When Adolphe Sax first invented the saxophone, he envisioned a hugely versatile family of instruments in a wide range of sizes (his original patent contained specs for 14 different styles). Not all of those made the final cut, and when you look at baritone and bass saxophones, it's pretty easy to see why! These are big instruments, and to go any lower, they have to get downright huge. In fact, there are rare examples of larger contrabass and subcontrabass models that were actually built to prove it, but the two types found in this section are the lowest-key saxophones in common use. These are tough instruments to tackle, best suited to experienced players or very ambitious beginners - but so rewarding to master.
Like other sax sizes, not all baritones are created equal. There's a lot of variety here, with something to offer every player. If you're still working on learning the ropes and looking for an entry-level horn that's relatively straightforward to play and easy on the pocketbook, check out an intermediate model like the Allora Vienna Series Intermediate Baritone Saxophone. On the other hand, if you're a pro looking to make an unmistakable impression with your stage presence, consider the higher-end options such as the P. Mauriat PMB-500BXSK 'Black Pearl' Professional Baritone Saxophone or the top-of-the-line Selmer Paris Series III Model 66AF Jubilee Edition Baritone Saxophone.
For musicians interested in the bass saxophone, the choice is a lot easier - for the simple reason that they're less common, so you have fewer options to sift through. The Oleg Maestro Bass Saxophone is a good starting point in the search, available in lacquer and silver-plated finishes, with the option of gold keys on the silver model. From Selmer Paris, there's the Model 56 Bass Saxophone, which was designed with a clear goal in mind: to create a bass sax whose performance would make it just as well-suited to the spotlight as its more mainstream cousins. By all accounts, Selmer has succeeded in that goal.
As time goes by and composers keep on writing, the repertoire that calls for the low tones of baritone and bass saxophones just keeps on growing and growing. Gone are the days when these instruments were seen as novelties made for their own sake - today, they're well-established members of the saxophone family that bring a rich extra dimension to fill out an ensemble's sound. Plus, they make great solo instruments, too!