Shedding some light on the Martin Handcraft and Committee Instruments

Posted: July 23, 2012 in Guest Posts
Tags: , , ,

One of the beauties of being in this business and having such a niche interest is that we hear from people all over the world.

This information comes from one of our friend via the USA – Chris Dankler is a prolific Ebay seller and collects/studies and sells a large range of vintage horns and equipment. (I thought you would all appreciate me sharing this – and it is being shared with his permission – and we will be sharing more of his information in our Guest Posts section in the future)

He had this to say about Martin Horns: “Hey you guys…..found  your page discussion on the Martin Standard and I can fill in some blanks. If you find a standard with nickel past 42, then it’s actually a discontinued Handcraft Committee …..the earlier standards go back maybe as far as 32….and they aren’t named.

Schilke was doing much of the same design work at Holton early 30’s messing with the placement of the cluster and other little tweaks but really the basic “Committee” design was started 32/33…..they also changed their mid bore to .453 then and also kept their famous taper but increased the bell ending diameter.

I have a 32 horn with the traditional reverse tuning slide/bigger bell but it’s all .438!….(getting a valve job on it). Later they introduced the Handcraft Imperial with all of the nickel and maybe more ornate finger rings etc but the Standard is basically just the plain stepsister!….and most probably all Schilke designed….people think they’re student horns, but people forget that the Indiana line was actually the student line.

Under the Martin name there really aren’t lesser horns…..not only that, even the Indiana’s share the valve clusters and valves….as time goes on the Indiana and straight Imperial are both lesser horns for a while…..they don’t do the step bore and the bells seems to be made of harder metal but due to the design still retain many of the qualities.

Now on top of that, in 55 when they introduce the Magna, the Imperial gets the goofy double reverse slide…..BUT, as my theory goes, they were low on money….as it seems they were quite often…..and my thought is that they used Committee bells on them…..there are some that are also stamped IMPERIAL-COMMITTEE….also COMMITTEE…with Imperial script underneath Elkhart…..on top of this, they use the Committee Finger Buttons too…..and they PLAY much different that the Imperials and really close to Committees, but once again with better bracing.

One thing that is really funny too is that you’ll notice that sometime around 1960, they don’t have that great olive color to them anymore…..some attribute it to having to change lacquers but roughly the same thing happens to Blessing same time…..I think that the brass forging changed, whether they went to cheaper makers or perhaps some industry change…..there really isn’t a horn today that can play like some of the New York Bachs, 50’s Holtons too….and I think all the designing in the world doesn’t help as it is the actual material that made the difference!!!”

Martin Handcraft Standard Trumpets


  1. asoralvin says:

    Thank you VERY much for those hunting tips. BTW, I am a collector of Holton vintage…have been very fortunate that so many folk are mesmerized by the Olds, Conn ,King etc. and that Holton has until recently been fairly ‘an unknown’. Frankly, I prefer the Llewellyn and in fact many of the Revelations of medium (.458) to LL (.470) bores over the range of Martins, Committees included.
    ***In all fairness, if I’d collected over 5 dozen Martins before the prices went Tsunami it may well be that I’d be slightly tilted otherwise. A final BTW, a request; lets take a look at the pre WW2 Vega trumpets and cornets in the future…another near unknown of amazing quality.

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