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Hello to everyone on the forum. At 47, I've started playing the tenor sax. I've played guitar for several years and played the tuba way back in High School. So far my lessons have gone well; it's always fun at the start of something new when one advances at such a comparitively rapid rate (sort of a curve?).

Anyway, some other stuff: I bought a YTS52 off of ebay, and soon after was lucky enought to have a Martin Tenor 153xxx given to my by my kid's piano teacher. The Martin was owned by her late husband, a career symphony violin player, bought in 1945 or so for use in a Navy band. He (and the horn) once played for Harry S Truman. It also came Brilhart Tonalin mouthpiece sn 6872, with "3" stamped on it. The Martin is in great shape and has a nice tone.

I tried out the three mouthpieces I had, all with Rico 2.5: the Brilhart, the original Martin mouthpiece and a Yamaha C4. The Brilhart was far and away the easiest to play on both horns. It blows me away how much difference very similar looking mouthpieces can make in producing notes. I thought it was one of those esoteric differences one would discover after years of playing.

It is somewhat of a disappointment considering the Martin's good looks, workmanship, history and heft, but the YTS52 plays much easier. The Martin seems to offer more resistance (I can play long tones longer on it), and it is more demanding in terms of finding notes, especially on slurs. The pads are probably original but seem to be in good shape and sealing and all; my teacher played the horn just fine and loved the tone. Is it safe to say it will get easier to play if I have the thing repadded, maybe with resonators? Is it just the kind of horn that will take some experience to be able to play?

Sorry for the very long initial post. All of my subsequent ones willl be much shorter, promise.
 

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Martin Sax

Welcome to the Forum,

It makes sense that the Yamaha 52 is easier to play. Most of the Yamahas from the student to the intermediate model (52) are designed to blow nice a easy. I would keep the Martin around, but play the Yamaha for now as it will be more rewarding in terms of immediate response and playability. Roughly speaking, the Yamaha is a copy of the Successful Selmer MKVI thing in terms of ergonomics (how it feels) but usually blows freer and more easily in tune, mileage varies with intonation from horn to horn of course... The Yamaha will lack in the more sophisticated "core" sound, (risking the wrath of Yamaha hard core fans...) but thats the trade off for ease of playing.


It is possible of course that the Martin does have leaks etc affecting it and making it harder to play. Its up to you if you want to get that checked out by a good Sax Tech.
 

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Some horns are designed to be easier to play. Older horns sometimes take a little work and getting used to. I like the old Martins - good rock 'n' roll horn. It really comes down to personal preference. For instance, before a performance I did kind of 'on-the-spot' for a friend's party down in L.A., I was given the choice of playing on a couple of loaner horns that happened to be available. These were the Selmer USA AS-110, and an old Selmer SBA, which had apparently been recently shop adjusted. Given the lack of practice time before the show, I was forced to choose the horn that just seemed to work with me at that moment. AS-110 was the solid winner in that competition. Even though the SBA would out sell it by a couple thousand dollars. Long story short, you just go with what works best for you.
 

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In very general terms (some will disagree with me here), a modern designed sax like the 52 will often be easier for a newbie to get going on. Older horns can lack today's refinement and may need the player to overcome this. As you get playing better you'll find the differences to become less and less meaningful.

IMO, you'd do well to put the Martin away for awhile and focus your time with the Yamaha. Then, after say a few months, try the Martin again to see if you're noticing any change in the responce of your playing to the Martin.
 

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You also might consider having The Martin checked over by a good sax tech.

In the recent "Tenor Shoot Out" thread (comparing The Martin to a Conn 10M, Selmer Mark VI, Yanagisawa 901,and a Walstein), Pete Thomas concluded that The Martin was the most "free blowing"

Thinking back, if I had to choose the most free blowing (not always a good thing as some people like some resistance), that would be the Martin but only by a gnat's crotchet.

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=66385&page=3
 
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