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Discussion Starter #1
I know the Committee III has been compared to a lot of other horns...Conn 10m, King Super 20, etc. as well as Comm I and II's, but I can find relatively little comparisons to the Handcraft Standard, in fact I don't see a lot of info on the Handcraft Standard at all (actually mine is a "Handcraft Standard Special", 1939). I'm thinking of maybe "upgrading" to a Comm III but would like people'e thoughts. I'm already aware that "some people" consider the Handcraft Standard an "intermediate horn" due to watered-down key work as Martin transitioned to the Committees, but I don't think they ever advertised it that way. My concern isn't so much key work as what other differences there might be that would impact tone. More specifically, I have seen many comments that the Comm III is a "heavy" horn. I find my Handcraft to feel rather light but I don't get to play other tenors so it's hard for me to compare. But that "heavy" comment got me thinking if there were perhaps differences in the brass etc? I know mine has the standard soldered tone holes - but I guess all Martins have that.

So....for those that have played both, or have enough "Martin experience" to make some educated assumptions, I'd like your opinion of how these 2 horns compare or might compare. Note: Just to put it out there....I'm aware the player and mouthpiece have a far greater impact on sound than the horn. But if I can even get a minor improvement in tone with a Comm III, I'd consider making the switch.

Just really looking for opinions.
 

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I have both and did a 'shoot out' with them. Actually, I have 3 Martin tenors but the best sounding one - 1920 gold plated HC - has the harshest ergos of any sax I've played. For the record, the HSS is 1942 and the Comm 3 is 1954.

Sound wise, it's a draw. Both are better focused than a Conn but not as tight as a Mark 6. Using the same mouthpieces, they sound close enough to call it the same. Where they diverge is in the ergonomics. The first things that hits you are the large, flat key pearls and the balance point of the C3. The HSS is not as likely to knock your front teeth out as a 10m but it's close. Personally, I prefer either to the 10m and sold off a nice 316xxx to Leon after deciding that the Standard was more to my liking.

You mention the keywork which is not 'watered down'. It is, however, the older (20s?) design which puts the stack keys on a single rod for each. As long as the rod is true and the hinge tubes not binding, it will play as fast as you can. The HSS may have an advantage in that the G# is not articulated to the Bb spatula keys which means those keys have a lighter feel. One of my pals stopped using a Comm 3 because his was stiffly sprung. Teflon on the G# helps but that spring is often tight to keep the G# pad closed. Not being articulated also makes it easier to regulate since you don't have to have a perfect helper arm fit keeping the G# closed when playing the bell notes.

So, I would never try to talk someone out of buying a Comm 3. If I had to take one horn to that desert island, it might be the one. You get that killer sound you are familiar with and better ergos. But, if it's just about sound and you want something different, there are other places to look. If you want a second horn and want something that sounds close, that's reason enough right there to have one.

HTH, Cheers.
 

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I have both and did a 'shoot out' with them. Actually, I have 3 Martin tenors but the best sounding one - 1920 gold plated HC - has the harshest ergos of any sax I've played. For the record, the HSS is 1942 and the Comm 3 is 1954.
A 1920 version ? Wow, that's pretty early ! So, it's in the lower 20,000 serial number range ?

I have an 89,000 range HC tenor en route that I'm looking forward to trying.. made in 1928 I believe .


What makes that one the best sounding of the 3 and what mouthpiece do you use with it ?
 

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if we are talking altos, I own a Committee III and a Handcraft standard. Both are wonderful (I only play Martins) but the Committee III has a harder sound that I like, and more resistance; which works well for me as I tend to play mouthpieces with softer reeds and smaller openings. Truth is, if I could afford it, I'd get 2 more Committee III's.
 

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Yes, it's SN 229xx.
For the three way play off, I used a Link STM 6*. Funny that the 80yr old big band player that I got it from was using a Dukoff D6 when he retired, I felt a Link style was more fair for comparison. Between the HSS and the C3, I added in a couple of metal mouthpieces - a Guy Hawkins 9 and a BARI .110 (high baffle) both of which were made for Jay Corre by Wolfie.
As to tone of the 22k, it's just a little thicker and fatter than the others. You'll probably get that same experience with the 89k. They were made so heavily and maybe that makes a difference. We often hear players raving about the tone of various saxes of various makers from the early 20s. They have great personalities.
 

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if we are talking altos, I own a Committee III and a Handcraft standard. Both are wonderful (I only play Martins) but the Committee III has a harder sound that I like, and more resistance; which works well for me as I tend to play mouthpieces with softer reeds and smaller openings. Truth is, if I could afford it, I'd get 2 more Committee III's.
Sounds like I have to check out some Martin altos in the future !

I've owned and loved a Martin soprano but it's been awhile-- probably 14 years ago-- I had to sell it on short notice.

