Why Selmer Released ANOTHER New Saxophone – Signature Review

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The legendary saxophone maker Selmer Paris just released another brand new saxophone model. This has left a lot of people confused.

  • Why did they do this?
  • What is the difference between the new Signature and Supreme besides $1000 bucks?
  • Is one for classical and one for jazz?
  • Which one is better?
  • Which older models are being retired?

I’m going to answer all these questions, and play both the alto Signature and tenor Signature models for you. I’m also going to do a direct comparison between the new Signature and the Supreme tenor saxophones and give you my thoughts on which one you should choose and why.

The saxophone world can get a lot of wild theories going very fast that aren’t based on actual facts. Everything I’m going to share with you today comes directly from private conversations with the developers of these instruments at Selmer Paris, and my own hands-on experience playing the saxophones.

First, let’s have a listen to both of these saxophones.

WHY make another new Model?

The most important thing to know about these new models from Selmer is that the Supreme is a truly new design. It is an instrument that was in development for many years and really stands apart from anything Selmer has produced in the past.

The Signature is more of an evolution of existing models. The alto version of the Signature can be considered an improved Series II, and the tenor version of the Signature can be considered an improved Series III.

This is very important to note since Selmer has discontinued several of its existing models. They are no longer producing the Series III and Reference 54 for alto, and they are no longer producing the Series II, Series III, Reference 36, or Reference 54 for tenor. Going forward the only models they will be offering are the Axos, Signature and Supreme for alto and tenor. The Series II alto is still currently in production but that may change as well.

So that should answer the why. Selmer wanted to consolidate their line and bring everything up to date.

What are the similarities?

So what are the differences between the Signature and the Supreme? Let’s start by talking about what is the same.

They both have the new dark lacquer color and also come in a range of other finishes. They both have the new neck tenon receiver which has a free floating nickel-silver ring and the 3 point concentric tightening.

They both have what Selmer describes as significant intonation improvements. They both have Selmer’s new quiteter and smoother octave key design and the new low Bb – C# key connection mechanism. The body tube is also pretty much the same.

They both come in this new case. I’ve been playing the Supreme on all my gigs for the past few months and using this case, and I have to say that while it isn’t perfect, it may be my favorite saxophone case to date.

Before we get into the differences, let me play both the Signature and the Supreme for you. Listen carefully and tell me in the comments if they sound different to you and how.

This video is not sponsored, Selmer did loan me these instruments for the purpose of making this content. When I’m done I send them back. I’m not compensated in any way from Selmer, it’s BetterSax subscribers that make this content possible. So please subscribe now to help us make more great saxophone content like this.

BetterSax Jazz Cut Reeds and Burnin’ Mouthpieces

And real quick I want to mention that all the examples you hear are played on the new BetterSax Jazz Cut Reeds. These are hands down the best reeds I’ve ever played and I invite you to try them out for yourself.

Not only are they super consistent and responsive, but they are made from organic cane that is grown in a small region in the south of France. And instead of putting them in wasteful single use plastic sleeves, our packaging is entirely plastic-free.

The mouthpieces I’m playing are the BetterSax Burnin’ for alto and tenor. Check the description for links to all that good stuff.

Play Test Results and Key Differences

Listening back I have to say that they sound very similar to me. I probably couldn’t tell which one I was playing in a blind test. That is not to say that they are the same saxophone though. When playing these, you will immediately feel the difference in the key layout and the resistance of the air flow. According to Selmer, the Supreme keys feel closer to the body and have a shorter travel distance.

They both feel great in the hands and are very ergonomically friendly. It really comes down to some players are going to prefer the feel of the Supreme while others will prefer the Signature. You should try both if you can.

The necks are different as well. Without getting into specifics, the Supreme plays with slightly less resistance than the Signature. There are spots in the tube where it is a bit larger in diameter which makes it feel extremely easy to play.

The bells are also different. The tenor Supreme has a slightly larger bell diameter while the alto Supreme has a slightly longer bell. These tweaks help with tuning and response of the lowest notes. These things are not noticeable to the naked eye, but you can feel them when you play.

There are also differences in the tone hole placement, the tone hole chimneys, and other very nitty gritty stuff that again you cannot really see, but all together these things do add up to give each of these saxophones its own unique feel and identity.

It is worth noting that the Signature and Supreme have a new, much larger neck tenon diameter, so you cannot use your older necks on these saxophones, however, you can put a Supreme neck on a Signature and vice versa. So if you were someone who preferred how one horn felt under the fingers but preferred the resistance of the other you could mix and match.

The engraving is also different. Both horns have very intricate engraving on the bell, bow and body tube. The new Signature has an art deco style that is inspired by the tools and raw materials used to make these saxophones.

Is one for Classical and one for Jazz?

There are going to be a lot of opinions on this. I think they can both be excellent for any style of music, but I feel that more classical saxophonists will prefer the Signature especially if they are coming from playing Series IIs.

The final difference is the price, the Signature is about $1000 less for both alto and tenor. Check the link in the description for up to date prices on all the models.

So, the next logical question is, why the price difference?

That I can’t say for sure. My best guess is that these instruments cost exactly the same to produce. I recently visited the Selmer factory in Paris, where they were in full production of both the Supreme and Signature models. These saxophones are, as far as I can tell, made to the same standard, using the same quality materials and the same workers and machines.

All that to say, the Supreme in my estimation is not superior to the Signature, which is perhaps priced less because there is less new about it. With the Supreme we may just be paying extra for all the R&D that went into it. Yes, these are both extremely expensive saxophones, and you have to be quite wealthy to purchase one.

Setup from the Factory

There has been a lot of discussion about the setup of new Selmers coming out of the factory.

I have had 4 brand new Selmer saxophones delivered to my home this year directly from the factory. While that’s not a huge sample size, it is more than most people will get.

I can say that 3 of those were very well setup and one needed some leaks fixed and other adjustments to get it playing as it should.

If you are buying one of these, you will not get it direct from the factory, yours will come from a Selmer Paris Dealer and it is their job to check the instruments out before selling them to make sure they are well setup.

I lightened up the action on the Supreme that I’ve been playing on for the past few months. From the factory the spring tension is a bit stiff for my taste, I like my horns to have very light action.

Which one should you get?

If you are thinking about buying one of these saxophones, you can’t go wrong with either, but I do recommend you try them both out if you can.

On a great instrument, you are going to end up sounding like yourself. That’s what we want. We don’t want the saxophone to color our sound so much that it is obvious what brand of instrument we are playing.

At least that’s how I feel.

That’s why, you’ll notice that on my setup with my reeds, I sound virtually the same on both of these instruments. They feel very different to play, which influences how and what I play.

Given the choice I prefer the Supreme. I like the feel of the keys under the fingers more, and I love the very free blowing nature of it. I think the sound both of these instruments is excellent. Very much that rich Selmer tone. They both look beautiful and are real forever instruments.

Now if you want to see in detail how world class saxophones like these are made, watch this video next, you’re gonna love it.

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