guitars sound fuller than most others and they emphasize the lower register due to its low resonance. You’ll find this material commonly used in some more expensive guitars.

There are guitars out there made from other, rarer or more expensive woods, like ebony, but this is most of what you need to know. Also – avoid guitars with synthetic bodies, it nearly never works, and they sound awful.

The Number of Strings

The most common number of strings you’ll find in a bass guitar is four. I find that most players swear by that. However, that is not the be-all-end-all – there are bass guitars with five or six strings as well.

The four string models are common for a reason – they’re easier to play, and four strings is more than enough for most music genres. However, if you’re looking to play something out of the ordinary, having only those four strings will limit you.

Five-string models offer you the option of having a lower B which is essential for jazz and useful for both rock and metal. Six-strings add even more range with a high C string on them – if you want to play some experimental jazz or be a bass soloist, this is probably the best choice. It offers much more versatility than having five or four strings.

These two options are much harder to play though, so you shouldn’t pick them as a beginner. Once you’ve mastered the four-string bass though – why not give them a shot?

Electric or Acoustic?

Most of the bass guitars out there nowadays are electric ones. When people think of bass guitars, this is what most of them will imagine. They are versatile and easier to use but do require electricity and a bass amplifier to get going.

Acoustic bass guitars are rarer these days, but they require nothing but your hands. They offer a more natural feel and a deeper sound. They are harder to play, and you might struggle if you never played an acoustic guitar.

Hybrid basses also exist – they are rare though. They are hollow, and you can play them as either acoustic or electric, but they sound like a mix between the two.

The 5 Best Bass Guitars You Can Buy Right Now

Squier by Fender 310902558 Bronco Bass – A Small but Powerful Beginner Bass

This is a beginner bass with a scale of 30, making it ideal for people with smaller hands or children. Despite being a beginner instrument, it’s no slouch, and it offers a great looking Agathis body with a rich sound and a few great features like the 2-saddle chrome bridge.

It’ also got easy volume and tone control and tuning it up is a simple thing to do – even a child can tune it up. The sound is great and crisp without only minimal distortions. If you’re not an expert, you won’t be able to tell it apart from a professional instrument.

Sadly, it’s not as durable as you would at expect, to the point that it is not uncommon for it to be damaged during shipping. It’s also a bit too heavy for a beginner guitar, so watch out if you’re buying it for your kid.

PROS

Good beginner bass at a great price

Easy to tune up

Sounds and looks great

The size is perfect for smaller hands

CONS

A bit too heavy for a beginner instrument

Quite flimsy

Ibanez PCBE12MHOPN – Beauty and Versatility in One Package

Unlike the other instruments on the list, this is an acoustic bass, making it significantly different in both sound and handling from the other ones. It doesn’t make it less exceptional though, and it’s a great instrument that’s easy to pick up and play.

It’s got a solid and superb construction, combining mahogany for the body with maple for the neck. It’s all finished off by rosewood fretboards. It has a dark and rich sound to it with a variable tone so you can play it in a wide variety of styles. However, don’t be too aggressive with it or you will have problems – you have to play it lightly.

Playing it is easy, and it’s quite a light guitar so nearly anyone can hold it without issues. It does have some trouble staying in tune, but if you play it lighter than an electric bass, it will sound great.

It’s a beautiful and highly affordable instrument fit for beginners and more experienced players alike.

PROS

Variable tone

Light and easy to play

Superb and beautiful construction

It’s a highly affordable instrument

CONS

It has trouble staying in tune

You have to play it lightly

Dean E09M Edge – Well-made and Superbly Easy to Play

This is a 34-inch basswood instrument with a maple neck, a rosewood fretboard and a vintage style to it. To be honest, I think it looks a bit drab but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the instrument just plays marvelously. It has a nice, soft sound that’s crisp and well-intonated.

Tuning this instrument is quite easy through the Diecast Dean tuners, and the intonation can be adjusted so you can play a wide variety of styles with it.

Like the entire Edge series from the Dean brand, this guitar is light and comfortable to hold, more than most others. Even with the longer neck, it will be good for beginners or those with smaller hands.

The only thing making playing harder is the fact that it has only one passive pickup, though you can add more as well as an active pickup if you need it.

PROS

Adjustable intonation

Easy tuning

The sound is awesome

The price is affordable to anyone

CONS

It looks quite bland

Only one passive pickup

Silvertone LB11 – A Gorgeous Guitar with Essential Accessories

This is not just a guitar; it’s a whole package that will help you get started with playing bass. It comes at a supremely affordable price considering everything you get with the guitar – a BAX bass amp, strings, neck strap, picks, a cable, a carry bag, a digital tuner and a few smaller extras.

But, how’s the guitar itself? Well, it looks cool in its cobalt blue color, the body is made of good-quality ash while the 34-inch neck is made out of maple. It sounds awesome once you get to playing it, though you might need to replace the amp and the strings included – they are not of the best quality.

Overall, it’s just a great beginner bass and an amazing deal for the price. If you’re just starting out with playing the bass guitar, this one along with all the extras will help you a lot.

PROS

Great for a beginner with lots of cool extras

Highly affordable price

The sound is awesome

Awesome looking bass

CONS

The amp has some distortion

The strings will need replacing

Fender Standard Precision Electric Bass Guitar – A High-quality Bass Fit for Pros and Beginners Alike

As with most Fender products, this is a high-quality instrument made to fit its purpose almost to perfection. It has a great look, it plays well, and it has a ton of additional features.

Among those features is a push-pull switch located in the tone knob which you can use to achieve a single-coil chime. The guitar does have only a single coil but its split into two, providing a smooth tone. The pickups also sound great with almost any amplifier, even a cheap one. The sound is choppy, bright and vibrant.

Even if you don’t care about all the advanced feature, this instrument is easy to use and tune, so it can fit even a beginner. The price tag is a bit higher, but it is worth the cost.

The only major downside is the flimsiness of the materials. It’s still a nice guitar but not as durable as you would expect from a Fender product.

PROS

Superb, modern coil design for a nice tone

Easy to tune and play

Good for both beginners and pros

Versatile

CONS

The cost is a bit high

Not as durable as you would expect from Fender

My Pick for the Best Guitar

As I said when it came to brands – there’s just no way to pick one as the best out of all. It’s all a matter of taste and what you need out of your instrument. So, this is just my personal judgment and not an absolute truth, but I think that the Fender bass wins out today.

It’s just a great guitar for almost any skill level, it plays like a dream and looks like a dreamboat. It’s not as durable as I thought it would be but it’s still a kickass bass, and you can’t go wrong with it.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Would you pick a different guitar? Sound off in the comments, and I hope I’ll see you next time as well.

How to play Guitar – Beginner’s Guide

No matter your current age or occupation, learning to play a new instrument is always rewarding. The guitar is a very popular instrument, and while many have a desire to learn, often they give up because the learning gets too demanding for them.

Don’t let this discourage you; I will give you a simple guide which you can overcome very quickly and grow from it. You will learn everything a beginner needs to know without paying for a guitar instructor or beginner guitar classes. All you need is a desire to learn and the determination to become a guitarist.

Before we get started with basic lessons, first you need to get yourself a guitar. While browsing guitars, you can choose whichever you want based on your personal preference. But, there are some important factors you need to consider.


Pay attention to:

  • Guitar’s price
  • Guitar’s style
  • Your size and age
  • The condition of the guitar
  • Where you’re buying it

Where to get it

Since you’re new to all of this, avoid the flea market, yard sales, and pawn shops. Used guitars should be purchased by people who have plenty of experience with guitars. Beginners are easily tricked; you might end up buying an overpriced guitar that has a lot of wear and tear.

Your safest bet is to go to the nearest music shop and get yourself a brand new instrument. You can even buy it online, but use only the trusted sources and be sure that the shop has a good return policy.

How much will it cost

The price tags of guitars can vary a lot. The prices go as high as $1000 and beyond, but most agree that a good quality guitar is between $300 and $500.

This sounds a bit much for a start, doesn’t it? Don’t worry; there are plenty of good quality guitars for just a couple hundred of bucks.

There are plenty of package options as well, these are good beginner options since they include everything you need to get you started, and they are often offered at a discount too.

Three types of guitar

It’s up to you to decide which type of guitar you want to play. You can choose from classical, electric and acoustic. My advice to everyone who is just starting is to learn how to play the acoustic guitar first. Classical guitar has a wide neck which can be pretty hard for newcomers.

Especially for the younger players, since they have smaller hands. Electric guitars are not that hard to learn, but they require a lot of additional equipment, amplifier at least, which raises the cost significantly.

Acoustic guitars are affordable and don’t require additional equipment, which makes them the best choice for beginners.

Checking the guitar’s condition

If you have a really limited budget, and you want to get a used guitar, you should know at least few pointers how to inspect it properly. I wouldn’t recommend at all that you go on a search for a guitar that has some mileage on it, but if you have to, at least I can help you a bit.

Take the guitar in your hands to inspect it. Take a look at its neck and run your hand slowly up and down, and I don’t mean that you should check the strings, but the back part. The surface should be smooth with no sharp edges.

Now turn it over and check the heel. The heel is the below the neck, where it meets the body. If the guitar is in fair condition, it shouldn’t have any cracks between the neck and the heel.

Now check the front. Inspect the bridge, grab a pick and run it between the bridge and the body. It shouldn’t have any gaps. The only thing left to check is the guitar’s string height. Press down on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd fret.

You should be able to do it with minimal force applied. Now come to the 12th fret and press the strings down, the distance between the top of fret and the bottom of the string shouldn’t be more than 3 times. If it’s 5 times the distance, the neck of the guitar might be warped, or the bridge might be too high.

First things first

The first lesson we need to cover is how to hold the guitar properly. I don’t know do you have any experience with guitars, so we will start from the beginning. Right off the bat, you should also learn three basic numbering systems.

How to hold it

The first lesson we need to cover is how to hold the guitar properly. I don’t know do you have any experience with guitars, so we will start from the beginning. Right off the bat, you should also learn three basic numbering systems.

Numbering systems

There are 3 numbering systems for frets, fingers, and strings.

Frets

are the metal strips that lay on the neck of the guitar. If you’re right-handed the one that’s farthest to your left is the first one. The one next to it is the second one etc. Even though this is extremely simple, it’s important that you understand it before you start practicing chords.

Fingers 

have a very simple numbering system. The index finger is the 1st one, the middle one is the 2nd, the ring finger is the 3rd, and the pinky is 4th. Also very simple, but very important to remember, so you will know where to put your fingers in order to make a chord.

Strings 

are the last numbering system. The thinnest string is the 1st one, and the fattest one is the 6th. Maybe the easiest numbering system to remember.

Basic Strumming

Now it’s time for you to get to know the guitar pick and the strumming technique.

How to choose a pick

Since you’re just beginning to use one, I would suggest that you get a standard medium thickness pick. Start with that one, and go from that point as you prefer, you can try thinner or thicker later on. You can play without one if you want to, in that case, you can make the motions with your thumb and index finger.

How to hold the pick

The way you hold a pick depends on your preference, grab it with your thumb and your index finger in a way that feels the most natural to you. Hold it firm, but stay relaxed, if that makes sense to you. A lot of new players have the difficulty with holding the pick if you notice that you can hold it, include your middle finger in the grip.

That way you will have the stability you need, and eventually, you will be able to hold the pick using only two fingers. Try different grips and keep the one that feels the best for you.

Strumming technique

Before we start with the strumming technique, I would like to tell you few things that will help you at the start. Remember not to use only your elbow in the motion; you should use your wrist and the elbow simultaneously. Your hand should be relaxed, but you should hold the pick firmly.

