Sax on the Web - Forum Archive / SML (Strasser-Marigaux) / SML model ?

Dunk
User ID: 0979534
Nov 22nd 8:18 PM
Since reading into SML's via these pages I've been in search of one of these beasts. I live in Australia so I assumed they would be hard to come by.

I finally came accross a tenor last week which was a bit rough, needed some new pads and a bit of TLC.

I was amazed when upon playing it, it was so smooth, rich and beautiful. At $ 475 aus I didn't even blink. I don't believe the shop had any idea what they had on their hands and because it looked so bad they just assumed it was a crap sax.

I'm now looking for some help. I can't work out what model it is. The serial number is in the 14,000's which indicates a horn made in approximately 1957 (thanks PJT for the insite) it doesn't have Standard or Gold Medal on the bell. It appears to have the '22 features', rolled tone holes a very thin gold laquer and nickle/silver coloured (plated ?) rods. I've looked at some of the pictures at saxpics(cool site)and it looks like one of the Gold Medal altos, but a much duller finish.

Is there anyway to assertain the differences between the models. ie: did the Standards have the 22 features or rolled tone holes, what was the colour of the rods, keywork, etc ? Any clues.

It would be nice to have an idea where it falls in the SML family. Regardless whether or not I find out I feel I'm one of the lucky ones to come accross such a remarkable instrument.

Thanks for putting this site together.
Dunk
saxpics
User ID: 0456964
Nov 23rd 7:46 PM
Distilling some of the info on the other threads: by s/n 16xxx the SML horns did have the "Gold Medal" or "Standard" names engraved. Before that, the horns seem to have included all the "22 features" found in the "Gold Medal" models, but didn't have the engraving. Some of the MUCH earlier horns didn't have the "22 features," as evidenced by the distinctly different design of the "Radiotone" model (4,xxx) featured at my site.

Some of the SML models didn't have serial numbers at all, so I can't help you much on a start. Fred Cicetti's beautiful silver soprano is about the earliest horn out there.

As afore mentioned, just because the horn doen't have "Gold Medal" stamped in the bell doesn't mean it's any less of a pro horn.

As to "colour" (God bless you Aussies!), I'd need to know if the horn you have is lacquer, silver, nickle or gold plate. SML also did have a model with a lacquer body and silver keys. I've not seen an SML with a silver body and gold keys (a la some of the American horns like Buescher & Conn). Remember: I don't mean a horn with the lacquer/plating worn off the keys.

Most of the SML horns on my site don't have serial numbers (listed), but your horn will look similar to one of the 16 that I have listed. I've found two or three more that I'll post soon.

I'm going to try to distill some more of this discussion board, see if I can't put together some kind of chart and I will post it as soon as I am able ... like when I take a break from studying for MCP exam #5. (Well, I do have that long Thanksgiving weekend ...)

TTFN
PJT
Vintage Saxophone Gallery - The SML Page
http://members.spree.com/thearts/saxpics/sml.htm
(Over 75mb of pics of all sorts of vintage horns. Check 'em out.)
Antonio
User ID: 1390494
Nov 23rd 8:39 PM
Dunk

Where you live in Australia, maybe I can take a plane and research this good market you have


Congratulations.
saxpics
User ID: 9739563
Nov 24th 4:53 PM
OK, folks. Here's what I've found out:

The SML saxophones were produced starting about 1937. These original horns had bell keys on the left hand side of the horn (as you're playing). These horns also had "rattrap" style keyguards, a la the Buescher "True Tone" horns/Selmer Modele 22. These horns also had one or more "Star of David" engraved on the horn. They also featured the full names of Strasser, Marigaux and Lemaire. This engraving disappeared in the 1940's (probably due to German occupation of France in WWII). Check out a pic of this engraving on a somewhat older horn:
http://members.spree.com/thearts/saxpics/images/SML/Alto_4xxx/b.jpg
As far as I can tell, these horns had straight tone holes.


Rev. B of the SML horns came around S/N 35xx, when the bell keys were switched to the right side of the horn. Other features appeared to be the same and there is at least one confirmed specific model name from this era: the Radiotone (see above link), although most other folks say that their horns had any model name whatsoever. These horns still featured the same engraving and other features of the "rev. A" horns. It's distinctly possible that there were modifications to bore size, etc. Engraving was considerably more elaborate.

