Selmer Alto Saxophone Reference in Matte left and Lacquer right. The new Bird Tribute Reference center shows the engraving on the new Reference Bird Model. Images courtesy of

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Selmer Reference Altos

Review Selmer Reference Alto Saxophones


Selmer Reference Alto Saxophone

Selmer Reference 54 Alto Saxophone Review courtesy of

The Reference Alto is one of the best saxes I've ever played. After 30 years Selmer have finally done it, they’ve got that old MK VI magic back - and then some!

I had the lucky chance to play test 10 References at the Paris factory, and to my surprise they were all very consistent, but without losing any of their individual character. An impressive feature is just how free blowing the Reference Alto is when compared to the slightly resistant series II and III. The tone, (bring it on!) is just fantastic! Well centered throughout it’s range, rich - yet with loads of clarity and juice. It's nice and big at the bottom but still full at the top. Although it is a new horn, it evokes a real sense of history and an intoxicating vintage tone. It has the authority of a vintage Selmer but with all the intonation problems resolved. I worked it hard and the only thing that didn't impress, (yes, the only thing!) was that it didn’t resonate as much when blowing sub-tone, but this could be resolved with set-up.

What did impress me the most was the projection, it could equal the Series III no problem and get out the way Guardala! I found that I had to pull back a little on my playing to compensate for instant ‘back of the room’ sound. Action wise, it's just what I like, a little resistant but with plenty of fluidity, balanced and fast. It has nice touches: the front F pearl, smooth top E key, rounded low Eb/C keys and vintage style body brace. To look at, it is just exquisite, dark gold lacquer with original Mark VI engraving patterns, there is nothing quite like it. Additional accessories are the excellent new Super Session (E) mouthpiece (which I am very impressed with) and specially designed "Reference" shaped case.

There is something about this sax that I can’t explain. Call it what you want, shazam, magic, the X-factor, this sax certainly has it. You can see, feel, hear & sense the history and pedigree coming. If you're having a love affair with an old Mark VI but are fed up with niggling intonation & reliability problems this is the answer. This horn builds on the legendary legacy to the meet the demands of modern players, it will surely become a history maker.

Now available in Antique Matt finish and a New BIRD Edition Reference Alto has been released!


Selmer Reference 36, Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone Reviews used by Permission, from is now established as one of the worlds leading suppliers of saxophones and accessories. Based in East Sussex, England, we provide an international mail-order service and at the same time we welcome players into our store to come and test our saxophones and mouthpieces. Our range is always expanding, and currently we have over 200 saxophones on display, stocking all the major brands including Selmer, Yanagisawa, Yamaha and Keilwerth, along with Rampone and Cazzani, Trevor James, and many others.

Thanks to and to Jim Cheek for sharing this Tenor Sax Review with the Sax Reviews readers, worldwide!

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