The Référence 54 was released in the fall of 2000. The Référence 54 body geometry was designed to mirror that of the Mark VI, yet Selmer have
actually produced a saxophone which outshines the fabled Mark VI. The Mark VI tenor was produced between 1954 and 1973, hence the "54" in the name.
The Référence 54 uses a Serie III body and bow, with a larger volume bell. The metal responators on the Serie III are swapped for plastic resonators on the Référence 54. The neck bend of the Référence 54 is
identical to that of the Mark VI and is different form the Serie III which terminates higher.
Selmer have acheived the darker, richer tone they were after and it should
please anyone looking for the sound of a vintage horn. While not identical to any specific vintage horn, the Référence 54 speaks with its own wonderful complex voice. It delivers the surprising combination of
power and playing ease typified by both new Référence horns. And this specific characteristic is what sets the Référence saxophones apart from
all other horns, present or past. The 54 is identical to the 36 in overall tonal quality. Both Référence horns are very different from the brighter, punchier Serie III tenor.
The Référence 54 employs modern Serie III keywork except for certain modified keys that mimic the Mark VI classic horns. The fact that Selmer has decided to stick with modern Serie III keywork tells you something
about the reliability of it. The small changes that are made to the Référence horns are mostly for sentimental reasons. They are:
- Alternate high F left hand key in mother of pearl versus metal
- High D and E, left hand palm keys are closer to the body of the instrument
- Low B-flat sliding screw adjustment not present. Adjustment is performed by bending the metal tab under the key as has been done for decades.
- Body to bell brace made of circular cross-section material
The 54 is offered in only one finish. The entire saxophone is antiqued with a process that darkens the entire body to a dark brown. Then it is
brushed (not polished), intentionally leaving parts of the horn dark. This process is followed with a bronze color matte surfaced lacquer.