|Yamaha Custom EX Tenor|
For those of you who are feeling out of the loop Selmer's SBA (Super Balanced Action) is their model that came after the 1936 Balanced Action and before the 1954 Mark VI. Both the Mark VI and SBA are two of the most coveted saxophone models of all time. For those of you who are in the loop, here is a lesser know fact for you. The SBAs were actually labeled Super Action and not Super Balanced Action by Selmer. Despite the 'Balanced' of the previous model being formally changed to 'Super' as the new line launched, Super Balanced Action is the name most of the sax community uses today.
Before I get started I should mention that I originally played the Custom EX with its Custom G3 neck, which was good, but the EX played even better with the Custom G1 neck I borrowed from the nearby Custom Z. I believe you can get the best results out of the EX with the Custom G1 neck, and I'll go into the details on the necks later.
The Custom EX's tone is similar to an SBA. The tone is big and a little spread. There are plenty of deep overtones present in the tone also similar to the SBA. I believe the SBA has a little more core or meat to the tone than the EX, but there is a marked similarity between the two.
The Reference 36 tone reminds me more of a Mark VI than an SBA or the earlier Balanced Action. It has a big focused tone and sounds less spread than an SBA. The Reference 36 tone has plenty of core or meat to it. Its tone reminds me a lot of Yamaha's Custom Z which I reviewed last week.
Response and Feel
|Selmer Reference 36 Tenor|
A quick note on the Yamaha necks - The main reason I prefered the Custom G1 neck over the Custom G3 neck is because it provided a nice balance between a free blowing feel and quick response while moving up and down the horn. The G3 neck didn't respond quite as quickly. The
G1 neck also provided a little more core to the sound.
Selmer's Reference 36 seems to take the more modern approach. It feels less free blowing than an SBA, your average Mark VI and the Custom EX. This results in a quick and easy response while moving from note to note, again similar to the Custom Z I reviewed last week. Though it comes closer than many modern horns it doesn't really recreate the feel of blowing through a vintage horn like a Mark VI, SBA or Balanced Action.
Conclusion: In my opinion, Yamaha's Custom EX comes closer than Selmer's Reference 36 to feeling and sounding like the SBA or Balanced Action tenors of yesteryear. Saxes vary even within models, so take this conclusion with a grain of salt and try them for yourself!