Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone Specs and Review

With Reference 54 Tenor, expect total versatility, maximum flexibility, and impressively beautiful sound. In this Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone review, I’ll list all of the specs and features so you can decide if it is the right saxophone for you.

The Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone is one of the most responsive saxophones from Selmer Paris. It successfully incorporates the acoustic and ergonomic characteristics of the previous Selmer Paris saxophone models. At the same time, it has the qualities of today’s modern design. This saxophone features an impressively rich and open tone.

Read on to learn more about the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone, including their key specs and features.

Also, for an excellent tenor saxophone, take a look at the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone on Amazon for its price and great reviews:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

About the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone 

selmer reference 54 tenor saxophone

Selmer Paris made the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone. And it turned out to be one of the most responsive saxophones. Reference 54 has the acoustic and ergonomic characteristics of the previous Selmer Paris models with today’s modern design qualities. The Reference 54 Tenor impressively features a rich and open tone.

Selmer Reference 54 vs Selmer Mark VI

There are currently two tenor saxophone versions that form part of the Reference Series. The other one is Reference 36. It features a rich and open tone that resembles the sound of the Balanced Action model initially released by Selmer Paris in 1936.

On the contrary, Reference 54 resembles the sound of the Mark VI model, initially released by Henri Selmer Paris in 1954.

However, Reference 54 is definitely not a 100% remake of the Selmer Mark VI. Reference 54 is slightly heavier. It captures the round and centered sound of Mark VI. At the same time, it features top-of-the-range modern keywork and intonation.

The Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone went through an oxidation process to achieve a vintage appearance. It then becomes not only visually appealing but also reminiscent of the classic Selmer sound. It features premium quality high copper brass alloy to achieve that vibrant and warm sound.

Several famous saxophonists love playing the Reference 54 saxophone. They include Jean Toussaint, Chicho Freeman, and Steve Coleman.

Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone Specs

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The Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone features a B-flat key and has a high F sharp range. Its thumb rest consists of metal and is interestingly multidirectional. As for the pads, they consist of leather with a plastic booster.

You can choose from two types of finishes:

  • Gold Lacquer Engraved
  • Lacquer Antiqued

This saxophone also comes with a B-flat tenor saxophone reference case.

Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone Technical Characteristics

KeyB-flat
Thumb RestMultidirectional, in metal
CaseB-flat tenor saxophone reference case
RangeHigh F sharp
PadsLeather, with plastic booster
FinishesGold Lacquer Engraved, Lacquer Antiqued

Selmer Paris Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone Dimensions

The Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone from Henri Selmer Paris has the following dimensions:

  • Weight: 19.71 lbs
  • Length: 41 inches
  • Width: 16 inches
  • Height: 13 inches

Again, what does the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone offer? The modernly designed Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone has the acoustic and ergonomic characteristics of the past Selmer Paris saxophone models. Also, this tenor saxophone is responsive and produces rich and open tones.

Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone Review

selmer reference 54 tenor review

Extraordinary Saxophone

Once you try playing the Reference 54 tenor, you would right away know that it is one extraordinary saxophone. If you have tried playing the Selmer Mark VI, you will have that feeling of familiarity. The richness of the tone and the warmth all seem so familiar, but, at the same time, there’s something vibrant about it.

Convenient to Use

The Reference 54 tenor is more convenient to use. It plays smoother, more flawless, and with more precise action compared to the classic Mark VI. The left and right stacks have been impressively adjusted, including the palm, the side, and the plate keys.

Reference 54 Keys and Thumb Rest

As for the keys, they are now positioned so that they are closer to the body. This makes it more comfortable for the hands, resulting in faster and more precise action. You can also adjust the thumb rest for optimum fit. I think Reference 54 fits the hands of saxophonists better than the other tenor saxophones they have ever tried:

In this video, professional woodwind player Simon Bates and Dawkes Music product specialist Sam Gregory review the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone. They explain why it is one of the best tenor saxophones available on the market today.

Selmer Reference 54 Saxophone Weight

Compared to Mark VI, the Reference 54 tenor is slightly lighter. Despite their similarities in appearance, Reference 54 is designed to be smaller and lighter by 30%. This way, the weight conveniently frees up the instrument.

