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Saxophones Martin Indiana Saxophones - History and Models

Martin Indiana Saxophones Part 1 - The Indiana Band Instrument Company

I have been trying to learn more about Martin Indiana saxophones recently. The Indiana was the brand name for Martin’s second-line instruments.

I thought I would write down what I have found out. None of this information is new or original - I’m just trying to put it all in one place. And of course there may be mistakes in what I am writing.

My main sources have been “The Martin Story”, SaxPics, saxophone.org and SOTW.
The Martin Story website is an excellent resource for people who want to learn about Martin saxophones:
The Martin Story - All there is to know about Martin saxophones

The Indiana Band Instrument Company
The Indiana Band Instrument Company was created in 1928 by the Martin management as a brand for their second-line instruments. IBICo never had a separate existence from Martin and IBICo never had a separate factory. Indiana saxes were made in the main Martin factory in Elkhart. (See below for sources.)

There is an informative article on the history of Indiana saxophones in the Bassic Sax blog:
The Indiana Band Instrument Co. | The Bassic Sax Blog
This article quotes Greg Holtz, the grandson of the Martin Manager Fred Holtz:

“In December 1928, in order to broaden their customer base, Mr Bassett (majority owner and G.M.) and Grandad incorporated The Indiana Band Instrument Company. Like Conn had done several years earlier with their Pan American brand, and then Buescher, with their Elkhart Band Instrument division, it allowed Martin to produce and market a line of less costly instruments to those who could not afford the premium Martin offerings.

“These entities were wholly owned by their parent, but at least in the case of MBI, both Martin and Indiana lines were built on the same line by the same craftsmen. These were long before ‘student horns’ were ever conceived. Rather Martin brought older retired top-of-the-line models (with existing tooling) back to life. The Indiana horns were of excellent quality (the Indiana saxophone, for instance, was a dead ringer for the older Handcraft Standard premium horn).

“During war production buildup in 1942, Martin dropped the Indiana Band Instrument logo, and subsequently , labeled the horns as “INDIANA by Martin”. MBI did keep the serial numbers on a separate ledger.

“In 1961, Paul Richards, a businessman with little band instrument experience, purchased three companies (Martin, Blessing, Reynolds and their factories) to produce as many student horns as possible. With the success of ‘The Music Man’ on Broadway and the movie in the works, he had dreamed of a huge student horn boom. Sadly he was wrong and faced bankruptcy in less than two years.

“Wurlitzer, a longtime Martin client) picked up the pieces and operated the Elkhart plant for several years, until the Leblanc sale. The Indiana horns were produced throughout all those years.”

In another thread, another grandson, Chris Holtz, wrote:
“As many have noted the Indiana product line made use of older designs and tooling , perhaps also removing a feature or two.”
Source: Post #33 in the SOTW thread


And thomsax writes on a Cafe Sax thread:
“This is my own conclusions/thoughts. They are based on articles, books, contact with guys who knows and have worked on Martin saxes and a former Martin worker (in the 50') that I had contact with in late 80's.

“Where were they made?
I don't think they were made in separate buildings . But two companies IBICO (Indiana Band Instruments Company) and Martin Band Instruments. In the 50's they were made in the same building but not at the same time. The staff was told to clear out the benches/workplaces and make ready for Indiana production. They used old tools for Indiana. The tempo was high and the quality control was less. The shouldn't spend so much time on each saxophone. So they did lots of Indianas during a short (some weeks or months?) time. And If you see the serial charts many Indiana were made in late 50's. But It was also during these years the big market for student saxes increased.”
Source: Post #14 in the Café Saxophone thread

@thomsax - Could you post a picture of the C# tuning mechanism on your Imperial?
I don't use the Imperial alto but the C# adjust "arm" is there. We didn't knew what it was when we worked on the sax. It was the first Martin I bought from Progressive Winds (Bob Ackerman). 25 years ago. I have the saxes I don't use behind drumkit , amplifiers, PA, keybooard ..... so you must wait untill I carry out the stuff to the "woodshed.
What is the difference?
I think the the Comm II and "The Martin" are "brighter", "more edge", can be played with more volume .... it's more contempoary when it comes to sound/tone. It's also easier to find mouthpices to Comm saxes. Imperial/Indiana have a more muffled, darker and not so easy to play with volume.

