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Saxophones Martin Imperial alto - 1970 ish

ProfJames

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12,088
My belief is that this is an intermediate sax that a lot of people like. American made and with bevelled tone holes. Can any of you expand upon my findings and let me know your opinions please?
 

thomsax

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3,807
I've never owned or played a "The Martin Imperial" but from what I've heard from other players they says is ok. But I think it's a sax that were meant for beginners/students. The late (60's) Martin line was: "The Martin Magna ....." , "The Martin ......" , "The Martin Medalist" and "The Martin Imperial". I think "The Martin Imperial" replaced "The Indiana by Martin" as thier student sax. As always when it comes to Martins; inspect the tonehole joints, no damage near the toneholes and straight body.

Martin Handcraft Imperial was a professional model made in the early 30's. Pre Handcraft Committee. I think the HC Standard was based on HC Imperial.
http://s297.beta.photobucket.com/user/thomsax/media/martintrubadur-1.jpg.html?sort=3&o=71

Thomas
 
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ProfJames

Elementary member
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12,088
Many thanks guys. This Martin Imperial is model number 314431. I have seen the two websites listed above. MMM - your site doesn't even list an Imperial and yet the "martin story" website does indeed list a Martin Imperial. Who is right? The serial number would appear to list it as early 70's according to "Martin story". It certainly has bevelled tone holes.
 

thomsax

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3,807
Saxpics was sold for some years ago. Maybe they are updating thier info?
"Martin Story" says that both Medalist and Imperial were intermediate saxes and sold during the same era!

The interesting things with these Martin Medalist and Imperial are: They have beveled toneholes rims! "The Martin Magna" and "The Martin ..." from the same era have no bevelded toneholes! Why? Old inventory? To produce a student sax with softsoldered toneholes, in USA in the 70's, was expensive (labour intensive)! And then they sold it as a beginner sax for less money! On the late "The Indiana by Martin" the side Bb key was articulated. I don't think "The Medalist" and "The Imperial" have articulated side Bb key?

I think a "The Martin Imperial" can a good sax. But you should consider it as a differnt construction compared to "The Martin ......" (Committee III).

Thomas
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
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12,088
As a beginner to sax would you recommend a Martin Imperial? Are bevelled toneholes better or worse? Are you saying that the bevelled toneholes Imperials were old inventory and they wanted to sell them quickly so they advertised as beginner models?
 

jonf

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3,680
The Imperial was the successor to the Indiana. I had one of the higher-spec Indianas, with an adjustable thumb hook and the heart shaped left thumb button. It was an OK sax, but nothing special. Not a patch on my vintage Yanagisawa, and to be honest, I prefer Yamaha YAS 23s to the student Martin. I'd expect the Imperial to be a similar quality, so personally I wouldn't shell out a load of money on one. Maybe for under £200 it would be worth a punt.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
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12,088
Many thanks Jonf. At this stage in my "sax learning experience" I am not skilled in using vintage yani's or having tried (or recognised) many saxophones. So my "preferences" are unknown. Therefore the buying and selling of saxophones allows me the chance to discover what I like, am goo at and comfortable with! It also keeps the second hand sax prices low and fresh! Can get the Martin for £210ish and it is in very good condition. So I think I shall give it a go.
 

thomsax

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3,807
As a beginner to sax would you recommend a Martin Imperial? Are bevelled toneholes better or worse? Are you saying that the bevelled toneholes Imperials were old inventory and they wanted to sell them quickly so they advertised as beginner models?
"The Martin Imperial" can be a good sax ( right price, no damage ...). But like jonf say they can't compete with Yamaha student saxes. If you consider the Imperial I think think you should inspect and let a teacher/player try it. As I wrote ealier I haven't owned and played a "The Martin Imperial" so it's hard for me to recommend. I have an old HC Imperial from -34 and that sax is very good. But I don't use it. The tone on the Committee saxes are more contemporary. As it goes for the bevelled toneholes these toneholes are seen on Martin saxes from thier early production to HC Standard and HC Standard Specials of the late 30's. But Martin made saxes like Indiana, The Imperial and The Medalist have bevelled tonholes. And of course Martin stencils.

