Saxophone/Martin Alto Saxaphone

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Question
I have an early 1960's Martin alto sax serial no. 85942 (I bought with my paper route money!).  I don't play anymore and would like it to be used rather than sitting in my basement.  Is this something a nonprofit music school would be interested in, or would it be better to sell it and donate the money?  I'd appreciate it if you could give me an idea of what it might be worth.  It has never been worked on, so I'm guessing it need new pads, etc.  Thanks!

Answer
Charles,


Thanks for the question. Based on the info you gave me you have either a Martin Handcraft from 1927/28 or a Martin Indiana from the early 1960's. I'm assuming you bought it new in the 1960's and if it was new than it's an Indiana. The reason I don't know for sure is Martin started a new series with the Indiana's as such they recycled the serial numbers form the 1920's just for this model. The various committee model serial numbers were continuos with the older handcrafts.

Therefore I'm assuming what you have is an Indiana. If it's not please let me know. Just a bit of history on this model. The Indiana was Martin's intermediate line. It was based on the Committee 4, better known as (The Martin ____) Insert , Alto, Tenor, or Baritone in the blank as that is how it was engraved. However the engraving on your horn will say "The Indiana by Martin" or "Martin Indiana". This horn should have a lacquered body and nickel plated keys. Martin marketed this as an intermediate horn however, they played much better than that. I've played several of them and owned a tenor for a short period of time. They were based on the Committee 4 model and that was such and good horn, they actually gave the Committees a run their money. When the Indians are set up properly they can play extremely well and there are some pro players that sing the praises of the Indianas. They are usually under appreciated and therefore undervalued. The only real differences seem to be the slightly lighter key work, and the lack of some of the ergonomics that were built into the committees, including the adjustable thumbhook. Also it seems the brass is a bit thinner. This causes the Indianas to have a brighter sound than the committees but they still sound like a Martin.

As far as what you would like to do with it...I think I would donate it and here is the reason. As you said the horn needs repair (pads). Anyone that gets it would have to pay for the repair. This will lower it's value by the cost of the repair. As I said above these horns are undervalued therefore they don't sell as much as they should. The tenor I had sold for less than $600 just 3 years ago. However to do a complete repad would cost just about as much. I would talk to the school first and see what they are willing to do. If they need an alto sax, than getting this one and putting it into top condition would be less expensive than buying a brand new one and this horn should last them for years as long as the students take care of it. Keep in mind it's not a student but an intermediate sax. Something similar today would have a walk out cost between $1500 and $3000. A new student model can run between $1000 to $1500 or more. However if you decide to sell it, you may get as little as $200 as the buyer will have to get it repaired. After you donate the money, the school will have to spend much more to buy a new one. My recommendation is to donate it, but with the understanding the school will need to have it repaired.  

If I was wrong and the horn is a handcraft from the 1920's than I would sell it as is and take what you can get. The handcrafts was Martins meat and potato instruments during that time and they were over produced. Therefore the market is still flodded with them coming out of attics, garage sells, storage lockers, etc. Although the Handcrafts were great in their time, they are antiquated compared with horn produced after WWII. Also they are difficult to repair properly.

If you would like to send me some pictures, I would love to take a look at them and verify what you have. My e-mail address is charles@harrisbandinstruments.com

Thanks
Charles Harris.  

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Charles Harris

Expertise

questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.

Experience

I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

Organizations
N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

Education/Credentials
St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

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