Sax on the Web - Forum Archive / SML (Strasser-Marigaux) / Players, models, experiences - part 2

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Harri Rautiainen
Mar 11th 12:09 AM
Follow-up here.
Harri Rautiainen
User ID: 0478154
Mar 11th 6:56 AM
I am cross-posting this from "Reeds and mouthpieces - Ponzol mpc", because this is to do with my SML tenor:

"Thank you all for good advice. The mpc quest is over, at least for now:

Checked out a few American mail-order music stores. To my big surprise, the list prices for Ponzol mouthpieces are very much at the same level (after deducting 22 per cent value added tax from Finnish prices. That is a killer tax.) But list prices are list prices. Obviously these stores advertise lower prices. However, importing items at these price level, I may end up paying customs and tax in Finland anyway. I had to weigh potential lower price against possibility of testing and comparing several mouthpieces and getting expert advice Thank you Timo Järvinen from Millbrook Music Store in Helsinki.

Anyway, I went back to Millbrook store, and compared two used Ponzol's M1 and M2 and two new ones: M1 and II-V-I. Some had .100, some .105 tip openings.
First I liked M1 very much. It has a medium baffle, easy to blow and nice subtones on lower tunes. M2 I excluded quite fast. I just did not like the thinner sound.

Then it was M1 against II-V-I. The difference was really on my SML tenor's medium to higher register. II-V-I gave really crisp and loud sounds where M1's was thinner. (Now the obvious disclaimer; This is all ME playing with MY skills and embouchure. Then all these mouthpieces are individuals, too.)

So I left the with a brand new Ponzol II-V-I 100 mpc and a cash discount as a minor consolation. Now, cannot wait to getting to my practice place tonight. All-right!"
Joseph Jaeger
User ID: 1021194
Mar 11th 10:27 AM
Harri: great review. I'm going to try a few mouthpieces this week-end. I usually don't like to spend too much time in the "equipment game", but this passion for playing carries over into all aspects. I'm picking up my SML tenor tonight. I had it overhauled with new pads and resonators. But the most important was, my horn needed to have the play taken out of several of the post to rod connections, (swedged). I'm a little worried about the sound. I'm putting Selmer, super 80 dome resonators on it. I will tell you what it did tomorrow.
User ID: 0701364
Mar 11th 7:21 PM
I am going to have my SML repadded. It has flat metal resonators on it presently. I am afraid to change the style or size of the resonators.Let me know how yours sounds with the dome resonators.Has anyone had and experience with the black premium pads that I hear about? Also,What is top tone?
Joseph Jaeger
User ID: 1021194
Mar 12th 12:19 PM
Steve: I got my horn back. Be very careful as to the type of resonators that you put on. In my opinion they're right up there with the mouthpiece in importance. I didn't give it nearly enough consideration and I may have screwed up.

I bought my tenor with flat stainless steel, rivoted resonators. Pads were terrible and posts rattled like a typewriter. But it had a BIG FAT SOUND. And sound is everything to me. When I play, all I do is listen to the sound. Now when I got home, the sound had more projection, (louder) but was definitely brighter and THINNER. It was like adjusting your stereo with less base and more treble, or going to a mouthpiecs with a larger baffle. At first I was disapointed. I thought that I had lost the complexity and character that was the reason I originally bought this horn. In general, I would say that the Selmer Super 80 style domed metal resonators, (Ferree's B47) are going to increase the projection but also brighten the sound when compared to flat stainless steel, and probably flat plastic. These resonators may make sense with the modern horns, especially a Yamaha 62 or Selmer II which, in my opinion sound muted and more rounded, and (probably series III, I've never played a III) But my SML, and I think SML's in general don't need help in the projection of the sound, and they should not go for a lot of projection, (brighter) and sacrafice complexity.
One other aspect. Pad thickness is also important. Thinner pads (.160")are faster, meaning you can run up and down scaled with more definition between each note. Medium to thicker (.0185") pads are slower but leak less and tear less. I got the medium, standard thickness. I'm please with them. I don't have the ability, (yet) to utilize the thinner pads.
User ID: 9955583
Mar 12th 12:39 PM
Joseph,Thank you,Complexity is the word that I have been trying to think of to describe the SML sound.That is what is missing in the new selmers and yamahas.I have not tried any others. I will definatly stick with the flat resonators and medium thick pads.Thanks, Steve
omar Mar 17th 5:11 PM
I just bought a Buffet Super Dynaction tenor with serial # 87xx. Can anyone tell me around what year it was manufactured?
Steve Mar 17th 6:14 PM
Omar , your sax is a 1961 vintage. Did you buy it from a dealer in Utah?
dmfurman Mar 18th 8:02 PM
In case anyone is interested, the infamous ebay tenor arrived today and it is all it was represented to be plus. The horn was checked out by Bill Bowling, who does the horns for a number of professional musicians including the Tower of Power. After checking it out and playing it he said that this horn was as good if not better than any Selmer Mark VI he has ever seen or played. That is quite a compliment for the SML coming from somebody with his reputation. And to Steve, whomever and wherever you are, the price is looking better every day. By the way, I tried a number of different setups and this horn really sings with a Barone Hollywood mouthpiece, Vandoren Optimum lig and Rico Jazz Selects.
Barry Mar 18th 10:54 PM
Thanks so much for the follow up.... It's good to hear that the horn is as good in person as it was in cyberspace. Enjoy it and keep your reed wet.
Bon es Mar 21st 4:48 PM
dmfurman: Congratulations on your purchase. I was considering bidding myself until the bids got so high. Looks like you got a great sax though.