Rev. C horns appeared around S/N 6xxx. These horns started to be in the shape and design that everyone knows and loves: these horns started featuring the "22 Features" or at least many of them, so much so that most of the posts I've seen on this site say that these horns play as well as the newer SML's. The design was radically different from earlier horns and looked more like a Buffet than a Buescher. Also, it appears that SML started putting matching serial numbers on these horns' necks. Take a peek at:
http://members.spree.com/thearts/saxpics/images/SML/Tenor_Lacquer_II/full-in-case.jpg (this horn's s/n is 8164)

Rev. D is more-or-less a cosmetic change at around s/n 95xx-9800. The name "Lemaire" was dropped from the horns and the serial number was dropped from the neck.

Rev. E appeared at about s/n 15xxx, when SML introduced the Standard, Gold Medal and Gold Medal 2 Tone models (I am unsure if the latter is really a model name or not. This group and Fred Cicetti consider the this to be the Gold Medal horn that's lacquer with silver keywork and rods).
I have multiple pictures on my 'site, listed below. I'm also reorganizing it soon.

Final notes:
- SML ceased producing saxophones around 1982
- There are several horns that were stenciled by SML for other companies: the King Marigaux and Lemaire (the Lemaire is a student horn), some of the Woodwind Company horns, some Reynolds saxophones and about 150 horns under the name of Santy Runyon.
- Models were available in lacquer, gold (burnished and satin), silver, nickel and lacquer w/silver keys. There seems to have been an option to get a solid-silver neck for some of the horns before the Gold Medal series.
- King Marigaux horns were definitely available with both straight and rolled tone holes, with both yellow and honeyed lacquer.
- There's a popular rumor that SML bought their baris from Buffet. This info is false.
- As far as I know, SML never produced C saxophones or curved sopranos. 1937 was mostly outside the saxophone craze of the 1920's.
- As far as I know, SML never produced sopranino, bass or contrabass horns. If they did, I want pics!

I'm going to edit this article slightly and post it on my 'site. If any of y'all spot any errors or wish to make a clarification, please send me an e-mail at saxpics@hotmail.com.

Thank you very much.
PJT

Vintage Saxophone Gallery - The SML Page
http://members.spree.com/thearts/saxpics/sml.htm
Dunk
User ID: 0979534
Nov 24th 6:18 PM
Re: PJT

Thanks much mate for all the info. It seems like quite a labour of love to try and figure out the history and blood line (if you like) of the SML's.

It appears us saxophone players are quite fanatical in their love of the instrument and their history.

Note: Someone suggested I do a quick magnet test of the metals and it appears that the magnet took to only two rods, a couple of keys ( which are both silver in finish and the inside of the bell which is a yellow gold but not the outside also yellow gold(very strange)

What metals might they have used. Whatever it was it's quite heavy and does the magnet test actually tell anything of interest. I'm not technically minded. I'm assuming silver would react to a magnet but would nickel or brass.

Does any of this help PJT in trying to figure out whether this is a standard or pro model. Not that it's all that important because the bugger kicks ass. It would be nice to think I'm running around with a pro horn for peanuts while most of my mates paid thousands, suckers.

Also any suggestions for cleaning this 'very yellow gold'

I need to send it off to the 'saxophone kennels' for a while, once I get it back I'll send you off some photos.

PS: Hey, Antonio you stay away, none of this trying to steal our big finds. But please feel free to visit the Olympic City anytime, we love showing off our country.

Take Care & G'day
saxpics
User ID: 9739563
Dec 20th 5:01 PM
Ok, Willem. I told you I'd post a long missive. Sorry that I thought you had taken temporary leave of your faculties.

Here's the latest, hot off the presses, SML model list. Remember: "Rev A," etc. is not a real model name. I just use it for the sake of convenience, as SML didn't bother with model names on most horns.

Rev A:
SML saxophones starting producing saxophones around 1934. These original horns had bell keys on the left hand side of the horn (as you're playing), had "rat trap" style keyguards (a la the Buescher "True Tone" horns/Selmer Modele 22) and had one or more "Star of David" patterns engraved on the bell (this engraving disappeared in the 1940's, probably due to German occupation of France in WWII) in addition to the full names of "Strasser, Marigaux and Lemaire." As far as I can tell, all SML horns of this era had straight tone holes. There is one semi-confirmed model name from this era, "AW2" (although most horns had no model name).

