Saxpics doesn't seem particularly high on Martins generally, but he does seem to like the Stabile models. I'm not sure how "sought after" they really are, but I do think they're fairly rare. "Sorkin" was, I think, just the name of the music store in New York that marketed them; having said that, I seem to remember reading someplace that the "Sorkin" Stabiles were better, i.e. as if there were non-Sorkin models too?
I don't know anything about the altos, but I recently bought a tenor with a similar serial #. It's the same lacquered model with the nickle silver keywork shown in the picture (you'll find lots of pics of my sax if you do the SotW search Bruce suggested). I can't agree with you about the engraving though--it seems very plain jane to me, especially in comparison with the spectacular work on similar vintage Martin Committees. The lacquer itself is also beauty-challenged, in fact I wish mine would hurry up and rub off. That said, I'd say this is a great horn no question. If anything, my guess would be that the altos are even better. Dick Stabile himself was an alto player, and apparently a master of altissimo playing. Just as Saxpics says, the intonation is very good for a 40s sax and the tone is really something else. The ergos are, however, a bit rough, and I'm actually experiencing some hand and shoulder pain getting used to mine--I'm assuming that'll go away after awhile. It's a very heavy horn--built like a tank.
The only other vintage horn I can compare it to are my old King Cleveland, and the thing I like about the Dick Stabile in particular is that it has a huge bottom end like the King, but the upper end is equally strong and sweet, and the "big" sound of the Martin is clearly more complex and subtle than the King. This is a horn to do longtones on for sure! You really could do everything from honkin' to ballads on this sax. It also feels much more solid in your hands. If there is one drawback--which I gather is less of an issue on alto--the low C# key is really really heavy. It's articulated with the (very cool "Dick Stabile") G# key, and the two of them together weigh a ton!
Are you looking at buying a Dick Stabile alto? You may not need this advice, but if you can, have a good tech look at it before you decide. If it's in need of repairs, this can add a great deal to the purchase price. The folks on SotW will also be happy to opine on the right purchase price
Thanks for the info. I purchase a Sorkin Dick Stabile alto sax from Perry Ritter in NYC for my studio about 10 years ago. It's in excellent condition. It was seldom used so I was planning to post it in the "for sale" section.
A forum community dedicated to saxophone players and enthusiasts originally founded by Harri Rautiainen. Come join the discussion about collections, care, displays, models, styles, reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!