I've had a few SML experiences, although I've never owned one. I borrowed a great Gold Medal tenor in 1968 and I tried some new King Marigaux tenors and sopranos at Bronstein Music in South San Francisco in the late '70's or early '80's. My recollection of the Gold Metal was that it was a superior instrument to the King Marigaux. Can any of you SML fanatics comment on any observed differences between the '60's and the end of their sax production?

I been reading this Webpage over the last few days. I think the moderator is doing a great job and I think you posters are really showing your enthusiasm. It may be infectious! I would appreciate any comments comparing the Gold Medal to the King Marigaux, or other instruments. How do they rate? Also, one poster stated that his/her Couesnon was made by SML. Is that true?
Bon es Mar 21st 4:52 PM
Sorry for the type in the message I just posted.
Bill Mar 22nd 1:06 PM
Bon es - I've asked the same question over on the "Saxophone Makes" section, entitled:

King Marigaux vs SML

..but still no replies to date.

I heard from one SML fanatic that the 2 K-M's he tried were not very good. But K-M owners seem to like them.

More opinions appreciated!
Bones Mar 22nd 3:01 PM
Bill, Thanks for the reply. I had noticed your question on another thread, and also the lack of response. I'm a Selmer guy, but admittedly, I was a disenchanted Selmer guy for a while. I started playing in the 60's. Selmers ruled as far as I was concerned. I borrowed my teacher's Gold Medal tenor in 1968 when my tenor was in the shop. I think his tenor was several years old at the time. I thought it played very well. Then I dropped out of music for a few years. When I came back in the late 70's I became quite disenchanted about what had happened to Selmer. I still had my Mark VI alto, but went shopping for a replacement tenor, soprano, and eventually a bari. I didn't like any of the then current Selmer offerings. So, I started an exhaustive search of old and new saxes. I sought out and tried everything available. That's when I tried the King Marigaux's which were available at a few shops around the U.S. then. I thought they were okay, but not great. I remember that I liked the feel of the alto and soprano, but thought that the action of the tenor was loose or sloppy. The tones were okay, but not special. I remembered the Gold Medal as being a better horn. I found one old beat up Gold Medal tenor, but it was too far gone. I once played with a guy who got a great sound on his SML bari. Today I play Mark VI's and Series III's. And I'm waiting to try the Series III alto when it's available.

So come on you SML guys. Some of you have surely compared the models. What do you think? And what about the Couesnon posting? Were they made by SML?
Wim v.d.M. Mar 26th 5:44 AM
I have bought my King-Marigaux tenor about 3 years ago (secondhand, 600 US$). Until last week when I found the article of Cicetti and this site, I knew nothing about it. In fact I thought it was some phoney brand name, and I was thinking of selling it and buy some "real" sax. Whith my new knowledge, I decided to keep it and give it a proper overhaul, which it really needs (like somebody else said, it sounds like a typing machine). Thanks for all the information. My sax has serial # 264XX, so I suppose, from your information that it is from about 1980.
There was some discussion on rolled tone holes. I am not sure what these are, but if it means that the edges of the holes are thicker, my sax has not got them.
Does anybody know how the K-M relates to the other SML's. Is it a standard or some special type?
Thanks, and keep on writing!
Brian Mar 26th 6:55 PM
As for resonators my alto was overhauled by the previous owner. The job that was done on the horn was excellent but it now has slightly domed metal(yellow in color possibly brass) resonators. I like the sound but in the future if I have the pads replaced should I get the flat steel ones. If this means a darker sound then I am willing to fork over the money, even though I like the current sound of the horn
Dave A. Apr 8th 12:19 AM
Thanks for your site. It has helped me in deciding to purchase the SML Alto that was on EBAy a few months ago. The horn is in "excellent" shape. SER.#13741, orig.lacquer, engraving but no "Gold Medal" markings. It's a gold medal model because of the various improvements. Intonation and key mechanisim = Great. I play in So.Cal. and shared the horn with others players. They can't believe this horn sounds bigger and sweeter than their Mark VI's. The internet gave me the opportuninty to purchase a first rate horn without the hype of a Mark VI or Keilwerth.
Joseph Jaeger Apr 8th 10:37 AM
Dave A.: I'm glad you like your horn! As you play, tell us what set-up you finally arrive at. Also the type of resonators.
Joseph Jaeger Apr 9th 6:25 PM
Bill: regarding the differences between the King Marigaux and the SML, I believe that there was very little difference between the two. Because I own an early SML, I do not have a lot of sources to compare mine to the Kings. But there is a good set of pictures of a King Marigaux, s/n 20xxx at website: (then go to Sax Specials and scroll to tenors). Based on these pictures, the key work; pad guards; tone hole positions all seem to be identical to mine. The engraving is better, more detailed and fuller then mine.

In the late 50's, early 60's, when SML started their "Standard"/Gold Medal/Gold Medal two tone/, there must have been some variation. I believe that the standards do not have rolled tone holes. But, as far as I know, all of the King's do and they were probably all equalivant to the Gold Medal line.

P.S It looks like a nice horn on that webb site, I wonder how it plays? My guess is that it plays just as well as the regular SML's. Last, The horn is listed as vintage 1950's, but I believe that the horn was built more recently. The s/n 20xxx should put it in the late 60's. The latest serial numbers of that we have seen posted are in the s/n 26xxx range and were built in the late 70's with production stopping in 1982.
Bill Apr 9th 11:45 PM
The photos aren't very good, but it does not appear to have rolled tone holes. I haven't heard of any King Marigaux with rolled tone holes as of yet. Agreed, have to play it to know anything. BTW Joseph, is that the same LH pinky table design as your SML?
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