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Hi, I recieved this morning a VEGA soprano saxophone who is a Martin Handcraft stencil. It has the famous Martin beveled tone holes. I bought it off e-Bay. I was extremely excited to get it as Canada Post was recently on strike and it caused huge delays on deliveries from outside Canada.

Anyway, I checked the horn; the body is straight, it looks nice for its age and the mechanics looks to work fine. So I put a mouthpiece and a reed on the horn and.....damn it is hard to play. Tried again, then tried all of my 5 different soprano mouthpieces, then changed reed number. Nothing works. After 15 minutes trying to play it, the lower octave is almost unplayable while the higher is VERY hard to get. This is the first time such thing happens. I'm a comebacker and I began with soprano after a 10 years interruption and I didn't have so much pain to produce a sound with my other modern soprano.

I had to go to work so I couldn't check the leaks with a light. The e-Bay seller described the horn as ''can play all the scale''....

This is my first experience with an old soprano like this one; I assume they are surely not as easy to play as modern sopranos, but playing my Cannonball is a child play compared to that Vega.

Do I miss something? does it needs a special mouthpiece to play those horns? I play a Selmer S80 C* and an Otto Link Tone Edge 6 with Vandoren 2 1/2. I also have a Jody Jazz HR *6 and a CLaude Lakey *6. I can't make the horn sound with any combination.

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate any opinion.
 

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By nature, Martin sopranos are a little subdued, but are not difficult to play.

Given the symptoms, it sounds like something up high is leaking like one of the palm keys or one of the octave vents. Definitely check it with a leak light. The teeter-totter octave mechanism on these horns is a little tricky to set up. You could
try blocking the pip holes by sliding a strip of masking tape under each octave pad to rule out octave pad leaks. If those are you only problem, then open C#2 should play loud and clear.

One thing to note is that many modern soprano mouthpieces need to be pushed in very far for the horn to speak right and play in tune.

AAMOF, I've got a Vega/Martin soprano on my bench right this very moment getting a check-up. Very nice soprano.
 

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JO, I had a similar issue - now that you mention it and it was one of the springs which was on the wrong side - it was a 10 second fix. I completely forgot about this but now that you mention it (but I don't remember which one it was - most likely the one that closes G#

It could be anything but I thought I mention it. Also check for foreign bodies inside - like a piece of peanut packaging. I ran into a situation like that yesterday when I went from one gig to another and somehow the endplug must have come off, worked its way all the way to the bell and then inside the horn where it was stuck about 2/3 down. I am super anal with my horns and was wondering how I could have forgotten that endplug until I realized (too late) why I couldn't get the lower register to play.

Just another simple check but since you just got the horn, that would be my first one.
 

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Hi, I recieved this morning a VEGA soprano saxophone who is a Martin Handcraft stencil. It has the famous Martin beveled tone holes. I bought it off e-Bay. I was extremely excited to get it as Canada Post was recently on strike and it caused huge delays on deliveries from outside Canada.

Anyway, I checked the horn; the body is straight, it looks nice for its age and the mechanics looks to work fine. So I put a mouthpiece and a reed on the horn and.....damn it is hard to play. Tried again, then tried all of my 5 different soprano mouthpieces, then changed reed number. Nothing works. After 15 minutes trying to play it, the lower octave is almost unplayable while the higher is VERY hard to get. This is the first time such thing happens. I'm a comebacker and I began with soprano after a 10 years interruption and I didn't have so much pain to produce a sound with my other modern soprano.

I had to go to work so I couldn't check the leaks with a light. The e-Bay seller described the horn as ''can play all the scale''....

This is my first experience with an old soprano like this one; I assume they are surely not as easy to play as modern sopranos, but playing my Cannonball is a child play compared to that Vega.

Do I miss something? does it needs a special mouthpiece to play those horns? I play a Selmer S80 C* and an Otto Link Tone Edge 6 with Vandoren 2 1/2. I also have a Jody Jazz HR *6 and a CLaude Lakey *6. I can't make the horn sound with any combination.

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate any opinion.
Sounds exactly like a leaky horn.

You might have one pad that's gotten shifted in shipping, or there may be a pad that's loose and got jostled in shipping to a non-sealing position. Or there could be a dozen old rock hard pads that need replacing.

For sure you should be able to play this soprano with most or all of the MPs you've listed.

You have to stuff a light down it and see what you've got.

Personally I would expect any sax from Ebay to roughly resemble its description, but not a whole lot more.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys. I should have time to check tonight. If the problem isn't obvious, I will just pack it and ship it back to the seller. But if I do it, I'm afraid I will loose the $55 of import fees I had to pay.
 

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It's certainly NOT the make/model of the horn.

It might be worth taking it to a tech for an estimate. If the tech figures out what it is, perhaps you could contact seller and suggest a partial refund; noting that if you cannot get help in paying for repair, you are likely gonna just return it for a refund.
Oftentimes that news makes sellers....um...agreeable.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It's certainly NOT the make/model of the horn.