Rev B:
The next revision of the SML horns came around S/N 35xx, when the bell keys were switched to the right side of the horn (as you're playing). Other features appeared to be the same as Rev A horns, except that SML did introduce a few models that featured rolled tone holes and it's distinctly possible that there were modifications to bore size, etc. Engraving was considerably more elaborate. There is one confirmed model name from this era, "Radiotone" (although most horns had no model name).

Rev C:
These horns appeared around S/N 6xxx. These horns started to be in the shape and design that everyone knows and loves. These horns also had most or all of the "22 Features" listed for the SML horns (see Fred Cicetti's article at http://www.geocities.com/harrir/sml/thestory.html), so much so that most of the posts I've seen say that these horns play as well as or better than the newer SML's. The design was radically different from earlier horns and looked more like a Buffet than a Buescher. Finally, it appears that SML started putting matching serial numbers on these horns' necks and only manufactured the horns with rolled tone holes (please e-mail me if you find a horn without them).

Rev D:
These horns appeared around s/n 95xx-9800. The name "Lemaire" was dropped from the horns and the serial number was dropped from the neck, although on many horns between these serial numbers Lemaire's name kept popping up. By appx. s/n 9800 his name was gone forever. Serial numbers on the neck eventually fizzled out by the early 10xxx's.
This model continued until the Standard/Gold Medal/2 Tone models at s/n 15xxx. Straight tone holes were again offered on some models. I consider these rev D horns to be the most beautiful of all the SML horns. You be the judge: take a look at the gold-plated horns on my site.

Rev E
These horns appeared at about s/n 15xxx, when SML introduced the Standard, Gold Medal and Gold Medal 2 Tone models (I am unsure if the latter is really a model name or not. The SML discussion group and Fred Cicetti consider this to be a Gold Medal horn that's lacquer with silver keywork and rods. The horns that are plated like this do not have any engraving that says "2 Tone"). All these horns were considered to be pro models, but the Standard horns did not have rolled tone holes and is not considered to be as good as the other models -- but if you don't like rolled tone holes, this'd be the horn you'd want. Based on the start date of these horns, one can assume that they were introduced to compete directly with the Selmer Mark VI, which was introduced around the same time (1956).

Rev F
At approximately s/n 20xxx, the Standard and the "2 Tone" models disappeared, leaving us with only the Gold Medal horns. These horns were offered with straight tone holes (possibly ONLY with straight tone holes, as far as my sources and I can tell) and had considerably less elaborate engraving. These horns continued to be produced until 1982 or so, and were discontinued around serial number 26xxx or 27xxx.

My opinion: s/n 20xxx was produced around 1967 or so. This is near the end of the manufacturing run of the most popular Selmer Mark VI's. I think SML discontinued all other models to be a little more profitable and cost effective -- and if it's true that SML only used straight tone holes at this time, that would support this theory (they're harder to fabricate). However, I think that there still would be SML horns around today if they reintroduced their rolled-tone-hole horns in 1974, when Selmer introduced the Mark VII.



Rumor Control:
h There's a popular rumor that SML bought their bari's from Buffet. This info is false and is based on a comment from a couple of folks that don't play Buffet horns. I do. The SML is a completely different animal.
h It has been suggested that Couesnon either produced SML horns or stenciled a model from SML. The stencil is possible, but not probable. They did not produce the SML horns. Couesnon is a very respected brass manufacturer and was formerly a producer of extremely high quality saxophones that look radically different than SML horns.
h FE Olds did not stencil or import saxophones from SML. Their horns are extremely different and are of relatively low quality. Their Ambassador tenors do bear a passing resemblance to the SMLs. This is not repeated in their other horns.
h Conn did not produce or stencil the SML horns. SML "borrowed" several features from a lot of horns. The two most obvious features that SML "borrowed" from Conn are rolled tone holes and the LH table keys (from the Connqueror models).

I have examples of all these horns on my site. It's interesting, however, that no one's suggested that Dolnet produced the SML horns. They look the most like SML's. (Sorry to kill your idea, Brenton :)



Finally, this information is being updated as quickly as possible from submissions from people who actually own these horns or have heard some interesting stuff through the grapevine. You send it to me, and I'll check it and post it. The most recent update will be on my website K except for this post.

OH. If you want me to post pictures of your horn, send me an e-mail and I'll do it. (I may have to make arrangements with you if the files are over 1.5 mb, total.) I've currently got well over 25 examples on my site and I have a few more I haven't had time to post yet K

Thank you all and my apologies again to Willem.

PJT
Vintage Saxophone Gallery
The SML Page: http://members.spree.com/thearts/saxpics/sml.htm