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Selmer Reference 54 and 36 Tenor Saxophones

Saxophonists have been wailing for years, and not always on a blues or ballad. Often the wail has sounded more like: “Why won’t Selmer just make the Mark VI again!” Selmer has responded to the laments by bringing out two new tenors, the Reference 54 and the Reference 36, that are made in the spirit of the Mark VI and the Balanced Action, respectively. These horns are neither reproductions of the classic models nor are they meant to replace Selmer’s top-of-the-line saxophone, the Series III. The idea behind the Reference tenors is that they have the great tone quality of the Mark VI and Balanced Action but they take advantage of modern improvements in intonation and key work.

Since 1974, when the Mark VI was discontinued, a mythology has grown around the classic horns involving everything from the hoarding of horns by dealers in Japan to the formulation of complicated theories surrounding the original metal used by Selmer to make the VIs. One story has the Selmer Company buying church bells that were confiscated during World War II and then using that metal, tempered by years of being rung by Quasimodo, to make the arcane blend of alloys that became the Mark VI. Another version was that the metal came from the spent casings of artillery shells fired from tanks during the war that were then recycled into saxophones. True or not, the stories were so fabulous it seemed virtually impossible to reproduce the classic horns. Fortunately, Selmer has somehow found the magic formula again and come out with two top-notch instruments.

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