Yes, it's SN 229xx.
For the three way play off, I used a Link STM 6*. Funny that the 80yr old big band player that I got it from was using a Dukoff D6 when he retired, I felt a Link style was more fair for comparison. Between the HSS and the C3, I added in a couple of metal mouthpieces - a Guy Hawkins 9 and a BARI .110 (high baffle) both of which were made for Jay Corre by Wolfie.
As to tone of the 22k, it's just a little thicker and fatter than the others. You'll probably get that same experience with the 89k. They were made so heavily and maybe that makes a difference. We often hear players raving about the tone of various saxes of various makers from the early 20s. They have great personalities.
Can't argue with that at all . I've played a couple of Comm II tenors in the past and one other III tenor also, and to my memory
those were some great sounding tenors I just wasn't in the market at the time. So I'm looong overdue to get back into one of
these.

I'm pretty sure Sonny Rollins was playing a HC tenor on the WORKTIME album he made when he got back to NYC in Dec. 1955.
He went to a MK VI the next year but the tone on that album was very thick and fat, so that's where the curiousity lies for
this particular model Martin .
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So, I would never try to talk someone out of buying a Comm 3. If I had to take one horn to that desert island, it might be the one. You get that killer sound you are familiar with and better ergos. But, if it's just about sound and you want something different, there are other places to look. If you want a second horn and want something that sounds close, that's reason enough right there to have one.

HTH, Cheers.
Unfortunately, this wouldn't be a second tenor. If it was, it'd be a no-brainer and I'd just grab a Comm III. But I'd have to sell one - therein lies the dilemma. What I'm getting from these posts is the sound between a HCS and a Comm III is roughly equivalent but there's still something a little magical about the Comm III's....

Ugh.
 

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Quite honestly, I prefer the keywork on the pre-III horns myself...

As you probably already know, H'Craft Standards and Specials do not have a very high market value. III's do, relatively, although honestly the values are WAY lower than they were 8 years ago.

If it is worth anything, I have found that some people find the H'Crafts to be a bit harder to control intonationally than the III's....

Dunno if anyone would wanna chime in about their experiences on that.
 

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I have a CIII and sonically it's probably my favorite horn to play (out of a Mark VI, King Super 20, and Borgani Jubilee). However, the pinky table and low C table are tough on me, so it stays in its case most of the time which is unfortunate.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I have a CIII and sonically it's probably my favorite horn to play (out of a Mark VI, King Super 20, and Borgani Jubilee). However, the pinky table and low C table are tough on me, so it stays in its case most of the time which is unfortunate.
Which goes back to StuartSax's point that the pinky cluster on the HCS might actually be easier on me ( G# is not articulated to the Bb).

The hardest ergo issue I have with the HCS is the low Eb key being too close to the D ring finger key, for me anyway. I have somewhat large hands. Does anyone know if the Comm III is the same (It's hard to tell from pics, but I do see the Eb/C keys are "tilted" at an angle on a Comm III whereas mine on the HCS are straight)?
 

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The pinky cluster on a Comm III is not as comfortable as the Handcraft. I think the HC comm 1 is one of the best sounding tenors ever made. I have never played the HC standard.
 

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Well, this was very good post. As even more excited for my Comm III to be delivered. I have a Sax Dakota Antique Brass Finish that I am very pleased with the build and sound. Hearing so much about Martin's, I decided to join the club. I might sell the Sax Dakota solely based on I'm not a collector.
 

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The hardest ergo issue I have with the HCS is the low Eb key being too close to the D ring finger key, for me anyway.
That's why I don't like The Martin tenors; the close proximity of the Eb to the D. I do have a Handcraft split bell stencil tenor that simply has the buzz and hum you might feel from a good VI. Great sounding horn.

Wanting a III might simply be horn envy. Handcrafts are underrated and undervalued horns. I'd only replace yours if you had actually tried a III and felt an overwhelming difference.
 

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I just picked up a 1938 Handcraft Standard Tenor the other day and had a lot of fun playing it against my main horn which is a 1969 Committee III. In my opinion once you are used to the table on a Martin horn they both can be played really quickly, but I will say that the CIII definitely felt smoother under the hands and I think going from a HS to a CIII you would definitely feel the improvement on the table keys. I thought the HS had just as rich of a tone as the CIII (if not a little richer tbh) but lacked the flexibility/complexity of the CIII imo. Not worth spending a fortune to upgrade but if a good value CIII comes along you would notice the difference.
 

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[snip]
I'm pretty sure Sonny Rollins was playing a HC tenor on the WORKTIME album he made when he got back to NYC in Dec. 1955.
He went to a MK VI the next year but the tone on that album was very thick and fat, so that's where the curiousity lies for
this particular model Martin .
There are pictures of him live with Clifford Brown where he appears to be playing a split-bell Martin.
 
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