Selmer AS500 Review: What You Didn’t Know

The Selmer AS-500 is a very solid beginner choice on the market. It’s often dubbed as a student sax, but that would undermine the professional features it does offer. 

So, what exactly should you expect with the Selmer AS-500? Let’s delve into it.

Selmer AS500 Review

Construction and Durability

Selmer AS-500 Alto Saxophone

The AS-500 comes with a clear lacquered brass body and nickel-plated key mechanism, which makes it adequately durable.

The support guide that’s added to keep the right-hand trill key hinge rods safe from any damage is a nice addition given that the rods are rather vulnerable.

To further reduce the risk of damage, the AS-500 has a low-octave key pin flush with the top of its neck receiver. So, even if you forget to use an end plug, you’re still in the safe.

Design

To make it easy for entry-level players to start their journey playing the sax, the AS-500 comes with an adjustable right-hand thumb rest. 

Moreover, the key sections have a linear design on both the left and right-hand sides, making the playability of the horn as smooth as can be.

You have to appreciate how the high F# key extends the horn’s range, which makes it easier to perform better across a variety of notes and relatively complex pieces.

Sound and Playability

Selmer AS-500 Alto Saxophone

The overall sound is good enough, with stellar intonation. It sounds colorful and quite open. Maybe the action could use a little improvement, but then again, these are pretty old horns.

The resistance that the Selmer AS-500 can be a little difficult to get around for a beginner. Yet, once you get on top of your game, you’ll appreciate how you can get a big sound with the exact notes you want.

Although some players complain that they can’t hit low notes as freely as they would like, it does come with more practice on this one.

Extras and Accessories

The Selmer AS-500 comes with a sturdy case and a mouthpiece. This a huge bonus, given that these are two items that you typically never know what you need except after trying them out.

Price and Resale Value

The Selmer AS-500 is a budget-friendly option for a well-versed saxophonist, and an excellent choice —though a little expensive— for a student.

When it comes to its resale value, it might not be as solid as others, and you might be limited to selling it to beginners and students only.

Selmer AS-500 Pros

What are the main reasons you should consider the Selmer AS-500?

  • Sturdy construction
  • Ergonomic design that helps beginners play smoothly
  • Middle and lower octaves give a nice warm tone
  • Engravings on the bell give it a more valuable look

Selmer AS-500 Cons

What could be the reasons to consider an alternative?

  • The sound is a little tinny
  • The case and mouthpiece it comes with aren’t durable

Selmer AS-500 Alternatives

Yamaha YAS-23 or Selmer AS-500 as a Starter Sax?

For students, the Yamaha YAS-23 serves the purpose better. For someone that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles, the sound and action of a Yamaha YAS-23 tops what you’ll get with the AS-500.

It’s what we’d dub an ideal student model, especially since it weighs less. The YAS-23 weighs around 7 pounds, while the AS-500 is almost twice as heavy at 12 pounds. This makes the YAS-23 more suitable for younger players.

Related: YAS 23 vs. YAS 26 full comparison

However, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly horn that gets you prepped to play a high-end sax, the AS-500 is a good choice. At least, until you save up enough to buy a high-end sax with all the extras.

Selmer AS-500 vs. AS-600

The AS-600 comes with a clear-baked epoxy lacquer finish. This gives it some advantage in terms of durability over the AS-500, as the outer coat won’t flake as easily.

Its keys are also nickel-planted and they come with power-forged keys. Thanks to the spring loading, the horn has much better playability.

Add to that, it’s equipped with a rocking table key mechanism. With the AS-600, you’ll get no misaligned key touches, lost motion, oddly bent tabs, or huge corks. 

Finally, the articulated C# adjusting screw further enhances the playing experience, making it right just for you.

So, between the two, the AS-600 has a couple more perks that beat the AS-500. But then again, if you’re planning to change your horn soon to a more expensive and high-end one, you could save the extra bucks for later.

FAQs

Are Selmer Saxophones Made in Taiwan?

When you read the name “Selmer,” it could be referring to Selmer Paris or Conn-Selmer. The latter is a subsidiary of Steinway Musical Instruments and is an American manufacturer.

Sometimes, their instruments are sometimes made with Taiwanese parts. So, the answer is no, they’re not exactly Taiwanese, they just have Taiwanese parts.

Also, the AS-500 is a Conn-Selmer product, so make no mistake, it won’t play like a high-end beginner sax by Selmer Paris.

Does Selmer Make Good Saxophones?

Conn-Selmer’s saxophones are great choices overall as the brand works on offering horns that provide you with incredible value for money.

Some people argue they’re limited to student and semi-pro saxophones. However, some options they offer can compete in terms of sound and durability with high-end pro horns.

What Mouthpiece Should I Use with Selmer AS-500?

Since you’re looking for a budget-friendly sax, some affordable yet solid mouthpiece choices include Hite premier, Meyer Rubber, Yamaha 6C, and Brilhart Ebolin.

They have bigger openings that bring out the saxophone’s full sound, and help a beginner reach their potential.

My Personal Thoughts on The Selmer AS500

I wouldn’t call the Selmer AS-500 a student sax —it definitely integrates more features than a typical student horn would. These include the high trill F# and high F#, the RH adjustable thumb rest, G# adjustables, and the low Bb/C# pinky cluster linkage.

That’s why any player across different experience levels can use it, and they would benefit from the fact that it’s a budget-friendly option.

Ask yourself if you’re looking to advance and invest in a high-end model later on. If the answer is yes, then you can do with the cons of an AS-500 while getting used to playing an entry-level sax and not a student one.