Selmer Saxophone Overview
Selmer’s Reputation Speaks for Itself
Ask any saxophone player, and they’ll tell you that Selmer saxophones are the standard by which all other saxophones are measured. Selmer saxophones are world renowned for their quality both in manufacture and in musical tone. Not only is a Selmer saxophone the clear choice of most professionals, but it is one of the most commonly played saxophone for students as well. With models appropriate for a wide range of experience and budgets, there is a Selmer saxophone for everyone from the beginning student to the seasoned professional.
How Does a Selmer Saxophone Compare?
There’s no lack of competition in the musical instrument market. There are many companies which offer reasonably high quality saxophones. Yamaha is the closest competitor in terms of the best saxophones sold, and brands such as Keilwerth, Jupiter, and Yanagisawa have made inroads as well.
While we have nothing bad to say about any of these instruments, a Selmer saxophone still represents the gold standard by which others are compared. Since Selmer first developed the Mark VI in 1954, Selmer’s best saxophones have been a clear favorite of students and professionals alike.
The Selmer Sound
The Mark VI set the standard for all saxophones, becoming the choice of jazz greats from Phil Woods to Branford Marsalis to Kenny G. If you’ve listened to jazz music at all, you’re undoubtedly already familiar with the warm, full bodied tone of a Selmer saxophone.
And while the classic Mark VI is still a clear favorite amongst jazz musicians, the newer Selmer models have continued to be well received by a diverse group including Gary Bartz, Ralph Bowen, Fred Hemke, and Mark Colby.
While there are certain tonal characteristics (warm, full bodied) which are common to Selmer saxophones in general, there are differences between one Selmer saxophone and the next. Silver saxophones, for instance, tend to be warmer and more full-bodied, whereas clear lacquered saxophones tend to have a brighter sound.
Selmer USA and Selmer Paris: Vive le Difference!
Selmer saxophones originated in France, but are also manufactured in Asia. Many sax players claim the French manufactured Selmer Saxophones have a warmer sound, and they are revered by classical artists, while the American made varieties tend more towards brighter, crisper sounds, and are preferred by some jazz musicians.
USA Series: Which Sax is appropriate for whom?
There are several distinct series of American made Selmer saxophones, each of which spans the gamut of the saxophone family (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone). Regardless of which series you choose, silver plated Selmer saxophones tend to have a warmer, more full-bodied sound. Saxophone players disagree regarding the influence of lacquer on an instrument’s sound. Ultimately, sound preference is a matter of personal taste. What is known for certain is that lacquered instruments tend to last longer because the coating gives them some degree of protection from outside elements.
(NOTE: The “L” at the end of the various model number stands for “Lauquer” while the “S” at the end of other model numbers stands for “Silver.”)
- The 500 series of Selmer saxophones (including AS500, AS500S, BS500,TS500, and TS500S) are an excellent choice for beginning students. Prices range from $1945 to $2740, depending on the type of sax and the finish chosen.
- The 600 Aristocrat series (including AS600, AS600L, SS600, TS600, and TS600L) is also appropriate for students. These models are very similar to the 500 series, and are also designed with the student in mind, but are slightly less expensive, with prices ranging between $1875 and $2160.
- SA280 La Voix II series. The Super Action series (including SAS280, STS280, SBS280R, SSS280R, SAS280R, STS280R, and SSS280R) is designed for professionals, and is one of the most popular saxophone models on the market today. Prices range from $2129 to $4949
Paris Series Selmer Saxophones
There’s nothing quite like the warm tones of a French-made Selmer saxophone. Like their American counterparts, they come in a variety of models. While they are pricier, many sax players feel that the added expense is worth it for a truly world class instrument.
- Super Action 80 Series II. Series II saxophones are primarily for professional level musicians. They range in price from $4199 for an alto saxophone to $8699 for a baritone saxophone. They feature the dark tone typical of French Selmers.
- Series III. The Series III models are similar to Series II, and are also appropriate for professionals. Their tone is best described as slightly darker than the Series II. Prices range from $4099 to $4879.
