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Martin Handcraft Tenor

Martin Handcraft Tenor

This is one of my backup tenors. It is a Martin Handcraft which I reclaimed from the dead. It has that huge sound that Martins are well known for.

tenor saxophone, amplifier, festival stage, Martin Handcraft tenor sax,
Photo by M. Margison Copyright 2008

It was in many pieces and totally blackened when I found it in a friend’s attic around 1999. It had not been out of its case in decades, and that certain smell that old horns get—you know what I mean—was so bad, you could smell it through the case.

It had definitely seen better days. It had been sitting in its case in the attic in pieces, and was blackened to the point where you couldn’t see any of its silver plate anymore. The original case it was stored all this time, stank beyond belief, even when closed.

I lived in Fredericton, NB at the time, and my repair tech, Layne Francis, was in Halifax, NS (an almost 5 hour drive), so I only went once a year for about a week, and made a holiday out of it so Layne could work on my horns. As luck would have it, I happened to be flying to Halifax for a business trip at some point shortly after getting the Martin, so I made arrangements with Layne to drop the sax off with him.

I flew down on Air Canada Jazz, (fitting name, huh?) with my stinky tenor in pieces, as carry on luggage. The flight attendant was most curious as she stored it in the suit compartment of the Dash 8, but luckily she didn’t ask to see the horn. I’d have been very embarrassed! I was worried enough about any odours that might be coming out, despite my attempts to cover them up through all kinds of elaborate means that I can’t even remember anymore!

My Handcraft has a serial number of 68XXX, which means it’s circa 1926, and is considered a phase 2 horn.

Phase 2 production occurred from 1919-1928. It was in phase 2 that Martin introduced bevelled tone holes. Although phase 2 horns didn’t have a front F key, Layne added one from a YTS-23 when he restored the sax in early 2000. You can see this key clearly in the 7th photo in the following gallery, as well as in the photo above.

Horn Specs:

  • Phase 2 Martin Handcraft
  • Serial #: 68XXX
  • Finish: Silver plate with gold wash bell
  • Features bevelled tone holes, but originally lacked a front F key
  • YTS-23 Front F key added

Layne did an amazing job restoring this old-timer. When I came to pick the horn up, Layne told me that in all his years of working on instruments, he had never worked on a horn that was as dirty, or smelled as bad.

In the end it was worth it. Despite its ergonomic challenges, this Martin can kick some serious ass, but has the ability to play luscious subtones. It is a perfect crossover horn.

saxophone player, sax bell, clip-on  microphone, Martin Handcraft tenor, flamingo vest
Photo by M. Margison Copyright 2008
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