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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I'm really interested in getting ahold of a bari, but it's hard to find many to play.
After listening around, I have an inkling that I might really like a Martin.

I came across this 1956 Committee recently:
View attachment 222696

The lacquer is worn and there some areas that are pretty beat up looking, but the seller says it plays "very well" on older pads.

Any opinion on what it might be worth?
I'm not looking to nickel and dime the seller, I just want to make sure I'm getting a reasonable price.
 

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I have a mid-50's Martin bari. I love Martins, so my opinions are already biased, but I think the Martin bari is a great horn. The one in the pic looks very worn. If looks are important to you, stay away. Are you able to play it? If so, then you decide whether you like the horn or not and whether it truly plays "very well" on older pads. If not, you should only offer a low price or agree on a return policy. If you've never played a Martin, it may not be for you. Some people don't like Martin ergos (pinky table especially) and can't get comfortable with them. And you should assume you'll need to put a lot of money into it to get it in good playing condition. I simply do not believe that it plays "very well" on older pads. All older horns have some leaks and can benefit from key adjustments. If you haven't played it, you have no idea if certain notes are bad or how intonation is up and down the horn. If you can play it, you can make your own assessment. Being able to play it or not before buying is huge. Without playing it, I wouldn't offer more than $1200, and plan on putting maybe $600 into it. (These are just my round numbers; other more knowledgeable Martin buyers and sellers may have better numbers.) If you are able to play it and still like the horn and feel it plays well, you like the sound, are comfortable with the ergos, and think you really want to play this horn, you can offer more. I'd be hesitant to go much over $1800-$2000, only because I would expect to put another $600-$800 into it anyway. If you do put that much more into it, you'll have a great horn. It may still look like a junkyard dog, but it can be a wonderful-sounding bari.
 

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I tend to agree with MMM, Baritones like this tended to have an high price when sold at shops in the NL but they would look much nicer that this. I have even seen once a Magna version with a silver neck struggling to be sold. They generally have their intonation quirks.
This seems to be affected by a general oxidation (which opens always the question what it might have done to the toneholes) on the bell oxidation shows even the reddish tint of some loss of zing (generally superficial) which is known as “ red rot” ( and is a lot less dramatic than what it sounds).

MY question would be even if I get this for €1000 and spend €800 in an overhaul which would need to include a polish, would I get as nice a horn that I would buying a better looking one for more straight away?

The answer to me is, NO. So What I would do is to look for a better looking horn which needs no or little work. I think that in the end is money better spent.
 

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Milandro makes a good point. If you could find a less-worn bari in what you were guaranteed was in good playing condition (that wouldn't need $600-$800 additional invested in it) for, say, $2500, that would be the horn to get. I'd pay more than that for a really nice bari that I knew did not need a lot of work to get into good playing condition.

I want to repeat what I have frequently said elsewhere: I would never buy a horn that I hadn't play-tested first without a return policy. Some of the sellers here on SOTW will accept a return if you're not happy with the horn. If you're buying a horn without playing it first and without a return policy, only offer a very low price so you won't be disappointed if you have to pay a lot to fix it up or have to go to the trouble of selling it to the next about-to-be-disappointed buyer.
 

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Returns are only feasible within one country alone so if you live in the US despite the risk of shipping baritones around, one may do that.

If an European seller sells something to a US buyer and he wants to return it, not only the shipping charges are hefty , but the horn will be subject to VAT ( from 19 to 25%) tax upon entry even if it was still owned by the addressee at one point (which makes also incredibly difficult to send anything for repairs.
 

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I have no idea what to value this horn at money wise.
But a well set up The Martin Baritone is hard to beat.
So if you’re serious about having a great Baritone, and can get a horn like this at a price that enables you to put the money into.
You will have a wonderful horn on your hands.
You would likely never get back what you put into it, but you will have a horn that you wouldn’t want to sell anyway so that doesn’t matter.
That’s my thoughts anyway.
 

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You would likely never get back what you put into it, but you will have a horn that you wouldn’t want to sell anyway so that doesn’t matter.
I like this way of thinking about it. Isn't the point of it all that you end up with a horn that you want to keep ... and keep playing?
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I like this way of thinking about it. Isn't the point of it all that you end up with a horn that you want to keep ... and keep playing?
I'm not so sure, I would advise total caution when buying a Martin baritone without first playing. You could buy it, spend loads on an overhaul (and I would bet it needs one inspire of seller saying it doesn't) and then find the D and E are unfeasible sharp and then you discover "oh, this horn doesn't have an F# trill key!" You ignore that as long as you can but then suddenly be in a situation that really needs it.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It may still look like a junkyard dog, but it can be a wonderful-sounding bari.
I know what you mean - my wife always says I have a lovely singing voice :)

The guy wants about 1700 which seems a little high on your scale, but not outrageous.
Thanks for the input - I'll definitely think hard about it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm not so sure, I would advise total caution when buying a Martin baritone without first playing.
I am also really hesitant to buy without playing myself. I even considered flying out to try it. It's just that there are not very many vintage baris in good condition around to try.

