Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
7,126 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi Guys. I'm trying to figure out the differences between the Ref 54 alto and the Serie iii and not finding the answers. Besides cosmetic differences, what are the major differences? Is the body tube actually the same? Tone-hole placement?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,592 Posts
Every Selmer alto and tenor body tube has the same taper because they are based off of Adolphe Sax's body tube. However, the tone hole placement and sizes are different between the series.

As for these two saxes, you'll find a lot fo differences in the bell, bow, and neck tapers, as well as key placement and tone hole sizes.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
14,268 Posts
Did you visit the Conn-Selmer web-page or the Henri Selmer web-page? I found some interesting info there.

When I was looking at new Ref 54 altos years ago (locally and at Kesslers' in Las Vegas) I played several new Ref 54's and one Serie III alto before I bought a Ref 54 from Kessler. I recall that the Serie III had a "resonance key" that was not present on the Serie II and the Ref 54.

Just now, in preparation to write this post, I checked the Henri Selmer web page and found that the Serie III is listed with or without a "resonance" key, depending on which Serie III one chooses. The text wasn't too detailed but I gathered that the resonance key is associated with C# tuning. That same feature is not listed with the Seri II line.

One thing that I recall from shopping these instruments was that the Serie III alto I played at Kessler's was exceptionally bright, to the point of distraction - at least for me. I was told then that brightness was common to the Serie III.

FWIW, all of the Ref 54's I tested, both at Kesslers and locally, and even those that I played after I had bought mine, had the same lush tonal core, a result I have not experienced when testing other brands. Typically, I can hear subtle differences among similar models in other brands - not the Ref 54 . . . they were all the same.

I don't know what design characteristics would cause the Serie III to be so bright as opposed to the Ref 54 being so lush, but that was my experience with them. DAVE
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,241 Posts
Just now, in preparation to write this post, I checked the Henri Selmer web page and found that the Serie III is listed with or without a "resonance" key, depending on which Serie III one chooses. The text wasn't too detailed but I gathered that the resonance key is associated with C# tuning. That same feature is not listed with the Seri II line.
There's a little confusion here between two different Series III features. All Series III altos, without exception, have a special C# "resonance key" that improves the intonation of C#2. This key works automatically; there's nothing extra for the player to press. A few Series III altos also have an extra "harmonic key" that is supposed to improve the intonation of the high notes right above the staff. The harmonic key, which is an option that apparently few buyers choose, is actually a third octave key that opens a vent between the existing body octave vent and neck octave vent.

Regarding brightness -- See my comparison thread for some discussion: https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...es-II-vs-Series-III-Long-term-alto-comparison. The Series III is basically an ultra-responsive classical horn that sounds best with a dark, classical mouthpiece. With a more jazz- or pop-oriented mouthpiece, it can come across as overly bright. The Ref. 54 is designed to produce a vintage jazz sound with a jazz mp.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
32,936 Posts
There's a little confusion here between two different Series III features. All Series III altos, without exception, have a special C# "resonance key" that improves the intonation of C#2. This key works automatically; there's nothing extra for the player to press. A few Series III altos also have an extra "harmonic key" that is supposed to improve the intonation of the high notes right above the staff. The harmonic key, which is an option that apparently few buyers choose, is actually a third octave key that opens a vent between the existing body octave vent and neck octave vent.

Regarding brightness -- See my comparison thread for some discussion: https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...es-II-vs-Series-III-Long-term-alto-comparison. The Series III is basically an ultra-responsive classical horn that sounds best with a dark, classical mouthpiece. With a more jazz- or pop-oriented mouthpiece, it can come across as overly bright. The Ref. 54 is designed to produce a vintage jazz sound with a jazz mp.
Is that difference in brightness due to the body or the neck?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,241 Posts
Is that difference in brightness due to the body or the neck?
I do not know. Perhaps both. However, my sax section friend has a Ref. 54, and I have a Series III, so perhaps I'll suggest that we swap necks briefly as a test. Assuming they fit, we could learn something.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
7,126 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Your results would be very interesting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,325 Posts
I do not know. Perhaps both. However, my sax section friend has a Ref. 54, and I have a Series III, so perhaps I'll suggest that we swap necks briefly as a test. Assuming they fit, we could learn something.
I have experimented with various necks on both the S3 and the Ref54.
I had:
2 first issue of Ref 54 necks (functionally identical)
A standard S3 neck
A second issue Ref 54 neck
A 'gold-brass' S3 neck.

My observations were:
The tenons required no alteration.
The 1st issue Ref54 neck made the S3 gurgle at the bottom, even worse than the Ref54 did, but made the octaves narrower and thus stabilised the middle G#.
The 2nd issue Ref54 neck, which made the Ref54's octaves wider and ameliorated the gurgle somewhat, did the same on the S3 as the 1st issue neck, but less pronounced (obvs.)
Both S3 necks disturbed the Ref54's octaves but pretty much cured the gurgle. The 'gold-brass' S3 neck's octaves were not as wide as the original S3 neck.
The S3 necks both broadened the sound of both horns, whereas the Ref54 necks tightened the sound of both.

There was a great deal of variance in other S3 necks I have measured, both in the aperture at the cork end and the general angle of the necks.

Having measured them, the S3 neck is generally a wider bore at the cork end than the Ref54, but I have heard anecdotal reports that all Selmer alto necks are based on the same tube. How much the bore differs otherwise...........
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
7,126 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I got an email message saying that it’s actually the series 2 that has the same or very similar body tube.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top