Who doesn’t know the name Selmer in the world of saxophones? Such a person isn’t yet fully initiated into the world we tell you. The truth is that the brand is well known for its premium saxophones. And Selmer saxophones are some of the most highly demanded saxophones by professionals globally.
The brand has been into saxophone making for nearly 100 years. So, if it’s for experience, Selmer has more than enough. It’s little wonder that their instruments are that excellent. The brand offers all kinds of saxophones from alto to tenor to baritone saxophones.
Naturally, deciding on a Selmer saxophone can be a little difficult if you don’t know your way around. But hey, that’s why we’re here – to help. Our article will expose you to the brand on a more detailed level. And then we will also give you a quick, honest review on our 6 favorite horns from the brand.
- Top 6 Best Selmer Saxophones To Buy In 2020 Reviews
- Buying Guide For Best Selmer Saxophones
Top 6 Best Selmer Saxophones To Buy In 2020 Reviews
Selmer AS-500 Alto Saxophone
Carrying case, and new mouthpiece
Carrying case, mouthpiece with ligature, and strap
Brushed finish and dull lacquer
Shaped case, Selmer Paris S80 mouthpiece, cap and ligature, and Selmer saxophone care products
Shaped flight case, Selmer Paris Super Session mouthpiece, cap and ligature, and care products
We begin this review with a Selmer student saxophone – the AS-500. This is one gorgeous instrument, no doubt. As we’ve come to expect from Selmer, the saxophone comes with quality construction. And with the clear lacquered finish, this shines in the looks department.
Now, this is a pretty pricey instrument, especially since this is targeted at the beginner. But then again, if you know Selmer, you’ll come to expect that. The brand’s beginner saxophones stand out from the pack with many advanced features. So, the hyped price is somewhat justified.
We can assure you that will last a long time of use. It’s sturdy and durable. Plus, it’s something you can keep using even as an entry-level intermediate instrument. The sound quality of the AS-500 easily competes with some intermediate models from other brands.
That said, this is a pretty heavy saxophone especially for a really young learner. So, if you have a little kid looking to learn the sax, this might not be the one for them yet.
Like we mentioned earlier, there are many advanced features on the Selmer AS-500 that makes the saxophone different than other student saxophones. Check some of them out…
The sax comes with the high F sharp key which is something you find mostly on advanced level instruments.
And then there’s the adjustable thumb rest and pinky cluster linkage too. These make the saxophone more comfortable to play, thereby making playing this so efficient. With little effort, you’ll be producing beautiful sound.
As for tone, this comes beautifully and rich. Sure it is pricey but it sure is worth it.
Next, we venture into Selmer’s professional saxophone lineup, that is, the La Voix II series. This time we’re reviewing its Selmer SAS280 – a highly versatile instrument that will fit well into any music genre at all.
This is the professional grade instrument targeted at the experienced pro who can’t afford to compromise on tonal and sound quality. There are so many features on the sax that, if placed in the right hands, will cause to perform to its utmost capacity.
From the looks of this saxophone, you can tell the quality of craftsmanship Selmer put into this thing. Made in Selmer’s French factories, the SAS280 is something that’s going to withstand long years of use and abuse.
The finish of the SAS280 is truly eye-catching, making this something every pro player would be proud to have in their ensemble.
Furthermore, the keywork here is also pretty standard and professional, enabling the player to achieve accurate fingering every time. This also makes the instrument highly playable, giving beautiful sound with minimal effort.
And since we’re talking about keys, the SAS280 comes in the key F which is typical for pro instruments.
Besides that, the sound, intonation, and pitch are consistent and one of a kind. Altogether, sound quality you get from this horn will totally wow you.
The only accessories Selmer includes in this package are a carrying case, a mouthpiece with ligature, and a strap.
Now we have our first look at a tenor saxophone from Selmer. This one again is from the La Voix series where Selmer carries its professional grade instrument.
This is obviously vintage with its high quality brass body. It’s a solid construction over here, so quality or durability will never be a problem. There’s an obvious care and thoughtfulness Selmer put into making this instrument.
And this thoughtfulness shows in the quality of sound this produces. The sound this gives is clear, deep, and strong without any air leaks whatsoever.
