Archive for the ‘Martin Horns (Non Committee)’ Category

A horn that was a year in the making!

……. actually it was completed about April of last year but through a series of events never got back to me. (Partially my fault as I kept sending several horns to be fixed at once)

Anyhow the experiment seems to have worked!!

Originally what I had was a series of parts from Martin and someone with the skill and know-how to put it all together in Josh Landress  (Josh is the man for any Martin, Bach or Besson needs you may have – restorations, tweaks etc)

The concept was to use all different parts and see if: a) everything was interchangeable b) if we could make a decent horn for less than your average Committee and c) create something from old parts. The result is a very nice looking horn that looks authentic and plays well…….very well actually.


I would note that a surprise is that this horn plays on the brighter side of the spectrum – the Standards are an all brass configuration – and this one is in raw – so that could be an element of it. The lower nad mid range is full and rich – I do notice that this configuration really closes down when you try to play high – it really reminds me of my old 6310Z – it used to do the same. That lends me to believe that this could in fact be that I need some time on the horn to adapt to the blow.

Other work done:

Josh ended up replacing the worn out leadpipe and set me up with a Landress reproduction. His reproduction looks exactly like the original (I have a HC Committee and compared the two).

Fit and finish on this is great and the valves having been rebuilt give this horn a new lease of life. Not bad for a complete Frankenhorn!

If I’d wanted to be super fussy about this build I would have done the following: sourced an original trim kit – the bottoms from an early Indiana are great as they are essentially the same – the top caps and finger buttons don’t look of feel the same though. However, I must say that I do like the modification – there is a lot more room to hit the buttons vs. the originals – will keep that in mind for future projects. The waterkeys don’t match – purely cosmetics.

For the braces – if I did this again I would opt for the Handcraft Committee style braces – basically a mounted post – although I suspect that may lend it to become even brighter still. All in all I am pretty happy with how this horn turned out and look forward to the next project as I have another Martin HC Standard donor horn just itching to be resurrected to her former glory.





So I finally managed to find a nice set of valves (from a HC Imperial of the same era) to match the project horn – at $69.00 (+$10.00 postage) for a set all the way from Poland.

That meant I had all the parts together that I required – next step was to contact a good brass tech that I know would be able to carry out the job. First to my mind is Josh Landress in New York.

Josh handles Martin Committees all the time and is the’go-to’ for a lot of professionals in the New York area – and he’s also a pretty nice guy. I’ve dealt with him the past and will continue to do so in the future.

So here’s the list of ‘To-do’s/brief’ I sent Josh to apply to the horn:

Looking for a cross between a Martin Committee and a HC Standard.Strip horn and parts to raw brass
  1. Strip horn and parts to raw brass
  2. Clean out parts
  3. Make new leadpipe for horn in HC Committee style (match tuning slide). I sent the original for reference.
  4. Remove non original knob from 2nd valve slide.
  5. Check valve alignment matches and valves are ok – I have an extra set of original valve guides if required.
  6. Sent bottom caps to match – top caps are from a Martin Imperial these may not work – or will require some tweaking to work. I can source top trim if required.
  7. Braces on the horn – would be great to get some that look like a Martin Handcraft. I am 100% ok with fabricated vs original as long as it looks similar.
  8. Finger ring for leadpipe – One from. Martin Custom or Magna would look good. I know where to source one if required.
  9. Waterkeys as is.
  10. Finish of horn – can be raw polished brass or brushed raw finish. This horn will be played rather than for presentation – so whichever makes sense for you.

And there you have it.

Now I just need to sit back and see what the results will be!

Once I get the horn I will of course post photos and do a comparison test vs. a Committee and a HC Standard.

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…..

The Martin Standard

This horn comes from a totally different era – some 80+ years in the past and pre both WW2 and the Martin Committee as most know it.  Around the mid to 30’s the Standard and the Imperial (Handcraft) both existed.

The Standard was essentially an ‘all-brass’ version – where the Imperial had nickel slides and trim. (The exception to this is the mid 40’s models which had nickel trim also).

They were very much a pro horn at the time and were built in such a way.

One giveaway to this process to me is the fact that you find hand stamped serial numbers not only on the side of the horn – but also on the bottom caps and the side of the actual valves. (Having said that tolerances of the later Committees were better as machinery improved etc).

Buying Tip:

When considering such a horn always ask if the number stamped on the valves matches the outside number.

The top caps will also have the same number – those are common areas that are consistently swapped out over the years.

Comparison vs a Martin Committee:

  • More in tune – the mouthpipe/leadpipe contributes to this as the Committee tapers quite a bit vs, this one which looks like it’s a more ‘traditional’ style setup.
  • The valve block is in the more traditonal position vs. the Committee which is actually drawn back towards the player.
  • Mouthpiece receiver is different – the Standard has a receiver more like you would find on an oldConnof that Era.
  • Waterkeys – are the more traditional setup vs. the Martin ‘Trombone style’ side dumps (Very cool loking but almost impossible
  • to replace)
  • The Finger Ring is on the top of the valve slide – Committee is off to the left
  • Trim is different – the standard has small finger buttons vs the wider and thinner versions on the Committee
  • The braces are very different. The Committee has very light style bracing – where the Standard has decidely larger bracing.
  • Bellflare – although similar (Bell Diameter is the same) the flare is less drastic as you approach the bell on the Committee.

So how does it play?

That’s a hard one to pin down as it all depends on the player.

I will say that the Standard is easier to lock notes in – so it gives a much more defined scale – hence more in tune.

To me it also plays a little darker than the Committee – as in it has less edge but more power.

I also feel the projection is slightly better on the Standard than the Committee.

For what you will pay for one of these horns (about a third of the price at least vs. a Committee) these horns are real sleepers. Unfortunately as they didn’t hold the same prestige as the Committee there are far less examples that seem to be available. (Mind you at the time of writing there are 2 on Ebay at the moment).

It seems weird to me that so few of these are available when you can readily find a raft of Martin Dasants from 10-20 years prior to these horns coming out.

I suspect that there is a very good reason for why there are so few Standards out there – yet so many Handcraft Imperials and Committees – but that’s for another time to explain 😉

Happy hunting!

As many of you are aware the Martin Committee trumpet is in the top 5 most famous horns in trumpet history.

There are a few problems with looking for them though: 1) They are getting expensive (usually US$1600+ for an average example) 2) They are getting harder to find in nice condition 3) Red Rot is present in quite a few of them.

So what’s on offer in the Martin line that is an option?

I plan on discussing a few options in installments over the coming months so that people can get a better understanding of what is available. There are a number of great options in the range out of the following Handcrafts, Imperials, Indiana’s, Standards and more.

There are a few pitfalls to look out for when purchasing these horns so I plan on identifying a few things that you need to keep an eye out for also.

On top of this I’m also working on a project horn that will comprise of a number of sourced parts that will detail building somewhat of a Martin “Frankenhorn”.

I plan to detail that with photos etc also.

Stay tuned for details!