Try a few downstrokes. They are easier, and you will start to get the feeling how you should strum. Downstrokes don’t require a lot of practice and time, and as soon as you get the feeling how you should strum, we can move on to upstrokes.

Upstrokes could be pretty demanding for you right now. But, you can make them seem a bit easier by following these tips:

  • Don’t strum through all the strings. Not even if the chord requires them. Most players go only through the top three strings.
  • Use as much as the pick you need to get the desired volume. But, if you use too much of it, you might have trouble pushing it through all the strings.

Relax and try few upstrokes and keep the things above in your mind.

When you overcome upstrokes, it’s time for you to learn the counting. Majority of the song is in 4-4 time. That means there are 4 beats for each music measure. You might saw a drummer count “1-2-3-4”, those numbers are the beat.

Try strumming while counting “1-2-3-4” out loud. Strum with downstrokes on “1” each time you count. That way you’re strumming whole notes. If you try strumming on every number, you will be strumming quarter notes.

Chord Shapes

The easiest chord shapes are E-Minor and D2, but I will tell you about a couple more. Before you start learning chords, make sure your guitar is in tune.

C Major

  • Put the first finger on the 2nd string at the 1st fret. Your middle finger should be at the 2nd fret, and the ring finger should be on the 5th string at the 3rd fret.
  • Let the 1st and 2nd strings be open.
  • check
    Strum the bottom 5 strings, that’s C-chord for you!

D Major

  • Put the first finger on the 3rd string at the 2nd fret, and your fourth finger should be on the 2nd string at the 3rd  fret position.
  • Let the 4th string be open.
  • check
    Strum the bottom 4 strings.
  • check
    Listen to the sound that is D-chord.

D2 Major

  • Put your index finger on the second fret of the third string, and your third finger on the third fret of the second string.
  • Strum all strings and you will hear the D2-chord!

E-Minor

  • Put your middle finger on the 5th string at the 2nd fret, and your ring finger on the 4thstring at the 2nd fret.
  • Leave all other strings open.
  • check
    Strum all the strings and you got yourself E-minor chord!

G Major

  • Put your middle finger on the 5th string at the 2nd fret, your ring finger on the 6th string at the 3rd fret, and your pinky on the 1st string at the 3rd fret. This one might be a bit tricky.
  • Leave other strings open.
  • check
    Strum all the strings and you will get the tone of the G-chord!

How to make those chords clean

If you’re having trouble making these chords sound clear, try pulling your elbow a bit closer to your body. Now your hand should be in a better position. You can even try sitting on a footstool or standing and carrying the guitar on a strap. These positions should make the guitar stand higher and give you the ability to reach the notes correctly.

Smooth chord transitioning

Almost every new player finds the changing of chords extremely challenging. You can change the chords smoothly by following these two tips:

  • Try to remember the shapes of the chords, this way you will know how to create the shape instantly and transition smoothly. The time you spend memorizing the chord shapes will mean less time spent frustrated when you can’t transition smoothly.
  • Before you need to switch to another chord, try to visualize it, think about how it looks and how it feels, this way you will anticipate it and make the change much faster and natural.

Playing your first song

Now to put everything we went through to work is to play an actual song. The only thing left for you to learn to play music is chord progressions. A chord progression is an order of chords that you play together to form a song.

I got a simple song for you that involves only two chords. Play in E-minor for one “1-2-3-4” measure, and then play D2 chord “1-2-3-4” for one measure. Count out loud and strum each chord on “1”.

Congratulations! You played your first song!

In conclusion

And that’s it; you learned everything you need to call yourself a rising guitar player! From this point onward you should progress to more complicated songs and overcome them one by one. Remember that practice makes perfect, and playing the guitar is all about practice.

If you truly want to be a good guitar player, don’t neglect it, and keep on practicing!

Searching for the Best Trumpet Available in 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

Trumpets are very appealing instruments; they seem so simple to handle, and they can produce beautiful melodies. That’s why a lot of people take an interest in learning to play them. There are so many famous trumpeters that people like to listen to, like Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker and more.

These musicians often inspire people to pick up the trumpet and start learning all about it. Some people want to play it casually; others become really passionate about it. No matter what your cause or the goal is, you will get all the basics that will get you started, right here.

The first trumpets date way back to 1500 BC. Their initial purpose was to signal for military purposes, and they were used in the religion. Their design improved over the course of time and the materials used to produce it. Most improvements made were in the Middle Ages.

The Renaissance period turned the once signaling tool into a musical instrument. The trumpets in this era didn’t have valves, only a single coiled tube. They weren’t capable of producing the notes yet. The golden age of the natural trumpet was the Baroque era.

Most of the music in this era was written for trumpeters. The art of playing trumpet was going strong and started slowly fading away after some time. It came back to life around the mid-20th century. Even the modern trumpet players tend to use natural trumpet with 3-4 vent holes to correct out-of-tune notes.

Since the natural trumpet was very limited, it’s requirement for chromatic freedom lead to the creation of the keyed trumpet. At first, it had a very poor sound quality, but in 1818 the patent was made for box valves, which contributed to the great improvement.

Since this type of trumpet was developed so late, it had a very limited repertoire. But, the 20th century had an explosion of music written for the modern trumpet.

Types of trumpets

Bb Trumpet

piccolo Trumpet

There are 8 types of trumpets to choose from; A, B, C, D, E♭, E, low F and G. The most common type overall is the B♭ trumpet, while the C trumpet is the most common in orchestral playing in America.


The small trumpets are called piccolo trumpets, and they are built to play B♭ and A alike. They feature separate lead pipes on each key. There are also piccolo trumpets in G, F, and C, but they are not that common. Trumpets pitched in low G key are called sopranos and soprano bugles. They are adapted from the military and were traditionally used in bugle corps. They can be found with both rotary and piston valves.

The bass trumpet

The bass trumpet is played by trombone players because it has the same pitch. The music for the bass trumpet is written in treble clef. The most common keys for it are B♭ and C. The modern trumpet you see today is the side trumpet that is a B♭ trumpet which has a slide instead of valves.  It’s very similar to soprano trombone.

The bass trumpet

The pocket trumpet is a smaller and compact version of the B♭ trumpet. The bell is quite smaller compared to the standard trumpet, and the tubing tightly wound to maintain the length of the tube but to reduce its size. It doesn’t have the standard design, and the quality varies a lot based on different models.

The herald trumpet

The herald trumpet has a bell extending in front of the player much more than the standard trumpet. It’s mostly used in ceremonies.

Choosing your trumpet

To start playing, you will first need an instrument, naturally. The best thing for you to do is to go to the nearest music shop and ask them for the best trumpet for a beginner. When they give you a suggestion, be sure to ask them is the trumpet in the B-flat key. That’s the best option for a novice player.

The B-flat key is the easiest scale to learn. You shouldn’t focus on a branded trumpet; even an unlabeled trumpet will be just fine for you. You can even rent one for a start if you just want to try it out. But before you rent it, check if the valve casing has dents, and the valves can move smoothly and are not noisy. Also, check if all slides can move freely.

When you get home with your rented or purchased trumpet, get to know its mechanism, appreciate its beauty and then get ready to start learning.

Practicing basic sounds

Before you even put the trumpet against your lips, you should practice your first sound. Start by creating the “mmm” sound. Hold your mouth in that position and start blowing through in order to create the buzzing sound.

This is the basic lip position you should overcome. If you’re having trouble with creating that sound and maintaining the shape of your lips, just imagine that there’s a small paper on the tip of your tongue. Once you master the lip part, you will be ready to start the trumpet basics.

When you fully assemble your trumpet, inhale through the mouth assume the lip position you previously learned and place the trumpet on your lips. Start vibrating and creating that buzzing sound you previously overcame.

You should focus and recognize the feeling of your lips when they loosen and tighten. Don’t press the valves just yet, not until you get the hang of the feeling of your lips. Begin to tighten your lips a bit and try to gently press one or two valves.

The valves are numbered 1-3, 1 being the closest to you and 3 being the farthest one. Now you have successfully played your first notes! If you feel kind of stuck on the buzzing part, don’t give up just yet! You can improve and speed up your advance by carrying a mouthpiece with you.

Use the mouthpiece to practice the buzzing sound as much as you can, and once you are able to buzz into the mouthpiece correctly, you will do it properly using the trumpet as well. The buzzing sound through the mouthpiece should sound like a duck call. A lot of people think that they shouldn’t produce that kind of sound, but it is, in fact, a correct sound to make.

Your first scale

When you feel confident that you overcome the notes, you can begin to practice your first scale. A scale is basically a group of descending and ascending pitches that precede each other based on a specific scheme.

Start with a simple scale.

Begin with C; you can produce this note with no valves pressed down.

Then proceed to D; push down 1 and 3 valves. To play D, tighten your lips just slightly.

Now play E; tighten your lips a bit more and push down 1 and 2 valves.

After E, play F; continue to tighten your lips and push down the first valve.

Move on to G; tighten your lips more without pressing down any valves.

Play A; continue tightening your lips and press down the first and the second valve.

Move on to B; tighten your lips a bit more and push down the second valve.

Finish the scale with high C; don’t press any valve.

Congrats! You just played your first C scale! From this point onward, you should focus on finesses that will make you a good trumpet player. Grab a music book, and make it your main reading material.

Embouchure

Now that you completed some basic playing let’s go through some important finesses that will help you even more and raise your skill level. I want to mention embouchures, so you don’t get discouraged if you can’t play the sounds correctly right away.

Everybody has different lip and teeth shape, and because of this, a number of different embouchures are developed. None of them are wrong; it’s only the matter of what feels the best in your individual case. But, there are few rules that apply to almost all of them.

The corners of your mouth should be firm, so the air doesn’t leak. When you go up, you should push your lips more to the center instead of stretching them. When you stretch your lips, not only do you make the sound thinner, you also expose them to damage.

The most used embouchure is Farkas. It requires you to push your jaw out and keep the lips even. Some other embouchures require you to roll your lips in, Stevens for example, and other to roll them out, like Maggio embouchure.

Try out different embouchures, find the one that fits you and keep playing using it. Check the list of embouchures here.

Wet or dry lips?

A lot of new players have a similar starting question: should they have wet or dry lips. The short answer is that the both ways are correct. If your lips are dry, they will just stick to the mouthpiece more, which will prevent the slipping.

If you play with wet lips, they will slide under the mouthpiece, and they will adjust to your dynamics freely. It comes down to what feels the best for you. Try both out, experiment a little and keep the way that you’re the most comfortable with.

Proper breathing

The breathing technique for the trumpet is not complicated, but it should be followed. Don’t worry about your lung capacity right now. You will increase it over time naturally. Just remember to take a deep breath every time.

Relax completely when you’re inhaling, and don’t lift your shoulders. Breathe from your belly instead from your chest, this way you will take a lot more air in, and exhale it quicker. Don’t keep the air in, blow it out instantly, and inhale the air in tempo.

And that’s pretty much it when it comes to proper breathing technique, just relax and release all the tension, music is about relaxing anyway.

Proper posture

The natural instinct to most of the people is to point the bell of the trumpet to the floor. It’s ok if you point it just slightly to the floor, but don’t keep it low too much. Don’t slouch, and don’t lock your knees, be relaxed at all times, but be careful not to slouch.

You should keep your arms a bit away from your body. To keep your breathing at top performance and the proper posture, you should maintain a good physical condition. It recommended that you stand while playing because inhaling is a lot easier when you’re standing.

