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Alto saxophones are the most common and popular variety of sax, and that makes them one of the best-known and most-recognized instruments anywhere in the world. Featured in countless genres from jazz to rock, it's an instrument that looks as good as it sounds and has a powerful presence on the stage. As with all of its cousins, the alto saxophone is considered a woodwind instead of a brass instrument since it produces sound with a reed. If you're looking for your first saxophone, the alto sax is a perfect place to start. It has a comfortable size that's not too big and not too small, so you can get the hang of fingering techniques without having to stretch out or cramp up your hands. The alto saxophone also takes less air than a larger sax, so you can handle it even with beginner breath control. On top of all that, the popularity of the alto sax means that there is a wealth of music written for it, so you'll have access to virtually endless practice material. For learning embouchure, fingerwork, posture and breathing technique, there's no better type of saxophone.
Choosing the right alto sax means taking the fine details into account and matching those to your performance level. Keys, pads and finish deserve special attention. If you're a beginner, a student model will make a great introduction. These typically come with stamped keys and cardboard or felt pads, which perform well and make the instrument affordable on tighter budgets. More experienced players should be on the lookout for die-cast keys and leather pads, which provide the longest service life and the most reliable seals. On a high-end alto sax, you'll also want to think about plated finishes. These have a subtle effect on the instrument's sound, with silver plating producing added brilliance and gold plating introducing a touch of warmth to the tone. Considering your options carefully is important when picking out a new alto saxophone, and so is the simple matter of personal preference. With a careful look at the instruments available here and keeping in mind the qualities that you're searching for in a sax, you'll definitely find an instrument that's just right for your tastes and your budget.