- Reference Lines. The quintessential Selmer saxophone, Reference 36 and Reference 54 Firebird are designed with the discerning professional in mind and produce a sound similar to that of the legendary Mark VI. Prices weigh in at a hefty $5299 to $7149, and quantities are limited.
Selmer saxophones have been the industry standard for as long as any living musicians have been playing, and they have survived for a reason. Simply put, from the entry level through the professional ranks, Selmer makes an outstanding instrument.
June 5, 2012 @ 12:49 am
how much is a tenor sax Selmer Aristrocrat serie 34504-AJO48TS in very good condition this day????Anybody, thanks
June 5, 2012 @ 10:36 pm
Not sure, as vintage horn prices are not an area of expertise for me, but I’d go to eBay and see if you can find “completed listings” for that horn to see what people have paid for it.
I hope that helps!
June 30, 2012 @ 9:58 pm
Aren’t the Selmer “USA” models actually Taiwanese horns? From what I understand, there is no mainstream saxophone company today that manufactures horn in the US.
July 1, 2012 @ 2:39 pm
I believe that you are correct, they moved their manufacturing overseas some years ago. I cannot confirm 100% that they were made in Taiwan (pretty sure they are), but I went ahead and changed it to say “Asia” instead. Thanks for catching that!
November 28, 2016 @ 7:52 pm
Selmer USA models were made in Elkhart Indiana until i believe they transitioned from the AS100 series to the AS110. not sure exactly on the timing of that though. I have an AS100…it was the pro USA model for Selmer, I consider it a high end intermediate or an entry pro.
January 15, 2017 @ 4:34 pm
I just picked up a Alto AS-100 and I can’t seem to find any info on the Ser, #. It does say USA on the Bell. Any idea where I can find out any other info. Here is the #829121.
October 29, 2012 @ 10:09 pm
I want to know if you have this Brand product:( selmer saxophone as500 )available.let me know the price tag and the ground shipping to thailand and also do you accept international credit card?let me know if its acceptable.
Hope to hear from you again.
October 29, 2012 @ 10:37 pm
I do not actually sell saxophones, I just feature saxophone-related articles on my website.
I don’t actually know where in Asia to look for a saxophone to be ground-shipped. Of course, in the US, where I’m located there are great stores such as Woodwind Brasswind (http://www.wwbw.com), but beyond that , I’m afraid I can’t be of much help.
Best of luck in your search,
November 29, 2012 @ 6:08 pm
I’m a young Bari sax player and my school doesn’t have a Bari sax so imona hunt for one. I was looking at the serie II . Anyone know anything about it?
November 29, 2012 @ 8:46 pm
I believe I tried one a Serie II tenor out at NAMM and I really liked it, so I assume that a bari would be great as well. Selmer horns are very highly regarded, but definitely not cheap, especially a Bari.
I’ll tell you what I tell everyone else – go to a store and try out as many horns as you can. I hope that helps just a tiny bit, sorry I don’t have anything else to offer regarding the Serie II. Best of luck!
February 24, 2013 @ 5:55 am
i Got an offer to buy selmer 56 series tenor saxophone mark vi. But ain’t got no idea, if i should go for it.
Are they good?
Also suggest me the cost of it please…
Any suggestions…. ????
February 24, 2013 @ 7:32 pm
Hmm, I don’t think that there is such a horn as a “selmer 56 series tenor saxophone mark vi” – I don’t see anything like that mentioned here: http://www.henriselmerparis.com/selmerparis/saxophones/
But the Mark VI is obviously one of the finest horns ever built and the new French Selmers are quite good as well, but you have to play the horn first and see if you like it. As far as the price, assuming that you’re looking for something used, I’d go on to eBay and look at completed auctions for the horns you’re interested in. This way you can see what people have actually been paying for these.
March 2, 2013 @ 7:56 am
I’ve been playing a Series iii tenor with a Sugal Super Gonz 8* mouthpiece for about 10 years, and I absolutely love the tone and the response of the horn. I play in a variety of settings from jazz combo/ big band to rock/funk it really does the job.
March 5, 2013 @ 2:35 pm
Wow, sounds like a killer setup with a lot of sonic/stylistic possibilities. Thanks for sharing that!
