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Saxophones What Sax to buy for under £5,000 Selmer Reference 54?


Preston, England
Okay so ive picked up the tenor Sax again 2 months ago, going for a Yamaha YTS 280 just to see if it felt good, and it did. So now its time to stop playing with a toy and get a proper one.
After doing lots of reading and research, my top of the list is a Selmer Reference 54 Vintage Finish, which is retailing around £4,870.
Now my question is this. Is this the best Sax for the money? Reference 36 is remeniscant of the Balanced Action, but what about the Series 2 and 3? Or the top of the range Yamahama 875 or a Kielworth Shadow?
Everyone is going to have different opinions i know that, but im just thinking out loud. If someone said to you 'Whats the best Sax for 5k?' what would your answer be?
I went for a Ref36, so this answers your question from my perspective. But I bought it used, which cut the bill by 50%.
Ask yourself what you are missing on your current horn, and try as many horns as you can.
My wish list would include Keilwerth (any finish), YTS 82z, but I would probably start enjoying the big chase: a good vintage player (I recently missed a terrific super20 for less than 3k).
On the other hand, for 5k you can probably buy my new favourite Sequoia saxophone soprano+alto+tenor or tenor+baritone, or tenor + a holiday for two in NE Italy...
The best sax for the money is the one that works best for you and where you're going/want to be. I don't think many of us would consider the Yamaha 280 a toy.

Best bet would be to get yourself down a dealer or two and try them out. If you want something vintage, try woodwind exchange in Bradford, and there's Curly Music in Liverpool.

If it was me, I'd be taking a look at R&C and Borgani as well as the more common suggestions like Yanagisawa, Mauriat, Yamaha, Selmer.

And don't forget a decent mouthpiece. They, more than the sax, make a huge differnce to sound and playability. I wouldn't spend huindreds on a Guardala or the like, but a decent Vandoren/Yanagisawa/Berg.... Or talk to Morgan Fry, I'm sure he could sort out a really good piece for you.
really, as others said, whatever floats your boat, but, do buy a secondhand one because, especially if you are talking of a current model, that would dramatically affect its price.

Nothing looses value as a current model being offered on the market in this economic climate. It is sad but lots of people are cutting down on luxuries that they can no longer afford and are trying to get some money back, this could be your chance to acquire something that would have costed you 30 to 50% more when new.
The best sax for the money is the one that works best for you and where you're going/want to be..

Very true.

I think once you get over £1500 no saxophone is good value for money. I play a very expensive solid silver bell R & C tenor, but to be honest it is only maybe 1% or 2 % "better" than something I could have got for a quarter of the price. In some cases, eg, my soprano and baritone, these very cheap horns I bought are actually better than anything I tried costing £5000

I certainly don't believe in "you get what you pay for" meaning the more you pay the better the horn.
like in most things in life above a certain price minimal improvements correspond to exponential increase in price and sometimes the “ improvements” are questionable since the price of a limited series item might be much higher that it would have been if, all things left equal, it would have been sold in larger numbers.
I think this is something that is going to be with me for a good 10 years so buying a a brand new one interests me more. I know its history and when i come to sell it in the future i think it will have good value and easier to sell. I have a great mouthpiece o bought from Woodwind Exchange, being a Link STM 7.
If there are Selmer specialist out there with knowledge of Selmers, id like to know your thoughts. And yes, i want a Selmer - Paris. Always have. Its a bit like a car enthusiast always wanting a red ferarri, or an Aston Martin
If there are Selmer specialist out there with knowledge of Selmers, id like to know your thoughts. And yes, i want a Selmer - Paris. Always have. Its a bit like a car enthusiast always wanting a red ferarri, or an Aston Martin

The car analogy doesn't work with saxophones. (NB: I'd love a Lamborghini, maybe a Ferrari but I'd need to test drive both, so far I've only test driven a Ferrari)

But having owned quite a few Selmer Paris saxophones, and test played many, I am now only interested in playing what is the best saxophone for me, and if that happens to cost more than a Selmer fine, if it costs a lot less that is also fine. All that matters is the horn, not the name.
I agree with Pete. But if you want Selmer, then so be it. I guess it's like buying Gucci or Prada.

