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Saxophones "The Martin" Tenor

The Lick

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I was looking into potentially getting a tenor in the next year or so, I've gotten away with borrowing an Indiana for quite some time, and "The Martin" tenor caught my eye. How does this tenor stack up against modern tenors and is there anything I should look out for when looking at buying one? What does one sell for these days?
 

Phil

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France
Its a good horn but it depends on the tone you want. Its not a smooth Selmer like tone. Its quite resonant, spread and rough around the edges. If you want an R&B horn they are great...but if you want refined and finished tone pass it by.
 

saxyjt

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Is the Indiana an alto it a tenor? It's unclear.

I just repaded an alto that I never played much before, partly because it required a repad and partly because the ergonomics didn't feel right. I play Yamahas and these are great from that point view, I think.

Now that the Indiana is leak free, I must say I like it more, although I'm still fighting the ergos. But the tone is not bad at all!

I have another Martin but it's a C-Melody, so it's in a league of its own!

Whatever you want, try it before you buy!
 

Keep Blowing

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I've got a Martin Tenor, I love the noise it makes but as @saxyjt says it not so ergonomically pleasing,. I have got relatively small hands that may have something to do with it,. I have however heard them masterfully played.
 

sizzzzler

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So this is basically, what tenor do we like.
The Martin Alto is a class act that costs nothing because it isn’t a selmer or a selmer copy. And has the added benefit of being solid and tough. But the tenor, not so much.
If it’s a cheap competent tenor why not an old YTS 23
 

Wade Cornell

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I'm going to dare to disagree with Phil. The Martin can be very mellow and smooth, depends on the mouthpiece and your tonal concept. They are and have been used for rougher styles of playing, but that's because they are capable of screaming, but don't have to. The Indiana model is very similar to "The Martin", but the features are slightly different e.g the entire pinkey table actuates G# whereas on the Indiana you have to switch to G# from say low Bb.

Phil is right on with describing the tone as "spread". For me this means that it's not as "focused" with a strong core. There are heaps of harmonics besides a strong fundamental. This means that the player can mold the tone to accentuate harmonics and have a very "colorful sound". The focused tone of Selmers that Phil refers to and other similar horns, is good for having a strong (less colorful) note that works well in ensembles where you want clear clean tone. Ergonomics are certainly better in horns like Yamaha and Yanagisawa, but if you aren't playing quavers at 250 BPM I don't think it's relevant. Most modern horns (R&C excluded) have a much brighter tone. If that's where you want to go then forget the Martin. The Martins, Kings and such are about being (potentially) big and powerful but also mellow, complex and a warm spread of harmonics. Knowing what you want to sound like is the key. If you want modern Ergonomics and a sound like the Martins and Kings go for a modern R&C (very expensive!).
 

Wade Cornell

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Here's a link to a track with a Martin Tenor that I'd consider mellow:
This track is embedded with the friendly permission by the creatives on wikiloops.com
View: https://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-54502.php

The tenor comes in about half way through.
Here's another that's part of this site's Wikiloops section:
Latin - 71
The sax is in the first track, the second is for others to have a go at doing their own improvisation. There's about 200 of these on this site for people to experience improvisation using original music.
 

sizzzzler

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Parker played whatever he could get and sounded much the same. The real question is, what percentage do each of the following contribute to sound, player, reed, ligature, mouthpiece shape, mouthpiece material, sax neck shape, sax neck material, saxophone body width, gradient, relative lateral positioning of tone holes. etc etc.
 

thomsax

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Sweden
I think there is a big difference between an Indiana and a "The Martin". Complete different saxes. But I've seen "The Indiana" and "The Medalist" that were based on a Martin Comm sax. Most of the Indiana saxes were built with old tools (Martin Handcraft Special) and inventory. But Indiana saxes are strong players. These saxes were built and sold as a beginner/student sax so the quality control wasn't so good. If the sax wasn't playing as it should it was better (cheaper ) to give the customer a new Indiana. I have an Indiana tenor -59 in mint condition that I bought for less money. It was more more and unplayed because it was not playable!. Leaks (of course) unleveled keycups that was not centered of the toneholes ....... . I guess that my Indiana is a "take back" horn. After new pads, cork, felts, keyworks, set-up (many hours)... the horn is a good player.

"The Martin" altos and tenors are strong players. Still the first horn for some players in the Rock, R&B, soul, blues ... field. A "The Martin" is blending well with amplified instruments. I also think a "The Martin" is less focused and louder (bigger bell and flare) compare to a Comm II model. Dark sounding sax? I think a Martin sax is bright with good low tones that comes out easy.

If you are going to buy a Martin; take close look at the toneholes joints so there are no leaks. Straight body, stay away from "bananas". Make sure that it has thin pads (0.160" c 4 mm or thinner). You can find Martin saxes with thicker pads. A Martin was constructed to work with thin pads. But they can work with thicker pads. You lose some of fast key action. And if you want thin pads in the original style, just must bend the keys.

Martin saxes are #1 for me.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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I think Phil's comment was more along the lines of old American Tenors being more spread as compared to, say, the focused sorta tones (some might say 'refined') of vintage French and Italian horns...So I can see where someone would feel a Martin has more 'cojones' than the aforementioned...

