There is an easy way to do guitar and alto saxophone duets when working from a single sheet of music.
Find a tune that you wish to play a duet on. If you are a beginner, I suggest sticking to the key of C to start with – so hopefully no sharps or flats.
Put a capo on the third fret of the guitar and play as if the capo was not there.
By doing this, the guitar will effectively be playing a third higher – which is the relatively the same as a sixth lower plus an octave.
This will match the alto saxophone – where notes are written a sixth above their actual sound.
Keep in mind that notes for the alto saxophone are written a sixth above their actual sound – so you are playing a sixth lower than is written.
Just play the tune as written and all should sound good.
Here is a example of a simplified version of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in the key of C with accompanying guitar chords.
Try it out…
For a Tenor Saxophone
The simplest way to do a similar thing with guitar and tenor saxophone is to tune the guitar down by one note (2 steps) and play off the same music.
Not something a guitarist would normally want to do, but it makes it real easy if you play both instruments and are laying down some guitar backing tracks to play with against with your tenor saxophone.
For a quick reminder on the saxophone as a transposing instrument, see my Sax Transposition Chart.