With few exceptions, all saxes and keys are brass with steel rods. They'll all last a long time, treated properly. Have it serviced once a year. Take care of it, and even a cheapo student sax will play well in 10 years and have years of life in it.... Abuse it and they will all be wrecked quickly.

As for resale value, you may be surprised to find that 20 year old yanagisawas are selling for a lot more than their new price and are highly sought after. Same goes for BW from about 5 years ago. People at the time underated the saxes, but now they're recognised for what they are - geat saxes. So far Selmers have proved to be a good bet, but there's no guarantee that it'll remain that way. The market's fickle, and may or not repay your investment. There's nothing in the Selmer stable that's generated anywhere near the cult status of the MkVI and assuming this'll rub off onto the current ranges values is a long shot.
Pete summed it up well. Such are the laws of diminishing marginal returns that any expensive sax is an indulgance to a large degree. Well, I indulged a few years ago, as I got a fair chunk of money back from the tax man and I decide to splash out on a top notch tenor. I tried a wide range during two long visits to, including Selmer, Yamaha, Mauriat, Trevor James Custom and Yanagisawa. (Didn't play a Keliwerth, IIRC, dunno why). I ended up with a Yanagisawa T992, and seven years on I'm still very happy with my choice. It fits my hands perfectly, is beautifully put together, intonation is as near to perfect as any sax and I really like the tone.

But that's just my choice. Yours might be completely different.
I understand wanting a Selmer but not wanting to buy new: that £4800 or whatever immediately drops to under £3000 the minute you walk out of the showroom and may not be that easy to sell even at that price - people with that sort of money to spend will still be looking at vintage Selmers. The Ref 54 can be good horns though as in all horns they vary one to the next so you need to try several, something that might not be easy to do in most shops. The chap who bought mine paid for it to be rebuilt from scratch, something which apparently involved cleaning up all the joints in the body, and this improved the slight stuffiness at the top end. I'd bought a new one by mail order so this shows they don't always come out of the factory perfectly set up. The vintage finish isn't that robust and to my eye started to look a bit tired quite soon. I suspect that in the long term a traditional lacquer finish will be more attractive if you want to sell it on. One of my current pupils has a gorgeous Ref 36 which sounds great and I think looks much better than the Ref 54 too. I'd advise buying second hand though and try a number of horns before you commit to buy.
... or a half way option is to buy a lightly used-ex demo horn: you know where it's from, you usually get a warranty and it saves you hundreds.
In my opinion, if you're lucky enough to have that dough at hand and want to treat yourself do it, however spend it knowing that you will not get anywhere what you paid for it if you decided to sell it, even in 10 years time...
I have heard very good reviews on the new "Jubilee" Selmer series II and III, so even more Selmers to chose from! You lucky so 'n' so! Now go see what works best with your Link.
A couple of people have drawn analogies - cars, etc. Allow me to compare the situation with cameras. Almost any camera on the market today will give you decent pictures. And if all you want is to post them on Facebook, then you would be crazy to buy a top of the line pro Nikon or Canon. Unless you just want "jewellery" i.e.expensive things hanging round your neck.

But if you want all sorts of flexibility, performance over years in any conditions and to make enormous prints for exhibition, then a top pro model is the way to go.

I suggest the same is largely true in saxes: almost any sax you buy - except perhaps the really cheap ebay stuff - will play adequately. But if you're a pro, then you want the best. if you're a collector, you want the MkVI. If you simply want to show off, then you buy whatever you believe will be most envied by your peers. The difference between the last two and the pro's requirements is really image - or marketing.

My own position - I bought my Selmer Series 80 20 years ago when on business in Paris because I had lusted after a Selmer since I was 15 - 52 years ago now! Can I justify that behaviour and level of spending on any rational basis? - no. And I absolutely love it. I'm sure people will tell me that I could have spent my money more wisely on a Yani or whatever - but, guess what, I don't care - I'm happy.

So buy what feels right - within your budget - but recognise that the only person ultimately you have to please is you.
My choice would be,
Yamaha 82Z
Borgani Jubilee
Selmer Serie 111
Keilwerth SX90R
Selmer 36

Had all above apart from the selmer 36.Blew a few and there very nice but like the serie III more.
With that cash you can pick alot of great horns.Its what you like the most now.

Similar threads... or are they? Maybe not but they could be worth reading anyway 😀

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