But, if you need to sit down, sit on the edge of the chair, don’t lean back and keep your feet on the floor.

How to hold a trumpet

The proper way to hold a trumpet depends on which hand you hold it.

Right hand

Place your thumb between the first and the second valve or in front of the first one. Your index finger, middle finger and the ring finger should be on the valve buttons. Place the little finger on the hook.

Left hand

Place your thumb on the first valve. Your index finger and middle finger should be behind the third valve. Ring finger should be on the third valve and the little finger under the third valve slide.


In both cases don’t hold the instrument too tight. Support the weight of the trumpet with your secondary hand, this way you will push the valves more efficiently.

How to handle the valves

Before you get the natural feel of how to press the valves, you might need a few tips.

Press down the valves straight down with your fingers.

If you press them often diagonally, they will start jamming.

Don’t press them with your fingernails or joints; you should use the middle of your fingertips.

To have the clean note changes, press the valves vigorously down.

How to practice

Now there’s only the question of how much and when should you practice. The more you can practice the better, but you will need the rest as well. My philosophy is that it’s better to practice a little bit every day than to practice a lot for two days a week.

You should rest just as much as you play, and avoid excessive pressure with a mouthpiece. Some pressure is required to play a proper tone and to prevent the air from leaking, but control it, don’t put your mouth to too much pressure.

In conclusion

This information should be plenty to get you started for now. You have chosen a great instrument to play, and you will have a lot of fun getting to know it and playing it in the future. Just stay true to your passion for music, and it will be quite rewarding. If you need any extra pointers, leave a comment, and I will do my best to help you.

A Complete Guide To Finding The Best Baritone Saxophone: 2018 Edition

We’re not sure why, but a bari sax often gets overlooked as an option by someone new to wind instruments.

You’re here, though, which means you see the value the best baritone saxophone has to offer to any musician that dares to tackle its deep, almost growling tones. So, let’s join our forces to make sure you get the best possible experience out of your new favorite sax!

As you’ll see later on in the article, there’s a relatively substantial amount of money at play here. Buying a bari sax – let alone a high-quality one – is, by no means, a cheap business.

Why are we telling you this?

Because you need to be sure that playing a bari sax is something you genuinely want to pursue before you spend the big bucks on a new instrument. So, besides choosing a saxophone, there’s one more big decision ahead of you: picking a bari sax in accordance to the level you’re playing on– beginner or student, intermediate, or professional.

Should You Buy The Best Baritone Saxophone Online – And Why?

We get that you might be on the fence here. That’s an entirely reasonable doubt to have. However, there are some significant advantages to doing your shopping online, instead of a local music store – you just haven’t realized what they are yet.

First off, who doesn’t want to get the best possible deal? That’s why the first thing we want you to know is that prices online are comparatively lower than in any of the local music stores.

When you enter a music store, it may seem like they have a wide range of options, but keep in mind that’s nothing compared to shopping online – every brand, every model, and every saxophone accessories you can imagine, only a few clicks away.

Lastly, you’ll have a lot more time to make an informed decision in the comfort of your home – without a pushy salesperson doing everything they can to seal the deal right then and there.

Best Baritone Saxophone 101: Things To Look For

Let’s cut to the chase – how can you be sure you’ve picked the best baritone saxophone?

There are a few important details you should pay attention to if you want to weed out the not-so-great models from the great ones. Trust us; these tips will make narrowing your choice a lot easier!

Materials, Finishes, And All That Technical Stuff

Yellow brass with a lacquer finish is the golden standard for saxophones of all types. That doesn’t there aren’t any alternatives, though.

Copper, sterling silver, and bronze can be seen on bells and necks of the more expensive models, usually, those aimed at pro players.

On top of that, the finishes have become a matter of personal preference, too. The clear finishmight still be the most popular choice, but it’s far from being the only one – you can go with black lacquer or matte finish, or even nickel and silver plating, instead.

Before you decide to buy the best baritone saxophone based on looks alone, keep in mind that any changes to the standard materials and finishes do result in a shift in tone.

Lastly, pay attention to construction:

Ribbed 

By soldering the posts to flat pieces of brass before attaching them to the saxophone’s body, the horn is more likely to hold its adjustments for longer. Most intermediate to professional level saxophones will have this so-called ribbed construction.

Non-Ribbed

When the posts are attached to your horn’s body without the use of „ribs,“ as is the case with most beginner-level saxophones, it’s called a non-ribbed construction. The main advantage here is that they’re generally more lightweight and affordable, although it does sacrifice a bit of strength.

Optional Keys Are Always A Nice Bonus

The key layout is standardized, and there’s not much you can do about it. You can, on the other hand, look for models with a few additional keys. They’ll make it easier to play specific notes, as well as to reach the edges of your baritone saxophone range.

So, when you start browsing the market, remember to check for these, too:

  • High F# key
  • Front F key
  • Low A key
  • check
    Tilted spatulas

Weight Is An Important Factor, Too

Baritone saxophones are enormous – everyone who’s ever played one will tell you that. It is among the largest in the saxophone family, after all. But at what point does heavy become too heavy?

The weight of your bari sax can fall anywhere in the 12 to 25-pound range. There’s no right or wrong here – it’s all a matter of comfort. However, since you’ll be carrying all that weight on a neck strap (or, better yet, a harness), going with a lighter model does seem like a sensible thing to do.

Beware Of Additional Costs

We’d love nothing more than to tell you there won’t be any additional – and often hidden – costs waiting for you around the corner, but we can’t promise you that. What we can do is give you some advice on how to avoid them:

  • Choose a model that comes with a few of the essentials, like a mouthpiece, ligature, reeds, a cleaning kit, gloves, or at least a solid case.
  • Look for models that are sent to you ready-to-play, or at least play-tested before it left the manufacturer.

Best Baritone Saxophones On The Market: Our Reviews

1. Levante LV-BS4105 Eb Baritone Saxophone – Rooting For The Outsider

Being only a few bucks shy of the $2000 mark, this model falls into the less expensive category. We did warn you about baritone saxophones being expensive, didn’t we?

Anyway, first thing worth mentioning is that it comes ready to play. Not having to take it to a music repair shop right out of the box to get it fine-tuned is always a pleasant surprise. Also, it comes with all the essentials needed to play – and care for – your new baritone sax.

And can we take a moment to appreciate the case it comes in? It has a hard shell, is exceptionally sturdy, has a set of wheels to make transporting your bari sax a lot easier, and, to tell you the truth, it looks great, too!

However, you’ll have to spend a few extra bucks on a new mouthpiece – the one it comes with just doesn’t cut it. In all fairness, it might work for you, but only if you’re an absolute beginner.

If you enjoy rooting for the outsider, we encourage you to give this bari sax a chance. Sure, it’s not a popular choice, but as with anything else in life, the underdog might surprise you!

PROS

Brass body with a lacquer finish

Has a low A and high F# keys

Essential accessories included in the offer

Comes with a sturdy case with wheels

It’s reasonably priced

Cons

Replace the mouthpiece right away

Being only a few bucks shy of the $2000 mark, this model falls into the less expensive category. We did warn you about baritone saxophones being expensive, didn’t we?

Anyway, first thing worth mentioning is that it comes ready to play. Not having to take it to a music repair shop right out of the box to get it fine-tuned is always a pleasant surprise. Also, it comes with all the essentials needed to play – and care for – your new baritone sax.

And can we take a moment to appreciate the case it comes in? It has a hard shell, is exceptionally sturdy, has a set of wheels to make transporting your bari sax a lot easier, and, to tell you the truth, it looks great, too!

However, you’ll have to spend a few extra bucks on a new mouthpiece – the one it comes with just doesn’t cut it. In all fairness, it might work for you, but only if you’re an absolute beginner.

If you enjoy rooting for the outsider, we encourage you to give this bari sax a chance. Sure, it’s not a popular choice, but as with anything else in life, the underdog might surprise you!

PROS

Option to choose between brass and
copper body

Hand-engraved details

It allows key adjustments

It has a low A key

Leather pads with metal resonators

You get pads made by Pisoni

Comes with an ABS molded case

Includes essential accessories

Cons

It’s fairly expensive

Somewhere in the middle of a vast price range lays this Cecilio baritone saxophone, hence the third place on our list.

The combination of a ribbed construction and a brass body seems well-made and adds a bit of weight (without making it too heavy) to the sax, resulting in a warmer sound, while the high F#, low A, and spatula keys make it more comfortable to play.

We also like the fact that it comes with all the essentials, from standard things like a mouthpiece, ligature, neck strap, gloves and a cleaning cloth, to a chromatic tuner with a metronome and a hard-shell case, which can be worn as a backpack, too.

What about the things we didn’t like?

Well, first off, you’re going to have to buy a new ligature, because this one doesn’t do its job.

Another thing we noticed – and this one could potentially cause damage to your sax – is that the low A key keeps hitting against the saxophone’s body. It may not be a huge issue at first, but looking at it long-term, it’s less than ideal.

PROS

Yellow brass body with ribbed construction

Metal tone boosters

Has a high F# and low A key

Tilted spatula keys

Comes with a variety of accessories

One-year warranty included in the offer

Cons

The ligature doesn’t grip

The low A key hits against the saxophone

4. Mendini by Cecilio MBS-30L+92D Intermediate E Flat Baritone Saxophone – Experiment With A Bari Without Committing To It

If the last one was too much for your wallet, we suggest a more affordable model by Cecilio – Mendini, to be exact.

Not only does it sound good and feels well-constructed thanks to a brass body and ribbed design, but it has improved ease of fingering, as well – the high F#, low A, and tilted spatula keys.

And you get everything you’ll need with it, too, including a hard-shell case and a string tuner with a metronome.

Remember those additional expenses we’ve talked about earlier? Well, here they are!

You’ll have to buy a new mouthpiece because the one you get doesn’t qualify as great – unless you’re an absolute beginner, that is. Moreover, you’ll have to take it to a music repair shop for a full tune-up, but since it’s so affordable, to begin with, even with these hidden costs, you’re still getting a good deal.

All in all, if you want to experience the deep sound, one only a bari can make but aren’t sure if they’re willing to stick with it for the long run, this is the best baritone saxophone for you.

PROS

Brass body with ribbed construction

It has low A, high F#, and tilted spatula keys

Includes vital accessories

The case is sturdy and lightweight

Comes with a one-year warranty

It’s affordable

Cons

It requires a full professional tune-up

You’ll need a new mouthpiece

5. Yamaha YBS-62 Professional Baritone Saxophone – Everything A Modern Baritone Should Be

If you’re looking for the best baritone saxophone, and Yamaha YBS-62 didn’t end up on your favorites list, we say it’s time for a new one.

The overall vibe you’ll get is that of grandeur. From the gold lacquer finish and engravings on the bell to the mother of pearl key inlays, everything on this saxophone works to create a feeling of quality and elegance. We’d go as far as to say that this baritone is the perfect example of what a modern saxophone should be. It’s a bold thing to say, but it’s far from being an overstatement.

Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice it has a few of the additional keys we’ve mentioned – high F#, front F, low A, and tilted spatula keys are all there, plus a very comfortable, albeit plastic, thumb rest.

However, this Yamaha model does come with a particular price tag. We thought we should warn you about it, especially if you’re on a budget.

But if you’re at a level where you’re ready to spend over $7000 to get the best baritone saxophone, who are we to stop you?

PROS

One-piece annealed bell with engravings

Adjustable thumb rest

Mother of pearl key inlays

Has a low A, front F, and high F# keys

Comes with a hard case

It’s affordable

Has an overall luxurious feel to it

Limited five-year warranty included

Cons

It’s quite expensive

Best Baritone Saxophone: Final Verdict

So, which one of these is the best baritone saxophone?

