Saxophone/Selmer Alto Saxophone


I have owned this Selmer Alto saxophone since High School in the late 1950's.
after all these years with this great horn, I now find that I know very little about it's history.
On the bell is engraved

Henry SELMER Paris  sole agents  U.S. & CAN.   
         New York . Elkhart  
         Made in France  .  

Then on the back under thumb hook
BREV.S.G.D.G. No 383.098
  ENGL.PAT. No11.824


Would you be able to give me a history..... year it was made...? any value....?


Thanks for the question and I'm sorry I haven't been able to get back to you sooner. As this is back to school time, my business is very busy and I have very little down time. I've got only a few minutes so I'm going to make this brief but try to cover everything.

What you have is a Selmer Paris Super Action. (AKA Super Balanced Action, SBA, SA). This model is considered to be the grandfather of all modern saxophone designs and is one of the most sought after models among professional saxophonist.

In 1936 Selmer introduced the predecessor to the horn you have. That horn was called The Balanced Action (BA) The Balanced Action was a major change in the way saxophones were built. Prior to this all saxophones had the bell keys on either the left side of the or on opposite sides to prevent the players right hand from hitting the keys. This created a problem as the left little finger had to depress the largest keys on the horn using a lever with the fulcrum on the wrong side. This caused the lower notes to be difficult to play with any fluidity. The Balanced action solved this by moving the bell keys to the right side of the bell and then moving the rods that control them to the center of the horn between the body and the bell thus the fulcrum was between the keys and the little finger not the other way around. In addition the bell was tilted slightly to the players left side to keep the right hand out of the way of the bell keys, thus "balancing the action". In addition there were several other changes including bore design, key fitting, tone hole size, etc that caused jazz players of the 1930's to flock to this new model.

After WWII, Selmer Paris made a few more changes to the Balanced Action and it slowly morphed into what became known as the Super Action which is the model you have. The most notable was to move the position of the right hand a few degrees clockwise. On all previous models including the BA, All the tone holes on the body ran in a straight line. If you look closely at your horn you will see all the tone holes below the G# are slightly to the players right. Other than the difference in the tone hole placement and a few minor changes, the Balanced Action and the Super Action are pretty much the same horn. Therefore players will sometimes call a Super Action a Balanced Action and vice versa. A work around is to now call the Super Actions, Super Balanced Actions.... I know that seems confusing.... and it is...

Your horn was likely made around 1948. However the official Selmer serial number list are not accurate and I give them a window of +/- 18 months from what that chart says. So the late 1940's is a very good estimate.

As far as value thats going to be extremely difficult to pin down without looking at the horn. SBA altos can run the gambit from as little as $1500 up to $8000 and maybe more. It all depends on the condition. Selmers with original lacquer, regardless of how much or little remains, tend to hold their value better. Re-lacquered saxophones usually loose value. If the horn is silver or gold plated than of course it would be worth more. What ever you do, do not attempt to clean the horn. Don't use any type of brasso or cleaning agent as that can cause more damage as it can get into the mechanism and gum up the keys, screws, and rods. If the horn needs repairs, than of course that is going to lower the value by the cost of the repair. To completely repad a Selmer SBA you could be looking at between $600 to $1200 depending on where you are located and who you take it to.

If you could let me know exactly where you are, I could likely recommend a highly qualified tech in your area.

If possible I would love to see some photos of your horn. My personal e-mail is

Thanks and I hope this helps.

Charles Harris

If you can send me some photos I would love to see them and that might give me a better idea on what the horn is worth.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Charles Harris


questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.


I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

©2016 All rights reserved.