Resonators (oversized) gives Martin/Indiana saxes a fuller sound. But all Martin/Indiana are fine saxes. But I don't think you should pay too much for an Indiana.
I like to track down Martin Committee players in the Rock & Roll Saxophone field as well. There are still some guys playing these saxes. So when I see rockers using a Martin Committee I try to contact them. Just to say "Hi" and give some some nice comments. Also what mpc and reeds. If there is some music to buy ...... . This is a good way to learn about these horns. But I do this to rockers that are playing other brands as well. I found a videoclip of John Lennon playing "Slippin' and Slidin' (Little Richard/Penniman). The sax solo on the video was done by Sal Sax, NYC. This video is from -75 so I guess Sax is on another brand.
View: https://youtu.be/F-rKsDSUYKQ
Hey y’all, I’ve had a Martin for a while that has me intrigued and finally decided to post. The Martin is serial numbered 219,361, but it looks like a magna/committee 3.it has the RMC shield. I’m assuming when Wurlitzer bought Martin they just kept producing, but is this a committee iii, magna variant, or something completely different?

Hey y’all, I’ve had a Martin for a while that has me intrigued and finally decided to post. The Martin is serial numbered 219,361, but it looks like a magna/committee 3.it has the RMC shield. I’m assuming when Wurlitzer bought Martin they just kept producing, but is this a committee iii, magna variant, or something completely different?
The serial number dates it to about 1963, so it was made either at the end of the Richards ownership or perhaps immediately after. My understanding is that Wurlitzer kept the factory and the tooling and continued to make the Committee and Magna models. On another thread you will even see a Magna from after the Leblanc takeover after the manufacture was moved to Kenosha.

It looks like a Committee III to me ("The Martin") rather than a Magna.
Yes I also think it's a Martin "Committee" made during RMC ownership. RMC shield is "PM". No "The Martin Alto" (I guess it's an alto?) engraving.

I own a "The Martin Magna Tenor" #208XXX from 1959 before RMC took over the manyfactoring.

My Magna had (compared to a "The Martin Tenor"):
  • A small adjust screw on the neck.
  • Tone Boosters on (resonators/reflectors) the pads.
  • Palm keys nickelsilver.
  • G# cluster nickelsilver.
  • Low C cluster nickel silver.
  • Adjustable key bumpers on low Bb, B and C.
  • Convex MOP thumbrest (lh).
  • Side key Bb, C and F key touches in nickelsilver.
  • Magna cross on the neck and bell.
  • Available in three diffenrent finish. 1. Laquered with nickelsilver, 2. Silver plated with inside of the bell gold lined. 3. Gold plated and hand burnished.
  • Silver neck was an option to all models.
Magna came out on the market c 1955 and the were made to late 60's. The Magna baritone to low A is a milestone.
Orginal Magna pads.
Forgot to say. All key cups on my "The Martin Magna Tenor " are brass. Some of the long rods are solid nickel silver. Maybe its easier to align a brass key cup than a soldd nickel silver key cup?

Some huys says tha the Magna neck didn't have a matching serial number on the neck. I have matching serial number on my neck.

The small adjustment screw on the neck.
View: https://youtu.be/nWucnioGsbs
Good info here! That Wurlitzer bought a sax company makes sense--I've been running my horn through a rotary speaker pedal lately, inspired by John Lennon's singing through a Leslie on Revolver, and it sounds pretty cool.
Both "Martin" and "King" had jukebox (and other electronics as well) manufactors owners. Wurlitzer owned "Martin" and Seeburg "King". As long as the parent company was doing fine it was no problem. I know King Musical Instruments, Inc lost money on every King Super 20 they made. I guess it was the same with "Martin". So behind a fine american saxophone manufactor/brand there was money that were made in other businesses. " - To sell in the idea to buy and own a saxophone plant/manufactoring in a border room needs a real dedicated person. Without passion and a lot of interest the investors are not going to jump on the train. They can make more money in other businesses"
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I think the body is from Martin HC Imperial or HC Standard. They had the eb vent/trill key, I would like to have a closer look at the neck. Don't look like a Martin made neck to me. But I can be wrong.
I have an Indiana alto from 1960, which was selected for me by my teacher in 1982. For all kinds of reasons, e.g. switching back to clarinet (and later to tenor sax), I didn’t play it much.

Years later, in the mid 1990s, I used it for a short while in a classical woodwind band (with a Selmer S80 C*), which wasn’t a success. Not really a surprise, knowing what I learned about older American instruments in the meantime.

However, I was convinced that my Indiana had intonation and tone quality issues, and I bought a Selmer Series II alto. My Indiana spent years in its case. Despite also finding a wonderful Martin “The Martin” tenor, I had all but forgotten about my Indiana.

But recently I picked it up again, blowing it with a Runyon 22 I got in a trade, 15 years ago. And wow! That alto is so much better than I remembered! Intonation is great, and it feels (and sounds) like a high quality instrument. Given that I have played a Martin tenor for years, the keywork feels natural to me.

It’s a great change from my Selmer, and a lovely player. The only question nagging me now … should I trade up to a Committee III alto, given how good my tenor is?

(I will share a recording soon)
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