Well, it seems like the Allora Paris Series Professional Baritone Saxophone AABS-801 takes the cake this time.

In all fairness, though, all of our top five favorites are great. The problem is that the bari sax is usually the last one in the family to receive upgrades and improvements, so there’s a bit of a „make do and mend“ mentality revolving around them.

However, that also means that all of these models have a tried-and-tested construction, so whichever you buy, we’re sure you’ll be happy with your purchase!

How You Can Find the Best Soprano Saxophone – The Top 5 in 2018

Soprano saxophones are a strange and strangely popular instrument. Most people wouldn’t think of them as saxophones at first glance, but they’re still one of the most popular saxophones around. Most famous musicians own one and for a good reason – it’s an incredibly versatile instrument.

This article will serve as your guide through the world of soprano saxophones – what they are, how to find the right one for you and reviews of the best soprano saxophones on the market.

The soprano saxophone is one of the four most popular saxophone types – the others being the alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. They are pitched in Bb, higher than all of those saxes, usually at least one half of an octave above the alto. Soprano saxes pitched in C also exist, but they are extremely rare. Sopranino saxes pitched in Eb are less rare but still uncommon.

They’re also visually distinct from all of those saxophone types. They are usually completely straight or only slightly curved at the end, more resembling a clarinet or an oboe than a saxophone.

But, that’s just the technical stuff! The soprano saxophone is more than that. It’s the vibrant and unique voice in a jazz ensemble or a defiant standout in a military band. It’s a unique instrument that doesn’t conform to all the usual ideas of what a saxophone should be. It is a great addition to jazz, R&B, pop, blues or even classical music due to its incredible versatility.

It’s quite a unique instrument and a joy to play.

Is a Soprano Saxophone Difficult to Play?

Most people will tell you that you need to be more skilled if you want to play the soprano sax – that it’s more difficult than playing other saxophones. This isn’t necessarily true, and it’s a common misconception.

The reason people will tell you that it’s more difficult to play is that most people try to approach playing the soprano sax like playing any other sax. That’s where the trouble begins, you see.

Most sax players also treat the soprano as their secondary instrument, so they put less effort into trying to play it. Because of this, they just try to apply their alto and tenor techniques to it and fail to play it well. With a proper approach, dedication and regular practice, the soprano sax should not be more difficult to play than most other saxophones.

If you do want to just use it as a secondary instrument, though, get a soprano similar to the bore you usually play.

Is a Soprano Saxophone Difficult to Play?

Picking the right soprano saxophone can be difficult due to how unique and different it is. If you just walk through this process, though, you’ll have a much easier time.

How Experienced are You?

This is the first question you need to ask yourself before even considering the purchase of a soprano sax.

Even though the soprano sax is not as hard to play as you might have heard, it’s still not the ideal choice for a beginner due to the amount of air pressure you need to exert. Luckily, there are some beginner-type soprano saxophones available.

On the other hand, if you’re experienced in playing only one type of saxophone, you might also have trouble playing the soprano sax. It requires a different approach, and if you’re too used to playing your alto or tenor, you will struggle. In this case, buying a soprano sax that is similar to the instrument you use most often will help you get over the hurdle.

However, if you have experience playing multiple instruments, especially other woodwinds, you will have a much better time with the soprano sax. In that case, you can probably get any type of soprano saxophone available, and you’ll find your way.

Which Brand Should You Get?

There are a ton of brands out there making soprano saxophones, and there are a lot of differences between them. Some are clearly better than others, but for the most part, the choice will come down to what you like the best and value the most.

Yamaha 

is a well-known brand in the music world, and that’s not undeserved – they make some great instruments at decent prices. Their soprano saxophones are good-looking and sound good, though you should steer clear of their “student” sopranos. Their professional offerings are top-notch though.

Selmer 

is a respected and highly regarded saxophone manufacturer with a long history of making great horns. Recently they haven’t been as great as they used to be – they are quite inconsistent these days. Their sopranos are inconsistent as well, but their Mark VI line seems to be regarded for its dynamic range, big sound, and ease of play.

Rampone Cazzani

is an Italian manufacturer that is gaining in popularity due to their high-quality hand-crafted products. Their sopranos have a slightly curved bell and a nickel silver finish, giving them a unique look. They play as well as the more famous saxes if not better, especially in the lower registers.

Yanigasawa 

saxophones are not exceptional, but they’re reliable. Well-constructed, affordable and easy to play is the name of the game with this manufacturer, and they deliver.

Nuvo

is a brand making some exceptional beginner soprano saxes with a curved bell, so if you like that sort of thing this is the brand to check out. They’re similar enough to altos to help you practice.

There’s more, but you get the gist of things by now. Do as much research as you can on the brand before choosing to buy one of their saxes.

Is it Well-Constructed?

Soprano saxophones are much more difficult to make than other types of saxophones. Making a small saxophone with good intonation is a difficult task. Building a soprano saxophone to be cheap is much harder than with alto or tenor, and it makes the saxophone much worse.

So, if you get a soprano sax that is not well-made and durable, you’ll be in for a hard time. It will play badly regardless of your skill, and it will quickly get even worse. This is another reason why the “soprano saxes are incredibly hard to play” myth exists.

Once you buy a soprano sax, make sure you take it to a local shop to get checked out and tweaked. If it’s simply too poorly constructed, they will tell you, and you can probably still return it.

How Much Money Can You Spend?

Finally, there’s the question of your budget. Everything else you consider will ultimately depend on how much money you can spare. However, even if you’re tight on money, you shouldn’t get a cheap plastic or tin instrument. While they may cost you less, they will be almost useless.

Check out as many opinions as you can and try to get something that’s affordable, yet well-made. You might have trouble finding such an instrument, but the extra effort will pay off in the end.

The 5 Best Soprano Saxophones Money can Buy

Nuvo N510JBBK – A Great Learning Tool that Costs Next to Nothing

If you’re looking for the best of the cheapest, this is the soprano sax you should be checking out. Its price is ridiculously low – less than 100 dollars to be exact. Still, it offers a good starting point for people looking to get into playing sopranos, especially if they’re used to playing altos or tenors.

It is not made out of the best materials – the body is mostly polymer, and the bell is made out of silicone. It is waterproof, but it probably won’t last for long regardless.

It’s also a bit different than regular soprano saxes, being pitched in C like all Nuvo instruments – so be prepared for that. The chromatic range goes all the way from C to G. The fingerings are also different than indicated – they’re not traditional fingering patterns.

Still, it’s a great beginner sax and comes with everything you need to start, including two synthetic reeds, a case, and a neck strap.

PROS

Incredibly low price affordable to anyone

Great for beginners and children

Completely waterproof

Comes with a decent amount of extras

CONS

Some fingerings are different than indicated

It won’t last for a long time

The 5 Best Soprano Saxophones Money can Buy

Nuvo N510JBBK – A Great Learning Tool that Costs Next to Nothing

If you’re looking for the best of the cheapest, this is the soprano sax you should be checking out. Its price is ridiculously low – less than 100 dollars to be exact. Still, it offers a good starting point for people looking to get into playing sopranos, especially if they’re used to playing altos or tenors.

It is not made out of the best materials – the body is mostly polymer, and the bell is made out of silicone. It is waterproof, but it probably won’t last for long regardless.

It’s also a bit different than regular soprano saxes, being pitched in C like all Nuvo instruments – so be prepared for that. The chromatic range goes all the way from C to G. The fingerings are also different than indicated – they’re not traditional fingering patterns.

Still, it’s a great beginner sax and comes with everything you need to start, including two synthetic reeds, a case, and a neck strap.

PROS

Incredibly low price affordable to anyone

Great for beginners and children

Completely waterproof

Comes with a decent amount of extras

CONS

Some fingerings are different than indicated

It won’t last for a long time

Selmer SS600 – Well-tuned and Made to Last

This is near-professional-level soprano sax with a nice look and a booming sound. It has a high F# key and is quite easy to play; the fingering is exceptionally smooth. The tuning is top-notch as well, something that’s difficult to find with a soprano sax.

The good tuning probably owes a lot to the superb construction of this instrument. It is made with care, and it will last for a long time.

While it does come with a mouthpiece, you will probably want to replace it and the ligature before you start playing. You will also need some new reeds since the ones you get are not great.

Overall, it’s a decent instrument, much better than most of the same price range and it will be a joy to play.

PROS

Beautiful and easy to play

It is well-tuned for a soprano

Durable and tight construction.

CONS

The mouthpiece and ligature need replacing

Doesn’t come with a set of reeds

Merano GWD500GD – A Reliable Tool for Beginners

This is a B flat soprano with exceptional gold lacquer and superb construction. It is made to be as durable as possible, and it will last for years and years. It also comes with a great velvet case that can be used for other instruments as well. You also get a nipper, a pair of gloves, a screwdriver and cleaning cloth with it. Not a bad deal for the price.

The main issue with it is that it doesn’t play as well as you’d expect. It’s a decent instrument, but the intonation on some notes is off. Bb and G# sound especially off and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s difficult to tune as well, and most shops won’t do it for you.

It’s a good learning soprano sax, but you will need something better if you’re a pro.

PROS

Durable and well-made

Affordable price with a lot of extras

Great for beginners

CONS

Difficult to tune properly

The intonation of some notes is off

Antigua Winds X/P SS1202LQ – Exceptionally Adaptable Instrument

Here’s a soprano made for beginners that’s a bit more expensive than is usual. However, for that price, you get a good-looking instrument that’s exceptionally well-made. It’s quite a sturdy piece of equipment, and everything is in the right place.

You get a few good extras with it – a good, hard case to carry it in as well as two necks. The option between a bent and a straight neck is not something most soprano saxes offer, and it’s a nice touch.

The rest of the extras are not as great. The reeds, the mouthpiece, and the ligature, are out of wack, and they won’t fit well. You will need to replace them.

Besides that, this instrument also has a problem with the octave key not working right and some higher and lower notes being out of tune.

PROS

You get both a straight and a bent neck included

Good for beginners and easy to play

Durable and made to last

CONS

The mouthpiece, ligature, and reeds you get with it are poor and don’t fit

The octave key tends to malfunction

Some notes are out of tune

Yamaha YSS-475II – Professional Look and Sound for an Intermediate Price

If you’re an intermediate player looking to take the next step and go pro, this is a great instrument to get. It doesn’t cost as much as the higher-end instruments but it works great and it will fit your skill level.

Among its features is an adjustable thumb rest, a great boon for anyone with smaller and larger hands. The high F# key is a nice touch as is the custom Bb spatula.

It’s also light and comfortable to use with keys that are easy on both the eyes and the fingers. The sound is also exceptional, especially in the lower registers. It’s well-made and tuned almost to perfection.

The only downsides are in the price – it’s high, and the sax doesn’t come with any significant extras. Still, it’s worth the price since it’s such a high-quality product.

PROS

Comfortable and easy to play

Features an adjustable thumb rest

Great intonation and tuning

Professional, quality construction ensures durability

CONS

Comes with no extras

The price is high

The Best Soprano Saxophone

All of these sopranos are in this article for a good reason – they’re all great in their own way and which one you pick will mostly come down to personal preference and skill level. However, if you need to have one highlighted as the best, it would be the Yamaha YSS-475II.

This soprano sax has practically everything you need if you’re an intermediate player or a new pro. It performs great, it’s consistent, there are no faults in the construction, and it has some great extra features. It doesn’t come with any extra equipment, but that’s okay, and it’s well worth the high price.

