Stepping Up the


Stepping Up the SAXOPHONE

After playing the saxophone for a few years, a beginning player often begins to upgrade their reeds, mouthpiece, and ligature. This initially helps them produce a better sound from their student-level instrument.  However, if the student has already done this, is taking private lessons, or playing more advanced music, it may be time to upgrade the entire instrument to a performance-quality, or “step-up,” saxophone. Step-up saxophones are specifically designed for improved response and clarity as well as better sound quality. A hand-finished neck helps the player produce a more desirable tone. Double-braced keys add more stability and modified or extra keys extend the range of the instrument. Different finish options also make it possible to customize both the look and sound of the saxophone.

Upgraded Neck

High F# Key

Double-Braced Keys

Finish Options

Characteristics to Consider

Finish Options: Step-up saxophones are available in a wide variety of finish options. These options allow the player to customize their instrument to fit their personality and sound preference. Some have a black nickel plating, which provides a darker tone. Others feature antique or distressed finishes, which add to the aesthetic value of the instrument. Additionally, some saxophones are even designed without lacquer. An unlacquered saxophone has increased resonance and is well suited for jazz styles.

Upgraded Neck and/or Multiple Neck Options: The neck can have a huge effect on the way the air passes through the instrument. A traditional neck design gives a player more control and faster response, while some other necks are designed to be freer-blowing and allow the player more expression. Some manufacturers will even provide multiple neck options with their upgraded instruments. This allows the player to choose which neck is best for the style of music they are playing.

KeysAn upgraded saxophone has a high F# key as well as a front “F” key.  These keys extend the range of the instrument and also give the player options for alternate fingerings. This makes it easier to play the high parts. Some step-up saxophones may also feature adjustable palm keys, which help the player to make adjustments tailored to their own hand position. 

Other Premium Design Features: Some upgraded saxophones feature a “big bell” design. This gives the player a warm, bold tone with a large capacity for nuance. Other design features may include ribbed post construction and a detachable bell and bow, which make the instrument easier to repair and maintain.

Contact Us About Upgrading Your Saxophone

It’s important to consider these features when choosing an upgraded saxophone, but the best way to decide which of these is best for the individual player is to come on in and try out these upgraded models for yourself!  At Menchey Music Service, we have a great selection of upgraded alto saxophones from Yamaha, Cannonball, and Eastman and one of them is sure to be the perfect match for you!