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The Martin Committee III Baritone

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to pick up a very lovely Martin Committee III baritone from 1958 in silver plate with gold wash bell. While most vintage baris we see from this era look like they've been to war and back, this one is in very fine condition indeed.

I wasn't looking for another baritone, and was perfectly satisfied with my low Bb Mark VI, from 1967. Then I made the mistake of playing The Martin, and I was hooked. I don't know why these horns have a bad rep for tuning, because I play this baby 100% in tune with no effort whatsoever. The D2 is about 30 cents sharp, but that's consistent with mid-century German horns that I'm used to, so for me this is no big adjustment at all. I'm not even aware that I'm making a tuning correction.

The 2 things that are really odd are: 1. The lack of a chromatic F# key. I use that key a lot, and do miss it, and 2. The place on the neck where the horn tunes. Regardless which of my main m/p's I use (Selmer scroll shank, Berg H/R or S/S) the m/p has to sit way out within a 1/4 of an inch of the end of neck. This combined with where the strap ring is, requires me to use an extra-long neck strap on the horn.

The Martin is going to my tech's shop this week to get the few minor dings taken out, and the C# post pulled out (the bell keys are not easy to play quietly ATM due to a minor leak at the C# key). It will also be totally disassembled and polished at the same time. Once back, I'll have a hard time deciding which bari I want to use all the time.

The Selmer has been my main axe for years, and according to my instructors, when paired with my HR Berg, gives me that quintessential bari sound. But being a rocker at heart, I have to admit, the Committee III just has more of that presence that Martins are known for.

Last week at symphonic band, I had to take the Martin to rehearsal because the Selmer's water key cork fell out. The sound of the Martin caused the clarinets to turn around. One of the players--a sax player doubling on clarinet ATM--noticed immediately that there was something different. He talked to me during break and said he couldn't believe what a difference in sound there was. He too couldn't really qualify it, but the vibrations were just different.

I think that's a really good way to describe it: The Martin Baritone vibrates the column of air in a way that no other baritone saxophone that I have ever played before has.

I'm curious what others' experiences with Martin baritones (any models) are, and how you would compare them to other brands/models that you've played.

Bell-Engraving.jpgRight-Side.jpgFront-View.jpgLeft-Side.jpgRear-View.jpg
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I helped convince Helen to get this horn. I know, I'm an enabler of her sax buying habit.

For the brief while I played tenor -- about a year in high school -- I had a very nice condition Martin Committee "III" tenor. The tone was phenomenally lovely: rich, dark, powerful. It was an awful lot like my Buffet Dynaction alto, but here's the rub: while the Buffet didn't have quite the power of the Committee, it had worlds better intonation. When Helen said that this bari really did have decent intonation and at the price, I encouraged her to go for it. At the very least, I think the horn would be an easy resale. It's a pretty horn, too.
 
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After a late-MkVI/Conn NWII/Conn "DJH Modified" (Keilwerth) route, I landed some years ago onto a 1938 Indiana Band Instrument Company (IBICO) aka Martin low B beast. Wow: another world, as Helen says. Beefy, punchy, edgy, roaring sound. I also had to put my HR Berg about 1/2 inch from the neck end; I then asked Lance Burton (MartinMods, a favorite on SOTW...) to machine a "shank extender" of the kind he's selling here
http://www.ebay.com/itm/MartinMods-...316?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a578adc44
Perfect result. Almost spot on on the whole range.
As I needed a low A for bigband use, I recently swapped the Martin-IBICO against a late Conn 11M...with about the same great sound. My only potential alternative at this stage would be a Martin Magna but these animals are an endangered species and, when they (seldom) appear, are dangerously high priced.
Long live the great American saxes !
J
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that Martin, Conn and Selmer USA were the only US companies with low A baris -- and the Conn 11m is a cheat (it's a 12m with a cylindrical extension) and the Selmer USA was a 1980s horn.

For me, I'd love to try one of the Buescher Custom Built horns. Even though they don't have a low A, they're nice looking horns.
 
Re. the 11M: the eternal half-empty vs half-full glass discussion. Half-empty: it's a cheat, the bell is not fully conical, the Bb is stuffy, etc. Half-full: simple and cheap engineering solution to a marketing problem (more and more low A's used in arangements). The end-result is an extremely strong bari the sound of which, to my ears anyway, outperforms all MkVi to SA II to most of Taiwanese saxes I had the opportunity to play or listen to. Accoustically, it seems that the importance of the lower section (the bell) being conical or not is purely cosmetical. But all this is a matter of taste (usual conclusion of such debates...)
J
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
I realize it's likely too late now Jacques, but did you consider using a low A extension for your low Bb bari, before you parted with it? I've been using the extension that Paul Coats developed for over a decade now, and it works really well. I've received emails from studio musicians who have used it, and have thanked me for allowing them to find a way to keep their favourite horns.

Re: the Martin Committee III bari.

Thanks for reminding me about Lance's shank extender. I'll email or phone him. Last I heard he was in Seattle, so he's close by. If it works, it might be worth a try to pick one up. I'll talk to him about it. I've always had a good relationship with him.

Yesterday I visited my bari in the shop. I think I'm going to opt for a repad now that it's taken apart. Although the pads are all still fine, they are a real mishmash of pads and resos. The one plastic reso looks like the tech butted out his lit cigarette on it.

Bari-Bits.jpg

If I get the work done now, it will basically be $300-400 less than if I wait a couple of years and have everything taken apart again. A bit of a no brainer really.

The good news is that only 1 tone hole was found to be leaking: the low Eb, and there were only 3 keys that needed swedging. David knew the horn was in good mechanical shape, but he didn't believe it was that good. Once the minor dings are taken out, and it's polished, this baby will be one very pretty, monster horn.

For resos I'm leaning towards flat metal. That sound right to you Jacques?

Anyone else have any suggestions for resos? The pads David normally uses are Prestini, and I'm fine with that. I don't need him to order anything special for me. All the horns he's restored for me he's done in Prestini pads, and they all do really well.
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Well, flat metal with a gigantic screw in the middle was what was on my Buffet Dynaction. Very similar tone ....
 
I realize it's likely too late now Jacques, but did you consider using a low A extension for your low Bb bari, before you parted with it?
Helen, thanks for the suggestion; we should have been swapping messages earlier ! And, besides, I reckon I had never heard of such contraption, which doesn't look too ugly. The third option would have been to take a crash course in yoga and plug the bell with the foot when needed; at an Aebersold workshop held in London some years ago, I played in a big band with a British fellow who did this with unbelievable ease, all along a rock-fusion arrangement overflowing with low A's.

Re: the Martin Committee III bari.

Thanks for reminding me about Lance's neck extender. I'll email or phone him. Last I heard he was in Seattle, so he's close by. If it works, it might be worth a try to pick one up. I'll talk to him about it. I've always had a good relationship with him.
It's the third extender I'm using (one for my Drake Contemporary II, one for the Barone - same as for a Link STM - and one for my back-up HR Berg). They all came quickly, at a very reasonable price and perfectly machined. The only requirement is that the shank must be cylindrical...If not, you can have Lance turning it on a lathe.

For resos I'm leaning towards flat metal. That sound right to you Jacques?
Frankly I don't have any hands-on experience with different resos on the same sax. The flat metal are those I have on my 11M and it roars...
 
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