Ok Pete - I gather that you already have a Martin bari, so hopefully I don't get scooped ..
So here is the horn being played - not by me obviously..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzQrbpDXrno

Opinions are most welcome.
 

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These can be incredible sounding baritones, socially superior to just about anything you can find but...
1) the scale is not dialled in like a yamaha or modern horn. The sound is very flexible and and you need to be prepared to commit the time required to learn how to play it in tune.
2) 2nd register E and F are sharp. Put some crescents in. It won't make it perfectly in tune but will help it get closer
3) mouthpiece choice is crucial. Small chambers just don't work
4) Baritones are not cheap to overhaul properly. If the curl has damage it will need unsoldering and it gets expensive, ditto the rest of the horn.


B Flat is right, you will never get back what the horn owes you if you buy it and have it fixed properly. I got mine for a good price but later spent a small fortune on repairs. It ended up a beautiful horn and now has another grateful owner but I never recouped the dollars I put into it. That said, I'm glad I did it and bringing a classic instrument back to life is important to me. I don't regret getting a modern baritone instead though.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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2) 2nd register E and F are sharp. Put some crescents in. It won't make it perfectly in tune but will help it get closer
Put crescents in and it ruins that low end, been there, done that. You can slow try putting something (e.g. blueback) in the neck to help the sharpness at the top, it messes other stuff up. I would say 1700 is very much on the high side for something you haven't tried yourself.

The other issues with martins is that tone hole work can be expensive, as they are soldered on, they can start to come away from the body. It can be patched up with superglue gel or similar but sooner or later needs a rebuild.
 

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Horses for course then. Worked fine for me, took some time to get the size exactly right but low end didn't suffer.
Put crescents in and it ruins that low end, been there, done that. You can slow try putting something (e.g. blueback) in the neck to help the sharpness at the top, it messes other stuff up. I would say 1700 is very much on the high side for something you haven't tried yourself.

The other issues with martins is that tone hole work can be expensive, as they are soldered on, they can start to come away from the body. It can be patched up with superglue gel or similar but sooner or later needs a rebuild.
 

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Do you have a recommendation for a mouthpiece?
I see there is a vintage Martin HR on ebay right now, but a 4* seemed too small..
I would avoid the Martin mpc. I still have the one that came with my Martin Music Man tenor in 1963. It's not good. I play a Metalite on my Martin bari. They're very inexpensive - about $32. There's a long thread about Metalites on SOTW. They're also not for everybody (just like Martins). Players either love 'em or hate 'em. But I think they're well-suited to bari. They're wide open high baffle pieces.
 

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I owned one of these for several years and my experience was basically the same as Pete’s - D2-F2 unmanageably sharp regardless of mouthpiece, key heights or anything else I tried. That being said, it also had the best sound of any bari I’ve played. My question would be what do you want to do with the horn? If you are planning to use it for solo playing, small combo work or R&B stuff the great sound maybe worth a bit of struggle with the intonation. If you are considering big band or concert band playing I’d look for something else.
 

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Do you have a recommendation for a mouthpiece?
I see there is a vintage Martin HR on ebay right now, but a 4* seemed too small..
I use a range of pieces successfully on mine.
My Favourites are an old Otto Link Masterlink 4**** piece that was opened to .110 by Brian Powell.
And a current model Otto Link STM opened from a 7 to around .120 by myself.
The STM has a small amount of added baffle.
I also use a Florida STM no USA 9 and a Woodwind co HR piece also opened to .110 by Brian Powell.
None of these pieces present any challenges tuning wise for me.
And the bottom end is also not affected by the small crescents that have been added to the RH D and E tone holes.
Pictured below.
View attachment 222760
 

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Well, I fail to see how adding crescents to holes that are closed when playing "the low end" would affect it.

That said, I suspect this is a mouthpiece mismatch problem. I say that not because of direct experience with the Martin, but because I experienced exactly the same thing on a Conn 12M with a Vandoren small round chamber mouthpiece. When I changed to a Meyer mouthpiece, I found a totally unexpected benefit which was that suddenly the E and F were much much better in tune (thought still not perfect, see the low C# trick described below). It wouldn't surprise me if the Martin had the exact same issue. I don't know what the acoustical cause would be. I tried pretty much everything on the Conn with little to no effect until I changed MPs.

The other thing that you can do to help that E and F is to open the low C# key. I don't know why it does this, it is counterintuitive, but opening low C# will flatten middle E and F. I have demonstrated it on an electronic tuner. I do this on long held notes where intonation is critical. At this point in time it's pretty much automatic.
 
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