Adolphe Sax's original design for the saxophone included many different versions and variations, and while we do have literature that includes bass and sopranino and maybe even contrabass and soprillo, saxophones are most popularly seen in a quartet variety of soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.
Almost every beginning student starts on alto: its design is compact enough for younger students to hold and it seems easy enough to produce a sound when players are first starting out. Then there is soprano, which is usually not explored until students reach upper-level high school material; however, it seems when soprano is called for in a piece, every saxophonist tries to jump at the opportunity to play it due to the uniqueness of the instrument and its soloist tendencies within band literature. Baritone…well, everyone loves baritone because, just like soprano, it looks a bit different from alto and tenor, and it has access to that sweet low range that everyone is clamoring to hear. Play a low A on baritone at a healthy volume, and I guarantee every student and adult will flash a quick, youthful grin because the sound is unlike much of anything within the ensemble.
And then there’s tenor. No solos like on soprano (or even alto for that matter). It looks like an alto but is slightly bigger, but it’s not big enough to have the curb appeal of baritone. Play a low note on a tenor, and the bari player will look at you funny, play the same note and then go lower, as if saying: “anything you can do, I can do better”. The band parts can seem at