Nothing wrong with bevelled toneholes, delicate piece of work. All Martins have softsoldered toneholes which can be tricky to repair. And they softsoldered the toneholes, beause of the construction of thier toneholes. We tried to silversolder Martin toneholes with no good result. When I compare a Committee tonehole (no bevelled rims) to a Martin with bevelled toneholes, the chimneys seems to be higher and thicker on the bevelled toneholes. They may give the sax a different sound/tone?

To use old inventory and old tooling in saxophone manufactoring and sell them as student/beginners saxes was common.

Another thing. From what I've heard there was a company in Elkhart called Imperial. They made saxes that looked like Martins. Martin bought the company and the the plant as well. So maybe the "Imperial" brand was brought to Martin this way? And then there was Courtier (LaPorte,IN) that also made Martin look-alike saxes. Lyon & Healy bought Courtier in the 20's and later Holton bought Lyon & Healy ... . And I 've also seen european saxes with bevelled toneholes and art deco keygaurds. Looks like Martins. I think these saxes are from the 60's. Sometimes these saxes shows up on ebay.de. BTW. King Curtis played a perfect curved Bb soprano that was made by Courtier.

If The Imperial alto is good and you can get it for £150.00-200.00, I think you should go for it.

Thomas
 

jonf

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3,680
Many thanks Jonf. At this stage in my "sax learning experience" I am not skilled in using vintage yani's or having tried (or recognised) many saxophones. So my "preferences" are unknown. Therefore the buying and selling of saxophones allows me the chance to discover what I like, am goo at and comfortable with! It also keeps the second hand sax prices low and fresh! Can get the Martin for £210ish and it is in very good condition. So I think I shall give it a go.
If you like it and it's in good condition then the price is right. Let us know how you get on. Good luck.

Jon
 

altissimo

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3,355
I've never played an Imperial, but I've got an Indiana and a Medalist and love both of them. They're almost identical apart from the engraving and the crook on the Medalist being longer and thinner - they both sound wonderful and blow easier than my Conn and tolerate all kinds of different mouthpieces and a lot of sloppy playing.
Some people may find the older style keywork not to their taste, but I like it - I've got small fingers and the stretch to bottom Bb on a Yamaha is awkward for me.
It's the tone of Martins that attracts their fans- even Stephen Howard, who's not a man to hold back on criticisms of instruments failings, has some favourable things to say about Martin saxes - http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Alto/Martin_Handcraft_alto.htm
while this review is of a far older model than the one you're talking about, his comments about the tone and intonation hold true for most Martins - my Medalist is a bit brighter and more responsive than my friend's 1920's 'The Martin' (similar to the one in the reiview), but it's still a warm sounding instrument, even with my ultra edgy Lawton 8*BB mouthpiece and me screaming at full blast it's still got a fairly fat tone
£210 is a decent price and if you don't like it you could sell it for that much or more
Vintage saxes aren't for everyone, they have their quirks and imperfections - Martins don't have such good intonation as modern instruments, but if you work at it a bit they will play in tune.
If you want perfection then a Yanagisawa or Yamaha will be a better choice, but you won't get one of those for £210.
Check for leaks and damage before you hand over your cash - a full overhaul and repad won't make it such a bargain..
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
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12,088
The Martin Imperial arrived this morning. It is in immaculate condition but needs re-corking. A minor matter! Cannot wait to try it out. The condition of the sax is far better than what was described. In the end it has cost me £245 with delivery which I still think is a decent price.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,088
Thanks Tom. I have a couple of spare mouthpieces I want to try with it and see how I get on. Also checked the serial number -
31xxx1 so dates it around 1970.
 

thomsax

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3,807
Did you get the original moutpiece? The Rico Royal moutpieces , both Graftonnite and Metalite, works well on Martin saxes. I've heard that Martin mouthpices were made by Brilhart. And Brilhart also designed Graftonnite and Metalite.

Thomas
 
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