Selmer Paris Reference 54 Alto Sax
Made in the Spirit of the Mark VI
The Reference 54 alto is an absolute monster of a horn! Selmer really went above and beyond on this horn. They truly have captured the rich, focused & responsive tonal characteristics of the Mark VI but have built upon it further with modern intonation and mechanics.
Selmer Paris applies the “Reference” concept to the Alto saxophone. A strong personality for an instrument of up-to-date design and making, in which each musician will find the “Mark VI” feeling. The Selmer “Reference” Alto: when history meets modernity.
Reference 54 Alto Performance
The Reference 54 alto is a horn designed for power. It loves to be blown hard and powerful! However, this is actually necessary to really play this horn well. The bore design of the Reference 54 alto adds a certain extra amount of resistance through the bow section of the horn. This resistance forces better compression to you air column giving the desired core tone. However, if there is not enough breath support behind this air column, then the resistance creates a gurgle effect around low D & C in the horn. For this reason, we do not recommend the Reference 54 alto for Classical Players as classical mouthpieces are not designed as much to produce the necessary breath support to blow past the resistance of the 54. So far, the only classically inspired mouthpiece that we have found that works decently with the Reference 54 alto in our testing has been the new Selmer Paris Concept mouthpiece.
Reference 54 Alto & the “Low C Gurgle”…
If you have done much reading online about the Reference 54 alto sax, you are sure to have come across people talking about a “low C gurgle” in the Reference 54 alto. Many player guess at what this can be due to, but we can actually tell you! See, the Reference 54 alto was designed with a very unique bore that was designed to force a more focused and centered “core” sound that is unique to the Reference 54 alto. This sound is what people love about the Reference 54 alto sax! However, for many people, this same bore implementation is also what can be responsible for the infamous gurgle. The problem falls on how the horn is being played and specifically, what mouthpiece players are using.
There are of course other issues that can create this gurgle, the biggest of which is the setup and regulation of the saxophone. Sadly, most shops out there do not properly regulate and adjust the instrument prior to delivering to the customer (either because they don’t want to or don’t have the technical expertise to do so). This is where we are different… we actually perform a true professional setup on the Reference 54 alto (as well as any instrument we sell) prior to delivery to the customer to guarantee that when they receive it, it is playing to its absolute BEST potential!!!
Selmer has done a few modifications to the neck on the Reference 54 alto since its release in 2006 to further improve this issue which has resulted in the current “3rd Generation Neck”.
Kessler & Sons Music
Official Selmer Paris Pro Shop
Kessler & Sons Music is proud to be a Selmer Paris Pro Shop. Selmer Paris Pro Shops are carefully selected in order to offer the professional setup, experience and knowledge that Selmer Paris owners need. They are not chosen based on sales numbers but rather by expertise of the shop. Selmer Paris honors us with this designation and we work very hard to provide this expertise to every customer.
Every Selmer Paris instrument goes through a complete and thorough Professional Setup in our ProShop prior to shipping to make sure that you receive only the best!
3rd Generation Neck Design
While Selmer Paris has kept the design of the neck tube itself the same since the Reference 54 alto release in 2003, there have been now 2 significant changes to the design of the neck overall that affect the performance.
- 2nd Generation Neck: In 2006, Selmer changed the thickness of the metal used for the tenon on the bottom of the neck. They went from using a gauge of .75mm down to .55mm thick. Since the outer diameter of the neck stayed the same, this switch actually increased the bore through the tenon of the neck by .40mm (.20 on each size). In terms of acoustics, this is a rather noticeable difference. The result is that the horn played a bit bigger and responded easier than before, especially in the lower range of the sax.
- 3rd Generation Neck: This change was primarily in the octave mechanism. The neck tube and the tenon thickness stayed the same as the design changes from 2006. The 3rd Generation neck brings in the octave key and mounting bracket implemented in the 2010 “Jubilee” release of the Serie II & III saxophones. The octave key itself has been reshaped to look more elegant and uses a slight revision to the appearance of the classic Selmer “S” logo on the neck. This series also saw the design of the octave key’s mounting bracket completely changed. The new design is one that gives much better stability to the octave key and also is a smaller overall footprint. This lighter mechanism decreases the weight of the neck and allows for better vibration and response from the neck tube itself as the overall weight of the neck was decreased by 7%. The tenon mounting design was also improved. The new design guarantees a better fit of the tenon on to the neck tube and eliminates some of the imperfections that can be caused to the bottom of the neck tube inside the tenon. This change was more of a manufacturing quality improvement rather than a performance change.
Is the Reference 54 Alto a Copy of the Mark VI?
No. Early in the Reference 54’s release, many people took Selmer’s marketing of “Made in the Spirit of the Mark VI” to mean “Copy of a Mark VI”. The Reference 54 alto is a horn that is designed to give tonal similarity to a Mark VI but to combine it with a more modern horn (modern intonation, modern mechanics).
There are many things about the Reference 54 alto that are better than the Mark VI – primarily the build quality. The Reference 54 altos are assembled today to a higher overall quality level than the Mark VI was. The toneholes specifically are manufactured better than the Mark VI. This allows for the use of the better Pisoni Pro pad – a pad that cannot be used on a Mark VI without the Mark VI having all of its toneholes diamond levelled first.
Every horn we send out to a customer is not released from us unless it has been completely setup in our shop first. This is because the setup on the horn is of the utmost importance! Sometimes, a saxophone (regardless of who the manufacturer or the price point is) comes in needing 20 minutes of adjustments and then the very next one can require 2 hours! So if you were to get 5 of the same model right out of the box, they will all play different which leads people to believe that they are “good” or “bad” saxes… but the reality is that the one that was the best out of the 5 was likely the one that needed the least amount of work and on the flip side, the “bad” sax was the one that needed 2 hours worth of adjustments!
Once the same 5 saxophones are properly regulated and adjusted to perfection, they become near identical saxophones that even the pickiest of players would be challenged to pick a true “favorite” horn. However, since most stores do not or even can not perform this setup, the player never knows this and is simply relying on the luck of the draw. This is why we perform our setup (in our www.SaxophoneRepairs.com ProShop) on them before delivering your new sax to you. You trust us with your purchase and we want to make sure that you are rewarded by giving you your ideal saxophone setup flawlessly!
|Country of Manufacture||100% Made in France|
|Finish||Dark Lacquer – also available in brushed matte lacquer|
|Pearls||Mother of Pearl|
|Pads||Pisoni Pro pads with Metal Resonators|
|Range||Low Bb – High F#|
|Body Material||Yellow Brass|
|Body Construction||Fully Ribbed|
|Mouthpiece||Selmer Paris Spirit 184|
|Case||Selmer Paris Contoured Case|
18 Month 0% Interest Financing!
Purchase through Kessler & Sons Music using First Mutual Finance and receive special 18 Month 0% Interest Financing!
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18 Month 0% Interest Option Available on New Instrument at Advertised New Price Only. Full details on financing page.
Does not apply towards Store Used Demos or Used Instruments. Demos and Used models can still be financed under standard terms.