Sax on the Web Forum / SML (Strasser-Marigaux) / Is a Malerne an SML?

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Fred Cicetti
User ID: 0373644
Apr 23rd 10:34 AM
There was a short string about curved sopranos that ended a month ago with a question to me from Rick M, so I thought I'd start a new one about the same topic.

I bought a Malerne curved soprano on Ebay. I used the "Buy It Now" the second I saw it. It went for $800, which included a total overhaul. This horn is in excellent shape and plays wonderfully.

After I played it for a while, I sold my Conn curved soprano, which had a great sound but couldn't compare to the Malerne. Honest.

Let me backtrack. Curved sopranos are an American thing. They started around 1920 and had a great run until about 1940. Almost all the horns were made by Conn, Buescher, Martin and King. Yanagisawa revived the curved sops in 1979, and now there are several companies making them.

I prefer a curved soprano. I can't live with the oboe sound of straight sops. That's why I sold two straight SML sopranos that were gorgeous machines. SML, as far as I can tell, never made a curved soprano. If they did, I would go to the ends of the earth to get it.

The Malerne I got is the closest thing you're going to find to an SML curved soprano. It has a powerful sound and great ergonomics--far better than the old Conns and Bueschers. I think mine was made around 1950, but I can't be sure...yet.

Robert Malerne was part of the whole incestuous family in La Couture, outside Paris. This is the place where all the great French woodwind makers get their horns made. The trades are handed down from generation to generation.

When you by an SML or a Selmer or Buffet, you're getting the results of the same craftsmanship. Just different labels. It reminds me of Japanese cars. I mean, what's the real difference between a Toyota, Nissan, Subaru? They all look alike and drive alike to me. So, I'm not an SML snob. Give me a Buffet sax and I know it will play beautifully. Give me a Selmer clarinet and I'll expect the same results that I get with a Buffet R13.

Malerne was bought out by SML in 1975. The fact is that Malerne's factory became SML's after the takeover. SML and Malerne were located only a block or two apart in La Couture.

I have no idea how many of these curved sops Malerne made. However, another one came up on Ebay after I bought mine. I tried to get that one, too, but the seller and I couldn't agree on price.

I got a catalog for Malerne from the Shrine to Music Museum in South Dakota. From this catalog, I learned that, at one time--I'm not sure when--Malerne was marketing based on price. The quality-for-less pitch. Malerne appeared to be sort of a Noblet, which is also located in La Couture.

However, I can tell you that the Malerne horn I got is a pro horn in every way. An absolute pleasure to play. Big, rich tone. Powerful, yet subtle when you want it to be. And this is the best part--it plays in tune better than any soprano I've played. That includes about a dozen different makes.

So now I have what I view as a companion to my SML alto. If you like curved sopranos and can find a Malerne, get it. You won't be disappointed.

User ID: 8277173
Apr 26th 10:39 AM
Fred, I checked out the Curved Malerne Sop. on EBay.

My GUESS is that it was made by Buffet (Pre-Superdynaction, ie. before 1957).

SML and the Very Obscure, now defunct Beaugnier Sax Co. are strong contenders also.

Malerne may have assembled these in their Factory, but, I doubt it, They were mainly into Clarinets, Oboes and Bassoons.

Another company that was similar to Malerne was Martin Freres of Lamonte, France (also in LaCouture), they also made all the Clarinets and some Oboes.
I've seen a few Flutes & Saxes with Martin Freres name stamped on it as well pop up on Ebay. These were also probably stenciled for them by someone else.

Beaugnier is a very big Mystery, Nobody seems to know anything about this little company that only made Saxophones.
Rarely, if ever, do you see a Sax stamped "Beaugnier", its a fact they made the LeBlanc Saxes but thats all we know about them.

FWIW, Is there anybody out there that can shed a little more light about Beaugnier??