May 5, 2013 @ 7:37 pm
I have the following Baritone Sax I would like to sell.
Baritone-Selmer-made in France
BREV SG DG No. 383098
ENGL Pat. 11.824
US Pat No. 2710.558
Could you help me with the value?
Excellent shape, with case(case is rough)and stand.
May 26, 2013 @ 8:58 am
I have been handed down a Major by Selmer tenor sax (sn 53228)the condition is not so good (it needs some work). I’ve been searching for it’s origin for some time and the most I got is that, it was produced in Dusseldorf, Germany by Selmer but the factory closed down. I don’t know what I have. Can someone please enlighten me?
July 9, 2013 @ 2:41 am
Could you please tell me where to purchase a professional selmer tenor and alto saxophone (green and white color).
November 10, 2020 @ 2:25 am
The colors you mentioned have never been available on Selmer Saxophones. These color saxes are usually student Chinese made horns. Professionals don’t use colorful lacquer Like kids enjoy
July 18, 2013 @ 9:48 pm
Can you tell me anything about the Selmer AS32 and AS42 saxophones. I cannot seem to find any reviews of them on the web. Thank you very much.
August 12, 2013 @ 7:16 pm
What can you tell me about the Selmer Artist Ltd Alto Saxophone? Is it considered a student, intermediate or professional sax? I can’t seem to find any reviews on the web and I have an opportunity to purchase one for my 15 year old son.
November 6, 2013 @ 2:10 pm
I bought altosax selmer I don’t know if I did god deal
November 6, 2013 @ 2:12 pm
But this altosax say selmer500 made in Taiwan
November 15, 2013 @ 12:15 am
I have a Mark vi bought in 1972, I lived in a very humid climate , most of the lacquard is worn off, who do you recommend to renew the plating.
November 15, 2013 @ 7:36 am
Oh geez, unfortunately I don’t know anyone off hand. I would contact Matt Stohrer at Stohrer Music, I’m pretty sure that he can point you in a good direction: http://www.stohrermusic.com/contact/
April 18, 2017 @ 10:04 am
Oh noooo never relaquer a sax especially a mark VI it drops the value way down
Most professionals don’t care about looks it’s all about the sound and the relaquer can damage the sound
November 21, 2013 @ 12:34 pm
I’ve decided after eight years of playing to step up. I’ve been looking at a Super Action 80 series II and a MarkVI . The MarkVI is a bit of a stretch in price (but if got a second job) Both are out of town purchases so I really cant try them out. Whats the biggest difference between the two altos ? I will be keeping the new sax most likely for a real long time. Thanks
December 4, 2013 @ 1:35 am
ive just bought a new selmer la vie 240 tenor sax here in the uk.reports show these are a good horn limited now due to the manufacturing cost of this model in the us .how do these horns rate against the french selmers.
April 19, 2014 @ 6:22 pm
Hello out there. My husband passed away recently leaving me with a few musical instruments. One of them is a Selmer TS500 saxophone. He never used it because he had to get dentures and found that he couldn’t use it comfortably. It has a very nice case and some reeds. I need to sell it as I’m moving to live with and take care of my mother in another city. How much do you think it might be worth? I would appreciate some feedback from someone. I’m not familiar with these type of things and need some help. My hubby was the expert.
April 19, 2014 @ 7:51 pm
Check with these guys, they will be able to tell you:
August 13, 2015 @ 8:49 am
Is it alto…series info . What state are you in ? Price ?
March 17, 2015 @ 2:35 pm
Hi, I’ve been playing a Yamaha 62 with an ottolink 5* mouthpiece .. . As my playing skills goes on I was thinking to go for a higher level one and got interested in this selmer saxophone .! Would a selmer Paris super action 80 II would be tone warmer and darker with a metal mouthpiece then Yamaha 62 ? My country doesn’t have saxophones shops so I havent got a chance to try any selmer one.!
July 30, 2015 @ 10:46 pm
Please, what do you think about this mouthpiece?
Thanks a lot for your answer.