Selmer Reference 54 Saxophone Reference Neck

Another enhancement involves the Reference neck. The neck design has been adjusted in such a way that it improves airflow. Also, the body-to-bell connection is now equipped with a redesigned toric joint. This maintains the flatness of the inner surface.

Selmer Reference 54 Saxophone Brass Alloy and Copper

Reference 54 adapts the traditional Selmer dimensions and the use of traditional brass alloy with higher copper content. This results not only in a free and quick response but also in a warm and flexible tone. These features are further enhanced with Reference 54’s exceptional tuning balance, comfortable handling, and flawless key work.

This tenor saxophone seems to be a perfect instrument. In case of any flaw, it is definitely unnoticeable.

Henri Selmer Paris Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone Customer Experience

The Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone is consistently rated 5 out of 5 stars by amateur and professional saxophonists. Let’s take a look at the comments of some of these saxophonists and see how they describe Reference 54.

Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone Takes Performance to the Next Level

RGJ, an amateur saxophonist from the United States, tried playing Reference 54 for the first time with a Jody Jazz Chi mouthpiece. Since then, Reference 54 has been taking RGJ’s performance to the next level. It is the best tenor saxophone RGJ has ever played, and its sound is simply extraordinary.

Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone as the Ferrari of Saxophones

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Another saxophonist from the United States named Baze described the Selmer Reference 54 tenor saxophone as “the Ferrari of saxophones.”

Selmer Paris instruments are known for being costly since Henri Selmer Paris is a well-known maker of high-quality musical instruments from France. However, Baze believes that Reference 54 is not costly or overpriced. Instead, it is reasonably priced.

Baze stated that the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone had successfully captured many essences of the Selmer Mark VI. But Reference 54 has its own unique, distinct, and impressive traits. Its sound is so deep and dark, and yet, it sounds so smooth.

Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone – Low Maintenance

selmer reference 54 tenor sax

According to Baze, the Reference 54 sax does not look like it is merely made of high-quality materials. Instead, it is made of excellent quality materials. Routine maintenance is a common practice among saxophonists to keep their instruments in shape. But Reference 54 does not require that much repair. It is guaranteed not to break down during gigs.

Baze has been using a Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone for almost two decades now. Interestingly, not a single part of the sax has ever been broken or damaged. It has never been brought to a repair shop ever since it was bought. All it ever experienced was a tune-up or a setup, but nothing out of the ordinary has ever been done to it.

Reference 54’s matte finish looks sexy. It grabs attention and is definitely a head-turner. This tenor saxophone indeed has perfect features inside and out. Pretty much how it is with the Ferrari.

Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone as a Collector’s Item

Interestingly, the Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone from Henri Selmer Paris increases its value. So, if you own one, make sure to take care of it and maintain its good condition. Eventually, it will become a collector’s item.

American saxophonist Baze had his Reference 54 appraised after 8 years. When Baze bought it, it cost approximately $4,000. After 8 years, its value became more than $6,000.

Which Mouthpiece to Use with the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone?

Are you considering using a metal mouthpiece with your Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone? If yes, my suggestion is to visit the saxophone or music store nearest you. Then, try out the mouthpiece if it fits well with your Reference 54. Most importantly, make sure that the mouthpiece does not negatively affect the sound of your horn.

If you are a fan of the Dukoff Silverite metal mouthpiece, pairing it with the Reference 54 sax might not be a good idea. The Reference 54 tenor sax features a dark, deep, and wonderful sound in itself. If you use it with a Dukoff Silverite mouthpiece, the sound will most likely change, and the sax will not sound as beautiful as it should be.

Suffice to say that the mouthpiece plays an important role in playing the saxophone. It can either upgrade your performance or, sadly, ruin it.

Conclusion – Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone 

The Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone is one of the most responsive saxophones from Henri Selmer Paris. The acoustic and ergonomic characteristics of the previous Selmer Paris models are combined with the qualities of today’s modern design. The Reference 54 Tenor impressively features a rich and open tone.

If you are familiar with the awesome Selmer Mark VI saxophone, then the Selmer Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone will undoubtedly impress you. The maker of Reference 54 intentionally had Mark VI as its inspiration. But Reference 54 is more durable and better sounding. It definitely is an excellent and highly recommended tenor saxophone.