Anyway, Enjoy the Malerne, sounds like a Killer!!
Fred Cicetti
User ID: 0373644
Apr 26th 12:47 PM

What leads you to believe the Malerne was made by Buffet? Are there some characteristics in the horn than you recognize?

John T.
User ID: 8277173
Apr 27th 4:39 PM
The bell-to-elbow ring looks the same like the Ones used on the superDynaction Models,
also, the Bell-to-Body Support Bar Looks similar to the ones used on the very early 50's Buffet Dynaction/SA18-20 Models.

I'm passing judgement solely on looking at Pics, best thing to do is bring it to a Vintage Sax shop that has one or two Vintage Buffet Saxs(most probably altos or tenor) in stock to do a firsthand Comparison of features.
Manuel Garcin
User ID: 1271794
May 2nd 3:01 AM

I play a tenor by Beaugnier and as you say, Beaugnier is a "big mystery". I search since a long time some information about Beaugnier and find very, very few things. My tenor is SN 2k, silver plated with this label "E. Beaugnier Fabrication artistique Mantes près Paris".
Begining of Beaugnier is 1927, the Beaugnier factory have been buyed by Leblanc.

I am searching for info. about Beaugnier, if anyone have a Beaugnier Sax I will be pleased to be contacted by mail .

Manuel Garcin
User ID: 0784604
May 2nd 9:39 AM
alors, ça joue bien? aussi bien qu'un Conn? Couesnon? SML? ... Avec un son très fort? Intonation? Quelle sort de voix? Penetrante? Douce?
User ID: 1271794
May 2nd 10:33 AM

Ca joue bien. Pour ce qui est des comparaisons avec les Conn ou SML hélas je en n'ai pas pour pouvoir directement comparer !
Disons que le son est plutôt doux, bien timbré dans le style de son des années 40 avec un Otto link ébonite ouvert (8*). Je ne trouve pas que le son soit très gros mais s'est sans doute due au diamètre assez étroit du pavillon. L'ergonomie et la fluidité est bonne me semble t'il sauf pour les clés Ré, Mi Fa aïgues qui oblige à une certaine gymnastique (pas assez haute pour moi). J'ai essayé récemment le Modèle 54 de Selmer et je n'ai pas été fondamentalement dépaysé tant au niveau son (plus puissant sur le 54 que sur le Beaugnier mais une couleur comparable)qu'au niveau cléterie (sauf les clés mentionnées précédemment et pour le pavé des clés sol#/do#/sib etc. grave qui est plus haut sur le Beaugnier que sur le Selmer)

extraits d'information sur Beaugnier:

informations about Beaugnier:

"Leblanc owned the Beaugnier Saxophone Company of Mantes. They manufactured the complete family of saxes but their production was very, very small. Their factory was located across the street from the Selmer factory in Mantes. Mr. Beaugnier made wonderful instruments, but unfortunately their cost of production was so high that eventually Mr. Leblanc closed the plant. We still have all the tooling, but labor costs would be too high3

User ID: 0784604
May 2nd 11:35 AM
<< Pavillon >> ?? anglais = ?

<<clés Ré, Mi Fa aïgues >> c-a-d ceux qui se jouent avec la paume? Tres simple : achetez les "palm key risers" de Runyon.

Quand vous faites vacances en Texas, apportez le Beaugnier chez moi, nous en ferons comparisons...
User ID: 0784604
Jun 5th 4:02 PM
Just obtained a Martin Freres alto. It's definitely not an SML (different mechanics and, more significant, a different tonal color). However it certainly feels like the last Buffet I tried -- dark sophisticated sound, more controlled than many horns. I'd like to try it side by side with a vintage Buffet. Anybody here in Austin have one, and want to bring it over to my house?
User ID: 9878643
Jun 25th 11:44 PM
I own both a malerne alto and a buffet sa 18-20 and the similarities is very striking although not identical. Thay both have that dark tonal color early buffets are known for, although the buffet keywork feels a little better and seems a little sturdier.
User ID: 0833354
Dec 6th 10:53 PM
I bought a Malerne alto for one of my sons who wants to start playing (9). Basically bought it as it played like a vintage horn costing four-fives times as much and appears to be so solidly built.

