About the Saxophone

Though made of brass, the saxophone is actually part of the woodwind family. That's because it uses a single-reed mouthpiece. But the saxophone's dual nature is part of its creation, as it was initially meant to fill the gap between brass and woodwind.

The saxophone has proved to be extremely versatile, used widely in nearly all genres, though most prominently in jazz, rock, classical, and military band music.


Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax developed the (aptly named) saxophone in 1846. He wanted to create something that would combine the loudness of a brass instrument with the versatility of of a woodwind instrument. He created 14 different versions, though only a fraction of those are still used today. The only major change to the saxophone came in the late 1800s, when a French maker extended the bell and added another key.

There are nine subcategories in the modern saxophone family, ranging from the contrabass and subcontrabass to the sopranissimo and sopranino. These nine versions either belong to the standard saxophone family, also known as the military band family, or the orchestral family. Military band saxs play in B and E, while orchestral versions play in C and F.