Sax on the Web - Forum Archive / SML (Strasser-Marigaux) / Players, models, experiences - part 4

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Harri Rautiainen
Aug 5th 4:47 PM
Part 3 is getting up to the max. number of messages.

Follow-up here, please.
Alex Aug 7th 2:48 AM
Regarding the Walt Johnson flight case, I ordered one custom made for my tenor. The cost is only $10 US more than the cost of the stock case. It fits the horn like a dream and the balance is excellent. Couldn't ask for better protection for your baby!
Fred Cicetti
User ID: 9941493
Aug 12th 3:21 PM
More good news for me. If I were someone else on this list, I'd be really pissed at me.

I found the Unicorn--an SML Paris soprano. It's breathtakingly beautiful and the sound is otherworldly.

I'm not here just to crow. I thought everyone would be interested in this.

I bought the horn from Rico Mussi, a contributor to this group. He lives in Switzerland and owns an SML tenor and alto--both the oldest horns in my records.

Mussi--he calls himself "Rick"--was going to Paris a while ago. He said he wanted to visit the SML offices, despite my warnings that he'd get nowhere with the people there.

Well, Rick is from Switzerland and speaks French. Nicole Petitpierre, the SML office manager, is Swiss and speaks French. So, Rick gets in to see Jean-Pierre Plante, the CEO of SML. How 'bout that!!

On Plante's desk is an old beat-up soprano, one of the last saxes made by SML. Rick mentions that he owns an SML soprano. After leaving the office, Rick and Nicole begin talking about sopranos. Nicole mentions that I'm looking for one. So, Rick writes me an e-mail. He tells me that he is willing to sell to me, because he realizes that he's not that crazy about the soprano sound.

The whole deal was completed within a couple of days. I've been playing it for a few days now. It's a silver-plate. Very light with fluid, tight mechanics. It blows so easily, especially the low notes. Hitting a low Bb isn't radically different from a low C or D. Amazing.

Two downsides. It goes up only to Eb. Only two palm keys and two side keys. And, it doesn't have an alternate F# key. I can live with all of that just to hear that SML purity coming out the end.

The sax doesn't have a serial number. Rick was told by Plante that, many times, horns were made especially for certain artists. They were given the horns right off the workbench and numbers were never stamped on them.

This gets more interesting. When I get the horn, I look at the SML logo and it's different. The SML letters are the same. So is the address. But, above and below the logo are two Stars of David.

I called Jack Loeb in New York. He was the chief SML importer in the 60s and 70s. He told me that none of the partners was Jewish. So why the stars?

Turns out Rick's old tenor and alto have the stars, too. All three horns, I believe, are pre-war. The stars seem to have disappeared either during or after the war. Makes sense; the Nazis occupied Paris.

Anybody have any more info on this? Post responses here, but please e-mail me directly, too.



User ID: 9760743
Aug 12th 7:46 PM
When you get more of these perhaps you will share the wealth. Just kidding. Thats an incredible story. I thought you said the soprano was all beat up. Did you get it overhauled? How bad was it.
I know there has been discussion on this before but what MP would you recomend for an alto. I tried a selmer C** and that seems to work fine. I think thats too easy. I play mostly in an orchestra and some jazz. I am using an sr tech for jazz.
Any suggestions
any sugestions for ligatures
Alex Aug 12th 8:13 PM
Fred, this is simply incredible! Thank you for sharing your experiences so we can all experience them vicariously. Congratulations on your new acquisition. Will a bari be next?
User ID: 0624334
Aug 12th 9:48 PM
Fred - Who ever said "no good deed ever goes unpunished"? Congats! As I've said before, you deserve it 'cuz you the man who started it all. Your article remains the definitive work on SML and we Lunatics love it. How are the tenor and alto coming along now that you've lived with them for a while? Are you tired of them yet??
User ID: 9635043
Aug 15th 6:01 AM
Oh dear. When I bought my SML tenor (accidentally, 'cos actually I was looking for a cheap Yamaha) I' d never have thought to get involved in transatlantic deals or to appear in amazing sax-stories in the internet. It was an exciting and very pleasant experience to communicate and deal with Fred.

Reading the first reactions to Freds last post the idea arises in me to let more of you take part of Freds enthusiasm.
Mr. Planté told me that SML sold many saxes to Switzerland. I guess that still many of the horns are out there somwhere, they just wait to be found, overhauled and played. The proof is, that after buying my tenor I looked for an alto - and I found a beautiful one within a couple of weeks. Then I looked for a soprano - and I found one (the one Fred owns now) in another couples of weeks.

If someone of you tells me to go and look for SML's, I'd go for it.
Post it here or mail to ""

