This is a 1951 vintage SML (Strasser Marigaux & Lemaire) tenor sax, serial number 8939. The SML is sort of the open secret among saxophone enthusiasts. These tenors play great and are extremely versatile.
This tenor is a cool find. You rarely see Lemaire's name on these horns after he died in 1950, but this one does have it. The sax appears to have been relacquered a long time ago, and still has a nice aged patina to the finish. It was obviously not overly buffed during the work, as the engraving is still very crisp around the bell. The horn does feature rolled tone holes throughout, and some of the upper tube smaller tone holes have been slightly filed on in the past.
Physically, the horn is straight. It has seen a gigging life but doesn't appear to have been abused, just played. It shows some minor resolder work here and there, all done very well. The neck previously had a minor pull-down which has been corrected. From a playability standpoint, the sax has recently been fully repadded and has all new pads fitted with brown plastic resonators. Before it ships, we will go through it top to bottom and make sure everything is sealing well, and give the sax our pro set up.
These SML horns are probably some of the most “Selmer-like” you will find on a vintage sax. This tenor has a very free, open feel and easy response in all registers. The bottom is full and its tone color stays fat up into the palm keys. It plays with a hint of spread but you can still dial it in when you push it. A really nice playing tenor for just about any job you want to take it to.