We can’t forget to mention that this looks good too with its lacquered finish. And, of course, there’s the characteristic hand engraving on the bell as well to add an extra dose of wow.
To more technical details now…
This offers an amazingly fluid acoustic response. Plus, its neck is low-resistance which helps the saxophone to deliver on accurate and precise sound like the player expects.
Besides all these, we are impressed to find that this comes with a compact key design. This is quite important as it helps make the saxophone more playable. Plus, the key design isn’t exactly ergonomic, so this helps a bit.
Other things we really like about this horn are its mini-rib body which impacts on sound and resonance. Then there are the treated leather pads, high F sharp, bell flare, fine-tuning screws, and lightweight case to protect your investment.
This is probably not just one of Selmer’s most expensive saxophone models. It’s also probably one of the world’s most expensive saxophone models. It’s safe to say that this is not for everyone. Even some professional players might not be able to get this.
That said, this is a gorgeous instrument which is expected considering the brand in question and the price this goes for.
As is Selmer’s culture, its Reference models are based on older Selmer models. The Reference 54 is based on the legendary Mark VI. If you know about the reputation of the Mark VI, then you might understand what the big deal is about.
Nevertheless, this still looks quite modern thanks to the genius craftsmanship. The keywork is great. And staying close to the body of the sax, the sax is, consequently, more playable. Besides that, it also makes this sax a lot more comfortable to play on with a rich tone for players to enjoy.
Only a handful of saxophones can give a tone that’s even close to what the Reference 54 gives. You’d appreciate this even more if you know the Mark VI.
Now, you don’t need to get scared of maintaining this saxophone as it only requires the same care you’d give to a regular sax. Fortunately, Selmer already included care products to help.
Moreover, it’s not something that would break down and need repairs often. So, altogether, it’s an easy-going instrument.
The Selmer AS42 is an entry-level professional instrument. And you know what makes this saxophone even more awesome? It is a product between the Selmer-ordained marriage between the Selmer USA and the Henri Selmer Paris. The result? A beautiful Selmer AS42 that people are head over heels for!
This comes with a genuine Henri Selmer Paris neck. Also, you’ll find the Selmer Paris mouthpiece exclusive to the AM42.
By doing this, Selmer makes this the only American Selmer saxophone within this price category to come with Henri Selmer parts. Now, that’s saying a whole lot! We all know France don’t play!
Performance wise, this sax responds amazingly well. And with its versatility, it works well in all settings from classical to jazz performances.
Its ribbed construction and metal resonators also work together to boost tone and dynamic range.
Of course, you can already see that this is a stunning instrument with a beautiful finish. And as usual, there’s the hand engraved pattern on the bell to add a unique touch as well.
As an accessory, Selmer gives you a pretty cool, lightweight carry case to transport your instrument with. It also protects your sax and ensures it serves you for as long as you’d have it.
Lastly on our review today, check out the Selmer Paris Reference 54 Alto Saxophone. It’s pretty much the same as the Reference 54 tenor sax we reviewed, except that this is an alto saxophone.
Selmer draws the inspiration for this saxophone from its legendary Mark VI. So, you have a merging of the ancient Selmer acoustics with a modern design and keywork. Bringing these together, you get a better intonation and altogether great sound.
Loads of jazz saxophonists love the Selmer Paris Reference 54 Alto Saxophone for its rich, throaty sound. Even in the lower register, you’ll be surprised to find that this sax still, in Selmer’s words now, barks!
With a super fluid and responsive keywork, this sax will follow hot on your heels even with the wickedest licks.
If you want something with a vintage sound and quality, get this sax. Its longer bell improves overall tone and playability too.
You get a couple of accessories with this sax like a flight case, mouthpiece with cap and ligature, as well as care products too.
Not much has changed between the Reference 54 Alto and Reference 54 Tenor as you can see. So, if you’re more into the alto sax than tenor, and you’re in the market for something vintage, this might be your gig. Oh yeah, this is also not as pricey as the Reference 54 Tenor.
Buying Guide For Best Selmer Saxophones
Before we go fully into this guide, we think we should first of all take a look at this brand. This should give you an idea on whom exactly you’re doing business with.
The saxophone-making company began in 1885, somewhere in Paris. Initially, it manufactured just mouthpieces and woodwind reeds. However, in 1922, the brand decided to add saxophones to its lineup of products.
