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"King In The Castle" & Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #1
If you were to choose between an SML Gold Medal tenor and a Buffet Super Dynaction tenor in similar conditions, which one would you choose?

If possible, please list the pros and cons of each model.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
But, I have the SML is more mouthpiece-friendly and is not lost without a mic. SDA players out there: What is your experience?

Sigmund451 said:
The Buffet will likely have better intonation.
 

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Forum Contributor 2015, SOTW Better late than neve
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I've owed a SDA and a SML Rev D (one generation before the GM) tenors at the same time. The SDA is the more deeper lusher sounding sax where as the SML has an even yet broad sound. Both horns are very heavy. The SDA has the feel of a finely tuned tank. Better egos on the SDA with the exception of the palm keys. I found them to be too spread apart for me. The SML with the pearl thumb rest I found uncomfortable after a while. The SML was a bit more responsive in the upper range. Some here have reported the SDA mouthpiece picky favoring larger chambers while others not so. If looks matter to you, nothing is cooler looking than a SDA sparkle lacquer.

While I'm only telling my experience with just two horns, I tended to like the SML slightly better and I ended up keeping it longer. Not by much though. Both will get the job done.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, TJ!

Anyone else?
 

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Actually I used to own one of the vaunted late 50's "4 digit" SDA's (tenor) and it had sketchy intonation in the upper register, especially in the often problematic high open C#. In contrast, my King Marigaux (SML Gold Medal stencil) has truly spot-on intonation--the best of any horn I have ever blown.

The SML is defintely more like a Selmer, if that's the sound you're after (or maybe I should say more "French"). It's noticeably focused though more spread than a Mark VI, making it kind of a cross between a Mark VI and a 10M. I just sold my KM, but am sure to regret it; it's such a rich-sounding, versatile horn that can be used for any kind of music. Though the same could be said of the SDA, my SDA sure took a lot of air to get any kind of volume, and from that standpoint I think it would be better suited for classical than rock. I'm not saying you can't get the volume, it just takes more effort than the SML, which just blows so free and powerful.

Aside from the fact that the SDA has a lot of resistance like vintage Selmer's, they just don't seem very "French" (i.e., Selmeresque) as some often imply. They seem to have a huskier spread sound more reminiscent of the vintage American horns.
 

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+1 for SML
 

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Here you go another opinion.
I owned briefly an SML standard (a Rev. D without rolled tone holes) and an SDA.
While I read in many instances comparisons of both of them to MVI, I got to say that in my experience the better success of the Mark VI in the sax history is no mistery to me and not related just to the better marketing and resources availability of Selmer vs. Buffet and especially SML.

Having said that, the SML is closer to the Selmer sound, if that it's what you are after, the SDA in my personal opinion resembles more a Martin or a Buescher 400 and the unit I had was very spread sounding, quite more than my Martins too. There was a darkness that justifies the often heard adjective "smokey" for those, not so much power (now you might be spoiled by your S20) and overall a good feeling of a reliable instrument, if not so distinctive.

The SML had a very satisfying high register, really punchy and responsive, though it has a really challenging left pinky cluster unless you have really big hands: I thought I could live with that but.... no. The sound was more satisfying to me than the SDA, but that it's too much of a personal assessment. I'd say more focused for sure and probably more versatile. It could get really loud while the SDA had troubles there, though better players than me might obtain better results (still doubt they would pump the same volume as with the SML though). I never found the bell key notes as easy as on vintage american saxes.

In a nutshell, I'd pick a SML anytime over a SDA. Just don't think you are getting a dressed down MVI, since they both are rather different and, to me, less appealing.
 

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I play an SDA from 1961, dark, resonant and responsive to mouthpiece changes. It can scream when I want it to, and a good friend of mine who plays a 6 and a Berg 120/0 believes I am louder on my horn than he is on his.(not that volume is the be all and end all, but its nice to have the power when you need it)

I have played Links, Bergs, Rovner, Runyon, Vandoren, even a Rico Royal Metallite, Meyer 5M, Rico Graphtonite. I have had issues when trying to play Selmers or Selmer clones, they feel like toys,(small in my hands) and the keywork is "smaller" specially the palm keys, I have trouble finding them. :lol:
 

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I've been playing my SDA tenor for a while and I've play-tested a very nice SML Rev D tenor a few times. With the stock neck on my SDA, the SML wins out--simply because it has a bigger sound and more projection. Intonation and ergos are better on the SDA, but not so much that you couldn't adjust to the SML.

BUT, with a Barone neck on my SDA, I'll take that horn over any SML. Big sound, tons of volume, very free-blowing, as dark or bright as you want but always with tons of warmth, and very mouthpiece friendly: that's my SDA with the Barone neck. I couldn't get that kind of response or tone out of the SML.

And when I put a high-baffled mouthpiece on the Rev D, the intonation was WAY out, so I'd stear clear of the SML if you intend to use a high-baffled piece.
 

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rispoli said:
Here you go another opinion...

