Reference 36 Selmer Tenor Saxophone Image courtesy of Sax Forte

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Selmer Reference Tenors

Review Selmer Reference Tenor Saxophones

Selmer Reference 36 Tenor

Selmer Reference 36

Very satisfying! From the moment I picked this up it felt right and after the first few notes, I thought it was my own. It is the perfect step up from the Selmer Series II, offering a very similar action - just a little lighter and very comfortable.

Tone production on this sax was very similar to the Series II Tenor but with more resonance and greater tonal depth. There was plenty of weight to each individual note, with a satisfyingly big round sound, particularly in the lower register, where I could pump out those low notes with vigour. It really allowed me to express myself and push through plenty of air whilst responding equally well to gentle blowing.

This sax seemed to have all that I want in a saxophone, great clarity, rich tone and excellent playability. It oozes quality, a rare mix of style and sophistication. The gold lacquer finish is a deep rose gold color, which sets it apart from other new saxophones; it looks the business. If I had to sell my own Series II Tenor then the Reference 36 would definitely be on my short list.

Selmer Reference 54 Tenor

Selmer Reference 54

This looks very different from any other sax on the market. It has an 'antique' finish which resembles old saxophones when all the lacquer has worn off. The effect on the feel of the horn is one that is very smooth under the fingers and to me it was very tactile as the finish itself is very smooth to the touch. (Note - Since this Sax Test, finish options allow the ref 54 in different finishes and other Sax Manufacturers have since added 'antique' finishes to their Saxophone Lines.)

Blowing this horn was very free and yet had a very controlled feel to tone production. It had a warm and darker feel to the sound, with plenty of resonance giving it a very pleasing centered tone. The action was light and fluid and response was excellent.

It differs from the ref 36 in that the ref 36 has a more open quality to the sound which seems to allow more detail to come through. I really liked the ref 54 and playing be-bop and more contemporary jazz was great fun on this horn. For more funky styles it was ideal with lots of punch there, the notes solid even when playing very loud. The high notes of the altissimo register sounded very clear and controlled, the lowest notes were full of depth.

In Conclusion: Selmer Reference Tenors

Both Selmer Reference Saxes offer the saxophonist great versatility and are both at the top of the tenor sax tree. I really liked the warm resonance of the ref 54 but my favorite has to be the ref 36 for it's rich tone and open quality of sound.


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!

Selmer Saxophone Links

Bb Selmer Tenor Saxophone reference 36 Home Page

Bb Selmer Tenor Saxophone reference 54 Home Page

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