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Trevor James 371A "Alphasax" Alto Saxophone

£490.83 excluding VAT (UK Export and VAT Assisted Purchase price)
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  • Great for teachers
CASS Magazine

CASS Magazine

This review first appeared in CASS, the magazine of the Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britainand is reproduced with permission. Join CASS: prices start from £12 a year.

Late last year (October 2008) a new option for early years learning of the saxophone was introduced by Trevor James & Company. The Alpha Sax has been designed to fill a gap in the market for an appropriate means of starting the smaller/younger player who previously had to wait until they were physically large enough to handle the weight of an alto sax and/or until growth allowed the left hand to stretch over awkward palm keys. Some alto saxophones were more sympathetically designed for smaller hands than others and some have been built to feel lighter than others but to my knowledge there has never been a purpose built alto sax targeted to young players, until now.

Some teachers might well say that they have had success starting keen beginners on soprano saxophone and indeed, patient tutors and very dedicated youngsters may well have managed in this way. Personally, I have never been a supporter of starting young children on the curved soprano sax for the simple reason that the soprano, of all the common saxophones, requires the most control and maturity to produce an enjoyable, rewarding result. I am particularly pleased to welcome the Alpha Sax as, for me, it is both very sensible and long overdue.

To add a personal dimension to this review I’d like to say that the first thing that strikes one when picking up the Alpha is how light it is. This weight reduction has been made possible by dispensing with the bell notes (Bb, B: only left hand little finger C sharp and G sharp remain), all the palm keys above D (which remains) and all right hand side keys except Bb (which remains). The instrument retains a full two-octave plus chromatic range from low C to palm high D suitable for virtually all learning to grade three or four standard. The right hand little finger touches for Eb and C have been re-designed to reduce finger stretch and the left hand little finger key touch for C sharp has been brought up next to and in line with the G sharp key. The result is a full size, completely satisfactory sounding alto sax that poses no problem to primary school players, age 7-10 being the ideal target group. For teachers or school programmes involved with the delivery of early years or recent government initiated Wider Opportunities primary school classroom instruction this means that learning of the saxophone alongside curved head flutes, C clarinets, cornets and other child-size brass is now a reality. If an individual pupil wishes to begin study of the saxophone early they now can do so and, when the player has grown sufficiently, the transfer to fully keyed alto saxophone is very smooth indeed. I would expect that a parent considering an Alpha Sax for their child will wish to investigate the question of a later selling on or part exchange position with their music retailer at the time of purchase as the instrument is patently an introductory step towards a full specification instrument.

The Alpha Sax outfit comprises the instrument, sling, grease and a smart, rucksack-type gig case to ease transportation. The basic mouthpiece which is supplied is adequate but as with so many student outfits could beneficially be upgraded to either a better quality plastic mouthpiece or an ebonite rubber mouthpiece as progress merits.

I wish to salute Trevor James and the design team for coming up with an answer to the challenge of providing a suitable starter instrument for smaller players and I suspect even Adolphe Sax himself would approve.

Manufacturer's Description

The saxophone is one of the most popular musical instruments around today, and features in many high profile bands. Until this moment, a new generation of potential musicians have been denied the opportunity to learn the instrument, based solely around their age and size!

How many budding new jazz, rock and classical players have been lost as a result of being told "you'll have to wait!"

The challenge was to design and manufacture an alto saxophone that would meet the needs of the smaller and younger players currently unable to learn to play the instrument, due to weight and hand positioning issues.

To enable future progression on the saxophone it was also essential that any new design would also fit in with established instrumental teaching publications by retaining fundamental fingerings and instrumental key of Eb.

Designed in London, UK, the revolutionary new Alphasax by Trevor James - with close cooperation with saxophone teachers,  players and parents, has solved all the issues and now offers the opportunity to young players to fulfil their dream of learning to play the saxophone.....NOW!  It also enables the parent and music teacher to capture the enthusiasm and gives a 'heads up' year or two musical and AB Grade advantage ready for when the young player eventually transfers to a standard (and heavier) alto sax.

Our Description

The Trevor James "Alpha Sax" alto saxophone is designed for smaller beginners to start sax on. Its reduced amount of keywork (Trevor James have left off any mechanism not needed through the beginning grades) makes it very light (approximately 1/3 lighter). The major difference, however, is that there is only one palm key, solving the most common problem with starting young players - that they simply cannot avoid accidentally leaning on these keys.

The reduced keywork is perfect for the beginning player, as the keys which have been omitted from the design are not required until about grade 3; plus the included synthetic reed is tougher and longer-lasting than a cane reed.

About Trevor James

Established in London in 1979, Trevor J James have grown from very specialist beginnings servicing and repairing the flutes of professional London musicians to 32 years later, being one of the World’s most prestigious student, conservatory and professional flute designers and suppliers. Their multi award winning flute ranges are now regarded as one of the leading brand. They are currently distributing their flutes to 59 countries worldwide and work closely with established musicians and teachers internationally in their research and development programmes.


  • Gold lacquered finish
  • In E flat
  • Reduced keywork with ergonomic design:
    - Palm keys for top D#, E and F have been taken off, while the D palm key has been reshaped to suit small hands.
    - The  low B & Bb keys have been removed.
    - The G# and low C# pinkie keys are higher up and easier to reach.
    - The side F# and C keys have been removed.
    - Low D# and C keys have been angled so that they are easier to reach.
    - Bb "bis" and side Bb keys are retained.
  • Adjustable thumbrest

What's Included

  • Plastic mouthpiece
  • Ligature
  • Cap
  • Neck strap
  • Cork grease
  • Ultra-light shaped case with handle and rucksack straps

Item Details

Manufacturer: Trevor James
Model number: 371A
Category: Alto Saxophones

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  •  Owner's Check-Up
  •  Minimum Three-Year Warranty

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