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  1. #1

    Default Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    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.



    UPDATE:

    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.
    Last edited by BobbyC; 05-14-2008 at 05:55 PM.
    Tank: "OK. So what do you need (besides a miracle)?"
    Neo: "Saxes. Lots of saxes."

  2. #2
    Forum Contributor 2008 Giganova's Avatar
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    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC
    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.
    You could also play very, I mean very very soft ... pppppp .... and people might not hear the intonation either!

    Thanks for taking the time for a review! You forgot to add a disclaimer that you are not a Selman employee!
    Tenor: Barone bare brass + Theo Wanne GAIA #7 mouthpiece
    Soprano: Barone tipped-bell + SopranoPlanet "Rue Lapis" mouthpiece

  3. #3
    Forum Contributor 2008 Giganova's Avatar
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    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    Quote Originally Posted by BobbyC
    Some of the problems are machine marks in the tone holes
    That's quite an engineering achievement if they can leave machine marks in the tone holes -- I am impressed! None of the "big 4" was ever able to do that!
    Tenor: Barone bare brass + Theo Wanne GAIA #7 mouthpiece
    Soprano: Barone tipped-bell + SopranoPlanet "Rue Lapis" mouthpiece

  4. #4

    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    Quote Originally Posted by Giganova
    That's quite an engineering achievement if they can leave machine marks in the tone holes -- I am impressed! None of the "big 4" was ever able to do that!
    It looks as if some sort of very coarse grinder was used in the tone holes.
    some of the marks are symmetrical so maybe they are some sort of feature.
    Tank: "OK. So what do you need (besides a miracle)?"
    Neo: "Saxes. Lots of saxes."

  5. #5
    Distinguished SOTW Member
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    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    Great review! Thanks!

    Your description of build-quality reminded me of a Buescher BU (the cheap imitation Bueschers recently distributed in the U.S. - NOT a real Buescher) that I saw a few years ago at a Sam Ash store. Absolute junk.

    Your description of intonation reminded me of a few sopranos I've owned.

    Selman! Right. DAVE
    Dave

  6. #6
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    Jorns Bergenson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    The intonation issues you found are very similar to the problems I've found on other cheap sopranos. In those cases, the key heights were way too high causing the whole upper end of the horn to play sharp. The manufacturers seemed to do a decent job of copying a success design, but they did not do a good job of setting up the horn.

    Another problem I've seen is that while the main body taper and tonehole saze/placement are good, the neck taper/length is incorrect. I've seen several cheal sopranos with brass inserts soldered in the neck to bring the pitch down in the LH palm keys.

    Thanks for the review. That might help some folks know what they're really getting into.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    With morgan pieces, there is no intonation problem on mine .
    S SML & PB straight, Soloist by BP A SML rev D, Yani M5, Selmer metal by Brian Powell
    T MKVI, Morgan 6C by Erik Greiffenhagen, Drake ceramic 8, copper neck Ph Barone
    B S20 (For sale), [/SIZE]

  8. #8

    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    These saxes are just inconsistent. I got a brand new "Anaxa" or "Hawk" tenor that plays pretty much in tune, seems well-constructed, for $100 new on eBay. Following that success, I bought a "Victory" alto, and it has HOPELESS intonation problems--too sharp on the high end, too flat on the low end. I replaced it with an Antigua (yeah I'm a big spender) which has an almost identical appearance, but does NOT have the same intonation problems with all the same mouthpieces and reeds I was using on the "Victory." Sellers of both the "Anaxa" and the "Victory" claimed they were set up and ready to play, but it's really a game of chance.

    I was thinking of getting a cheap curved soprano, but since I have a straight one I can almost play in tune, this review puts the final nail in that coffin.
    A few more bytes wasted by Dennis

  9. #9

    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    Quote Originally Posted by Ike Webkins
    With morgan pieces, there is no intonation problem on mine .
    IKE - I'd like to ask you a few questions about this.

    How was the intonation with other mouthpieces?
    I tested with a Selmer D scroll shank, Rico Graftonite B3 and B7, Rico Metalite M11, a copy of a Selmer Metal Jazz and the included mouthpiece.
    They all gave the same results as above.
    Not to be insulting or anything but did you check intonation with a tuner?

    Also, it may be manufacturing inconsistencies so what is your serial number?
    The serial number on my horn is: 889971.

    Also, does your instrument match the description of what I mentioned in the first post as far as the construction of the horn is concerned?

    Which Morgan are you using and what reeds?

    If there's any chance of making this thing play in tune I'll give it a try but I seriously doubt a mouthpiece is going to correct the amount of intonation this horn has.
    Tank: "OK. So what do you need (besides a miracle)?"
    Neo: "Saxes. Lots of saxes."

  10. #10

    Default Re: Selman SCN1128 curved soprano review

    the Morgan's I use are either protone (my favorite on this sax) or the vintage one. I also have an ultra cheap chinese metal piece, but the intonation is not as good (25 to 30 cents)...

    I had some "strong" conversation with the seller who wanted a confirmed paypal address (which does not exist in europe!), he sent the money back, and I had to pay via bidppay.... so I guess he perhaps double checked my horn before shipping to avoid any bad feed back

    for intonation, bring the horn to your tech, the clearance of the open pads influence intonation.

    cheers
    S SML & PB straight, Soloist by BP A SML rev D, Yani M5, Selmer metal by Brian Powell
    T MKVI, Morgan 6C by Erik Greiffenhagen, Drake ceramic 8, copper neck Ph Barone
    B S20 (For sale), [/SIZE]

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