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Saxophones after sunday.... sml and beaugnier

peterpick

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Lewes, East Sussex
i've been playing the beaugnier 'special perfect' and the sml 'super 45' (both altoes) sort of alternately for a while now. the beaugnier arrived in playable condition, whereas the sml needed work (and you should hear what my saxtech had to say about them.... maybe i'll tell you during this post. there are results audible on soundcloud if you search for my name ( https://soundcloud.com/peter-pick View: https://soundcloud.com/peter-pick
), although why any of you good people should wish to listen to me playing the saxophone i can't imagine. they are both french of course, but an argument about a 'french' sound falls absolutely to pieces when you compare these. strangely, the beaugnier ('playable') plays down to the bottom but only forms the lowest notes if approached gently.... my experience is normally that reluctant lower notes have to be shouted with a strong tongue, and this is largely true of the sml, but the beaugnier comes out warm at a whisper and barks and splits if pressed. that might be due to an imperfect seal on a closed spring pad further up, i thought, rather than the more usual bottom pads don't seal properly problem.

what really interests me is the tone. the beaugnier is warm and fluffy, it has lots of air in the sound and is in excellent tune from top to bottom, even when i play it. although i was fascinated by the g# articulation switch in practice i haven't used it. i love playing this alto on its own, the sound is rich and it can be played with great restraint, although it also produces a tolerable volume if pumped. it also does wonderful things if you hold down the front f and a few left hand keys, shooting up into a really fairly tuneful altissimo. i can't make it work properly with my berg larsen so i'm using a lawton ebonite at the moment, lawtons are great mouthpieces, they seem to make most things playable. this means that i can't use the berg at all currently because i've lost the extreme mouth violence required.

we had our usual MESHMASS recording on saturday and i set up happily with the beagnier and it worked fine on the first duet but i started to get lost in the mix when all the things started playing (computer, phone, guitar). strangely (perhaps) the recording doesn't reflect this impression - the beaugnier sounds fine, i just couldn't hear it at the time.... so i strapped on the sml.

the sml is keen and dark, slick like a muscular fish, no fur only scales, all tendon, strong and focused and clear and clean. it has great strength in the middle register where it comes through all manner of extraneous guff (otherwise known as MESHMASS) clear and untroubled. better at that than my mark VI, i reckon. i could hear the sml alright, but what i could hear was that i was even less in tune than usual. i think it was aldevis who warned me about that. i do have vintage french mouthpieces which might help with this problem (i have been told) but they do not seem to make holes in the end of them which you can blow into. the tips are so narrow that they're useless to me. the sml has what i can perhaps describe as a coltrane quality about it, that sort of dry authoritative tone, but it also plays very sweetly if treated gently and has a wonderfully clear upper register. there is some MESHMASS which demonstrates it on soundcloud too https://soundcloud.com/meshmass/halfway-through you will have to excuse that it is rather long, it is MESHMASS and not completely edited yet.

i think my point is (or will be, if i ever get round to it) that these 2 saxes could hardly be more different, and that both are exceptional instruments. they have their limitations and their fields of excellence. neither is quite as flexible as the mark VI i think.... perhaps the great advantage of that legendary selmer is that it is the most flexible or adaptable of saxes, as well as being well-built. which i cannot say for the sml.

the sml looks beautiful. it is a great design, even the ergonomics are pretty good. it's clean and functional. but instead of solder they seem to have used sod all, and of course rolled toneholes while often greatly desired are a complete arse to level off. poor rupert banged them out from inside and all the pearls fell off the keys. personally i love it and look lustfully at rev d and gold medal versions when i see them what with all those lovely adjustment screws all over the place. not sure if i dare to buy another one though after rupert's harrowing experience. he told me also that he bought a job lot of 5 some years ago and not one of them was in tune. one of them he just had to give up on and it's still lying around for spares.
 
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DavidUK

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@peterpick
I found this Beaugnier alto, not labelled Special Perfect, but can you see any differences?
Please let me know if you can. Maybe post some photos showing the same angles with your one (we could have a "Spot the difference" challenge!?)...

