All Things Saxophone

Selmer Super Action 80 Series III Alto

Last modified 09/12/08


Questions or comments?  Send us an email

The Selmer Super Action 80 Series III Alto Saxophone carries on the legacy of the Selmer Company — the oldest manufacturer of saxophones in existence today.  Perhaps known best for their vintage horns like the classic Mark VI, Selmer has been making quality instruments for decades, and has survived the ups and downs of the business where other manufacturers did not.


· Construction, look & feel

This horn has good aesthetic appeal with a classic finish and modest but smart looking engraving.  The case is sturdy, well built, and comes with a canvas wrapper.  The wrapper I’m sure does a good job of protecting the case, but it did make opening and closing the case a bit difficult because the latches got in the way of the canvas and zipper.


I was surprised to see that Selmer has adopted the plastic neck joint plug that’s being

used on the less expensive horns being made today.  I think a metal plug would do a better job of keep the neck joint true.  The neck and body fit together well but not quite as well as the Yamaha Custom Z.  Pads are quality leather with big nickel resonators — I would expect nothing less from Selmer.  The key action on this sax is very good, again as expected.  Selmer has always been known for saxophones with good action.


· Sound

The sax has a solid sound descended from the Selmer legacy.  Full, a bit brighter than I thought it would be, but still not quite the bright sound that I like.   Here’s a sound byte of a three octave concert E flat diminished scale (my setup is a Meyer 6M with a Harrison Ligature and a Zonda reed):


Listen to the Selmer Super Action 80 Series III


Here’s the same scale played as a benchmark on a classic King Super 20 (same setup)


Listen to the King Super 20


And here’s that scale on the Yamaha Custom Z


Listen to the Yamaha Custom Z


The sound the Selmer produces sounds as bright as the King when listened to (beyond my expectations) but it doesn’t feel that way when played.  Also, the Yamaha sound has a bit more edge.


· Intonation

The standard scale is good, however the altissimo range of the saxophone is a bit flat as evidenced by the sound byte above.  A seasoned player can probably compensate for this with practice but it was surprising to hear.  The Mark VI’s I have played did not have this issue.


· Price

The price — here’s where Selmer has really gotten out of touch.  The Super Action 80 Series II is around $5K.  My current favorite, the Buffet 400 Alto, is priced much lower.  Much lower?  That’s not direct enough.  How about a third of the price for a sax that’s as good or better!  There, that should do it.  With pricing structure like this, Selmer limits its market to brand loyalists and the opulent.  Over time, that may not represent enough volume to keep Selmer in business.  The market doesn’t bear that kind of price as is evidenced by the resale value of this saxophone ($2400 or so).  Selmer could take some history lessons from a company like King.  I hope they do their homework — they make good saxes and it would be good if they continued to do so in the future.



The Super Action 80 Series III has modest but smart looking engraving

The pads have nice big resonators to accentuate the horn’s sound

Text Box: SaxophoneMan’s ratings:
(5 is best, 1 is worst)
Overall is not an average
Text Box: Sound

Text Box:  4

The Selmer Super Action 80 Series III Alto Sax

The case is sturdy and has a canvas wrapper