What Are the Sizes & Weights of the Tenor Sax vs. the Alto Sax?

By Mason Stockstill
Alto and tenor saxophones are different sizes and weights.

The alto and tenor are the two most used types of saxophones, both for professional musicians and student players. The size and weight of a particular saxophone are factors for a musician, because the saxophone is typically attached to a strap around the player’s neck and held to the side or in front of the body when played. Tenor saxophones are larger than alto saxophones and usually heavier.

Weight

The alto saxophone ranges in weight from about 4 to 6 pounds, and the tenor ranges from 6 to 8 pounds. The weight varies based on the thickness of the metal and the inclusion of additional keys. Mouthpiece choice can change the weight as well; a metal mouthpiece can weigh a 1/4 pound or more, while a plastic mouthpiece might weigh an ounce or less.

Sizes

The sizes of alto and tenor saxophones vary because of minor differences in design and construction among manufacturers. The alto is close to 25 inches long, and the tenor is roughly 28 inches long. The bell on an alto is about 4 inches in diameter, and a tenor’s bell is about 5 inches across. Reed sizes vary as well; an alto sax reed is about 2.75 inches by 0.625 inches, while a tenor sax reed is about 3.2 inches by 0.68 inches.

Cases

The size and weight of a saxophone’s case vary as well. A soft alto saxophone gig bag could weigh less than a pound, while a wooden case weighs close to 8 pounds. A typical alto case is 25 inches long, 11 inches high and 7 inches wide. Tenor saxophone cases are larger and heavier. They measure about 32 inches long, 13 inches high and 8 inches wide, and weigh about 10 pounds.

Other Types

Saxophones made from unusual materials will not weigh the same as traditional brass saxophones. Several manufacturers have built saxophones out of plastic, though the vast majority of players prefer metal instruments. Some companies have also marketed straight alto and tenor saxophones; these types are the same weight and volume as the curved versions, but much longer, making them unwieldy for most musicians.

About the Author

Mason Stockstill began writing professionally in 1997. His work has appeared in the "Los Angeles Times," "San Francisco Chronicle" and many other newspapers. Stockstill earned a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master of Fine Arts in English from Mills College.