P1060826.JPG


P1060827.JPG
 

DavidUK

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Here's a proper Special Perfect, and the one I've found for comparison...

pict03.JPG

P1060826.JPG
 

DavidUK

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...and again, last one...

pict02.JPG

P1060828.JPG
 

ellinas

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Get it. Fix it and lets start a TVT ... Ehm Beaugnier club. Its all about the SOUND :)
 

peterpick

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691
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Lewes, East Sussex
yes, they sound great, ellinas and the intonation is good. and that looks very nice, david, and in good condition really. the special perfect has the switchable g# thingy and a pretend tuner neck which are not shown on your pictures. also the engraving is a bit different, as your pictures show, but if anything the other engraving looks nicer. apart from that the body and keywork look very similar. i saw somewhere, and god knows where that was or if it was true, that they used different thicknesses of brass for different models. that being said the special perfect i have is not THAT heavy for a vintage alto.
 

DavidUK

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In the top photo of the pinky tables, the SP has something sticking out upwards of the G# which isn't in the lower photo. Would that be part of the switchable mech?

It's so difficult to research Beaugnier. By comparison, Pierret is a breeze to work out!
 

peterpick

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691
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Lewes, East Sussex
yes and yes, i think. beaugnier having made so many stencils for others is one problem. i keep finding vito saxes people say are beaugniers but which look exactly like yamahas (for example). the only source of info i can find that's any good is dr. sax's site but that only goes to show how much information is missing. even dates are completely speculative. quite a lot of beaugniers are marked 'duke'. i don't know if that's good or not.....
 

DavidUK

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Vitos can be Beaugnier, Yamaha, Yani, Taiwanese. But the Yamahas are the easiest to spot. I believe the Duke and Special Perfect are quite similar. I put them at the same level of quality, only because they tend to get talked about in equal measure.
 

peterpick

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691
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Lewes, East Sussex
yes, but there's the question of brass thickness too. perhaps dr sax could tell us.
 

ellinas

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Athens, Greece
There are some design differences but all Dukes have the selmer style LH spatula and they are the model 38 which was a leta 60+ model.

The special perfect model was available as it is for many many years.
My experience with Beaugniers is with model 37 and model 38 (Duke) ones.
The 38 is significantly different and better, but the 37 is a REALLY good horn as well.
Most of them just because they have a low market price can be found with really bad setups.
Once you get it right you have a top of the league horn.

I'm no expert but these horns have thick brass and when I switch from my 38 tenor to my YTS-23 I think I hold a toy. The truth is that the Yamaha is not a toy despite being lighter. It's a high precision modern horn. But the beaugnier has the deep rich sound that I look for.
 

ellinas

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also beaugnier is the only manufacturer that keeps the same + and - in all saxophone sizes. What I like and deslike in the alto is the same with the tenor. And since I deslike almost nothing I'm a happy man.
 

peterpick

Member
Messages
691
Locality
Lewes, East Sussex
beaugnier also stenciled for vox, antoine courtois, paul girard, king, gretsch and revere. i also came across a javelier with an adjacent serial number to the one dr sax has listed - i think that's just a shop in dijon, so there are probably loads of other stencils, some of which will be really good. and they made the noblets too, though probably not all of them, as well as the truly extraordinary leblanc rationals and semi rationals. i'm only semi-rational myself, but i'm not bonkers enough to have bought one of those..... yet.
 

peterpick

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Messages
691
Locality
Lewes, East Sussex
thanks ellinas, that's good information. i'm interested that the duke is a 38, that helps a lot.
 
Messages
261
Locality
Alexandria, Scotland
i've been playing the beaugnier 'special perfect' and the sml 'super 45' (both altoes) sort of alternately for a while now. the beaugnier arrived in playable condition, whereas the sml needed work (and you should hear what my saxtech had to say about them.... maybe i'll tell you during this post. there are results audible on soundcloud if you search for my name ( https://soundcloud.com/peter-pick View: https://soundcloud.com/peter-pick
), although why any of you good people should wish to listen to me playing the saxophone i can't imagine. they are both french of course, but an argument about a 'french' sound falls absolutely to pieces when you compare these. strangely, the beaugnier ('playable') plays down to the bottom but only forms the lowest notes if approached gently.... my experience is normally that reluctant lower notes have to be shouted with a strong tongue, and this is largely true of the sml, but the beaugnier comes out warm at a whisper and barks and splits if pressed. that might be due to an imperfect seal on a closed spring pad further up, i thought, rather than the more usual bottom pads don't seal properly problem.