It is not an SML though - my SML's are constructed differently and do not appear to share much in common.


User ID: 1766884
Dec 20th 3:36 PM
i just got a malerne curved sop on ebay.......will give my impressions later.......
User ID: 8959213
Jan 4th 3:12 PM
Is a Malerne an SML? Definitly not. Compare at
Irv F.
User ID: 0694274
Jan 8th 9:45 PM
A ways up this link is a comment by John T. that the Martin Freres flutes were stenciled by another company. I don't think so. I have a very old Martin Freres flute with soldered tone holes and pointed cups that has an absolutely beautiful sound. I also have a more modern version of a Martin Freres student model flute (a $30 eBay special). I like the old one better, but the tonal quality of the two are very similar. Very sweet and ringing. I don't think that two manufacturers could be so sonically similar.
User ID: 9259363
Jan 18th 10:57 AM
pavillion translates literally as house. From the context, I assume he means chamber (of the mouthpiece). He was explaining that the sound was "not fat, no doubt due to the narrow diameter of the chamber."
User ID: 0206274
Jan 18th 11:12 AM
I'll use this as my next research topic, especially since Fred is now selling his horn. I'm working on some things Buescher and other things Buffet -- and also Heimer -- so it'll be a week or two.

* The Malerne alto that Rick M. has pics of definitely isn't the same model as Fred mentions: it's much newer (note the bell keys, etc.)
* The Buffet horns from the mid 1920's and earlier have a similar bell-to-body brace, but so did a bunch of other horns. (I've got one: it is similar, but different.) Their curved sopranos always had split bell keys, even though the straight sopranos did not.
* I don't believe at any point that Fred is saying that Malerne was made by SML. He's saying they were heavily influenced by them and it has similar acoustic properties to the SML. Fred should know: he's had several SML sopranos.

Hope this helps!
The Vintage Saxophone Gallery
User ID: 0784604
Jan 18th 3:44 PM
<<next research topic>>
What - -
"Is Malerne SML" ? Short research. Answer is NO.

Or is your next topic
"Learn everything about Malerne, Martin Freres, Beaugnier, and Couesnon"? That's a good topic. I think I need one of each myself, so I can give you useful data. I mean of course one alto and one tenor each. I'm too lame a sopranist to bother comparing those. But maybe a bass or two is vital to my advancing the cause of science.
User ID: 0882114
Jan 18th 4:25 PM
morgan, you are very right -- the answer is NO.

Learning everything about the Malerne and it's eventual buyout by SML is definitely a topic I want to get into. Couesnon will be coming up as a research project in the somewhat near future. M.F. and Beauginer, in the distant future, especially as documentation is thin on both companies.

Fred C. sent me an e-mail and he's sending all his Malerne documentation, as well as more (and bigger) pics.

I'm currently finishing up a major update to my Buffet pages and then I can concentrate on other things. I've been getting a bunch of e-mails on Dolnet and Kohlert -- and now that I've got a bunch of pictures on each, I think they'll be appearing on my 'site, soon.

morgan, please, please, please if you have any data or links to data, shoot it my way! Shoot me an e-mail if you can only snail-mail it and we'll make arrangements.

User ID: 0784604
Jan 18th 4:50 PM
I know very little. I snag instruments and I read message boards. I have a nice Martin Freres alto. I once played a Couesnon bari and it was comfortable, easy to play, rich-sounding, and out of tune. Malernes don't have rolled toneholes.
User ID: 0101764
Jan 26th 1:41 PM
just got my malerne curved and it is very nice playing/sounding indeed. great flexibility also and comfortable keywork. also love the high f modern touch key as well. one thing i do not get though is why did fred ciccetti sell his after the glowing reports he gave of his own here.??
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