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  1. #1

    Default Martin Alto Comm III - premium for mint cond?

    I've got a Comm III tenor that I love and have been looking to get an alto that has a similar sound. How much extra would a mint example of a late '40s be worth? Also, was wondering how the intonation is on these, generally speaking. Thanks for your opinions.
    How hard can it be? You only play one note at a time.

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member and Engraving Artist Extraordinare Jason DuMars's Avatar
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    Default Re: Martin Alto Comm III - premium for mint cond?

    I went through a Martin CIII phase where I had a matched set of Music Man Model alto/tenor, then it was a mint tenor + alto, and maybe a couple of others. I am not a tenor player, really, so I was amazed at how good the sound of the tenor was (for example: http://www.dumarsengraving.com/mp3/km1.mp3 I play the tenor part on this) - I then supposed that if the tenor was THAT good, then the alto had to be THAT good... and, well, for me it wasn't. It has a great sound, to be sure, but the ergos felt weird to me, and the intonation was strange in a way I could never get used to. I also found that the side key design was faulty and the keys would blow open, so I wound up corking my side Bb and side C closed which was occasionally very limiting. I wanted to love it. I wanted to have what I consider the holy grail - a matched set of horns - but nope. The alto was simply not working for me. I held on to the tenor for a long time until I sold it as a favor to a friend of mine so he could make his big break with it - and he did.

    I have seen good condition CIIIs on eBay going for around $1500-2000, but the market is in a very interesting state right now where it is being artificially hyper-inflated by a small group of buyers who snatch up reasonably priced horns before they are widely seen and then immediately relisting them for much more money. This in turn leads sellers to believe that their horns are worth more, so the "reasonable price" also goes up, which leads the flipper price to go even higher. In my opinion, the economic fundamentals are not there to support this arrangement for much longer, so prices will start to go down as inventory sits unsold for longer and longer and the core group of flippers become increasingly economically leveraged.

  3. #3
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
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    Default Re: Martin Alto Comm III - premium for mint cond?

    Any of the Comm III altos would be good. I have found the later ones from the 60s to be as good or better than the ones from the 40s and 50s. I sold both of my mid 50s models and currently have a 1961 that is very nice. You may also find a Music Man or Magna which are a bit rare but can be the best of the III series. A mint 40s III (no lacquer wear, good pads, original case) should bring $1,500+ whereas one with a lot of wear may only bring $800. I have some original thumb rests if you find one missing which is common. If you don't mind some finish marks, I have a great playing Magna for $1,500 http://www.flickr.com/photos/6394271...ags/altomagna/. I currently have about 12 Martin altos and find all series to be good but the later ones are the best for most people.

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