November 15, 2015 @ 8:06 pm
My daughter is a freshman in high school and in the marching band. She is currently playing a borrowed tenor sax from the school that she has to share with another student… We are looking to buy her a tenor this year but honestly its all very confusing. There are so many brands out there and then several different models.. We want to something that she will be able to continue to use throughout high school. We aren’t looking for a professional grade but I dont want a super cheap horn either. We are looking to buy a used horn, as we just cant afford a new one. I found a Selmer TS600L Aristocrat for 499.99. I also found a Jupiter JTS 889 for 600.. Could you maybe help me out to decide what may be a decent horn for her to play? Could you suggest something else if these aren’t good ones?
Thank you So much,
Completely “Lost in the Sauce” band mom
November 17, 2015 @ 11:55 am
You can finance a new sax at Chuck’s and also take advantage of the Selmer Sounds of the Season Promotion
Take advantage of The Sounds of the Season Promotion from October 1st through January 15th! Purchase any Selmer family intermediate instrument and get $50 back via mail-in rebate. All purchases of professional level instruments qualify for $100 back via mail-in rebate. Redemption form will be emailed upon completion of your order.
April 11, 2016 @ 6:37 am
I am trying to determine the year and value of my late father’s Selmer tenner saxophone.
Where do I start?
April 27, 2016 @ 5:23 am
i really want a professional selmer tenor saxophone who can buy me one am in africa
May 23, 2016 @ 2:22 am
Please I don’t know d difference bw saxophones…how d u note a selmer saxophone
June 2, 2016 @ 8:56 pm
Looking to buy a selmer 500 series baritone sax for my son. What price range should I look for in Australian $ or US $ and I’ll convert. He’s played a Yamaha student sax for 3 years. Is the selmer a good option to buy?
July 21, 2016 @ 10:33 am
I have been trying to research the value of my Selmer Signet alto sax. The number on the back (under the thumb rest) is 688831. I got it in the 5th grade, so somewhere around 1985-1986. We bought it used back at that time. Just looking to find out the value to decide if I really want to sell it or not. It’s a great horn. Pads are all in great shape, nothing sticks. It is all brass in color. Has the “S” between the bell and horn. It says “USA” on the bell (part of the engraving). Some scratches in the lacquer, but nothing grotesque. Where can I try to get a reasonable estimate of the value? Also, is the 688831 the model or serial number? (No letters associated with this number on the horn). Thanks!
November 7, 2016 @ 9:50 am
I would love to get a intermediate sax but I hate to pay good money for a horn made in taiwan or asia, or china. I am horrible like that! LOL
So is there any place in the USA that makes a Sax?? I guess Elkhart is long…long..gone.
April 18, 2017 @ 10:12 am
There are great values in vintage saxes. And many can be had at teriffic bargains.
For the price of a new pad job and set up you can have a pro sax for the cost of a modern student instrument . My recommendation is a CG Conn I’ve played combs for years and live their warm full sound. Also the early Pan Americans are Made by Conn from left over CG Conn stock and can be had for next to nothing as they were marketed as student instruments but in reality were made from professional parts so they are amazing
December 17, 2016 @ 12:30 am
My father who passed away in 1987 used to regularly play his selmer tenor sax at Ronnie Scott’s, (personal friend of dad..rip) .
Ronnie played it a few times, and so did some other faces on the jazz scene, proof (getz) .
The sax shows serial number 17001.
Requires couple of pads, couple of springs sticky
Am going to sell this as I don’t play it, my children don’t have interest, nor my grandkids .
What would be the value of this sax?.
I intend to give money to Huntingdon s disease association as my dad died of this condition in 1987 aged 59.
He owned that sax for at least 20 years prior to passing away.
December 31, 2016 @ 12:47 pm
Jaye, I am interested in the horn. Could you send me an email of pictures? firstname.lastname@example.org
January 10, 2017 @ 9:50 pm
i would like to see pictures or even skype I am interested in the horn. My condolences for your dad ,much too young ! I’m in Toronto Ontario, Canada
March 1, 2018 @ 11:45 am
Just a friendly sugestin to Doron ,
I promise I’m just trying to be helpful , why don’t you do a quick google search for some of these questions you are receiving. Can’t help but notice most of your answers are “ I don’t know “, “ sorry I can’t help “ The internet has such a vast pile of saxophone knowledge just waiting on you to find it. It would give you info for next time as well . Just when you put yourself out as a person to go to for advice and people are excited to take the time to write you and wait on an answer. There should be more info available from you .
