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5 Most Expensive Saxophones in the World

by Madonna

The saxophone, an iconic instrument renowned for its versatility and soulful sound, has captured the hearts of musicians and audiences alike since its invention by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. While saxophones are available in a wide range of prices, from budget-friendly options to high-end luxury models, some instruments stand out for their extraordinary craftsmanship, exquisite materials, and unparalleled sound quality. In this article, we delve into the realm of luxury saxophones, exploring the most expensive models on the market, their unique features, historical significance, and what sets them apart from standard models.

5 Most Expensive Saxophones

Selmer Paris Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone – Known for its impeccable craftsmanship and exceptional sound quality, the Selmer Paris Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone is a favorite among professional musicians. Handcrafted in France, this saxophone features a vintage design inspired by the legendary Mark VI model. With a price tag ranging from $8,000 to $10,000, it is a testament to Selmer’s commitment to excellence in saxophone manufacturing.

Yamaha YAS-82ZII Custom Z Alto Saxophone – Yamaha’s Custom Z series is celebrated for its innovative design and superior performance. The YAS-82ZII Alto Saxophone, part of this esteemed lineup, boasts a sleek, ergonomic body and precision-engineered keywork for effortless playability. Priced between $4,000 and $5,000, it offers professional musicians a reliable instrument with impeccable intonation and tonal clarity.

Keilwerth SX90R Shadow Tenor Saxophone – The Keilwerth SX90R Shadow Tenor Saxophone stands out for its striking black nickel finish and bold, contemporary design. Handcrafted in Germany, this saxophone delivers a rich, powerful sound with exceptional projection. Priced at approximately $6,000 to $7,000, it appeals to discerning musicians seeking a unique blend of style and performance.

Yanagisawa WO20 Elite Alto Saxophone – Renowned for their meticulous craftsmanship and precision engineering, Yanagisawa saxophones are cherished by professionals worldwide. The WO20 Elite Alto Saxophone features a bronze body with a clear lacquer finish, producing a warm, resonant tone with remarkable depth and clarity. With prices ranging from $3,000 to $4,000, it offers exceptional value for musicians seeking uncompromising quality.

P. Mauriat System 76 Tenor Saxophone – The P. Mauriat System 76 Tenor Saxophone is revered for its vintage-inspired design and superior craftsmanship. Handcrafted with a bronze body and gold lacquer finish, this saxophone delivers a rich, vibrant sound with excellent projection and response. Priced between $3,000 and $4,000, it offers professional musicians a classic yet modern instrument with unmatched performance.

Features and Specifications

What justifies the high price of these luxury saxophones? It’s a combination of factors, including the quality of materials, precision craftsmanship, and attention to detail. Let’s explore some of the key features and specifications that set these instruments apart:

Premium Materials: Luxury saxophones are often crafted from high-quality materials such as bronze, brass, and nickel silver. These materials not only enhance the instrument’s durability but also contribute to its distinctive tone and resonance.

Handcrafted Excellence: Unlike mass-produced instruments, luxury saxophones are meticulously handcrafted by skilled artisans. Each instrument undergoes rigorous quality control measures to ensure impeccable playability and performance.

Advanced Keywork: High-end saxophones often feature advanced keywork designs, including ergonomic key shapes and precision mechanisms for smooth, responsive action. These enhancements make it easier for musicians to execute complex passages with precision and ease.

Unique Finishes: Luxury saxophones may also feature unique finishes, such as black nickel plating or hand-applied lacquers, adding aesthetic appeal and visual distinction to the instrument.

Customization Options: Some manufacturers offer customization options for their luxury saxophones, allowing musicians to personalize their instrument with custom engraving, key designs, or special finishes.

Historical Context

The history of the saxophone is intertwined with the stories of legendary musicians and innovative instrument makers who have shaped its evolution over the years. While many luxury saxophones pay homage to classic designs and traditions, others push the boundaries of innovation and craftsmanship.

One example is the Selmer Paris Mark VI, often hailed as the “holy grail” of saxophones. Introduced in 1954, the Mark VI revolutionized the saxophone world with its revolutionary design and unparalleled sound quality. Today, vintage Mark VI saxophones command premium prices on the collectors’ market, reflecting their enduring legacy and historical significance.