what really interests me is the tone. the beaugnier is warm and fluffy, it has lots of air in the sound and is in excellent tune from top to bottom, even when i play it. although i was fascinated by the g# articulation switch in practice i haven't used it. i love playing this alto on its own, the sound is rich and it can be played with great restraint, although it also produces a tolerable volume if pumped. it also does wonderful things if you hold down the front f and a few left hand keys, shooting up into a really fairly tuneful altissimo. i can't make it work properly with my berg larsen so i'm using a lawton ebonite at the moment, lawtons are great mouthpieces, they seem to make most things playable. this means that i can't use the berg at all currently because i've lost the extreme mouth violence required.

we had our usual MESHMASS recording on saturday and i set up happily with the beagnier and it worked fine on the first duet but i started to get lost in the mix when all the things started playing (computer, phone, guitar). strangely (perhaps) the recording doesn't reflect this impression - the beaugnier sounds fine, i just couldn't hear it at the time.... so i strapped on the sml.

the sml is keen and dark, slick like a muscular fish, no fur only scales, all tendon, strong and focused and clear and clean. it has great strength in the middle register where it comes through all manner of extraneous guff (otherwise known as MESHMASS) clear and untroubled. better at that than my mark VI, i reckon. i could hear the sml alright, but what i could hear was that i was even less in tune than usual. i think it was aldevis who warned me about that. i do have vintage french mouthpieces which might help with this problem (i have been told) but they do not seem to make holes in the end of them which you can blow into. the tips are so narrow that they're useless to me. the sml has what i can perhaps describe as a coltrane quality about it, that sort of dry authoritative tone, but it also plays very sweetly if treated gently and has a wonderfully clear upper register. there is some MESHMASS which demonstrates it on soundcloud too https://soundcloud.com/meshmass/halfway-through you will have to excuse that it is rather long, it is MESHMASS and not completely edited yet.

i think my point is (or will be, if i ever get round to it) that these 2 saxes could hardly be more different, and that both are exceptional instruments. they have their limitations and their fields of excellence. neither is quite as flexible as the mark VI i think.... perhaps the great advantage of that legendary selmer is that it is the most flexible or adaptable of saxes, as well as being well-built. which i cannot say for the sml.

the sml looks beautiful. it is a great design, even the ergonomics are pretty good. it's clean and functional. but instead of solder they seem to have used sod all, and of course rolled toneholes while often greatly desired are a complete arse to level off. poor rupert banged them out from inside and all the pearls fell off the keys. personally i love it and look lustfully at rev d and gold medal versions when i see them what with all those lovely adjustment screws all over the place. not sure if i dare to buy another one though after rupert's harrowing experience. he told me also that he bought a job lot of 5 some years ago and not one of them was in tune. one of them he just had to give up on and it's still lying around for spares.

I can only say I totally disagree on the build quality of SML's I have a a late 40's alto I suppose a Rev C would be the type certainly the tone holes have been leveled wouldn't have been had it been mine initially, I also have a revision D tenor rebuilt by American Vintage specialist Matt Stohrer both look and feel fantastically well built the Rev D especially, If your ever up in the Glasgow area your very welcome to try both. Like your MESHMASS sound clip ( your right it is long). well if I need any parts for alto I'll get Rupert's details.
 
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Ads

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North West UK
also beaugnier is the only manufacturer that keeps the same + and - in all saxophone sizes. What I like and deslike in the alto is the same with the tenor. And since I deslike almost nothing I'm a happy man.

I`d say that Yamaha and Yanagisawa do also - it`s a very Japanese trait is consistency ..........
 

peterpick

Member
Messages
691
Locality
Lewes, East Sussex
I can only say I totally disagree on the build quality of SML's I have a a late 40's alto I suppose a Rev C would be the type certainly the tone holes have been leveled wouldn't have been had it been mine initially, I also have a revision D tenor rebuilt by American Vintage specialist Matt Stohrer both look and feel fantastically well built the Rev D especially, If your ever up in the Glasgow area your very welcome to try both. Like your MESHMASS sound clip ( your right it is long). well if I need any parts for alto I'll get Rupert's details.

thanks guyfromthesticks..... well, if they've both been rebuilt that says something itself. i think they're beautiful saxes, the sml, but i'm not the man trying to repair them. i CAN say for sure that one of the wire guards had come off my super 45 and there were several buttons floating around in the case. thanks about the meshmass, we'll probably edit it down if we decide we like it, that's the way we usually work. it's not the design with the sml but the quality of the solder! i'd love to get a rev d, especially one rebuilt by matt stohrer. one day maybe. there's a rev d on preloved at the moment but the seller wants a lot of money for it.
 

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