That’s everything for today – if you have questions, just sound off in the comments. Until next time, keep playing good music!

The Guide To Choosing The Best Alto Saxophone 2018

Whether you’re already a sax player, or you’re looking to become one, buying a new instrument – especially one as complex as a saxophone – is never a task that you should take lightly.   

Fortunately for you, we have the experience needed to recognize the best alto saxophone on the market, and we’re willing to share it, so stick around for some excellent tips on how to pick the right one!

There’s nothing more exciting for an aspiring sax player than buying a new horn. However, with all the excitement that goes into choosing the best alto saxophone, it’s easy to forget that buying a used one is an entirely legitimate option, too.

If you do decide to go down that route, at least make sure you do extensive research beforehand. Otherwise, you might end up spending way too much on getting it to play in top condition.

Another common question that might arise here is whether you should rent or buy a saxophone. Our answer remains unchanged:

It depends on your level of commitment.

In the long run, though, it’s always cheaper to buy than to rent. Seemingly low rental fees can quickly add up to a number much higher than what you would’ve initially spent if you bought an alto saxophone, instead.

And with the help of the following guide, you can be sure you won’t regret your purchase any time soon!

Things You Should Consider When Buying The Best Alto Saxophone

Buying the best alto saxophone online can be a tricky business, and the fact that a horn is a pretty complex instrument doesn’t help, either. That’s why it’s vital to do some research on the subject and have at least a basic grasp on what it is you’re looking for, even if you’re entirely new to playing a sax.

Here are some things you need to pay attention to if you want to be sure you’re getting the best alto saxophone for the money.

You Have More Than One Option When It Comes To Materials And Finishes

Yes, saxophones are recognizable for their yellow brass bodies, but if yellow isn’t exactly your style, don’t worry. Now, more than ever, manufacturers are trying their best to meet the aesthetic needs of players.

For instance, it’s not unusual for a saxophone to have the standard brass body, but with a twist – the bell or the neck can be made from a different material, such as copper, bronze, or sterling silver.

Furthermore, clear lacquer was once considered a standard for saxophones, but these days, you can choose among a variety of finishing touches, that not only affect the looks but the performance of your instrument, too:

Silver Plating

When it’s time to kick things up a notch, silver plating is the way to go. Adding more weight and hardness results in clearer projection, and much higher volume. Make yourself heard!

Nickel Plating

If you want your instrument’s sound to stand out, we recommend you choose nickel plating. After all, it’s not the go-to choice of jazz players for no reason!

Copper And Bronze

Not only will these metals add some weight and fullness to your saxophone, but their softness will produce richer and darker tones, as well.

Black Lacquer Or Matte Finish

There’s more than just the visual effect at play here – these finishes are more substantial, which reflects on the sound, as well.

Pay Attention To Key Layout

You’re probably thinking:

Isn’t there a standardized key layout for all saxophones?

You’re right, there is, and it’s called the basic key stack. However, some models will have additional keys, as well, with the purpose of helping you play specific notes more efficiently, especially at the edges of the saxophone’s range.

Here are some optional keys you might find on newer models:

  • High F# key
  • Fonrt F key
  • Low A key
  • check
    C# resonance key
  • check
    Tilted spatulas

Does It Come With All The Essential Accessories?

Beginners can easily be tricked into buying a bunch of unnecessary stuff, but the complete opposite could happen, as well – you might buy a saxophone that doesn’t come with some essential accessories that are needed to get you started.

Luckily for you, though, you have us in your corner.

Mouthpiece

The good news is that most beginners to intermediate range saxophones do come with a mouthpiece. The bad news is that most of them are of poor quality, and you should replace them. But it’s one less thing to worry about for now.

Reeds

Make sure the set includes some reeds, too, because you won’t be able to do much with your saxophone without it – except looking at it, that is.

Case

Most saxophones will come with a case, too. It may not be of the best quality, but something is always better than nothing, right?

Cleaning Kit

Regular maintenance and cleaning is key to having a long-lasting best alto saxophone, which is why you need to make sure it comes with at least a basic cleaning kit.

How Much Should You Spend?

When it comes to setting a budget limit, we have great news for you, especially if you’re starting out! Even though you might expect the difference between cheaper and more expensive instruments to be huge, the truth is, the gap has been slowly narrowing down over the recent years.

That means you won’t have to spend a small fortune on the best alto saxophone – you’ll be able to find some pretty decent instruments for less than $500.

Our Reviews Of The Top 5 Best Alto Saxophones In 2018

When it comes to setting a budget limit, we have great news for you, especially if you’re starting out! Even though you might expect the difference between cheaper and more expensive instruments to be huge, the truth is, the gap has been slowly narrowing down over the recent years.

That means you won’t have to spend a small fortune on the best alto saxophone – you’ll be able to find some pretty decent instruments for less than $500.

The first candidate for the title of the best alto saxophone is a model by Mendini – a budget-friendly, ribbed, brass-body horn made with beginners in mind.

Here’s what made it one of our favorites:

Not only do you get a saxophone, but all the essential accessories, too – and then some more! The package includes a mouthpiece, ten reeds, a neck strap, hard-shell case, cleaning accessories, and, of course, white gloves.

That’s not all, though – you’ll also get a chromatic tuner with a metronome, as well as a pocket-size saxophone booklet with all the information you might need as a beginner.

We did notice it had poor initial adjustments, but with a little fine-tuning, we were able to get a pretty decent sounding alto saxophone. If you’re not sure where to start, we’d recommend going to a music shop and asking them for help.

There’s one issue that’s not so easily fixable, though. Some of the keys tend to stick – the A key gave us the most trouble in that regard – and we couldn’t help but wonder if this would only get worse with time.

PROS

Ribbed brass construction

The keys have faux pearl inlays

It has a high F# key

Comes with a wide range of accessories

The saxophone comes in a hard case

Budget-friendly

CONS

It has poor initial adjustments

Some keys tend to stick

2. Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone – Solid Construction For Aggressive Play Styles

If you’re a fan of the standard yellow brass body with a transparent lacquer finish, you’ll fall in love with this Jean Paul model, for sure!

Two things you can expect from the instrument itself are durability and smooth key action. Most student-aimed music instruments are built to withstand heavy and not-so-careful use. The power-forged keys and the sturdy bell brace only further reinforced our opinion on the matter.

It comes with several much-needed accessories, such as a mouthpiece, one reed, cork grease, cleaning gear, as well as gloves.

And while we loved the versatility of the case it comes with – it can be carried by its handle or in the form of a backpack – the seams and the overall feel didn’t seem very durable to us.

Also, it would be better if you would go ahead and buy a mouthpiece, ligature, and reeds separately. We appreciate the fact that you get them, but if we’re honest, they’re not very impressive quality-wise. Plus, you only get one reed – and you know you’re going to need more than that, anyway.

PROS

Solid construction

Power-forged keys

Comes with a carrying case

Includes several accessories

Ideal for beginners and intermediate-level students

Reasonably priced

Outstanding customer service

CONS

You’ll have to upgrade the mouthpiece and ligature

The carrying case seems weak

You only get one reed

We’re pretty sure this Glory model is as budget-friendly as they go. Specific features, like the leather pads with metal resonators, a comfortable metal thumb rest, and the adjustable key height screws, show that, although cheap, this saxophone means business.

You’ll get all the essentials, too – from eight mouthpieces, 11 reeds, and a neck strap, to gloves and a cleaning kit.

At this price point, it’s an offer that’s hard to beat.

Most importantly, it’s shipped ready to play, meaning you can start working on releasing your inner jazz player as soon as you receive your alto saxophone.

It’s far from perfect, though. For instance, the mouthpiece it comes with is not of high quality, and you’ll probably have to replace it soon. And since we’re on the subject of additional expenses, the neck strap lacks any padding, so we’d recommend getting one from a different manufacturer, as well.

Overall, we’re under the impression that the saxophone was put together without paying much attention to craftsmanship. That said, it’s incredibly cheap, and as such probably best suited for beginners and kids that are figuring out if playing the sax is something they want to pursue.

PROS

Shipped ready to play

Adjustable key height screws

Has a high F# key

Comes with a variety of accessories

Includes a hard-shell case

Extremely budget-friendly

CONS

You should replace the mouthpiece

The neck strap lacks padding

4. Lazarro Professional Black - Gold Keys Eb E Flat Alto Saxophone Sax – If You Want Something Colorful

We have to admit that it was the various colorful finishes that first caught our eye, but we soon discovered that there was more to this Lazarro alto saxophone than just a pretty “body.”

So, if you’re not a huge fan of yellow brass, Lazarro has you covered. You can choose whichever color you like, without sacrificing something in return – regardless of the finish, there’s a consistency in durability and sound quality.

The key layout is pretty standard, although it does include two of the additional keys we’ve talked about – the high F# and the front F key. Furthermore, it has adjustable key height screws and high-quality leather pads with metal resonators.

You’ll find everything you need in the package, too – a mouthpiece, reeds, ligature, neck strap, a reliable cleaning kit, and much more.

Now, the accessories included in the package might not be of the highest quality, but you can expect that from saxophones in this price range. We’re yet to find an affordable horn that doesn’t require any additional expenses.

The saxophone sounds excellent, though – and that’s what counts!

PROS

It has a high F# and front F key

Adjustable key height screws

It comes with all the essential accessories

The package includes a case

Fairly affordable

CONS

The accessories it comes with are not of the highest quality

No round-up of the best alto saxophones could be complete without a Yamaha model, right?

Now, the reason why we picked this exact model for our list is the price. Everyone knows how expensive Yamaha saxophones can get, but this one sits well below the $1000 mark.

The yellow brass body paired with nickel plated keys looks amazing and has a solid feel to it – something you don’t see very often in cheaper models. The keys (including the additional front F key) are all power-forged, too, so you know durability won’t be an issue, even with more aggressive play styles.

Most importantly, though, the saxophone comes with optimum intonation (no adjustments needed), which helps a lot if you’re a beginner or a student trying to establish a baseline.

We didn’t experience any of the common issues we’ve had with other alto saxophones on this list, which wasn’t that much of a surprise – there’s a reason why Yamaha is a popular choice among saxophone players.

If you’re willing to spend a bit more to get the best alto saxophone and look like a pro, this is the one to keep an eye on, for sure.

PROS

Yellow brass body and nickel plated keys

Optimum intonation is ideal for setting a baseline

Has a front F key

The keys feel durable and allow smooth action

Includes essential accessories

Comes with a sturdy plywood case

CONS

None so far

Which One’s The Best Alto Saxophone?

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but after careful deliberation, we’ve decided that the Yamaha YAS-23 Standard Eb Alto Saxophone is the best alto saxophone on the market in 2018. It has some outstanding features that every sax player will appreciate, without being overpriced – you can’t ask for more than that!

If you need some additional peace of mind, you can listen to these instruments play on YouTube, too. And, of course, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!


Finding the Best Tenor Saxophone in 2018 – What You Need to Know

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Once you start out playing saxophone, you’ll probably start by learning how to play alto sax. However, there are other types of saxophones out there that offer a different sax-playing experience and are worth trying out.

One of the most prominent out there is the tenor saxophone, and if you don’t know a lot about it, you’re right where you need to be. In this article, you’ll find out some info on what the tenor sax is as well as how to get the best tenor saxophone available.

What is the Tenor Saxophone?

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The tenor saxophone is one of the original 14 models invented by Adolf Sax in 1840 and patented in 1846. It is one of the most popular models out of the series, along with the alto, soprano and the baritone saxophones. It is also the second largest, right after the baritone sax.