From then on and for many years after, Selmer continued to work on the acoustics and mechanics of its horns. This led to the invention of the Model 22, Model 26, Model 28, and the Balanced Action which was released in 1936.
Selmer would introduce its popular Mark VI range many years later in 1954. This lineup then would go on to feature all kinds of saxophones from the sopranino, to the alto, to the tenor, to the baritone, to the bass.
The Mark VI saxophones are popular for their unique keywork as well as their state-of-the-art mechanical features. Their much improved acoustics with neck tapers, designs, bore, and refined bow also add to the reasons this is a much loved saxophone series.
In fact, if the numbers serve, the Mark VI range is the most popular saxophone model ever made. However, by 1974, the band discontinued the model to introduce the Mark VII range which contained alto and tenor saxophones.
Sadly, the Mark VII was not able to live up to the popularity of the Mark VI range even though they contained excellent horns.
Currently, Selmer assembles all its saxophones in the United States. However, the parts are often made in France. For the more ornate Selmer Henri Paris, the brand makes those in its French factories.
Selmer currently carries all different ranges of baritone, tenor, and alto saxophones.
In our next sub, we discuss the American Selmer models available and what to expect.
About The American Selmer Saxophone Ranges
Selmer carries two major American-made Selmer models that we feel are its biggest. Between these two saxophone ranges, Selmer carries everything from beginner models to pro level saxophones.
Typically, the American Selmer models sound a bit different than the Paris-made Selmer models. You can tell from the brightness of their sound. American-made Selmer saxophones tend to sound a bit more commercial and brighter than Paris-made Selmer saxophones.
Below, we discuss the two major series of the American Selmer saxophones.
The American Selmer 500 Series
This series contains Selmer’s beginner saxophones. In usual Selmer fashion though, these still come with acoustic and mechanical features more advanced than the average beginner saxophone.
Usually, these saxophones come in either of two finishes – silver-plated or lacquered. You can tell by whether they carry an “L” or an “S” at the end of their names. Of course, “L” is for “lacquered” and “S” is for “silver-plated”.
This series includes:
- The AS500 alto saxophone.
- TS500 tenor saxophone.
- BS500 baritone saxophone.
The American Selmer La Voix II Series
This series includes Selmer’s professional saxophones made in the United States. There’s no baritone saxophone in this series, but it does contain a soprano saxophone.
As you’d expect, these saxophones boast an advanced level of acoustic and mechanical refinement.
They come in all kinds of finishes like clear lacquer, copper lacquer (C), black lacquer (B), as well as silver lacquer (S).
Saxophones in this series include:
- SSS280 soprano saxophone.
- SAS280 alto saxophone.
- STS280 tenor saxophone.
About The Henri Selmer Paris Saxophone Ranges
Selmer started out in Paris, and till date, it still makes many of its high end saxophones in France. In fact, its legendary Mark VI saxophone range was made in its French factories.
Two of its frontline Paris saxophone models come to mind. In the next few subs, we will be discussing briefly.
The Super Action 80 Series II
This goes by the shortened name, Series II. It contains Selmer’s professional grade saxophones made to the best possible standards. This series covers the full range of saxophones – sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass.
Players love the Series II especially for its warmth, flexibility and playability.
The Reference Series
Selmer makes the Reference series based on its older Selmer Paris models. However, it adds a more modern touch in key mechanism and acoustics.
For instance, the Reference 36, which is a tenor sax, is a reinvention of the Super Balanced Action models (1936). Also, the Reference 54 (tenor and alto) is a reinvention of the Mark VI sax (1954).
Read more: Best Tenor Saxophones on the world
The best Selmer saxophone currently in the market is easily the Selmer Reference 54. Whichever size you go for – alto or tenor, the quality is the same, although price slightly differs.
The mere fact that the inspiration for the sax comes from the Mark VI is enough to put this sax in first place in our reviews today. But then again, we know it’s not the most affordable instrument and that’s why we’re suggesting a second place.
In close second, we’d recommend the Selmer AS42 Professional Alto Saxophone. Coming with Henri Selmer Paris parts at such a price is an amazing deal. So, if you can’t afford the Reference 54, go for this, except you’re not into alto horns.