It might be worth taking it to a tech for an estimate. If the tech figures out what it is, perhaps you could contact seller and suggest a partial refund; noting that if you cannot get help in paying for repair, you are likely gonna just return it for a refund.
Oftentimes that news makes sellers....um...agreeable.
HHmmmm, I confess this e-Bay experience wasn't the most pleasant of all those I had. First, I paid $75 to get a shipment by Fedex in order to avoid delays due to Canada Post strike. It happened Fedex didn't transport the horn from door A to door B but gave the horn to CP as soon as they crossed the border. 10 days delay....then I realised the seller paid only $32 of shipping fees and didn't tell a word about it. I asked for a refund ( more or less $46 ); I recieved a refund of $18. Asked some explainations but got nothing. Not sure asking help to repais will be welcome.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I brought the horn at the job and I had 5 minutes to check it. I already noticed the octave pad doesn't come back completely so the pad do not plug the octave hole....
 

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I brought the horn at the job and I had 5 minutes to check it. I already noticed the octave pad doesn't come back completely so the pad do not plug the octave hole....
That'll cause what you described before. Can you press it down so that it seals, if yes, you may have to adjust the spring. If not, then the arm will need to be adjusted or else the key mechanism is out of whack. Start simple and work your way top to bottom.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Oh boy, no need to go further. I plugged a light in the horn and the only keys that do not leak are, starting from the bottom: Bb, B, C and F. It goes from a light leak who needs a medium pressure to close the pad to leaks that are so large it needs a lot of pressure. The in-between keys are the worse. Didn't have time to check all the high little keys but it should be like the rest. I already see the tech bill.
 

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Wellllllll...that's not a happy story at all....may I ask...how much did you pay for it ? (including ship and customs fees).
 

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bit less than $550. Bummer....could be a very nice horn, but it needs to much work. After double checking I noticed some keys who will need to be straighten; then adjusting keys and pads, will surely needs new pads, some springs are too weak.... and the rest. I will send photos tomorrow.

I will pack it and send a couple of serious words to this seller.
 

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Well, too bad that it turned out that way. Generally it is very difficult to land a vintage 'Big 4' soprano in playing shape for less than around $750-800ish.

Martins are nice ones (when they play of course). Good luck with the return, no doubt you will get your transaction payment back, but unfortunately I have no clue how you might go about trying to recover the customs fees...
 

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Thanks. What I don't understand is that he wrote in the description he checked for leaks and found no one....God!Of course if you push like hell on the keys you will never see a damn leak.
 

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Why not just fix it? These are great horns and a bit of pad floating and sorting out the octave pads should make a nice horn. The octave key crossover is a place that needs to be addressed on these.
 

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Buying a used sax without being able to play it first, you have to figure to spend some money on it.
 

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Why not just fix it? These are great horns and a bit of pad floating and sorting out the octave pads should make a nice horn. The octave key crossover is a place that needs to be addressed on these.
I kind of agree, the horn is 1928-29 with the high F#, just about the best you can get for a vintage Martin with a street price of US$ 1200.- and up. Don't let the grudge about the seller get in the way of having a great horn, even if it doesn't turn out to be the bargain you thought it would be. Sometimes you luck out, sometimes you get what you pay for. At the price you paid, it is not really a rip off, and the alternative is years of remorse of not having "that one horn that got away". I am just playing devil's advocate but maybe you just weigh your losses, give the seller a really bad rating on ebay and enjoy that Martin for years to come.
 

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Mmmm...sorry but you know...when a seller states 'no leaks', then that should mean 'no leaks'.
So if one is buying a horn which is thus described, it isn't very fair to say "you should've expected to put money into it".

It would be one thing if seller had said "I know nothing about saxes, but it seems to be in good shape".

But fact that seller stated it plays and is leak free....no, this is not on the buyer.

Anyways...fixing it ? I guess it depends on cost. I mean, if it needs $500+ of work...and JoJo really only wanted to invest maybe $750 tops in a Sop....then getting the horn worked up ain't really gonna be in the cards, right ?

I agree in perfect, refurbed shape these are worth $1000-1200, but that may be little comfort.

Too bad we aren't in same country, Jo, or I would gladly get that horn back into good playability for you for $300 tops....but add in 2-way shipping and it starts creeping back to $500-ish, I think.....
 

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Mmmm...sorry but you know...when a seller states 'no leaks', then that should mean 'no leaks'.
So if one is buying a horn which is thus described, it isn't very fair to say "you should've expected to put money into it".

It would be one thing if seller had said "I know nothing about saxes, but it seems to be in good shape".

But fact that seller stated it plays and is leak free....no, this is not on the buyer.

Anyways...fixing it ? I guess it depends on cost. I mean, if it needs $500+ of work...and JoJo really only wanted to invest maybe $750 tops in a Sop....then getting the horn worked up ain't really gonna be in the cards, right ?

I agree in perfect, refurbed shape these are worth $1000-1200, but that may be little comfort.

Too bad we aren't in same country, Jo, or I would gladly get that horn back into good playability for you for $300 tops....but add in 2-way shipping and it starts creeping back to $500-ish, I think.....
Sounds like National Lampoon Christmas Vacation to me .. JO, if you need a place to crash on the way, my house is always open and it's just a day trip from here to Jaye :)
 

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I have a Martin stencil, and it is my favorite soprano of all. My poor Yani sits in the closet. I've also played another Martin and that too was awesome, the tech who did the work did a great job.

Martin sopranos are in my opinion the best. I would not part with it - go ahead and get it fixed by a GOOD tech. You will love it........ If the pads are good, then some tweaking and regulation should be enough - $100-$200 maybe.

I can recommend one very good and reasonably-priced tech in Atlanta, and another awesome but more costly tech in Birmingham, if you need recommendations.

Or I'll take it off your hands........ ;)
 
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