Though the alto is not the highest voice in the sax family, it is the most common type of saxophone. And it is the starting type for beginners. To an adult it is not large. But to a fourth for fifth grader in beginning band (9-10 year old) this sax is big and heavy enough!
It is pitched in Eb, and sounds a M6 below written. In jazz bands and wind ensembles, it is the lead sax. In classical compositions most solos go to it.
As mentioned above, it is the starting point for saxophone students. It is important that good tone and correct habits be established on this horn before branching out to the other voices. On the page covering good posture and habits I discuss some controversial issues of holding and playing the alto.
In this picture I am holding a 1972 Yamaha YAS-21. This is my first horn. (I can never part with it.) It’s been through things no horn should have to endure. Thank goodness it can’t talk.