After 8 years of secret development Selmer reveal to us their ‘best saxophone ever designed’
After 100 years of innovation, design and manufacturing of the saxophone, Henri SELMER Paris redefines the modern identity of the alto saxophone with the SUPREME.
The creation of the Supreme embodies the culmination of centuries of expertise, combined with a perfectly mastered manufacturing process that lives up to the ambitions of the SELMER company.
The Supreme rises above musical genres. It has all the qualities common to the models that preceded it, meeting the desires of all saxophonist profiles: beauty and care in the creation of the Balanced Action, the legendary suppleness of the Mark VI, the ease of the Super Action 80 Series II, the precision and elegance of the Series III, and the power and the roundness of the Reference.
It is characterized by perfectly balanced tuning, infinite sound colours and great ease of response.
It hides the natural and inherent constraints of the saxophone – the playing limitations are non-existent. Its roundness and projection capacity make it an instrument that is both traditional and resolutely modern.
The refinement and care taken in its manufacture, as well as its entirely corrected ergonomics, reveal an enjoyment and evidence of playing that has never been seen before.
Antonio Felipe Belijar, Patrick Bourgoin, Vincent David, Claude Delangle, Philippe Geiss, Denis Guivarc’h, Baptiste Herbin, Timothy McAllister, Pierrick Pédron, Jaleel Shaw, Christian Wirth, Miguel Zenón, Nikita Zimin...
PURPOSE AND DEVELOPMENT
The starting point was an extensive survey conducted internally and among musicians, technicians, dealers and distributors to determine the broad outlines of what the Supreme would become.
Once the specifications were drawn up, the Research & Development teams led by Jéróme Selmer went into action. They were ready to convert all the acoustic and technical knowledge accumulated over many years of research and acoustic experimentation. Their objective was clear: to make the best saxophone ever designed.
To better free themselves from musical genres and imagine the universal instrument, a team of saxophone testers of various genres was formed. No acoustic, mechanical, ergonomic or aesthetic detail was neglected during the numerous trials carried out by the SELMER testers and their designer Jérémie Bernard.
The use of new technologies has been widely employed: 3D printing, metrology (3D scanner), automated control of machining tools, etc. The idea was to reinvent everything without having to start from a completely blank page.
Finally, after 8 years of overcoming obstacles that nourished and enriched its development, Selmer has ended up with an instrument that is unanimously appreciated by all of its artists and contributors, no matter what style they play in.
- To make an alto saxophone whose smallest details have been precisely considered to position the Supreme as the most accomplished model ever made.
- To revitalize their catalogue after the release of the Reference saxophone in 2003, the last high-end saxophone on the market.
- To reaffirm the position of Henri SELMER Paris as a world leader in the design, innovation, and manufacturer of high-end saxophones.
- To arouse in musicians the desire to own a new SELMER saxophone.
- To renew and elevate the discourse, by placing it above musical genres.
Optimized Production techniques:
- More precise boring of the diameter of the neck entrance
- Three-dimensional manufacturing check
- Tone hole extruding machine for extruding by tone hole groups
All these elements ensure more consistency in the manufacturing process to reduce acoustic differences between instruments, even if subtle differences remain.
For better timbre and tuning
- New neck bore
- Reduction of the diameter of the low Bb and B key cups
- Redefinition of the key heights
- Modified diameters and locations of tone holes
- New bell bore
Mechanics and Ergonomics
- 3-point concentric clamp for a better neck-to-body connection avoiding deformations of the clamp and tenon
- The clamping ring of the socket is made of nickel silver, which brings density to this sensitive area. It is dissociated from the socket, which makes it possible to adjust its position.
- The direct arm between the right-hand F# and F keys allows for a finer and more reliable adjustment
- Octave key system with Teflon inside the sockets which lighten the action; It also limits play, noise and wear.
- Lightening of the C# correction system by repositioning the double tone hole
- New front F key design that is more easily accessible
- Hinged toggle on left-hand pinky finger keys allows for greater ease of movement from one key to another
- Redesigned shapes and placements of the side keys, facilitating fluid passage from one to the other
- Realignment of the height of the left-hand mother-of-pearl keys offering a more natural finger position.
- Shorter action of the right-hand pinky spatula keys (C/Eb)
- Shorter action of the octave key
- More natural and optimized position of the side F# key
- Use of rollers within the key mechanism for greater fluidity
The global aesthetics of the Supreme has been reconsidered. It evokes the fluidity of play through sleek lines and roundness through the softening of angles. The warm hue of the Dark Gold lacquer is reminiscent of the finish used since the 1940s.
All keyguards (low B and Bb, side F#, Eb, C and the pant guard) have been redesigned in harmony with the instrument.
The bow reinforcement has been given a new design.
The engraving evokes a sense of universality. The genesis of the sound is embodied in the explosion mixing the plant design, a traditional SELMER engraving, with the cubes illustrating the structure of the metal molecules.
The cloud caused by this birth evokes the projection of air, movement, speed, and life.
A disc in the background evokes a planet, echoing the notion of infinite space.
Supreme Case. Exclusively designed by BAM. Compact in size, it offers large storage space and two detachable interior pockets. The straps provide great comfort when worn on the back. The night-blue ABS shell is reminiscent of the colour of the ‘S’ featured on the key of the saxophone neck.
Concept mouthpiece, Ligature and cap included.
Supreme Neck strap designed exclusively for this model. Foam and leather neck band. Gold metal slider in the shape of the Henri SELMER Paris logo marked black.
Silk/microfiber cloth. A bi-material cloth made to the shape of the case: one side microfiber marked with the Supreme engraving pattern and the other side silk. It is placed on the instrument in the case to ensure maximum protection of your saxophone.
Body Swab. Round in shape, marked with the engraving pattern of the Supreme, this microfiber swab has at its centre a thick absorbent foam for the most efficient cleaning process.
Neck Swab. This swab is made of microfiber cloth, marked with the Supreme engraving pattern.
Cork grease. The grease stick is marked with the Supreme engraving pattern.
It is extremely rare that I find myself in a position like this; having just discovered the World’s most famous saxophone factory have released a new model that, by their own posturing, has been designed to mark a new chapter in history of saxophone evolution. Perhaps if any other company comes along and lays claims to have made the ‘perfect’ saxophone that combines the best of the past, etc with all the latest modern innovation then we may receive this news with a healthy dose of scepticism. However, when the company in question is Selmer Paris themselves, I think the message carries a little more authority!
As of the time of writing, I haven’t yet got my hands on our first Supreme, but I have absorbed enough information over the past two days to say that I’m almost certain the instrument is going to be exceptional. The testimonies of incredible players such as Vincent David, Claude Delangle, Philippe Geiss and Baptiste Herbin (just to name a few) carries a lot more weight than my modest opinion, but I will certainly relish the opportunity when it comes along!
The aspect of the development of this new sax that interests me the most is the manner in which Selmer have brought it about. Eight years ago, or so, Selmer asked their top artists to list traits that they enjoyed in ALL of the Selmer models, from the Balanced Action to the modern-day instruments. Using this melting pot of information and opinion the designers set about designing the ultimate saxophone, that has the flexibility to play in all styles. I like the idea that a good saxophone shouldn’t necessarily be pigeon-holed into one category or playing style. It should be flexible and adaptable. It sounds like this is what Selmer has achieved.
Let’s mark this date in history and see what unfolds….