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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have alto and tenor "The Martins", really like them although the intonation isn't the best. I got them on the advice of my teacher, he plays one and says they're the best value going. But question - I've seen many posts extolling the great rich mellow "Martin Sound" and I've also seen numerous references and comparison tests by reputable SOTW members which describe Martins as best suited for rock n' roll. Can anyone explain this? Or is there no commonly accepted opinion on the sound of a Martin? Or maybe the whole "sound" thing is a myth. Can anyone enlighten me?
 

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I have owned 4 the martin tenors and 2 comittees the 4 the martins had slick action great intonation and could out power 3 mark 6s put togeather.only knock is that they have a big what id call 5os american fat tenor tone.but not the selmer vibe that most people chase.good horns and the martins used to gofor a grand.higher now k
 

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The great thing about martins is that yes, they have great depth, colour and warmth to the sound but when you put a high baffle mouthpiece they take on a punchier sound whilst retaining that great depth of colour.
As for the intonation.....1) make sure you don't blow it like your other/previous horn ('The Martins' have perhaps themost in tune octaves) 2) perhaps tuning is an area of your playing you need to develop.
Martins are no less in tune than any selmer, they just have different tendencies.
My first Martin was a '51 alto, coming from an 82z. It took me a good month or two to BEGIN to learn the intonation tendencies of that horn.
 

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that they have a big what id call 5os american fat tenor tone
I agree. That's the Martin tenor sound. If you like it, they're perfect. Great for blues and rock covers a la Springsteen, too. Don't try to get them to play focused and tight like a Selmer, though. I just spent 6 years trying that... new horn should get here tomorrow!!!
 

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COmm III ("The Martin") horns have the "50s American fat tenor sound." Yep. Earlier martins can be quite different -- the old handcrafts are birds of a completely different feather. But yeah, thats a good description for The Martin sound. Spread, fat, naturally dark, POWERFUL.
 

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I have owned quite a lot of Martins. I currently have 14 altos, 2 tenors, a C melody and C soprano. The R&R connection seems to have a lot to do with the soldered tone holes. This gives a horn a booming low register that can handle anything the mouthpiece gives the horn. I had about 4 Selmer tenors in college and my roommate's Indiana was a better horn!
I find that my Handcraft Imperial from the 30s has a buzzy sound and carries very well. My Comm III is more centered and tight. I recently sold a Comm II that was in between the others. So what I am saying is that the newer, the more refined....the older the blastier.
Martins are still my favored tenor and the baris are the all around best, no question for me.
My tenors will take about any mouthpiece I put on them. As mentioned above, you can put a modern baffled mouthpiece (I use a Metalite) and get a cutting sound or a middle of the road (I have a Morgan Excalibur, Meyer and Brilhart) mouthpiece and get a good studio sound. For classical, I probably would use a Comm III.
Intonation on any of the Martin tenors I have owned is as good as any brand. All of my post 1930 altos are better in tune than my Mark VI.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all, I appreciate your thoughts, but, my basic conundrum is this: if the distinguishing characteristic of a sax is supposed to be its rich full tone, how then can it be regarded at the same time as an R&R horn? If the sound is so great why isn't it thought of as being a great ballad horn? Maybe I don't understand what qualities make ta great R&R sound but a "rich" sound doesn't seem to be one of them. Can anybody educate me on this?
 

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I agree. That's the Martin tenor sound. If you like it, they're perfect. Great for blues and rock covers a la Springsteen, too. Don't try to get them to play focused and tight like a Selmer, though. I just spent 6 years trying that... new horn should get here tomorrow!!!
So what horn did you get to replace that kick butt Martin of yours?
 

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I keep in mind that all players are different, and a skilled player can get pretty close to whatever sound they want from any horn in good adjustment. With that said there are clear differences between horns.

For me, Martins have always had the "dark and smoky" thing down perfectly, more so than any other horn. But, of the twenty or so pro Martin horns that have passed through my hands, I've never played one that could give me the kind of R&B sound I can get from a vintage Conn, a modern Yamaha, and to a lesser extent a Selmer horn (even with a high baffle mouthpiece on the Martin). I do believe they can do it. Just not for me. Not yet anyway.

So, I understand the confusion of the OP to a point because the R&R/R&B side of the Martin thing never materialized for me, even with my latest attempt. It was a Comm I alto with Roo pads and metal resos.

Intonation is a challenge on some I've had, but not all. Bruce mentioned above that "All of my post 1930 altos are better in tune than my Mark VI." I don't doubt that, but I think that is a poor comparison point for intonation. There are some Vi's that have pretty poor intonation. A Yamaha or JK might be a better reference point.

However if you have any doubts that Martin horns are capable of the R&B sound search this site for some of DanPerezSax's or MyMartinTenor's clips. It works in the right hands. My only remaining question is how the same clips might sound on a 1936 10m :)
 

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My only remaining question is how the same clips might sound on a 1936 10m :)
How'd you guess that my second favorite tenor is a 10M? I prefer a good 10M to Comm-I and Comm-II Martins. If I couldn't play a Comm-III tenor, I'd still own one of the 10M's I've had.
 

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The Martin sound (talking 'The Martin', after WWII until the '60s) is typically called 'buttery'. I guess this means to me it plays easier and has a more spread sound than a very focused Selmer Paris. I play both types and enjoy them both. I got my Martin tenor about ten years ago because I had picked up a Martin bari and thought it would be cool. The ebay seller kind of stuck it to me by not revealing the extent of the damage to the horn in text or pictures, but I got it for $635. I sent it to Fowler Music up near Baltimore for the overhaul and a few solders. When I got it back, I never played it until I took it on a small bar gig. I also took the MK VI just in case. Well, the MK VI stayed 'in case' because when I blew the Martin at sound check I was floored by the sweet, flowing way it played, and even with a Guardala 'King Curtis' it had that warm, slightly spread sound. Okay, I'm a rock/blues/whatever player, and I had a blast on it that night. As it turned out, I played the Martin with that group (mostly Country and old rock) and my Selmer with my big R&B/Motown group. When the Country band dried up, I basically quit playing the Martin but now I'm thinking about getting another overhaul on it, this time with the correct thin pads. I had them put in Selmer pads last time and they're really too thick for the action.
Anyway, here are my two Martins on a gig with that crazy Country band at the VIP lounge about 1999 (we called it the HIV lounge;)).

 

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The Martin would be darker sounding and can be louder mostly in the lower end. That one that sold in Italy is an early series two Handcraft. All of the Martin tenors have a great sound but the ones from the HC Imperial through the Committee III have better intonation.
 

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For tenors and baris, I find Martins to be the only choice. I do have about 15 Martin altos.....gotta thin the herd!
 

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Not sure if this is the best place for this question

Im scoping out a 85xxx series Handcraft (about 1930??) in very nice cosmetic condition tho needing some work, but nothing 'broken'.

I have a late 50's Indiana for sale, btw, but want to know if its my imagination or the high end of the Indiana is much weaker than the older Handcraft.

Also, isnt the overall tone more 'complete' in the Handcraft/ is the fundamental design/bore very different? The problem is I play tested the Handcraft outdoors! at a yardsale and of course my Indiana I only have played indoors.. hmmm the handcraft seemed to have a similar feeling overall but somehow more controlled.

Also, what should I pay for the Handcraft (needing about 200.00 in work up)? but an 7.5 out of ten on cosmetics and condition. No case but that's OK.

and ah.. don't forget about that 9 out of 10 Indiana in FS list ; )
 
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