Similarly, the Yamaha Custom Z series builds upon Yamaha’s rich heritage of instrument making, incorporating cutting-edge technology and design innovations to create instruments that meet the demands of today’s musicians while honoring the brand’s storied past.

Brand Information

When it comes to luxury saxophones, several brands stand out for their commitment to quality, innovation, and excellence in craftsmanship. Among the most renowned are Selmer Paris, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, Keilwerth, and P. Mauriat.

Selmer Paris: Founded in 1885, Selmer Paris is synonymous with craftsmanship and tradition. Each Selmer saxophone is meticulously handcrafted in France by skilled artisans, resulting in instruments of unparalleled quality and performance.

Yamaha: Yamaha’s reputation for quality and innovation extends to its saxophone lineup, with the Custom Z series representing the pinnacle of Yamaha saxophone design. Combining advanced technology with traditional craftsmanship, Yamaha saxophones offer exceptional playability and tonal versatility.

Yanagisawa: With a legacy dating back to 1893, Yanagisawa is renowned for its precision-engineered saxophones crafted from the finest materials. Yanagisawa saxophones are favored by professional musicians for their impeccable intonation, responsive keywork, and rich, expressive tone.

Keilwerth: Founded in 1925, Julius Keilwerth has earned a reputation for producing high-quality saxophones with a distinctive sound and style. Handcrafted in Germany, Keilwerth saxophones feature innovative design elements and premium materials for superior performance.

P. Mauriat: P. Mauriat saxophones are beloved by musicians for their vintage-inspired design and modern performance. Crafted with a blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern technology, P. Mauriat saxophones offer a unique combination of classic aesthetics and contemporary playability.

Comparison with Standard Models

How do luxury saxophones compare to standard models in terms of sound, playability, and craftsmanship? While standard saxophones are designed to meet the needs of student and intermediate players, luxury models offer several advantages for professional musicians:

Superior Materials: Luxury saxophones are often crafted from premium materials such as bronze, brass, and nickel silver, which contribute to their distinctive tone and resonance.

Enhanced Keywork: High-end saxophones feature advanced keywork designs and precision mechanisms for smoother, more responsive action, allowing for greater control and precision in performance.

Exceptional Craftsmanship: Luxury saxophones are meticulously handcrafted by skilled artisans, resulting in instruments of exceptional quality and playability. Each instrument undergoes rigorous quality control measures to ensure consistency and reliability.

Unique Features: Luxury saxophones may incorporate unique features and design elements not found in standard models, such as custom engraving, special finishes, or innovative key designs, adding aesthetic appeal and individuality to the instrument.

Superior Sound: Perhaps the most significant difference between luxury and standard saxophones is in the sound quality. Luxury saxophones are designed to deliver a rich, expressive tone with exceptional clarity, projection, and dynamic range, allowing musicians to fully express their musicality and artistry.

Buying Guide

For musicians considering investing in a luxury saxophone, there are several factors to consider:

Budget: Luxury saxophones can be a significant investment, so it’s essential to establish a budget based on your financial resources and musical aspirations.

Playability: Before making a purchase, try out different saxophone models to find one that feels comfortable and responsive to your playing style. Pay attention to factors such as keywork, ergonomics, and intonation.

Sound Quality: Listen to recordings or try out the saxophone in person to assess its sound quality and tonal characteristics. Look for a saxophone that produces a rich, vibrant tone with excellent projection and clarity across the entire range.

Brand Reputation: Research the reputation and history of the saxophone manufacturer to ensure they have a track record of producing high-quality instruments with excellent craftsmanship and customer support.

Warranty and Support: Consider the warranty and after-sales support offered by the manufacturer, including repair services, replacement parts, and technical assistance.

Resale Value: While not always a primary consideration, resale value is worth keeping in mind, especially if you plan to upgrade or sell the saxophone in the future. High-end saxophones from reputable brands tend to hold their value well over time.


In conclusion, luxury saxophones represent the pinnacle of craftsmanship, innovation, and musical expression. With their exquisite materials, precision craftsmanship, and exceptional sound quality, these instruments offer professional musicians an unparalleled playing experience and a lifetime of musical inspiration. Whether you’re a seasoned performer or a passionate enthusiast, investing in a luxury saxophone can elevate your musical journey to new heights of artistry and creativity.

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