In several blogs I will be writing a review on the Selmer Paris Series III saxophones soprano-baritone. My first blog will be about the Series III alto.
The Series III alto was originally released in 2000 and the whole family is still being made today. The soprano was released in 1996, tenor in 1998, alto in 2000 and the baritone in 2010. This timeline was planned by Selmer Paris to release the family within a 10 year time frame. The first version was the pre-jubilee model and now the jubilee. The jubilee version is mostly cosmetic changes, lighter octave key on the neck for quicker response, a bigger S and deeper blue on the octave neck, higher tone holes and machine engraving for more detail and it looks fancy. There are no saxophones made today that matches in tone, intonation and personality of the series III. Selmer Paris has always paved the way in the evolution of the saxophone. That is no surprise with Selmer taking over the patent from Adolphe Sax. From the soprano to the baritone the tone matches perfectly, which makes for a great sax quartet or ensemble sound that will win competitions and wow audiences worldwide. Two saxophone ensembles that audiences love are Ensemble Squillante and the Mi Bemol saxophone ensemble. These groups have incredible tone and it’s no surprise the blend is so refined with Selmer Paris making these groups famous. Many quartets play Selmer Series III’s, but one noted as the world’s best saxophone quartet is Habanera Saxophone Quartet. I believe these models will be famous when they become vintage. I’ve heard some people complain that Selmer is expensive. Selmers have a high resale value for one and they are a lifetime instrument, which most saxophones aren’t. Just realize once you have a Selmer it’s a horn you can have for life. Thirty years down the road it might be the new Mark VI that everyone wants.
The series III alto is a milestone in saxophone research. It combines decades of traditions that merge with modern technological advancement. It is called the gold standard in classical saxophone. It has been called the Rolls Royce of saxophones, that it plays itself. I don’t like to say the instrument is strictly a classical instrument, because it is a fine jazz horn with the switch of a mouthpiece and reed. However, the superb intonation and clear rich tone do make for a great classical horn. The response is very quick and it makes rapid tonguing that much easier to do. The palm keys are lower in pitch so they aren’t as sharp as previous models or with current saxophones of other brands. The mid register is in tune and Selmer’s patented C# vent key brings that middle C# in tune and lowers the High C# for nearly perfect octaves.
The low register is higher in pitch so you aren’t fighting a flat low register. The Series III alto is also homogeneous from low Bb through the altissimo. Furthermore, the palm keys whether you use the front keys or side keys the tone matches perfectly. It also has that Selmer flexibility of playing very soft or very loud with nothing holding you back. The Series III is also very resonant.
I played a Series II from my senior year in high school until my senior year of college. When I switched to the Series III I didn’t worry about the instrument anymore and I could focus on the music. The tone was also better than the Series II. I’ve heard the Series II compared to an analog sound versus the Series III which was compared to a digital sound. I would have to agree on that comparison. In the next review I will be reviewing the Series III soprano.