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  1. #1

    Default Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Hi all,

    Well, I know this gonna be very subjective, but I am considering purchasing a "Martin Tenor" of some description. I have no experience or knowledge of these horns so would like to get some real world views about what's good and what's not so good about the various models?

    Your opinions would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Mike
    Tenors: Yanagisawa T991, King Super 20 (382xxx) Silver Sonic (372xxx) Yamaha YTS61

  2. #2
    Clueless how he got this title StanleySaxMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Well I have a The Martin Tenor and it is an okay horn. The ergonomics are not that bad and the sound is amazing.
    I play saxophone softly and carry a big lacrosse stick .

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Technician BOPITY FUNK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Mike get a 'The Martin' 1950's on to the '60's when they finished makin' 'em. You could go for the 'Magma' which has more ornate bits and pieces. These are great horns but laquer wear leading to corrosion seems very much par for the course with Martins of this era.
    Last edited by BOPITY FUNK; 12-29-2011 at 11:28 PM. Reason: spelling mistake

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Well.....that's sorta like saying if you want a Conn you have to get a 10M, or if you want a Buescher you have to get a TH&C. So then you miss a lotta other great models in there....

    As with all great vintage horn makers...Martin made quality stuff on all shelves, in all eras.

    The Martin (aka Committee III) is considered by most to be their best...and for those with the $ it's the most popular.

    Then the Magna and Centennial models are the rarest...not many of those around. Both fantastic horns....but IMHO not particularly superior to the Comm III.

    But the Comm II, Comm I (aka Searchlight), Handcraft Imperials, earlier Handcrafts and even the Indiana models all are great horns, all possessing a signature Martin tone, although their relative darkness/edginess, ergos, and spread of overtones is different on each....

    Just sorta depends on what you wanna invest....

    People on a budget usually grab an Indiana or an older Handcraft. You can get the former for $500 in good shape, the latter only another $100-200 more.

    The Indiana is the least 'dark' of all Martins. Narrower in overtones, but they still have a nice lush tone and they have a lotta 'pop' and edge.

    The Handcraft, Handcraft Imperials, and Searchlights were relatively medium bore horns and their sound is considered to be more old-school. They have a darker tone than Indianas, and more spread in the midrange. They also have some nice edge and punch to their tone. Basically they sound a little 'bigger'.

    Which leads to the Committee II and III. The II is really an interesting horn, as it departs from a lot of standard Martin specs. The bodydesign is different from other Martins. Its tone is also departure from the earlier horns. Still a relatively 'skinny' looking horn, I find II's have a bit more lushness to their tone than the Searchlights did. Cool model, a bit of the odd-man-out.

    The III was really the big move, towards a larger-bore horn which has that kick#ss sorta old american tenor tone. Very wide, a lotta spread. Much the way the 400 was to Buescher, the 10M to Conn, the Super 20 to King, the 241 to Holton. It's a huge sound...but some folks might find it a bit unfocused or a bit too wide.

    An amazing horn, arguably the epitome of the 'real' Martin production. But again, not everyone's cup of tea, just as some folks prefer an Aristocrat to a 400....or some find a Super 20 to be a bit too much of a monster, sonically.

    Hope this helps a bit. There are some particular Martin aficionados here, hopefully they'll chime in shortly....
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    I prefer the comm III- I have a 202xxx tenor- but try as many as you can.
    Bruce Bailey often has martins for sale and he's a great guy to deal with

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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    I think that any of the Martins from the HC Imperial up are good. Where I find a difference is that the newer they are, the more centered the sound is and the older, more boomy. Intonation is a bit better on the later ones too as are the ergos. I can adapt to any of these and would just find a good playing horn and not worry which vintage it is. Also, the lacquer on any Martin is poor so if you find a relacquer done well, don't worry. I sold a Comm II here at SOTW to Europe and later wished I still had it but then I played my Comm III and it was better but I played my HC Imp and loved it.....All are good and play similar so find a deal and keep it. All I have right now is a Comm III in great shape for $1,500+ shipping but it is on hold pending shipping arrangements to AUS.

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    Distinguished SOTW Member Thomsax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    I would go for "The Martin Tenor". More contemporary when it comes to the keydesign. I have four "The Martin ....". But my Martin HC tenor from -38 is a very good sax as well. I like them all. But I prefer Martins with the bell keys on the same side (left).

    I think a Martin should be setup as it was when it was new. Thinn pads, low keyheights .... .