Tenor saxophones are tuned in the B♭ key, and the sound is brighter when compared to the other types due to a lower pitch. It can easily blend with the sound of alto, soprano and baritone saxophones and it almost never sounds out of place. This is the reason it’s often used in ensembles and many different music genres.

Visually, it is distinguished from other types not only by its size but also by the shape of its neck. There’s a small bend near the mouthpiece, something that the alto and baritone saxophones don’t have.

It is the best second choice for beginners once they get a handle on how to play the alto sax. For taller people, it’s usually the first choice when they begin starting to learn how to play the sax since it’s easier to hold and blow into due to its size. If you find the alto sax to be too small for you, pick up a tenor.

Overall, the tenor saxophone is one of the most popular sax types out there, and every saxophonist should eventually learn how to play it.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Buying a Tenor Saxophone

If this is your first time buying a tenor saxophone, you might not know what to look for. You might find that it is not unlike buying an alto sax, but there are some key differences between the two that you need to consider when purchasing. Here, you’ll get all the info you need to get the best tenor sax for you.

What is Your Skill Level?

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Not all saxophones are made for players of the same skill level. Even if you’re an intermediate player, you might have no idea what to do if you get a professional-level saxophone in your hands. You need to know what your skill level is and choose accordingly.

Beginner or student saxophones are made to be as forgiving as possible. They’re cheap and easy to use, the keys are accessible and easy to hit, and they’re made with an emphasis on accuracy. They’ll sound decent even if you’re not that good. However, they are easy to break and unsuitable for more refined and advanced techniques.

Intermediate saxophones are there for you once you outgrow everything that the beginner sax can offer you. They are smoother, more responsive and produce sound more similar to a professional sax. They are good for beginners looking to take the next step or professionals that are picking up a type of sax they never played before.

Professional saxophones are the real deal. They are made to look good, sound great and provide a wide range of advanced options. You need to shell out a lot of money for them, but you get the best of the best. If you’re a pro or looking to become one, this is what you need to get to make the most out of your sax-playing skills.

What Brand Should You Get?

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There are many saxophone brands out there right now, too many to count. Some do stand out over others as better but, for the most part, the choice of brand comes down to your taste and needs.

Yamaha is among the most popular brands out there today. They used to have quite shoddy workmanship, but they have improved since. Today, they offer consistently good and sturdy saxophones that won’t fail you, but won’t stand out either.

Selmer is another well-respected brand, but they have fallen from grace in recent years. They’re still a good brand, but their products seem overpriced in today’s market.

Windsor is a long-standing brand that makes some of the best saxophones around. However, their products are also incredibly expensive – justifiably so. If you’re a pro looking for the best of the best and have money to spare, Windsor is the ideal choice.

Kaizer is a highly affordable brand that makes great saxophones. They’re probably one of the best brands for beginners or pros who are on a tight budget and players looking to go pro.

Martin is an older brand that still makes good saxophones, but they have fallen by the wayside a bit. They’re still worth checking out.

Cecilo saxophones are on the cheaper side, so they are a good choice for beginners and for a disposable sax, but most of their products are not great.

Cannonball is an overlooked company making saxophones that are exceptionally easy to tune and come at a great price.

Those are just a few, but you get the gist of it. Choose what you think fits you the best.

Does it Have the Right Construction for You?

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Choosing a saxophone that’s solidly built and fits your playing style is a must. Here are a few things you need to look out for in different parts of the sax.

The Body – Most modern saxes are ribbed, but non-ribbed ones still exist and if your hands are aching with a typical sax, look for one that’s not ribbed. Beginner models are usually not ribbed, and non-ribbed models are less durable, so watch out.

The Keys – Do you need additional keys, or can you play some notes even without them? If you’re skilled enough, extra keys will just be extra clutter instead of being helpful. However, if you do need the help, a high F# key or a high G key might be invaluable. Watch out for saxes with alternate key positions as well.

The Neck – The shape of the neck can be instrumental in playing. If you can’t seem to be able to comfortably play your sax a longer or a shorter neck could fix the issue. Luckily, necks can be replaced in case you buy a sax with a neck that doesn’t fit you.

Is it Made Out of the Right Materials?

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Saxophones are primarily made out of brass, a proven, staple material. However, some parts aren’t made out of brass, and there are saxes that use no brass whatsoever.

Bronze, copper or sterling and nickel silver in the construction, especially around the bell, darken the tone of the sax. They also make it more expensive and more difficult to maintain though. They can also make the instrument much heavier, so make sure you’re comfortable with that.

The 5 Best Tenor Saxophones on the Market

Mendini by Cecilio MTS-L+92D  – A Great Saxophone at an Amazing Price

This is a great-looking sax for a great price, and it also performs well – however, it does have a few shortcomings.

While it looks and feels good, it is less sturdy than the average sax. It does come with a 1-year warranty, but you might want to consider something else if you want a foolproof product.

As far as playing goes, it performs exceptionally well, and it does have a few nice additions, like the high F# key for example. It makes things easier for beginners and pros alike. Getting started will be a bit difficult though since it’s hard to tune and doesn’t come with instructions on how to do it. Experienced players will know how to do it.

This saxophone also comes with a bundle of great extras. It includes a great case for your sax, mouthpiece, neck strap, a box of ten 2.5-size wooden reeds, a cleaning cloth and rod as well as a pair of playing gloves. In addition to all that, you also get a string tuner with a metronome.

Overall, it’s a good deal for the entire package, even though the sax is less durable than most.

Pros:

  • Affordable price for the package
  • Has a high F# key
  • Lots of great extras
  • 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • Less durable than average
  • Difficult to tune, no instructions

Glory Black/Gold B Flat Tenor Saxophone – The Best Starter Saxophone for Anyone

If you’re looking for a good beginner to intermediate saxophone for a good price with a lot of extras, this is the product for you. It sounds great and has a high F# key. It also has adjustable key height, allowing it to be played by kids and adults alike.

In the package, you get a lot of stuff, including gloves, black case, grease, screwdriver, cleaning rod, ten starter reeds and more.

Despite being made of cheaper materials, this saxophone looks impressive and akin to a professional one. Sadly, its sturdiness doesn’t equal its beauty. It’s easy to break, and it often gets damaged during shipping.

Overall, it’s a good beginner sax and comes with everything you need, but don’t expect it to last for too long.

Pros:

  • Comes at a great price
  • Lots of extras in the package
  • It looks impressive
  • Key height can be adjusted

Cons:

  • Flimsy and often damaged during shipping
  • The mouthpiece it comes with is poor

Jean-Paul USA TS-400  – Durable and Powerful at the Same Time

Here we have an instrument that’s great for beginners and intermediate players alike. It is easy to use but highly functional at the same time. The sound is great and clear even if you’re just starting out.

The construction is more than solid, with power forged keys and a sturdy bell brace. It’s a highly durable product – the only weak point is the neck, which might bend or dent if you’re not careful.

It comes with a pack of reeds, a wonderful black case, cork grease, a pair of gloves, a neck strap and a cleaning cloth. It’s everything you need to get started.

If you want some non-standard keys, this saxophone doesn’t have it, but you won’t exactly need them if you’re a beginner.

Pros:

  • It is durable and reliable
  • Includes a lot of good accessories
  • Lightweight, easy to use and responsive

Cons:

  • The neck can dent easily
  • It lacks any extra keys

Legacy TS750  – Easy to Play and Hard to Break

This is one of the best intermediate saxophones that you can get for less than 500 dollars. It’s not perfect, but it is more than worth considering.

For starters, it plays incredibly well, and it’s easy to play, featuring pro pads, a high F# key, and a front F key. This is what makes it good for beginners as well, and you can easily start learning with this saxophone.

It is good for more experienced players as well, and it will last for a long time due to sturdy construction. Even if it gets damaged, it has a good warranty.

It comes with tons of extras, including a case, a neck strap, ligature and a cleaning kit. Sadly, the extras are of poor quality, especially the case.

The only other major downside is the octave key. It does malfunction at times and might break, which is a serious issue. Luckily, it doesn’t happen too often but test it while the warranty lasts.

Pros:

  • It’s made out of durable materials
  • Comes with a great warranty
  • Easy to pick up and play

Cons:

  • The case that comes with it is poor
  • The octave key can malfunction

Selmer STS280 La Voix II  – High Quality Vintage Powerhouse

This is a vintage-style saxophone made out of high-quality brass and constructed to be as sturdy as possible. All the parts are well-made and put together with obvious care. It shows in the sound as well – deep, clear and strong with no air leaks. It’s good on the eyes as well.

It also comes with plenty of great extras, the best of which is the soft but sturdy case that’s easy to carry around.

It does have a few problems, though. The included mouthpiece doesn’t work for band play, and the keypads can fall off. It’s nothing major, but it’s still worth mentioning. Overall, it’s just a great sax!

Pros:

  • It looks beautiful
  • Vintage-style saxophone with a clear and deep sound
  • Durable and made out of high-quality materials
  • Comes with a host of great extras

Cons:

  • You might have to use a different mouthpiece and ligature for band play
  • The keypads can get loose and come off
  • The price is steep

The Best Tenor Saxophone Available

All of the saxes here are great, which is why they’re included in the article, to begin with. Which one is best for you comes down to personal preference. But, you’re here to know which one is best and by most metrics that would be the Selmer STS280 La Voix II. 

It’s a great sax and can be used by almost anyone while having no major downsides. Yes, it is more expensive than most, but the quality is more than worth the price. If you’re looking for the best, that’s what you need to get.

Until next time, feel free to sound off in the comments and keep the music alive.

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Ultimate Guide to Trumpets for Beginners

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Trumpets are very appealing instruments; they seem so simple to handle, and they can produce beautiful melodies. That’s why a lot of people take an interest in learning to play them. There are so many famous trumpeters that people like to listen to, like Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker and more.

These musicians often inspire people to pick up the trumpet and start learning all about it. Some people want to play it casually; others become really passionate about it. No matter what your cause or the goal is, you will get all the basics that will get you started, right here.

Trumpet’s mark on the world

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The first trumpets date way back to 1500 BC. Their initial purpose was to signal for military purposes, and they were used in the religion. Their design improved over the course of time and the materials used to produce it. Most improvements made were in the Middle Ages.

The Renaissance period turned the once signaling tool into a musical instrument. The trumpets in this era didn’t have valves, only a single coiled tube. They weren’t capable of producing the notes yet. The golden age of the natural trumpet was the Baroque era.

Most of the music in this era was written for trumpeters. The art of playing trumpet was going strong and started slowly fading away after some time. It came back to life around the mid-20th century. Even the modern trumpet players tend to use natural trumpet with 3-4 vent holes to correct out-of-tune notes.

Since the natural trumpet was very limited, it’s requirement for chromatic freedom lead to the creation of the keyed trumpet. At first, it had a very poor sound quality, but in 1818 the patent was made for box valves, which contributed to the great improvement.

Since this type of trumpet was developed so late, it had a very limited repertoire. But, the 20th century had an explosion of music written for the modern trumpet.

Types of trumpets

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There are 8 types of trumpets to choose from; A, B, C, D, E♭, E, low F and G. The most common type overall is the B♭ trumpet, while the C trumpet is the most common in orchestral playing in America. The small trumpets are called piccolo trumpets, and they are built to play B♭ and A alike.

They feature separate lead pipes on each key. There are also piccolo trumpets in G, F, and C, but they are not that common. Trumpets pitched in low G key are called sopranos and soprano bugles. They are adapted from the military and were traditionally used in bugle corps. They can be found with both rotary and piston valves.

