Ander Svanoe's Madison Saxophone

Selmer Soloist (hard rubber) Mouthpieces

Selmer Airflow baritone mouthpiece with the stamped facing on the table, shorter shank (than a Soloist) and round chamber

Selmer Airflow baritone mouthpiece with the stamped facing on the table, shorter shank (than a Soloist) and round chamber

Selmer Soloist Short Shank horseshow chamber

Early short shank horseshoe

The Selmer Soloist followed the Airflow in the 1950s and was the standard mouthpiece that came with the Selmer Mark VI saxophone.

Selmer Soloist comparison

'S' decorative design on the left, oval on the right.

These classic mouthpieces were made out of high quality hard rubber and have always been a favorite mouthpiece used by classical and jazz musicians alike. The distinguishing feature of the Soloist has always been the horseshoe chamber and decorative band on the the shank. Soloists generally have a darker, focused, smooth sonority that provides an alternative to the Meyer or Otto Link.

Soloists have always been popular with soprano, alto and tenor players. Some baritone players have also used the Soloist, usually with good results.

There are about five different kinds of Soloists. Looking at the chamber, scroll design on the band, beak size, and whether it says "Soloist" or not will determine the mouthpiece's age.

Selmer Soloist comparison

Early Short Shank beaks. The closer one has a slimmer beak.

1. Short Shank models of the 1950's.

These mouthpieces have a oval-like chamber with ahigh arching chamber and flat floor (no ridge falling off into the throat).

Selmer Soloist comparison

Long shank horseshoe

The horseshoe was slightly higher (and a bit larger) compared to their 1960's Long Shank versions and the design on the band is a series of sideways S's followed by a dot.

The beaks can be thinner on the early models although I have seen a very early Short Shank with a much fatter beak and very different profile.

The early Short Shank model is generally the most popular and most expensive if it is in original condition.

Selmer Soloist comparison

Scroll shank table.

2. Long Shank models of the late 1950's - early 1960's.

Now the horseshoe chamber is completely defined with ridge at the bottom of the horseshoe. These beaks generally tended to be fatter with a bit more material in the baffle making these the brightest of all of the Soloist models. The scroll band design is an oval with a dot in the middle.

Selmer Soloist comparison

Current soloist horseshoe.

3. Scroll Shank models of the late 1960's - early 1970's.

At this point the “Soloist” inscription was eliminated from the table of the mouthpiece, the break had a thinner profile, and there was less material in the baffle. These mouthpieces are generally the darkest sounding Soloist and were only available in the Long Shank version.

4. Current Soloist models early 2000's.
Selmer Soloist comparison

Absolutely beautiful work by Ted Klum.

This mouthpiece behaves and looks very similar to the Scroll Shanks. The new Soloists have the inscription “Soloist” on the side of the mouthpiece. The chamber in the current Soloist is smaller and the mouthpiece has a very slim beak. Available in alto and tenor only.

5. Older models that have been refaced.

In the past 10-15 years it has been popular to take older Soloist models and either have them “blueprinted” or opened up to a larger tip opening (opening up a C* to an E, F or G).

Here is a short list of current and past players that have used the Selmer Soloist at some point in their careers (and in some cases, their entire career!)

  • Kenny Garrett (soprano and alto)
  • Gigi Gryce (alto)
  • Sonny Red (alto)
  • Charles Williams (alto)
  • John Coltrane (soprano and tenor)
  • Eddie Harris (tenor)
  • Joe Henderson (soprano and tenor)
  • Rich Perry (tenor)
  • Sonny Rollins (tenor)













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About Anders Svanoe

The Story of Sonny Red

Anders Svanoe's extensive study of the little-known, but highly original saxophonist Sonny Red

Frank Morgan and Anders