In a nutshell, I'd pick a SML anytime over a SDA.
Yet another opinion. I had a mint GM1, a King Marigaux and a late SDA. I still have the SDA, so I went the other direction. The SMLs are loud, granted, but my SDA is huge sounding too. I agree that the SDA has a purer, less buzzy sound compared to a VI, and it is pretty spread. But it sure plays well with a large chamber piece - and seems to produce more core sound. For that matter a Lawton B chamber also produces an interesting, albeit, different sound.

I don't know about the earlier ones thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Great responses (or opinions) so far! It seems that the SML is getting more votes overall.

Now, here is more important question, who has a GM tenor for sale?
 

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Yellowhornblower said:
Great responses (or opinions) so far! It seems that the SML is getting more votes overall.

Now, here is more important question, who has a GM tenor for sale?
I wouldn't totally rule out trying an SDA. They're really fine saxes and you could fine yourself very happy. I also own a SDA alto and it's the best alto I've ever tried new or vintage. I hope to never be without it.
 

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Yes, they are fine horns. I just like my horns to be more free-blowing. And yes, the alto's do seem to be more popular than the tenor's for some reason.
 

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All of them. Can't you tell from my post?
;)

Yeah, I didn't mean that literally. More like hyperbole. What I mean to say is that my SDA/Barone-neck tenor is incredibly free blowing and much more so than the near-mint gold-plated SML Rev D that I extensively play-tested on more than one occassion. That SML was a good horn, but I'm a big fan of my SDA. The funny thing is I didn't like my SDA that much until I got my Barone neck. With the stock neck I felt too much resistance when I'd try to push lots of air through the horn. At low volumes the response was great, but it didn't really want to open up and play big. But Phil Barone's necks have a big bore that seems to match perfectly with the SDA. Now there's no limit to the amount of air I can push through the horn. The resistance is gone. The horn absolutely roars. And the intonation is still great. I highly recommend anyone with an SDA tenor to give a Barone neck a try. I understand SML has its proponents, but I intend to keep my SDA till I'm in the grave. The only tenor I've played that would tempt me away was a really awesome Mark VI--that was worth about $3,000 more! I thought the SML was more of a novelty horn. Cool features, neat sound, but the ergos and balance of the horn were awkward and the intonation wasn't as good. I think an SDA and an SML of comparable vintage and condition both ought to command at least $2,000 on the open market, so they're not priced that far apart. But if I really wanted a vintage horn with rolled tone holes I'd get a Superba or a Conn 10m.
 

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A few weeks ago i put up a clip of a Dynaction (predecessor of the SDA) v a VI on SoundClick - you can find the post under SOTW member recordings. I comment because I would just like to counter the widely held pre-supposition that Buffet's are quiet and classical.. I mean really, with a name like 'Super Dynaction' sparkle lacquer and a croc-skin case, it's hardly targeting the classical market is it??! The SDA is slightly more focussed than the Dynaction, but otherwise very similar.

For the sound of an SML listen to early Sam Rivers, such as Fuschia Swing Song - fantastic!

Both are great saxes, and the build quality is very high on both. Perhaps unsurprisingly, since manufacturing took place close to each other in France, they share a few similar design features, such as the general design of the guards.

Both of course also suffer from having a slightly antiquated mechanism, and have different LH tables - perhaps this could be a means to separate them and make your choice??
 

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My former SDA (1964) had a sound very similar to my medusa (smooth, versatile). The medusa having much better ergo, I sold the SDA (and the new owner is pretty happy with it).

The SML GM1 (nickel plated, actually for sale) has a really huge sound (better than the medusa on some points), but the sax does not "fit me"....(I'm perhaps to much used with the medusa...)...this is just a matter of "feeling", I do consider that charactéristics being utmost important IMO (and for me), so I guess the honeymoon with my medusa will last a very long time. Interestingly, my SML Rev D stencil "fits" perfectly ....:dontknow:

Both horns are mouthpiece friendly in my opinion, and by nature, you would use brighter pieces with the SDA than with the GM (already stated before here)

Two very nices horns, among the best ever manufactured.... with different tastes....some prefer blondes, others prefer brunettes.....that's the wait it is...c'est la vie ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Left-Hand Thumbrest on the GM

Can someone do me a favor and post here a picture of the left-hand thumbrest of an SML tenor, whether it is a Rev. C & D, GM, or King Marigaux, please?

The reason I asked for this is that the left-hand thumbrest on the King Super 20 tenor is very comfortable (painful actually). The cause of this, I have found, is that the King's thumbrest is very small and is lower than the octave key touch. This means that the tip of one's left thumb continuously presses on or against the thumbrest, and after a while, this causes pain in the middle joint of the thumb (at least for me).

The Selmer-styled LH thumbrest is more comfortable because the fingerprint part of one's LH thumb rests on the the thumbrest and allows more space for the thumb itself to move northeast-ward (if you know what I mean).

I have seen the LH thumbrest of the SDA tenor, and it is quite similar to the MK6 one, so I think it should be OK for me.
 
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