The bass trumpet is played by trombone players because it has the same pitch. The music for the bass trumpet is written in treble clef. The most common keys for it are B♭ and C. The modern trumpet you see today is the side trumpet that is a B♭ trumpet which has a slide instead of valves.  It’s very similar to soprano trombone.

The pocket trumpet is a smaller and compact version of the B♭ trumpet. The bell is quite smaller compared to the standard trumpet, and the tubing tightly wound to maintain the length of the tube but to reduce its size. It doesn’t have the standard design, and the quality varies a lot based on different models.

The herald trumpet has a bell extending in front of the player much more than the standard trumpet. It’s mostly used in ceremonies.

Choosing your trumpet

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To start playing, you will first need an instrument, naturally. The best thing for you to do is to go to the nearest music shop and ask them for the best trumpet for a beginner. When they give you a suggestion, be sure to ask them is the trumpet in the B-flat key. That’s the best option for a novice player.

The B-flat key is the easiest scale to learn. You shouldn’t focus on a branded trumpet; even an unlabeled trumpet will be just fine for you. You can even rent one for a start if you just want to try it out. But before you rent it, check if the valve casing has dents, and the valves can move smoothly and are not noisy. Also, check if all slides can move freely.

When you get home with your rented or purchased trumpet, get to know its mechanism, appreciate its beauty and then get ready to start learning.

Practicing basic sounds

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Before you even put the trumpet against your lips, you should practice your first sound. Start by creating the “mmm” sound. Hold your mouth in that position and start blowing through in order to create the buzzing sound.

This is the basic lip position you should overcome. If you’re having trouble with creating that sound and maintaining the shape of your lips, just imagine that there’s a small paper on the tip of your tongue. Once you master the lip part, you will be ready to start the trumpet basics.

When you fully assemble your trumpet, inhale through the mouth assume the lip position you previously learned and place the trumpet on your lips. Start vibrating and creating that buzzing sound you previously overcame.

You should focus and recognize the feeling of your lips when they loosen and tighten. Don’t press the valves just yet, not until you get the hang of the feeling of your lips. Begin to tighten your lips a bit and try to gently press one or two valves.

The valves are numbered 1-3, 1 being the closest to you and 3 being the farthest one. Now you have successfully played your first notes! If you feel kind of stuck on the buzzing part, don’t give up just yet! You can improve and speed up your advance by carrying a mouthpiece with you.

Use the mouthpiece to practice the buzzing sound as much as you can, and once you are able to buzz into the mouthpiece correctly, you will do it properly using the trumpet as well. The buzzing sound through the mouthpiece should sound like a duck call. A lot of people think that they shouldn’t produce that kind of sound, but it is, in fact, a correct sound to make.

Your first scale

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When you feel confident that you overcome the notes, you can begin to practice your first scale. A scale is basically a group of descending and ascending pitches that precede each other based on a specific scheme.

Start with a simple scale.

  • Begin with C; you can produce this note with no valves pressed down.
  • Then proceed to D; push down 1 and 3 valves. To play D, tighten your lips just slightly.
  • Now play E; tighten your lips a bit more and push down 1 and 2 valves.
  • After E, play F; continue to tighten your lips and push down the first valve.
  • Move on to G; tighten your lips more without pressing down any valves.
  • Play A; continue tightening your lips and press down the first and the second valve.
  • Move on to B; tighten your lips a bit more and push down the second valve.
  • Finish the scale with high C; don’t press any valve.

Congrats! You just played your first C scale! From this point onward, you should focus on finesses that will make you a good trumpet player. Grab a music book, and make it your main reading material.

Embouchure

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Now that you completed some basic playing let’s go through some important finesses that will help you even more and raise your skill level. I want to mention embouchures, so you don’t get discouraged if you can’t play the sounds correctly right away.

Everybody has different lip and teeth shape, and because of this, a number of different embouchures are developed. None of them are wrong; it’s only the matter of what feels the best in your individual case. But, there are few rules that apply to almost all of them.

The corners of your mouth should be firm, so the air doesn’t leak. When you go up, you should push your lips more to the center instead of stretching them. When you stretch your lips, not only do you make the sound thinner, you also expose them to damage.

The most used embouchure is Farkas. It requires you to push your jaw out and keep the lips even. Some other embouchures require you to roll your lips in, Stevens for example, and other to roll them out, like Maggio embouchure.

Try out different embouchures, find the one that fits you and keep playing using it. Check the list of embouchures here.

Wet or dry lips?

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A lot of new players have a similar starting question: should they have wet or dry lips. The short answer is that the both ways are correct. If your lips are dry, they will just stick to the mouthpiece more, which will prevent the slipping.

If you play with wet lips, they will slide under the mouthpiece, and they will adjust to your dynamics freely. It comes down to what feels the best for you. Try both out, experiment a little and keep the way that you’re the most comfortable with.

Proper breathing

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The breathing technique for the trumpet is not complicated, but it should be followed. Don’t worry about your lung capacity right now. You will increase it over time naturally. Just remember to take a deep breath every time.

Relax completely when you’re inhaling, and don’t lift your shoulders. Breathe from your belly instead from your chest, this way you will take a lot more air in, and exhale it quicker. Don’t keep the air in, blow it out instantly, and inhale the air in tempo.

And that’s pretty much it when it comes to proper breathing technique, just relax and release all the tension, music is about relaxing anyway.

Proper posture

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The natural instinct to most of the people is to point the bell of the trumpet to the floor. It’s ok if you point it just slightly to the floor, but don’t keep it low too much. Don’t slouch, and don’t lock your knees, be relaxed at all times, but be careful not to slouch.

You should keep your arms a bit away from your body. To keep your breathing at top performance and the proper posture, you should maintain a good physical condition. It recommended that you stand while playing because inhaling is a lot easier when you’re standing.

But, if you need to sit down, sit on the edge of the chair, don’t lean back and keep your feet on the floor.

How to hold a trumpet

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The proper way to hold a trumpet depends on which hand you hold it.

Right hand

Place your thumb between the first and the second valve or in front of the first one. Your index finger, middle finger and the ring finger should be on the valve buttons. Place the little finger on the hook.

Left hand

Place your thumb on the first valve. Your index finger and middle finger should be behind the third valve. Ring finger should be on the third valve and the little finger under the third valve slide.

In both cases don’t hold the instrument too tight. Support the weight of the trumpet with your secondary hand, this way you will push the valves more efficiently.

How to handle the valves

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Before you get the natural feel of how to press the valves, you might need a few tips.

  • Press down the valves straight down with your fingers.
  • If you press them often diagonally, they will start jamming.
  • Don’t press them with your fingernails or joints; you should use the middle of your fingertips.
  • To have the clean note changes, press the valves vigorously down.

If you keep repeating these tips to yourself while playing you will start doing it naturally over time.

How to practice

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Now there’s only the question of how much and when should you practice. The more you can practice the better, but you will need the rest as well. My philosophy is that it’s better to practice a little bit every day than to practice a lot for two days a week.

You should rest just as much as you play, and avoid excessive pressure with a mouthpiece. Some pressure is required to play a proper tone and to prevent the air from leaking, but control it, don’t put your mouth to too much pressure.

In conclusion

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This information should be plenty to get you started for now. You have chosen a great instrument to play, and you will have a lot of fun getting to know it and playing it in the future. Just stay true to your passion for music, and it will be quite rewarding. If you need any extra pointers, leave a comment, and I will do my best to help you.

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The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Saxophones

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Saxophones are glamorous instruments, made famous by jazz legends and US presidents alike. They look beautiful, elegant and, most of all, incredibly complex. Even the thought of learning how to play one might seem impossible. However, once you get to know them better, saxophones are not as intimidating as they might seem at first.

In this article, you’ll learn all the vital information about saxophones, their history, the way they work and how to start playing one. If you’re looking to start diving into the saxophone world, this is the best starting point.

A Short History of the Saxophone

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The saxophone is a relatively recent invention – it was invented in 1840 by a man called Adolphe Sax, and it was named after him. He patented the entire saxophone family in 1846 with 14 different variants of the instrument divided into two series of seven instruments. However, only certain models achieved widespread popularity.

The most common type of saxophone encountered today comes from the original series that was pitched in B♭ and E♭ and originally intended for use in military bands. The other series, designed for orchestras, was pitched in C and F but it never gained much ground and most orchestras today use saxophones from the more popular series.

Saxophones occupy a unique place in-between the woodwinds and the brass instruments, being woodwind instruments made of brass. Due to their unique sound and versatility, they started being used even before the patent was filed. The French military adopted them in 1845 instead of the bassoon and French horn, and there was already a dedicated saxophone school formed in 1847,

Through its use in military bands, the saxophone eventually found its way to the US and New Orleans. This is where it would see its most widespread use yet – in jazz music. Early jazz bands used instruments from military bands and that included the saxophone. The first wave of popularity hit the saxophone in the 1920s and continued through the decade.

This is what led to the saxophone becoming a staple of other music genres. First, its soulfulness seeped into blues music, through which it spread into Rhythm and Blues, Motown, Doo Wop, Rock and Roll and finally Pop music. Despite never gaining much foothold in orchestral music, it’s still used in that field and classical music.

How to Pick the Right Saxophone Reed for a Beginner

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One of the most important parts of the saxophone is the reed. It goes into the mouthpiece, which you blow into.

Since it’s made out of a natural material, usually out of cane, no two reeds are exactly the same. The reed is the part of the saxophone responsible for making the sounds in the first place, which is the reason it’s classified as a woodwind instrument. Due to this, picking the right reed before you start playing is immensely important.

Saxophones use a single-reed mouthpiece, so you have to pick that reed with care if you want your sax to sound good. Here are a few tips on that.

  • The hardness: Depending on the thickness of the reed, usually called ‘hardness,’ it sounds different. Hardness is measured on a scale from 1 to 5, from softest to hardest. However, this can vary between manufacturers. Wide-tipped mouthpieces fit better with softer reeds while narrow ones are better with harder ones.
  • The material: The first choice is between a synthetic and a cane reed. The former is more durable and unaffected by temperature or moisture but is more expensive while sounding and feeling worse. The latter is the traditional choice – they have a lot of quirks and can differ wildly, but they generally sound and feel better.
  • Filled or unfilled: Filled reeds have a straight cut below their vamp area, allowing them to vibrate more. Unfilled reeds don’t have that additional cut and produce a darker tone while offering more resistance. You should try out both to see which one fits you better.
  • Buy individual then in bulk: To test out reeds, buy individual ones since you don’t want 10 reeds that are bad for you. Once you find out which reeds you like, buy in bulk, since it will be cheaper that way.

How to Start Playing the Alto Saxophone

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Here’s the meat of the matter – how to play the alto saxophone, the most popular type of saxophone, as a beginner. Here’s where you’ll learn how to start your saxophone-playing career.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive guide, but it is a good starting point if you want to start learning quickly and effectively.

The Correct Posture

To start playing the saxophone, you need to assume the correct posture. You can play while standing or sitting down, but it is recommended that you start in a sitting position. It’s easier for you to maintain the correct posture in the sitting position and once you learn a bit more, you can also start playing while standing. It’s almost the opposite from singing postures.

Here’s how to get into the correct playing posture while sitting:

  • Choose a straight back chair that is tall enough for you – your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet should be touching the ground.
  • Sit, so you are slightly on the right of the chair and scoot to the front of your seat. Have your right leg hang over the edge a bit. This allows you to hold the sax comfortably and avoid banging it against the chair. Reverse this if you’re left-handed.
  • Sit up straight and make sure your neck and shoulders are relaxed so you can breathe in easily. Keep your head straight and don’t tilt it to either side.