Honestly I’m not trying to be critical I always appreciate other sax guys sharing info with the new comers.
I have played and collected saxophone for 45 years and I did it long before there was an internet . After I started looking up things online my knowledge base grew 1000%. Now I can identify almost any vintage sax by serial # and tell you the history behind it as well as the general consensus on its tone, best mouthpieces to go with it for different sounds etc …. all because I googled every question I had. For so long . Now I write the articles others use as a reference . So why not try doing a quick search when you get in a questions so you can give more answers I think as a saxophone enthusiast you will also enjoy the knowledge you gain
March 4, 2018 @ 9:39 am
Trevor, I actually agree with you 200%. This was one of the first articles I put up on the site as I thought it was something that folks would be really interested in. But the truth is, my passion lies in the music itself, and I’ve really never been super-focused on gear, as I find it really uninspiring to spend time worrying about whether or not I am playing the best possible horn our mouthpiece I can play. Because of this, a few years ago I brought onboard a sax gear specialist, Zach Sollitto to handle all of the product reviews and gear-related articles. Zach is a walking encyclopedia of the latest brands and knows a ton about the mechanics of the instrument itself.
So please don’t think that I am presenting myself as an expert in the area of sax gear, because I definitely don’t consider myself that at all.
Looking back at all of those “Sorry, I don’t know” comments I left in reply to folks with questions on this article, I do see that my responses are probably really annoying for readers to read, so I deleted some of the ones that had no useful info.
If you ever have time or interest, it would be awesome if you replied to the comments, as my real goal is to foster a community where folks like you could fill in the blanks left by someone like me, whose expertise lies elsewhere. Regardless, thanks for the honest and super-constructive feedback!
October 7, 2018 @ 12:51 pm
My father had an selmer alto sax owned it from late 1950s only see markings HENR selmer Paris event France & FT Range sole agent British empire Ex Canada any more info on this instrument would be fab thanx
mauricio lagunes melchor
August 14, 2019 @ 11:25 am
What about tenor sax selmer ts 500
February 7, 2020 @ 12:53 pm
Hola,si trevor nos pude ayudar a identificar tantos saxos estencil que aun no conocemos seria fabuloso,,sobre todo los fabricados en taiwan que no hay nada en linea..el mio es un selmer aristrocat 22404- AJ 057 AS que no tengo ni idea de que año es trevor nos puede ayudar en eso, muchas gracias
July 29, 2020 @ 7:45 pm
Where are the Selmer AS42s made?
September 20, 2020 @ 8:20 am
Hate to say this, but that vintage Selmer quality has taken a blow over the years. As a repair tech, I can compare old vs. new. It is still good, but not as good as the 30’s to 70’s. I’d rather get a Vintage Selmer than a newer one.
September 20, 2020 @ 4:38 pm
He their Mel, you and just had that discussion about a week ago and you are 100% correct. Metal, quality and hand made workmanship a time not soon forgotten…
November 15, 2020 @ 10:11 am
I recently purchased a baritone saxophone for my daughter who is a freshman in high school. The horn is old but well taken care of. It has the original case and very minimal lacquer wear given the apparent age of the horn. I have had no luck finding an approximate age based upon the serial number. The etching on the bell is Bundy, directly below that is H&A Selmer Elkhart, Indiana. The serial number begins with A4. Can anyone give me information as to the age of this horn?
June 21, 2022 @ 8:00 am
I have a Selmer Smooth Action Tenor for sale in Cape Town South Africa
Serial no is 37956 = made in France
Original case = no mouthpiece
Any interest ??
it was my Dad’s – he was a base player in a dance band and thought he would like to play the sax – he literally played it it twice over 50 years ago
i had it refurbished in around 2000.