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  1. #1

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    Default Martin Handcraft Alto

    Picked up this Martin Handcraft Alto Serial 79***

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/MARTIN-HANDC...#ht_500wt_1202

    I wonder if i got a deal? Or are they just not going for more, sounds like it's in playing condition, relacquered, but hey that should not affect the sound right?

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member VintageSaxGuy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    It does look to have a fairly recent re-lacquer (it could also be a 'first lacquer'). It won't alter the way it sounds/plays, and with these it doesn't have a huge impact on the value either...at least relative to other vintage saxes.

    Looking at the bent B key guard, and the resoldered key guard feet, it appears to have been knocked around a bit...but from the pictures it appears to be in good shape overall.

    The big thing is if it really is fully playable. There are plenty of saxes that are marketed as having new pads, but that doesn't mean it will be 100% good to go when you get it.

    But IMO, even if it needs a little tweaking (<$100), it was a good deal on a Handcraft.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    I can't wait to get it, I don't know what to expect, even if it plays good. The only Alto i ever played was a Mark vii in the Army, almost twenty years ago. My son wants to play sax in his band class, so that got me started to look for a sax.. now I picked up this.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    You got a good deal as the pads look decent. THe biggest drawback to these series two HCs is the lack of a front F (I can live without it) and no high C# adjuster (needed). Without the C# adj, it will be really sharp on high C# and D. This can be retrofitted but takes a bit of work. Basically it has an arm coming off the halfround rod for the small C#>C pad in the left hand. When the octave key is pressed, it closes that pad about 70% to bring the C# down to pitch. Really annoying if you don't have this on the horn. It started around 82,000 in 1928. Your horn will have a big fat sound that carries well. Good find.

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    Thank you for the Info. Front F is not going to bother me. Interesting about the C# adjustment.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    I can send you photos of one that has it if you need to have one made.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    Yes, i would appreciate that, does it require soldering?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    Yes, the upper stack will need to be removed. Here is a link to the photo of a series III: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63942719@N08/5816245388/

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 MyMartinTenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    I was the next-highest bidder. I think its a good value, if the pads are as-described.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    Thank you Bruce
    Sorry MyMartinTenor, didn't mean to snatch it away from you, I will keep you posted what condition she is in once i get to try her out.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    You wouled need to add the little arm (brass should look OK) and have it rub on the top of the octave key lever. Since the pad does not need to close all the way when the arm is moved, it is not all that important as to how it touches the top of the lever.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    I have a 81,*** silver plated Martin Handcraft alto. It has a big sweet tone.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    Thanks for the info, Brunce! I have had a Martin Standard alto for a while, and was wondering how that mechanism should be regulated. As it was set up, C# is fully closed when the octave key is pressed, so it's too flat. If fully open, it's of course too sharp. So I was guessing it should be partially open, but then it sounded like a manufacutring defect. Now I know it is ok and am relieved!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    I find about 30% open is a good starting point. Some have a screw, others need to be bent. Best way is to experiment with the mouthpiece you will be using. I like to tune it to be similar to the foibles of B, C and D in the upper octave. That way it is good chromatically and will serve well in passages in that area. If you tune it to be perfect relative to the lower C# it stands out when playing up there.
    Also most sopranos have this arrangement and modern sopranos use the Selmer system with the double padding and an open center key.

  15. #15

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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    Got my Martin today. It plays very well, pads seam to be very new, they seal good, speaks real easy all the way down, I am a happy guy

    I have to say, this Ebay experience was very good, exactly as advertised, if not better, for a good price..

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    How is that C# intoning ? I have to admit I had never noticed this issue on old Handcrafts, myself....
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  17. #17

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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    It is sharp, i can correct it on longer notes, but the change required can be done fairly easy, I'll probably make something that's removable and adjustable.
    I really like this old Sax, amazing that they could build something like this back then, with the machinery, tools they had available. My son, who's only been playing sax for ~two weeks now prefers the Chinese Mendini, even though he can play the Martin all the way down to low C vs low D on the Chinese one. But he says that the Notes come out easier on the "new" one. I think with time he'll learn to like the Vintage horns also.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    Have the Mendini checked for leaks and maybe make a leak light to test both horns. Martins will play OK when leaking and some minor tweaks can make them unbeatable. Be sure to check the side keys, palm keys, G# and the low Eb as they are common leak areas.

  19. #19

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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    Interesting, so some saxophones will play better through the leaks than others? I don't have a good light yet, but soon. Did notice that my selmer vi has a pretty big leak on the g# key, but plays "through" it unnoticeable. but i have this old oddball "Camelot" alto, that i'm working on, didn't see any leaks on it, but it would not make a sound below A unless forced hard

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Martin Handcraft Alto

    If it is difficult below A1, it is probably that the body octave pad is not fully closing.

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