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  1. #1

    Default Martin-Busine Tenor... history?

    So here's the skinny. I recently picked up this horn on eBay for ~$200. My intent was to fix her up, relacquer and make her nice and shiny, and turn her around locally for a decent profit. It's about 85-90% lacquer, but has scratches. Anyway, I fired it up with my own mouth piece (the one that came with it is chipped) and nothing below a G would play properly. I tinkered and tweaked, and eventually removed a piece of too thick cork on the octave mechanism. MAN!!! Does this mother BLOW! Here is my dilemma, I can't bear to relacquer this thing and risk damaging this beautiful tone/resonance that this thing has. I literally just started blowing a George Adams song I don't even know (More Flowers from the album Earth Beams). What I'm wondering is what is the story of Martin-Busine. All I've found is that it may be an italian intermediate horn. Feel free to set me straight and offer your $.02 on my current relacquering dilemma. I'm goin' to play some more George!!!!!!

  2. #2


    All I know :
    It's French...

  3. #3

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2003

    Default Martin Busine saxophones

    Hello George,
    I just read your post while researching Martin-Busine saxophones. I will tell you what I know. When I first started playing (back in 1969), my parents ordered my alto saxophone from a 'discount catalog'. The name of that catalog at the time was The Unity Catalog--it later became LaBelle's catalog. It sold everything--not just muscial instruments. The cost of my alto was a little under 100 dollars. A great savings for my parents who did not want to keep renting or buy the Conn I had started with.

    The alto we ordered was inscribed with the words 'Martin-Busine'. I did really well with it and became a very serious player. I attended the International Music Camp (border of North Dakota/Canada---I am a North Dakotan). Every time I went to camp, at least one instructor would take a look at my horn and say 'Martin-Busine'---never heard of it! I do remember that many of the pearlized finger plates (is that what they are called?), did fall off. But, my band director replaced them with plastic ones.

    I must say that I felt a little smug as a high schooler--sitting in first chair with an off brand saxophone--ahead of the Selmers and Yamaha players.

    I did eventually trade it in for a Yamaha YAS-61 and that is what I play today. But, I have always wondered about that mysterious 'Martin-Busine' that no one ever heard of.

    As a side note--in high school, I felt that I should double on flute. So, I ordered a flute from the same catalog source. I still have it and it is inscribed with the words 'Haynes-Schwelm'. I did a brief search on that and discovered that Haynes-Schwelm flutes were made in the 20s. I bought my flute in the 70s--new. I did not have much luck with this flute--never could really play it, although I could play my friend's flute. I just had it looked at by a instrument repair man. He confirmed what I felt--it is a REALLY awful instrument.

    So, in summary, I wonder if there wasn't some sort of instrument manufacturer in the 1970s that made musical instruments and inscribed them with combinations of well known names. Therefore, my alto was neither a Martin, nor a Busine, just a name combo put together by a low budget instrument manufacturer. I think my alto was a good horn--it never gave me problems. In fact, I really hated to trade it in for the Yamaha. It was my band director's idea that I trade up. I tried to get my dad to let me keep the Martin-busine (sentimental reasons). But, he was going to get 50 dollars on the trade-in, so I relented. But, the happy ending is that I do love my Yamaha YAS-61!

    Sorry so wordy--I would be interested in hearing more about these horns, too. Take Care, Rita

  5. #5

    Default Martin- Busine

    Hello everyone, I am finally glad I did find something about Martine-Busine on the net....I am not a sax player, though I am making my way through the flute. Early on this year I bought here in Mexico an obviously second-hand flute that goes under the name Martin Busine, it was ready to be played and it is certainly a heavy-weighted instrument with a nice sound. I had never heard of it and so I hesitated , but by blowing it I knew I had to buy it. Even I surfed the net to read about Martin Busine success, anyway I took the risk and now I'm glad I did. It was a $200 instrument with a very nice original case. Hope to find out more about it. Regards, Roberto

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, USA


    I stumbled on this thread mostly out of curiosity, very interesting stuff. My guess is that this company has nothing to do with the US Martin Band Instrument company. I am also wondering about the (possibly French off-brand?) "Martin Freres" clarinets that you see on eBay. I also just read this on Lars Kirmser's Music Trader web site, on the page with the Martin (US) serial number list:

    The MARTIN Band Instrument Company was established around the turn of the century by the sons of John Henry Martin, among them Charles Henry Martin. The factory burned down in the great Chicago fire and was re-established in 1906. In 1971 Leblanc purchased all of the Martin assets, including registered trademarks, copyrights, patents, engineering records, and tooling.
    Maybe Charles Henry and his brothers are our "Martin Freres", and imported those instruments? Is it possible that they had a deal going with a Mr. Busine in France? I am no historian and I am only guessing. I still think it more likely that these were three separate companies, but I guess we'd need to find records in order to know for sure.

    As for the Haynes-Schwelm flutes, I do know a couple of things about these. I believe they were made by (or under the direction of) George Haynes, a son or brother of WS Haynes ("the" Haynes). I've heard the same thing, that they are trash. I played one once that had been overhauled, and it was nothing special, pretty much a standard base metal student flute with offset G, closed hole keywork, and a C footjoint. From what one of my techs tells me, very little care was put into the embouchure hole cut, which is of course one of the most critical things. You will not infrequently see these on eBay under "BEAUTIFUL HAYNES FLUTE LQQK!!!", thus making these the flute equivalent of Selmer New York saxes.

  7. #7


    Hi Roberto. I have one of these flutes as well. Nickel (or chrome) plated. Unusual extended joint between the body and foodjoint with a hole for the C# key. A very sweet sound that I find typical for 1950 era french student flutes.