User ID: 0575574
Aug 17th 9:46 AM
By the way, what does the "L" in SML stand for?
User ID: 0645514
Aug 17th 1:53 PM
<< what MP would you recomend for an alto. I tried a selmer C** >>
I used a rubber selmer 'E' for quite a while. It worked well, but then I got an old metal Berg 85/2 (it's the "/2" that is important here) and this was a big improvement. This was one of the Bergs with the 'V' shape cut in the baffle instead of the square cut. I also tried the square kind of Berg and it was excellent.
These darker mouthpieces seem to suit the SMLs well - - put on a bright mpc and you'll be deafened.
Harri R.
User ID: 9614573
Aug 18th 3:00 AM

from Fred's article:
SML was founded in 1934 by three partners:
Strasser, Marigaux & Lemaire.
After Lemaire's death company became known as "Strasser-Marigaux". However, the acronym SML stayed.
User ID: 9614573
Aug 19th 6:55 PM
I just purchased a gold plated SML sax. I can now testify first hand that the excitement about these instruments is for real.The tone on this sax is like no other. I compared it to a Selmer balanced action and 2 Mark 6's all were recently overhauled by the same person in the same shop. The SML stood out in tone and volume. The amazing thing was I felt as though I had so much air. The finish on the SML in either lacquer or gold plate is far superior to the selmers. The engraving is unique and beautiful. One quick look at a SML and you know its a pro horn. This is not the gold medal model but it seems to have all the features of the gold medal. I tried a number of MP's and liked a vintage solist and a vintage Brillhart. The short solist seemed to outperform the long. I didn't make up my mind on which MP because the short was quite a bit more. It would seem a short MP should be less than a long one.
Anyway the horn is great and I wouldn't have tried it if it wasn't for this group. By the way it was 1000's less than the Mark 6's one of which was an 80000 number.
User ID: 1320554
Aug 20th 10:38 AM
Hi! I just purchased a mysterious horn that has turned out to be made by the Marigaux Co. of France! I was directed by Paul Coats to this great discussion group. An UNUSUAL alto is what I've come first I thought it might be some knock-off brand. On the bell is printed "SANTY RUNYON", "made in France". Has gold lacquer, silver keys. SN# 25xx . NO other company name. Anywhere. Case: also blank, though I believe it may be the original (fake alligator skin look, beat-up)
It played very freely, although it had leaks, had great action, (and sounded like a typewriter clicking, ha!)and had unusual key placement compared to my Selmer SA80(series I)The spatula keys were radicaly different, and the octave key (thumb key above rather than to the side of thumb rest)I was directed to Paul throught the newsgroup, and he found out from Mr. Runyon himself that this was indeed an SML saxophone!
The top of the body and brace under the neck are exactly like the picture. But...the big B and Bb keys on the bell are on the opposite side of the bell! I've never seen anything like it.
I'd love to know if anyone else has one like this or knew that it existed, LOL. I thought you'd be interested in hearing about it. I am about to have it padded, etc. and will take the advice I've found on here. I have no idea yet what MP and reeds I'll use on it. It seems bright with a Selmer C* and Vandoren reeds..I would think it needs a different setup than my other horn.
I'd love to see any comments on this unique thing! I can't wait to get it redone, to decide if I will really keep it or keep searching for a Mark VI...hhmm...
Harri Rautiainen
Aug 20th 10:59 AM
Yes Greta,
Paul Coats spoke with Santy Runyon. He informed that "Santy Runyon" saxes were made for him by Mariguax in France, and were a top line saxes.

There will be saxophone stories and anecdotes by old hands like Paul, Santy et. al. in coming months on "Sax on the Web" site.
I just realized that many visitors come directly to this Discussion Forum. I will announce here when the Feature series will commence on the "main" site.
User ID: 9161143
Aug 22nd 11:54 AM
Harri and Greta: Glad to be of service putting you guys together on this. How does the serial number of Greta new Santy Runyon/Marigaux fit in with other SML's?

Gretas comments on mpce/bright tone seems to fit in with Morgan's comments above, of Aug 17.

I, too, want to know how Greta's sax plays and sounds after necessary repair work is done.
Bill Kohler
User ID: 0561484
Aug 22nd 2:59 PM
I see that ebay has a very nice SML Gold Plated Alto Saxophone. Item #150644010.

Take care,


User ID: 9161143
Aug 22nd 4:18 PM
Bill K: "very nice"? Heck, it is georgeous! This one should have all you guys drooling. I have never played SML, and I would love to have one like that. I am sure the price will go out of sight toward the end.
User ID: 9161143
Aug 22nd 7:48 PM
Regarding the Marigaux manufactured Santy Runyon saxophone... further conversation with Santy reveals these were made for him and sold in the late 50's--early 60's. There were only 150 made. No other records or serial numbers are available. These records, and much of his memorabilia were lost in a fire years ago.
Santy further stated that he had SML make some changes to the neck in order to give a more modern, projecting. It must be remembered that Santy's background was as a theater player, and "if the guy in the back last row of the balcony can't hear you, you aren't doing your job". He also commented these were very good saxes.
User ID: 9182423
Aug 23rd 6:51 AM
Bill Kohler
Thanks for letting us know about the Gold Plate SML. It really was Incredible!!!!!

I agree with all you said. One look at that baby and you just know it plays
User ID: 1592424
Aug 23rd 7:32 AM
Hi there all. I have just joined the Family of SML Horn players. In fact the Gold Plated Alto you're talking about was offered to me by the same guy. He gave me a choice between this Gold Plated alto or a Lacquered Gold Medal Model. I chose to go with the Gold medal Model. He said that he bought Three for his daughter who made All-State. His daughter wanted one with a sterling silver neck and I gues that's the one she chose to go with. I don't know about the gold plated Horn, but the Gold Medal has more than 95% original Lacquer intact. Furthermore the guy is a fantatic person to deal with. He even coughed up the Balance for my shipping.
User ID: 9182423
Aug 23rd 12:55 PM
We haven't heard much about your soprano. Does it play like a selmer. How's the action and tone. Should I trade my Mark 6 or Yani for one
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