Eventually it had to happen.
Someone was bound to put up a review of a Selman sax.
I found a slightly used Selman curved soprano on ebay at a nice discount from the price of a new one.
I needed a cheap curvy for outdoors so I placed my offer and won the sax.
It arrived today and I spent a few hours with it.
I would normally want to spend lots of time with an instrument before writing about it but this one I might as well do now. You'll soon learn why.
This is a nickel plated horn and as one retailer on ebay mentions, it is beautiful and does have a serial number.
On initial play the horn has a nice bright sound and played down to low C.
An adjustment to the screws that close the G# and Bis got the instrument playing ppp to fff from low Bb to high F#.
Some minor adjustments to the low C guard was needed since the key cup was hitting it.
Construction was better than I expected on such an inexpensive horn.
Partial rib, adjustment screws, adjustable bumpers on low C, B and Bb.
Metal resonators on all the keys below G.
Some of the problems are machine marks in the tone holes and neck.
Scratches and tiny dings UNDER the nickel plating. They plated right over them. Adjustment screws are very loose and will need locktite to keep from moving.
The G and G# key cups bump into each other when moving. I'll fix this later.
A screw in the low C guard did not get cut off like the other two and hits the pad when it closes.
The soldering isn't clean and even in some spots and shows some pits in a few spots.
The octave mechanism seems overly complicated and requires extra effort to actuate the neck portion for notes above G.
Several mechanisms where a rounded bar moves against a flat one have a rough action due to grinding marks on the flat pieces.
They lubricated these spots but smoothing the metal would have worked much better.
The pads are hot glued, look like the leather color was sprayed on and make a click (sticking sound) when opened.
Key action is heaver than my Yanagisawa S6 and the left hand pinky keys feel like they are too far out from the body.
The alternate F# (trill key) was sprung REALLY tight on the Selman.
All these faults are balanced out by the price.
I was just about to recommend these saxes to someone looking for a cheap soprano and then I pulled out the tuner.
The horn was not in tune with itself but this also happens on my Yanagisawa if the mouthpiece isn't far enough in.
On the S6, once you get the mouthpiece on far enough to be in tune, the rest of the intonation problems vanish and very little effort is needed to keep low C, middle C and high C in tune.
No such luck on the Selman.
I tried several different mouthpieces and they all had to be pushed WAY on the neck to get concert Bb in tune using the middle C on the sax.
Going up the horn wasn't too bad but going down below the lowest G just kept getting uglier along the way.
So bad that by the time I hit low C, it was more than 50 cents flat.
The mouthpiece couldn't go on any further as it was almost against the octave pip.
Attempts to "lip up" the pitch sent me into the next octave.
The Bis Bb was sharper than playing Bb using A and the side key.
Too bad, because this is a horn that had potential:
Good looks, nice price, construction adequate enough to keep it in 1 piece.
Unfortunately they missed one of the most important and necessary features - decent intonation.
I'll probably keep the horn because I wanted a small sax to drag along when chaperoning the local high school marching band.
The director and I add to the sound when playing fight songs from the stands.
I think the Selman will fit just fine in that environment. I'll avoid the low notes.
It might even be good enough if you play unaccompanied in a place where you wouldn't want to risk an expensive horn (such as busking).
If you avoid jumping octaves, the intonation may go unnoticed.
Other than that, I can't recommend this sax.
I took a bunch of pictures but I don't think they came out good.
I'll post them if demand is high enough.
So there you have it. A real Selman sax review.
There is a difference of 20 cents tuning between C (left hand 2nd finger) and side C.
Also, after talking to some other forum members it seems that some have the same problems with their Selman sopranos while others report good intonation.
It would seem to be the "luck of the draw" as to what intonation you will have when purchasing one of these horns.