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Selmer Paris Reference 36 Tenor SaxophoneThis gorgeous tribute incorporates some of the finest acoustic and ergonomic characteristics of earlier Selmer Paris models. These are combined with modern design and manufacturing enhancements. It has a rich, open tone in the tradition of the Balanced Action tenor introduced in 1936.
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I have been with Yamaha 82 Z Custom (82Z) and Selmer Reference 54 (R54) for many years and now, this Reference 36 (36). The Japanese made 82Z is the easiest to play with, every bit of best quality you could expect is there, and it works, just like Japanese Top Line Automobiles, like Lexus. R54 sounds the brightest, and keyboard is precise, but functions perfectly in your hands, shall I say like BMW M series (unlike those V6, the cars have inline 6 cylinder engine, and it is fast). And lastly, the R36, once it plays for a while, you would notice the elegance of timelessness, in specifics, it sounds the richest, and the best sounds in low registers compared to other two model, and keyboard works the best if you have small hands; however, you would find some resistances as you play in higher registers, thus some time you have spend till you get used to play(ing) with confidence in high(er) ranges. I think the R36 somehow matches the old Porsche Yellow Bird, the one with twin turbo engine in the rear, the aggregated rear wind down force where the exhaust comes out. So with too much bull, 82Z easiest to play, R54 for most players' best choice, and R36 the richest sound, for whom is for classics, like Espresso!
Here's the skinny on the ref 36. One of the main things that makes this horn different than the ref 54 is the neck design. The ref 36 has a straighter/flatter neck that stretches out further than a ref 54, Mark VI or VII neck. This design alone is similar to the balanced action and it's what gives this horn a darker sound with easy subtone and slightly more difficult, but fatter upper register. The body tubes on the ref 36 and ref 54 are the same, but the bow and bell on the 36 are larger, and this makes the bottom very easy to play, but does make harmonics/overtones more difficult to speak. Also with the 36, you'll notice a little more muffled middle D that will take some work to focus, but it will happen. So is this horn as easy to play as my VI or VII? the honest answer is no. This horn demands a little more effort if your using a traditional jazz mouthpiece...I happen to use a NY Link on all my horns. If you're using a VI or VII, you'll probably be huffing and puffing halfway through your practice session with a 36. This is a darker horn and you'll have to build your strength to use it. As far as the weight of the horn, it has mini braces and feels light compared to my VII, but it feels close in weight to my VI without a F# key. Ergos on this horn are very good, but I would have liked to have bigger pearls like on my VII and VI. I'm not sure why the pearls are smaller, but on the VI and VII, they were made with real mother of pearl and not plastic like all modern horns today. For me there's nothing like real mother of pearl because it grips your fingers. One thing I did have done to my neck was to have the octave pipe hole drilled slightly larger to make the altissimo speak faster - this had a drastic effect on the ease of the upper register (for those who may be having problems with octave jumps). Overall, I'd say this horn is very good and certainly a players horn, but it's not perfect.
The Reference 36 is everything I've wanted from a tenor. The sound is rich and has more overtones than the Reference 54's that I tried. I've been playing my R36 for a couple of years now and I couldn't be happier. When I was shopping for the horn I tried the 54 with the 36 and did a/b on both. I had a very good player/friend listen "blindfolded" and he agreed that the 36 had a fuller sound. When we switched places we got the same results. I tried several necks on each horn but, again, I kept coming back to the 36. My results have been confirmed time and again by friends who have tried the horn. I still play my old VI occasionally and I love it too, but the scale is better on the new horn. It's got a great legit sound as well as a big Jazz sound. I've been recommending the R36 over the R54 to my students.
I have played since 1956 in party bands playing all types of music. These days I am doing party music with party bands. I have owned several tenors over the years including the VI and Yamahas. For the past 20 years I have used the Selmer VII due to the gutzy mid range and overall volume. I have retired the VII as a result of buying the new 36 this year. However, I felt that the bottom end was a bit stuffy so I sent the horn to Randy Jones at Tenor Madness to have him "set up" this horn. In addition to his masterful adjustments he soldered the bell to the body for better vibration. I use a Rover "Deep V" stainless # 9 m/p and Rico plasticover baritone reed with the new Rovner "mass-loaded" ligature. I also use a Series goldbrass III neck so that I can hold the horn away from my body. This combination, plus Randy's expert touch has resulted in an excellent tenor! Volume and fat sound. A real pleasure to play.