Saxophone/need age and brand and a value
Can you tell me any info on this sax? My wife is looking for a tenor and I found this one for $$245 but have no idea what brand or the age. I aslo don't know if that's a good price. Any help would be nice.
Based on the photos I can tell you 100% without doubt who made the saxophone however I'm not 100% positive about the name on it. I believe you have a WM Frank Tenor sax that was made by the Martin Company in the late 1940's or early 50's. However I would need to see more photos of the bell at a better resolution. If you could e-mail some to me that would be great I would love to add them to my collection of saxophone photos. My e-mail is email@example.com. I should be able to confirm the label as well.
This is what we refer to as a stencil instrument. This means the company whose name is on it did not have the means to manufacture. Thus another factory would make it for them and then stamp or "stencil" the name of the company that ordered on the bell. This has been a very common practice, today about 80% of all saxophones are stenciled by various factories.
This is a win-win for both parties as it allows the factory to sell a bunch of horns and the buyer gets a better deal. Also the factories would often base the stencil horns on previous models that had already been discontinued or were being phased out. The stencil horns did not always have the more advanced key work that the main line horns had so it gave the factory an opportunity to use up many of the extra parts they may still have in stock. This particular horn seems to be based on the Martin Imperial, however it is missing a few features found on the Martin Imperial.
The serial number don't mean anything. As the horn was not an "official" Martin it didn't fit in the standard serial number list. The buyer could stamp any number on them they wanted to and often did. The only thing a serial number designates with these types of horns is a way to identify one from another. There no rhyme or reason to the serial numbers on stencil instruments so they are not good for dating.
Martin saxophones are known for being very robust and can really hold up. They catered to the jazz and pop music players and are known for having a huge sound. Today many of the professional Martin saxophones are sought after by professional players and I'm very happy to be the owner of a Martin Committee tenor sax. However the sax you are looking at is not a pro horn. It was likely manufactured for the student / intermediate market and was priced as such. As this horn is now 50 to 60 years old, it's likely going to need some TLC. A complete repad on it can easily run $500 to $1000 depending on where you take it to and for that you can just about get any good Taiwanese made student model on the market today. However this horn could be in great shape and ready to play out of the box and needs no repairs. Before you buy it take it to a tech and have him or her look it over and if all looks good than I would buy it. However if it's going to more than about $150 worth of work, I would pass.
If you need to find a tech in your area go to www.napbirt.org and do a tech search for someone in your area. Just give them a call and ask if they are familiar with the old Martin saxophones.
Just to let you know the Martin band instrument company is in no way related to the Martin guitar company. The Martin Band Instrument company was sold in the late 1960's and is now longer in business. However the Martin label and all patents are currently owned by the Conn-Selmer company.
I hope this helps and please if you can shoot some more photos to my e-mail