OK, so...given the OP plays an Indiana (great horns, one of my favorite second-shelf vintage models)...the Comm III is gonna share a number of similarities.
So the tone will be familiar, the blowing response also familiar. The III is wider and darker-toned, the Indiana is a bit narrower in spread and a tad brighter sounding. Basically, the III sounds 'bigger'.
Ergonomically not an incredible difference. Some people say the pinky table on the III is problematic for them...but IMHO it is just a matter of woodshedding with the horn a bit (although admittedly, I prefer the tables on the Comm I and II, myself, and therefore prefer those models to the III).

Great horns...classics....but again, a very different pedigree than a modern horn like a Yama or Yani. So when you ask "how does it stack up to modern tenors ?" you have to keep in mind a vintage American Tenor is a different beast. Sonically it will be wider, darker, more spread. Ergonomically, it'll feel like you are playing vintage-style keywork. If the Indiana feels good to you, the III will probably feel fine for you. Intonationally you can flex a Martin more than a Japanese or a good Taiwanese/Chinese horn. Some players like this aspect.
Others... notsomuch.
If you like how the Indiana blows, you will love how a III blows.

A III Tenor, origional; lacquer, in good shape, has a market value of around $1500. Good shape = no significant body damage and seller confirms horn plays up and down very well. One in pristine shape is around $2000. As usual, better to buy a used horn from a seller with a return policy.

Martin toneholes are fine. I have refurbed well over 120 Martins and have only found leaks on a hole or two on perhaps...5 or 6 of them. Easily remedied. If you buy one which has been serviced recently, you should be fine.
 
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jthole

Member
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225
I think there is a big difference between an Indiana and a "The Martin". Complete different saxes. But I've seen "The Indiana" and "The Medalist" that were based on a Martin Comm sax. Most of the Indiana saxes were built with old tools (Martin Handcraft Special) and inventory. But Indiana saxes are strong players.
Weren't there different "generations" of Indiana saxes? I believe some newer ones were based on the Committee III models.

My older Indiana alto seems to be based on the Handcraft. Nothing wrong with that really; it definitely has the Martin sound and feel.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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Every (same-side bellkey) Indiana has the exact same body and neck specifications, from their first to their last. Some very minor keywork, detail differences, and the engraving and key finishes....were all that ever differed.
 

jthole

Member
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225
Every (same-side bellkey) Indiana has the exact same body and neck specifications, from their first to their last. Some very minor keywork, detail differences, and the engraving and key finishes....were all that ever differed.
Good to know!

I based my info on the generations on this site: The Martin Story - Martin Indiana saxophones

The keywork on my Indiana alto is a bit simpler (e.g. the LH table) than on my Committee III indeed.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
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743
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New Mexico, US
The fellow who made that site did a great job, but he also leaves the site quite neglected for long periods of time, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, I use it as a reference all the time. It's just that not everything on it is correct....

It's just a matter of measuring up bodies and necks. A lot of things have been discovered doing that which contradict oft-repeated online claims....
 

Wade Cornell

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New Zealand and Australia
"Underwater" I LOVE that tenor sound. I wish I could play like that!!!!
Just thought you'd like to know that the guitarist is Australian, so an all Australasian affair. Glad you like the sound of the sax. It's a Martin Com III with a Morgan mouthpiece. Most important is to have a tonal concept in mind more than the actual gear.
 
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thomsax

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Sweden
Weren't there different "generations" of Indiana saxes? I believe some newer ones were based on the Committee III models.

My older Indiana alto seems to be based on the Handcraft. Nothing wrong with that really; it definitely has the Martin sound and feel.
Yes, Indiana saxes were different through the years. The first generation had split bell keys. I have seen an Indiana that was exactly like my 1938 Handcraft (Committe). Solid nickel silver keys, adjustable thumbrest, Committe tone holes (wo beveled toneholes rims), heart shaped lh thumbrest. And for a couple of weeks ago a reapir in USA (the south) showed me a "The Martin Medalist" that looked the same. That's shows you never can tell. I was told by a former worker at Martin Elkhart that most of the late Indianas were based on a Martin Handcraft Special (Martin Handcraft Imperial-Martin Handcraft Standard-Martin Handcraft Special, after Imperial they began to drop the Eb vent, brace on the necks ....). More or less the whole production staff made Indiana instruments. The made many Indianas in the mid 50's. Under RMC's ownership the brandname "The Martin Indiana" Indiana was replaced with model names like "The Martin Imperial" and "The Medalist".

I have just seen one saxophone that was based on a "The Martin" and that's Reynolds Contempera model (no combined neck differnt lh and rh key touches on some "R's on the neck and on the bell body brace). The were both made as RMC's "Official Music Man" saxes. RMSC owned Reynolds and Blessing as well. There is a Reynolds Contempera made by SML in the mid 60's as well. Past RMC ownership. Wurlitzer took over Martin from RMC in the mid 60's.

The best way to see if your "Martin" is based on a Committee model or not, is to look at the tones holes. No bevelded tone holes rims on Comm saxes. This is the low C on my dirty -38 HC (I have slightly oversized sterling silver resonators on this one).
ctonhål.JPG

A picture of Reynols Contempera I found on internet.
contempora-visser.jpg
 

thomsax

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Sweden
Here is an ad from "The Martin Band Instrument Co, - Elkhart, Indiana". From the late 50's I guess.
chief.jpg
 
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