To be able to play duets with other instruments such as guitar, a basic knowledge of saxophones as transposing instruments is helpful.

See my article on Easy Guitar and Alto Sax Duets using a Capo and see an understanding of transposition can be put to good use.

What are transposing instruments?

A transposing instrument is a musical instrument whose music is recorded in sheet notation at a pitch different from the pitch that actually sounds (concert pitch). A written middle C on a transposing instrument produces a pitch other than middle C, and that pitch identifies the interval of transposition when describing the instrument. For example, a written C on a Bb clarinet sounds a concert Bb.

(From Wikipedia)

Saxophones are transposing instruments.

Alto and Baritone Saxophones

Alto and Baritone Saxophones are Eb transposing instruments. Notes for alto saxophone are written a sixth above their actual sound

Tenor and Soprano Saxophones

Tenor and Soprano Saxophones are Bb transposing instruments. Notes for tenor saxophone are written a ninth, that’s an octave plus a whole-step, above their actual sound.

Chart of Saxophone Notes and Concert Pitch

Bb
Tenor, Soprano Saxophones
Eb
Alto, Baritone Saxophones
Concert Pitch
C G A# , Bb
C# , Db G# , Ab B
D A C
D# , Eb A# , Bb C# , Db
E B D
F C D# , Eb
F# , Gb C# , Db E
G D F
G# , Ab D# , Eb F# , Gb
A E G
A# , Bb F G# , Ab
B F# , Gb A

Putting it to Use

Now look at my article on Easy Guitar and Alto Sax Duets using a Capo and see how understanding of transposition can be put to good use.

Bb Instruments Only Chart

Bb
Tenor, Soprano Saxophones
Concert Pitch
C A# , Bb
C# , Db B
D C
D# , Eb C# , Db
E D
F D# , Eb
F# , Gb E
G F
G# , Ab F# , Gb
A G
A# , Bb G# , Ab
B A

Eb Instruments Only Chart

Eb
Alto, Baritone Saxophones
Concert
Pitch
C D# , Eb
C# , Db E
D F
D# , Eb F# , Gb
E G
F G# , Ab
F# , Gb A
G A# , Bb
G# , Ab B
A C
A# , Bb C# , Db
B D