Preparing the Saxophone

Now that you know how to sit properly you’re still not set to start playing. You also need to know how to prepare your sax correctly. If you don’t assemble it properly, you might damage it.

First, there’s preparing your saxophone and gear:

  • If your reed is made out of wood, you need to wet it before playing. Put it in your mouth and hold it for a few minutes. You can do this while assembling your sax.
  • Take your mouthpiece and slide it halfway over the cork. If you have trouble attaching it, don’t force it – try to twist it around or just lube up the cork with some cork grease.
  • Put the reed into the mouthpiece by gently pushing it until the top of the mouthpiece, and the top of the reed meet. If your reed doesn’t stand in place, wet it some more.
  • Take the ligature carefully and slide it over the reed, so it doesn’t damage it. Once you position it, so it faces the bottom of the reed, make sure you tighten the screws so the reed stays in place.
  • Thread the neck strap through the hook on the back of the body of your sax.
  • Now, attach the neck of your sax to the body by carefully twisting it into the allotted hole. Once it’s secured and facing the right way, towards your mouth, tighten the screws. If you happen to have a plug at the top of your sax body, take it out first.

How to Hold Your Saxophone the Right Way

If you assembled your saxophone, you need to take hold of it properly before you start playing. Only then can you start playing your first tunes. For lefties, everything mentioned here goes the other way around, if you’re playing a left-handed sax.

  • Put the neck strap over your head and place the saxophone on your lap, so the mouthpiece is on your left side. Tighten the strap and make sure there’s no slack.
  • Shape your hands into a C-shape. Place the right hand on the body, under the lower thumb rest, which is on the back of the sax, directly below your neck strap. Rest your fingers on the 3 keys on the bottom.
  • On the backside of the neck, halfway up, locate a small button, the upper thumb rest. Place your left thumb against it and place the rest of the fingers on the 3 keys opposite to it.
  • Put the sax on the right side of your body, so that the top part of the bell is resting against your leg and it’s hanging from the strap.
  • With your right hand, push your saxophone slightly forward and up until the mouthpiece rests in front of your mouth. If the mouthpiece isn’t reaching your mouth, adjust the neck strap accordingly.
  • Make sure your bottom lip is taut and relax the rest of your face, jaw, and mouth. Put the tip of your mouthpiece over your lower lip. Close your mouth so that you completely cover the mouthpiece and rest your teeth against it. Relax and don’t bite down with your teeth.  This position is commonly referred to as an embouchure.
  • Test if the mouthpiece is placed correctly by blowing some air without pressing the keys. If you get a clear and consistent sound, it’s good. If you’re getting a flat sound, tighten your lips around it. If you’re still getting a weak and flat sound, place more of the mouthpiece into your mouth.

Playing your Sax for the First Time

Now that you’re in the right form, it’s time for you to start playing your first notes. It’s not unlike singing your first notes.

  • To play a B note, press the second button from the top with your left index finger. Press it gently and blow air at the same time.
  • For an A note, keep your left index finger where it is and press the button down. Then, use your middle finger to press the third button down from the top, while blowing air at the same time.
  • If you press the A note key without pressing any other key and blow, you’ll get a C note instead.
  • To get a G note out of your sax, hold both of the previous buttons down and use your left ring finger to press down the button below the B button while blowing air into your mouthpiece.  
  • The F note is played with your right hand while holding down the A, B and G buttons with your left – the same goes for the next two notes. Press the highest of the bottom three buttons with your index finger while blowing and you will hear an F note.
  • Keep pressing down on the F button and blow air while pressing the button below it with your middle finger to get an E note.
  • Press down on the previous two while blowing air and press down the lowest of the bottom buttons with your right ring finger to get the D note.

Going Beyond the Basics

Once you’ve got a handle on how to play the basic notes, you can start learning more to advance your skills and start playing some real tunes.

  • First off, you can learn the major scales – here’s a handy list of them right here. The G major scale is the easiest to learn, and you can go further from there.
  • To play a major scale, you need to hold down the key for which the scale is named for – in this case, the G key. Then, you go through the series in order – A, B, C and finally D.
  • Practice the major scales until you can go through them with ease while every note is clear-sounding.
  • Minor scales are more of a challenge, and you can move on to once you’ve got a handle on the major scales. Here’s a list of them.

Conclusion

That’s about it for this guide, and it should be enough to get you started, but there will be more in the future – stay tuned for that. Until then, feel free to pop into the comments and ask any questions you may have, or just offer additional tips and tricks or trivia about the saxophone. If this article was helpful to you – share it around and stay musical.

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How To Sing Better

If you want to learn how to sing better, there are a number of methods and techniques that almost anymore can utilize to improve his or her singing ability. Though many would-be vocalists think they can sing like a professional and immediately become Susan Boyle or Josh Groban, and any other talented singer from the present or past, they need to understand that innate ability coupled with lots of training, practice and voice development are the crucial factors that have made amateur and professional singers successful.

Basic Steps for singing better

Posture

Correct posture has an effect on singing better. The proper form used for vocalization is either sitting or standing with a straight back without any leaning to the right or left, and the head should also be in straight alignment rather than tilting forward or backward.

​Breathing

Vocal music teachers adamantly give their first instruction in beginning chorus, which goes something like, “Breathe from your diaphragm” as it is one of the most important aspects of singing. You want to take in air through the diaphragm as opposed to the chest.

​Breathing Practice

The simple process of placing the hand on the stomach area and inhaling through the nose will cause the abdomen to enlarge and move outward when taking in a breath. The chest should not make any movement in an outward or upward direction. When the air is exhaled, the abdominal muscle area should push down and contract. This practice technique should be repeated until it becomes a natural movement with singing.

​Open Throat Technique

One way to sing better is to utilize the open throat technique, which simply means to say the vowel letters (a-e-i-o-u) in such a way that your jaw is extended downward without widening it. The tongue should be in the bottom jaw area and not touching the roof of the mouth. Try repeating the vowels without closing the jaw and continue to say them with an open mouth. Now, try singing the vowels in the same fashion. You will notice a difference in the quality and expansion of the voice with this technique.

​Chin Down

Keep your chin area pointed downward when attempting higher notes and aiming for power and strength. Attempting to reach higher notes can make the head move upward, which causes vocal chord difficulties. Concentrate on keeping the chin down and your voice should exhibit more control and power.

​Vocal Range

In order to broaden the vocal range and obviously sing better, and in a broader fashion, any singer wants to find their current vocal range. This process involves technique as vocal range encompasses the scope or distance between both the higher and lower pitches that a singer is able to perform.

Once the vocal range has been determined (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) it can be increased or broadened with incremental practice, say in half-steps that lead to full steps in range. Practice is initiated with short scales with the achievement of the half-steps first before moving on or pushing the voice to higher or lower levels. One of the most efficient ways of increasing range is to work with a vocal coach.

​Voice Areas

The voice consists of three (3) different areas, which affects the resonance (voice vibrations that increase tone) of the voice. Singing better is influenced by the ability to control the changes within these areas:

  • Head Voice
  • Chest Voice
  • Middle Voice

With high notes, head voice refers to singing higher notes that will resonate in the head area, while chest voice is identified as the lower area of the singing voice that will resonate in the chest area. The middle or mixed voice is the mid area between the chest voice and head voice. The mid area controls where the voice shifts from the chest to the head to sing the notes appropriately.

The transitioning from higher notes to lower notes requires going from the head to chest voice, and the singer will experience the feeling of the notes moving to the head and then down to the chest as singing commences. Voice quality is limited when the notes stay in the same place.

​Fluid consumption

Though it may seem trivial, singers know that drinking water moistens the vocal chords and maintains flexibility, so the area can easily open and close. Other fluids can be consumed as long as they are semi-warm, not cold, unsweetened, caffeine free and nonalcoholic. Throat muscles can become tense with consumption of cold food and drink, and every budding singer should consume a sufficient amount of water, at least a pint a day.

Vocal Exercises For Better Singing

Singing better takes everyday practice along with a serious commitment to training. Exercising the voice once or twice a week or on a monthly basis won’t do the trick! Daily exercise is imperative if you want to train your voice and develop the necessary muscles to enrich your voice.

​Humming

Humming is one exercise that goes along with the musical scale. In humming the scale, you want to be able to feel a pulsating or buzzing feeling in the nose, eyes, head and chest area to know that you are doing it properly. While executing the up and down scale with humming, be sure to think about and utilize correct pitch.

​Lip and Tongue Trills

Blowing air through the lips is what trilling is all about. The lips should move and vibrate and make a burr like sound. Lips should be relaxed when attempting this exercise. Try tongue trills as well as they help with relaxation of throat swallowing muscles that are critical for singing.

​Larynx Stability

The larynx, or the part of the throat that contains the vocal chords, needs to remain in a stable position, particularly when a singer is trying to reach higher notes. When the larynx is steadily positioned, there is better control of the voice and less strain.

In order to keep the larynx in a stable mode, utilize the word “mum” repeatedly. Place the thumbs under the chin, swallow and feel the throat muscles catching. With singing, these muscles need to be in relaxation mode. Continue to sing musical scales while making an “mmm” sound with a closed mouth. The throat muscles should be relaxed at this point. The most important part of this exercise is that the throat muscles remain calm while performing the scales.

To Singing Better Requires Self-Confidence

​Sing Alone

The confidence factor is extremely important with singing better and one way of accomplishing self-assurance is to practice in the privacy of your home, secluded studio, vacant recording cubicle or in front of a mirror. Not only sing, but sing loudly and fearlessly and use movement and outlandish actions to free inhibitions.

​Emotional Release

Singing is an emotional experience, just like acting, and you want to learn how to exhibit your feelings and love of music to others through a practice first that transfers later to actual performance. You may feel vulnerable exposing your emotional singing self in front of others but with sufficient training and practice, your voice will come off as natural, pleasing and captivating to others when self-confidence, practice, and training trio up for heartfelt musical expression.

​Gaining More Confidence

You’ll have to step outside of yourself to gain added confidence when it comes to singing, and this usually entails singing in the presence of others. It could mean performing in front of an audience, vocal coach, family member(s), friends or strangers. Once you have practiced and have acquired sufficient skill, specifically ask those you trust to listen to you sing and ask them for their honest opinion of your singing ability and any mistakes they may catch that you have overlooked. This will not only give you more confidence but will help with singing in front of others.

Additional confidence can be attained through switching styles, broadening your range, performing your own music, singing in your community, singing karaoke style, singing familiar songs before tackling more difficult pieces, and simply investing in further development of your voice to adapt to various vocal strategies and unfamiliar singing styles and environments. Every singer has to be able to take risks and alter his or her repertoire.

​Conquering Stage Fright when singing

Even the best of singers encounter bouts with stage fright and there are ways to compensate for this fear through strategies such as looking beyond your audience and focusing on the back of the room or simply pretending that no one is there listening to you sing. Knowing your material backwards and forwards and applying breathing techniques can help with stage fright as well. Even singing with a recorded background rather than live music can help with stage fright.

Conclusion On How To Sing Better:

Learning how to sing better has a learning curve of its own and naturally talented singers can tell you from their own experience that singing is a whole lot more than getting on stage in front of an audience. It doesn’t happen overnight without commitment and input from you through daily practice, specific exercises, development of range and style, confidence building and actual performance. Singing for yourself and others can be an exciting talent when pursued with resolve.