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The Split-Bell Key SML


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I had been looking for one for a long, long time. Ever since I heard some confused facts over an SML model made for Santy Runyon (really a Pierret).

Well, I found a split-bell-key SML.


Model: Le Strama Super
Pete's Model Id: This'll be a Rev. A, but I'll have to make a submodel entry!
Serial: 21xx (1938)

Other Interesting Facts:
* The horn has an Eb vent, that means that it has a forked Eb fingering and strongly implies that it has a G# trill key, both items I've not seen on another SML.
* The earliest SERIAL NUMBERED SML horn I had (i.e. minus prototypes that didn't have serial numbers) was 2209, which was also made in 1938.
* This is possibly the newest split-bell-key horn ever made, of ANY make/model. I can't think of another made after 1938, except those based on old tooling (such as Buescher and Conn basses and curved sopranos made after 1928ish). Considering that SML didn't have "older tooling", that is. Hey, SML was founded in 1935 ....

Yes, I have seen that style of G# cluster on other SMLs. The "standard" configuration G# cluster that we've grown to love was not available until approximately 1943.

The "Rev. A" and "Rev. B" horns were highly customized and there were lots and lots of submodels, but all the ones I had seen had single-side bell keys. This one is unusual. It makes me wonder if this was the ONLY one of the series built and the person that had it built might have had to pay some good $ for it.

It's a little overpriced, but if someone either can speak French or just wants to buy it, so we can see a better shot of the keywork, the auction's at http://www.zikinf.com/annonces/dispannonce.php?annonce=469335
Here's another. It's for sale, too!
s/n 1257 ...

I looked through my stash of pics. You've got a couple prototype straight sopranos and then the earliest serial number I see is 14xx, a single side (left) bell key tenor. The first ALTO I have pics of, excepting the above pictured horns, is a 2209 horn with left side bell keys.

So, I'd call 0 to 21xx or 220x the possible serial number range of these.
Hey Pete !

I've just found another "Le Strama Super" in excellent condition with new pads. I wonder what an adequate price would be for one of those ? The merchant is asking for 800 EUR / 1100 USD and I wonder if that`s a fair price as I do not have any reference Prices.

It has a 3xxx Serial number


I also wonder what's the better bang for the buck.

This repadded "Le Strama Super" or a repadded "Rev. A" ( also in excellent conditions ) - Both for nearly the same price.
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I think I could justify $800 US for one in perfect condition -- this one does look really nice -- but I don't think I could justify much more. There are a lot of good split-bell-key horns out there for less. Also, while SML has had some "value creep" (e.g. the Selmer Mark VI has made older Selmer models, like the 22 and 26, worth more, even if they're not really worth it), I don't think there's a justification for $300 worth of creep.

I'd rather buy a used Yamaha 61 for $1100.
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