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Changing a Typewriter keywork


I'm Abraham from Spain, I'm a pro sax jazz player and also I'm repair saxes for living.

I'm new here and I'd like to ask to the experts if there is a Martin model ( pre or post 1930) which keywork is interchangeable with my tenor Martin typewriter. At the end is a handcraft, right?

I own three mark vi (94k, 99k and 184k) but these days I always prefer play on my old Martin, I love the SOUND. The only problem is that the keywork don't help me very much at fast runs.

Can you give me ideas? Thanks.


Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Hello there. Welcome to the WF.

Let me say straight up that I am not a repair tech, so I have no idea about which--if any--Martins would have keywork that is interchangeable with your Typewriter.

However, as a Handcraft Phase 2 (68XXX) tenor owner, I now exactly what you mean about your horn's sound. I have a number of other tenors, including a Mark VI, Hohner President, JK Toneking, Zephyr (my main tenor), but the Martin has a sound that is very special. I would love to use it everyday, but the keys kill me. (Especially the left pinkie cluster.)

I have 2 thoughts about your dilemma:
  • You could buy another Martin from a similar era, but without the Typewriter keywork. As a tech you could take a Phase 2 or even 3 horn and set it up ideally for yourself. I suspect you will find the tone is very similar. I'm not sure when exactly the company changed the design, but I know that my friend's Committee III tenor--although sounding really good--does not have quite the same depth and complexity of tone that my Handcraft has. I'm guessing the bore design changed. Not sure when though. Perhaps the owner of themartinstory.net knows.

The reason I suggest buying another horn is because the typewriter models are simply not as common, and it would be a shame to alter one forever, if another sax will give you the results you want.

  • If you are still serious about converting your horn, perhaps get in touch with American sax tech Matt Stohrer. He is well regarded as one of North America's premier vintage sax techs. He may very well be able to help you out.

Hope this has been helpful.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
I don't really know if you can replace the keywork from another models as the keywork is such oddball comparatively.

I was just looking at pictures and was thinking if you just took the top touches off and replaced those. But a lot of those touches are just a pearl holder and pearl soldered to a short arm like found on flute cups. But that's a lot of work plus you would have to fabricate all the touches. Then the side keys are odd shaped comparatively to a standard designed instrument.

You can try a mockup but shaping brass sheet to a certain design and then glue over the touches. Get it to feel the way you want.
Then work on improving each piece with a thicker metal. I don't know if yours is silver plated or not so you'll have to take all that into account.

you can also look at pictures of other Martin saxes and see if the keywork could be similar. The only way to find out is the compare on right next to each other.

I love Martin horns. I even like the pinky table keys. But I haven't owned one for years.
Thanks Helen and Steven,

I own a lacquer Martin tenor sax from 1930. I find very similar the keywork in both Typewriter (you know this is a "AKA" name, the real name is HANDCRAFT) and other handcraft from the age. I supose that if I could get one of those I could interchange it with minimal work.

The point is:

a) If the new handcraft sound as good as the typewriter there is no reason to interchange anything. I could sell the typewriter.
b) Even if I could make new touchpieces in brass, my inicial idea is keep the original keywork aside (the NON INVASIVE way) and adapt the "new one", I mean the more confortable one, to the body of my typewriter. Anyway, I guess that the investment don't worth and I only will get one sax and two halfs.

Add the fact that here, in Spain, is not so common and easy find this kind of Vintage American saxes...

May is time to contact Matt Stohrer. Thanks a lot, again.


Clarinet CE/Moderator
Staff member
Yes call Matt.

The problem with transplanting keywork is you have to account for
- key rod lengths
- the length/angle/obstructions from the rod to the tonehole
- height from the body - posts
- spring cradle location
and just general different design of the keywork due to body design tweaks or just plain evolution/improving.

Just comparing two next to each other you may not actually know until you try it.
Keep us updated.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I find very similar the keywork in both Typewriter (you know this is a "AKA" name, the real name is HANDCRAFT)
Handcraft Master, to be specific ...

Matt's kewl 'n' stuff. Nice guy. I've seen a lot of his work and I like. He's contributed pics to my calendar projects. I don't know if he's done full keywork replacements, but I know it can be done. I've seen a few horns that have "modern" (read: "Mark VI Style") keywork grafted onto them. Examples:


(Note that I'm not recommending, nor am I not not recommending any of the companies in the above links. I'm just giving examples.)

IIRC, the Blashaus Conn tenor was on eBay for something like $10,000, but it also had a new finish added, too.

I've actually played one of the "Typewriters." Definitely an odd feel. I do like Martin's tone concept. I'm not a big fan of the intonation.
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