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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I have a couple of questions about Martin Magna tenor saxes.
From what I have read these are great horns, like the Committee III "the Martin" horns, but fancier...
But, do they play better?

I found ser. # info at saxophone.org for dating
Martin Magna ser#s.jpg

However, I have seen a couple of Magna's for sale with ser. #s in the 300,xxx range.
These I expect were made after the company was sold, by Leblanc or ???

My question on these horns, are they any good? Or Should I stick with the 196,xxx to 218,xxx range horns?

Any info would help-Thanks!
 

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I have a 305xxx Magna and I really like it. As to whether an earlier model would be better, I don't know.
I do know I am very happy with what I have.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the info Bruce!
The missing 300,000 era horns are on this list (which aren't on the site I quoted).
Also good to know about the horns staying consistent, even after the company was sold. I know it seems typical (and sad) whenever a company gets bought out, cost cutting inevitably seems to follow shortly thereafter. That was my main concern with the post-1963 horns.

I actually don't have a Martin (yet), but I am researching so that I can be at least somewhat knowledgeable ahead of a purchase to minimize my chance of getting burned...
 

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Look for any on the Committee models as the series one and two are really great and cheap. I have nice altos for under $1,000. There are quite a few Comm. III altos on ebay right now for good prices. Tenors are a bit higher for series one and two and IIIs are up there right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the info Bruce. Luckily, I'm not in a rush, so maybe the tenor prices will come down a little this summer. Alto prices sound good, too bad I'm not in the market for one...
 

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I have an alto Magna with a solid sterling silver neck serial# 212xxx. I've personally owned three different Committee III altos, and I like my Magna more than those three. The Magna is quite a bit brighter sounding than the numerous Martin altos I've owned & tried. The sound is HUGE. If I played lead alto, I would use this horn. That said, I prefer my silver plated Recording King more than the Magna. The Recording King looks exactly like my Dick Stabile tenor.

Later
 

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I don't believe there is any significant difference in a CIII and a Magna - they are the same horn but the Magna had the optional silver neck, which could make a difference, and a few nice details that have nothing to do with sound. Keep in mind that the Magna also had the standard 'The Martin xxxx' on the bell in addition to 'Magna' and the 'star' device. 'Magna' gets more credibility in the baritone because only the Magna had low A. The longer bell and extra note turned the Martin Baritone into a monster. The Martin Magna Baritone was one of the elite low A baris because it had a completely different bell section than the low Bb bari, instead of a two-piece bell with an extension. So the low A Magna bari bell not only is longer but the bell flare is larger. It also has the unique RH thumb key for low A which short-cuts a lot of linkage for a more direct action.
I have played one for a few minutes on-stage and it is a thunderous bari.
On the alto and tenor, unless you got the silver neck, there's really no big deal about a Magna. Same thing with a 'Music Man' model - it had a couple Magna features but was simply a CIII at the core. At the same time, I completely understand the Magna allure for Martin players. These are rare saxes and few silver necks were sold and fewer remain. I have never seen one myself. A friend of a friend in my area was in a few bands in high school and after, but quit playing in the late '60s. He had a Magna tenor and baritone, low A, and he just put them away in a closest. My friend has tried to get them for decades but he'll probably die with them. Funny thing is, at this point I wouldn't even be interested unless I could get them cheap enough to make some money on them.
 

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Same thing with a 'Music Man' model - it had a couple Magna features but was simply a CIII at the core.
This may be true but I wouldn't trade my Martin Music Man for any other horn. :blob:
 

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About 2-4 years ago there was a mint Magna bari with a low A in the marketplace section. I remember it would not ship and was in Mississippi. A stunning horn for $6,500. It may be on here somewhere.
 

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I also think the tube on "The Martin Magna Tenor" and "The Martin Tenor is the same. I can't find any difference when I compare my -55 tenor with my -59 Magna. Beside the Magna cross on the bell and neck, there are some some extravaganza details on the Magna. - A screw on the neck to adjust the octave key. - LH thumbrest is mother of pearl. - Keys and touches on palm keys, LH cluster (G#, C#, B and Bb), C/Eb are "silver" (I think they are nickel silver. Also som other keys are "silver", All key cups are brass). - Adjustable key guard bumpers. The Magna was 1961 available in three different finishes: 1. Lacquered brass with nickel silver. 2. Silver plated with inside of the bell gold lined. 3. Gold plated and hand burnished. Sterling silver neck pipe was an option on Magna.

I think the Magna was introduced c 1955. Alto, tenor and baritone. I have a Magna low A waiting for me here in Scandinavia. But it's too much money. Which low A American baritone came first? The Conn 11M (1968) or the Magna?

A picture of a Magna baritone low Bb from c 1955.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This is some great information on these horns, especially the much sought after baritone. Thank you everyone for your wonderful input.

So... I have never played a sterling silver neck. Please pardon my ignorance, what is (are) the main advantages over a brass lacquered neck?
Are they freer blowing, better tone, or other advantages ???

I am expecting the cost to purchase is quite substantial, do you think are they worth it?
 

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One technician/craftsman, Allaert Pesman, claimed that the Magna tenor had the same neck taper as the Comm III, but that the Magna neck was longer. At one time he was making replacement necks for Martins. He didn't say which end of the neck was longer. It would be interesting if the neck was longer and the body was shorter: basically the neck/body joint was moved further down the tube. I'll send him an email asking for details.

I've got an early Comm III, a Music Man from 1962 and a late 3xx,xxx Comm III, all tenors in unplayable condition, but no Magna for comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
While hoping for replies, I did do some digging and found a couple of older threads that discuss necks in detail. It sounds like the material they are made of is unimportant, but the volume, bore, shape, and such of a neck will have a greater impact. Probably similar to changing mouthpieces or reed strength (or brand)...

Interestingly along the same lines it seems that the general consensus applies to whether a horn is silver plated, gold plated, or lacquered brass. It is mainly for aesthetics and personal preference, but has minimal, if any, effect on the sound.
All good stuff to know...
 

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Martin committee necks are good. Thicker brass. The necks on "The Martin" saxes are known to "stay in shape". The necks are often the problem when we talk about pitch and intonation problems on older horns. The Martin necks are large at the tip. I have never seen or played a "The Martin sterling silver neckpipe". But I guess it's a solid sterling silver neck. A solid nickel silver neck would also be great. Sturdy like the old Comm keys. I found this explaination between sterling silver and nickel silver: "Currently sterling silver is labeled as a mix of 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent copper. Because pure silver itself is very soft, it is not functional; therefore, it is mixed with other metals to make it sturdier for everyday use. To drive costs down of sterling silver in jewelry and other uses, nickel silver was created by mixing nickel, copper and zinc, with a coat of silver. The result is generally a very sturdy metal that can appear just as precious as sterling silver, with few differences."
 
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