  8. #8


    i was thinking about buying that horn but i am stuck about weither to get it or a selmer signet i have found, any suggestions?

  9. #9


    I really shouldn't respond here, but...

    If possible, play both, find out which is the best horn for YOU. If that's not possible, I'd recommend checking out Steve Goodson's site ( and/or talk to your nearest repair shop. I did find this about the signet:

    On 8/23/2001 Joe Schuster wrote:

    Hi Lee,
    Best regards from warm and sunny Germany. I have bought a 1983 Selmer Signet Tenor sax. They say it's just a intermediate horn, but I like it's sound. My teacher, he is playing a Selmer SA 80 III was also surprised about the big, warm sound of the horn that I got for a low price. Unfortunately the laquer of the horn is not in the best condition, there are dark spots at the keys and the laquer of the key guards is gone. At some places the brass has started to tarnish to a red/brown colour. Is there a way to get this tarnishing away and to protect the brass from further corrosion?

    Dear Joe,
    This vintage Selmer sax was based on the old Buescher saxophone and some of them play great as you are discovering. The tarnish is somewhat superficial and generally to remove it would come at some cost. A qualified repair shop could give it a chemical dip that would remove some of it. Sometimes it just has to be polished out and may not be worth the expense.
    Good luck.

  10. #10


    We all know about Martin, but these others are a bit more difficult to track down. Firstly, they are European, no doubt about that. My recollection is that Martin Freres is an old Parisian flute maker from about 1859 who later made some saxes. Martin-Busine saxes may well have been made in Italy as suggested. What a game! ........ but what fun, too.
    Buescher TT alto + Barone Jazz HR AND Buescher Big B Aristocrat tenor + Morgan Jazz L
    Conn 12M baritone + Erik Greiffenhagen custom HR

  11. #11

    Default Local pawnshop story

    I picked up a martin busine tenor at a local pawnshop a couple years ago for $100. It had a nice WolfTayne mouthpiece which I sold for about $75. I fixed up the horn so that it didn't have any leaks....a more demanding task than I had expected due to a damanged tone hole. The thing had a tear in it!

    Once I got it in playing condition and removed the horrible stench I was surprised at the great sound rumbling out of the horn. I sold it for next to nothing to friends whose daughter was in beginning band. Their uncle had loaned her his Mark VI tenor but was wanting it back. For the money involved, this was an unbeatable horn.

  12. #12
    Distinguished SOTW Member CashSax's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Las Vegas


    I just got a Martin-Busine tenor off ebay, paid more for my last mpc than I did for this horn.It's got older pads with huge flat metal resos. The horn got a little beat in shipping, but after some un-mangling I got it to play a little. The horn and orig case (w/warranty cards) look like new.. but it maybe a relac. I can't tell..?? maybe they lacquered these things after the engraving was done?? Anyway the FLYING HORSE is way cool. I'm pleased with the sound, a nice bright edgy and full tenor tone. The action certainly ain't my SBA but this is a beach/bar horn and perfect when I don't want to risk my vintage tenors. I think with a little work this mystery MB horn will be OK.

  13. #13


    I don't know that anyone would bother relacquering a MB. I've got one sitting in the shop that I just can't seem to get going. Not sure what the hang up is, but things just aren't lining up right. This one had a harder life than the first one I had, but I agree, for the dough, you simply can't beat them. ** e-mail ** Listen * * Try your luck at a Blindfold Test

  14. #14

    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    New York, NY


    I'm a little surprised that so many people think there might be a connection between these horns and Elkhart Martins...I mean after all, Martin band instruments and Martin guitars are both from the US, but it doesn't take anybody that long to realize there's no connection there. Martin is a pretty common name in German and French, not to mention even Spanish, so it's not that hard to believe there could be a bunch of horn builders named Martin that had never heard of each other. I suspect Martin, Martin-Busine and Martin Freres are completely unrelated.

  15. #15
    Forum Contributor 2011 Pete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Phoenix, AZ USA


    Trying to categorize these posts ...



    * William S. Haynes is the creator of a line of very good and very expensive flutes. He's also the guy that has that "Dec. 1914" patent that's on the back of your Conn and Buescher horns.

    * Haynes-Schwelm saxophones were built at the Best Manufacturing Company in Nogales, AZ in the 1970's. They're functionally and visually equivalent to the Conn "Mexiconn" horns: generally junk. I'd assume that Haynes-Schwelm flutes, etc. were also produced there.

    * Martin-Busine was a French manufacturer. ALL their saxophones are stencils (I have pictures of Pierret stencils on my website). There's evidence to suggest that they still stencil horns today.

    * Martin Freres was ALSO a French manufacturer. Their saxophones were also stencils. I think the last ones I saw were Dolnets.

    Neither Martin-Busine or Martin Freres have anything to do with the Martin company from Elkhart, IN USA.
    Yes, I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics.

    Check out my new blog and gallery! Latest article: 09/24/12.

  16. #16

    Default Martin-Busine

    Hi folks - I have been impressed with every Martin-Busine I have played. Big sound for a cheap sax. The keywork is awkward for me because I have extra large hands and the chromatic F# key is built too short for a comfortable reach for me. The keywork does look like it is inexpensively stamped rather than power-forged like the big boys do.

    However it has a huge sound, one of the greatest values around in the used sax world.

    I have spent a few years trying to figure out who made these and finally determined conclusively that they are made by the Italian company, Grassi. I have compared them side-by-side with some Grassi horns and they are identical down to the leaf design on the ferrules. Some Buffet Crampon Evette models are also made by Grassi and are carbon copies apparently of the Martin-Busine. The local pawn shop has a Grassi Evette, but I wasn't impressed when I blew it. Whether the magic just isn't there for the Evette version, or the horn needs some padwork, I just don't know.


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