    Thomas

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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    I just scored an early HC Imperial tenor #111677. Look forward to getting it in playable condition. Any recommendations for a Martin tech in NC? Thanks in advance. Lp

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    Distinguished SOTW Member jazzcat58's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    One of my main horns!, for r,n,b a hard horn to beat! i have a martin" tenor from the late 50s great tone and really kicks if you want it too.
    The magnas are superb not much between them and the martins",thats down to preference otherwise the earlier handcrafts likewise are a great blues horn.
    Yes they are versatile enough to play other styles but to me the strength lies in more modern styles ala rock,n,roll etc.
    Those three are my favourites i play two of them.
    bs gunning

  10. #10
    SOTW Administrator SAXISMYAXE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Big fan of The Martin Committee (III) horns here as well.
    Mike S.
    SOTW Administrator/Staff

  11. #11

    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    I play a '39 Martin Comm II. It's a great horn with better LH ergo then the Comm III. The Comm II has a great 'lion & crown' engraving and is a 'ballad' horn with a nice lush sound. The Comm III has a bigger sound.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Take a look here for more info: www.themartinstory.net

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    I just got back from the U.S. Navy Sax Symposium. The tenorist in the (excellent) quartet from the University of Nebraska was playing a The Martin! That surprised me. Classical programs in the midwest typically don't tolerate vintage US equipment.
    Jazz = a man with a $5,000 horn driving a $500 car to a $50 gig.
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Im gonna be the odd man out here.

    I have a beautiful example of a The Martin. I dont play it much. In hindsight I would have been happier with a Conn. For my tastes The Martin is just a bit rough in tone for me. Its great for R&B but it takes a lot of doing to get it really smoothed out. That being said, if I were going to buy a big bore horn now it would be a Couf Superba. I have not tried the R&C horns so I cant speak about them.
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  15. #15
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Great Bloke. Bootman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    I have owned most Martin model tenors, the one I have kept is the Magna tenor.......these are very special saxes when you can find them.
    Searchlights are good, the Comm II is a Fantastic model tenor with a slightly darker sound than the later models (now being known as Comm III).
    The later models of the mid 50's always play very nicely indeed. Look for one of these if you can a Magna. Also check out a Typewriter model too as these play very nicely indeed.
    The differences aren't that dramatic, keywork and some slight differences in sound.....Not that noticeable to anyone else other than the player.

    Have fun doing a search, play as many as you can then grab the model that works best for you. You will know when you find it!

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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Bootman hit my POV exactly:
    All Martins sound similarly excellent to the audience, and all can be darkly lush or pushed to scream (this includes the altos as well as the tenors).
    I owned, and greatly miss, a matched pair of 1937 (or '38) alto/tenor Handcraft Committee 1 (searchlight engraving), and these are highly underrated horns in the sax world. I liked them more than my Conn 1950's 6M/10M, and just as much as my Buescher 1951 140/156 alto/tenor pair.
    To my ears, they only sound "old school" if you play them "old school" in your tonal approach and mpc/reed/lig setup. As a player of 48 years experience (ouch-- am I really old enough to say that?), I had no problem whatsoever with intonation. These horns sing, and play everything well, from classical to ballad jazz to bebop to R'n'B and R'n'R, if you choose appropriate setups and have the chops to handle the aforementioned styles.
    Just one man's opinion, but I really miss mine. I just didn't need that many horns any more, and those happened to sell easily as a matched pair.
    Sax Magic

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    I own a silver "The Martin Tenor", I have had all the others, yes, including some Selmers. But this Martin is he finest ;playing horn ! only excepton was my old 1930 "New Largebore" Tenor, one of the first Selmer Super Saxes. This is my opinion. I think it is a committee II, it is a 1951 vintage. No horn has a low register like this and the high notes are good too, maybe I'm just lucky, only downside is the ergonomics, fingering is not s fast other horns. BB

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    If it reads The Martin, I believe it would be a III, no ? I believe II's were pre-war, III's post-war. So if yours is a '51....it'd be the III.

    Does it have the multiple wire bellbrace or the lozenge/shield bellbrace ?
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  19. #19

    Default Re: Martin Tenor, Handcraft or Committee early or late?

    Thanks for all your replies guys, really appreciate you all taking the trouble to add your opinions to this post.

    Regards, Mike
    Tenors: Yanagisawa T991, King Super 20 (382xxx) Silver Sonic (372xxx) Yamaha YTS61

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