Archive for December, 2011

So, this project has been on my ‘To Do’List for a while.

As I starting collecting various Martin horns and interacting with other people who also collect/play the horns I soon discovered that a number of parts are interchangeable with most of the various lines.

That got me thinking…….if the parts are interchangeable and there are various models that are not as popular as say the Committee model – how hard would it be to create my own version of a Martin that plays great – costs well under what a Committee is selling for (about USD $1.5K – $3K at the time of writing) and will give me the qualities of several horns in the line in one?

I thought some other people might appreciate me sharing my experience in this process in case they had thoughts of doing the same – so here is Pt.1:

The opportunity to start presented itself when I came across essentially a ‘shell’ of an old Martin Handcraft Standard for a mere US $25.00.

This was part of a deal with me purchasing several horns – so at that price I was game for even buying it for the bell. Unfortunately the lead/mouthpipe was damaged – so this involved

With this came the challenge to find a Lead/Mouthpipe, all the tuning slides a complete valve set and a full trim kit. No easy task even with friends and contacts who buy and sell these all the time.

Funnily enough what I thought would be the hardest part to find surfaced first – a repaired Lead/mouthpipe and main reversed tuning slide from a Martin Handcraft Committee.  This part I was able to get as a unit for US$75.00 – not bad when you consider a new pipe alone will set you back $150 – $200.

Of course when you get a deal like the ‘Shell’ what of course happens is 1-2 weeks later the same complete horn turns up on Ebay and you end up buying another whole trumpet again ($220 ish at the time)  🙂  – that particular instrument turned out to good to be true – it had been restored poorly and the 3rd valve was completely shot.

Took me a while to work out why is was playing so bad- but swapping some bits and pieces around (a bonus of having multiple instruments the same) and the problem soon unfolded. Anyhow – I managed to salvage that by pinching all the other slides off the horn for the project and 2 valve pistons (still looking for a third – but have a lead on a set now)

So with the new(old) pipe in hand I took them over to a Brass Tech and had the old pipe removed and a few things straightened out – plus had the HC Committee pipe soldered together  (about $90 all up)

That left the trim kit.

Trim kits for Martins seem darn hard to find- especially the Handcrafts. Thankfully the fact that the parts are interchangeable means that I can use pretty much anything for the trim kits off any Martin.  I tried some Indiana trims and didn’t like it. Then I thought to try a trim off an old Blessing Artist stencil – yep that works and looks a little different. I may change it back later to originals – but right now I am digging the look.

So investment to get to the current stage:

1x Shell $25.00

1x Lead/mouthpipe and tuning slide $75.00 (+$115.00 for solder work, strip old pipe and create an extra sleeve)

1x Trim Kit $0.00

1x Donor Horn $220.00 (not necessary at all – and unplanned – but I pinched half the parts off it)

Freight for all the shipping of parts etc – approx $60

So current spend is around $495.00 – that may seem like a lot for what you see – but the potential is much greater than the $$ sum. You can get horns for less than that for sure. But where’s the fun and learning in that?

Besides what I am looking for is a horn that feels like a Martin Standard – yet plays more like a Committee – the key is finding the balance.

After obtaining all the parts I am debating having everything stripped and re polished – that will depend primarily if the horn sounds good. Alternatively I may leave the whole thing looking like an eclectic mix and just play as is.

More to come…..