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Martin Handcraft
Imperial Tenor

Serial Number 106841
I date it to 1933.

SOLD - DEC., 2010

A young tenor-player from New York came in and kindly test-played a bunch of my tenors.
Here's what he had to say about the Handcraft Imperial:
-- Effortless subtone
-- Rich in harmonics
-- Sound jumps out of the horn
-- Exciting, you can make it scream if you want
-- Intonation very good
-- "Wide" sound

Below are some mp3 sound bites of the Martin playing. I recently upgraded from an AKG microphone to a Shure SM57 in the attempt to more accurately convey how the horn sounds. I am thinking I might try a pre-amp.

This is a bare brass horn.
While I've come across my fair share of Handcraft Imperial altos, this is the first tenor I've laid hands on.
They are pretty rare...not sure if they didn't make many or what.
These were professional horns, on the vanguard, before World War II.
What little lacquer was left on it was painstakingly removed by hand.

This horn has a couple of 'augmentations'.
It makes me think that this horn was someone's "baby" and he had these enhancements added.
And with good reason. When it was built, this was the earliest Martin sax to have the bellkeys both on the same side.
The Conn 'Transitional' New Wonder transitioned to having the bellkeys both on the same side in 1931.
Buescher horns maybe went to bellkeys on the same side with the Aristocrat Series I, sometime in the mid 30's

This tenor may also have been first from that manufacturer to have the articulated G#

And it also has a front high F and no G# trill key in the lower stack.

The low Bb fingertouch was extended and a roller added.
I've boxed in the added part with a pink line.
This augmentation makes ergonomic sense and has been done to other older vintage Martins and Bueschers that I am aware of. Likely, the owner of this Imperial saw how the later model Imperials came out of the factory with the larger Bb fingertouch and had a technician modify his to a similar style.

The keyguard for the bellkeys was added to.
I've 'shadowed' the added portion with a pink line.
The owner of this horn...in pursuit of historical authenticity, restored the keyguard back to its original state, removing the extra part.
The "after" photographs are the 5 pictures at the bottom.

The neck of this horn has the same serial number as the body.

You can look HERE for pictures of some other Handcraft Imperials.

You'll notice that it also has the forked D#/Eb mechanism.

Besides all the cutting edge innovations this horn exhibited, there is a good reason why someone loved this horn.
This horn has a bottom end like Odin calling down from Valhalla.

So...this horn is around 75 years old. It has had lots of dentwork and solderwork...
no bones about it...the neck, the body, the bow, the bell.
I removed and straightened and resoldered the low D# keyguard.
The bodyside foot of the bellkey keyguard has been resoldered.
The bodyside of the bell brace has been resoldered.
And there has been other resoldering done elsewhere.

There is some rippling from dentwork...it makes the horn look like it was hand hammered, but not dented or mishapen.

The soldered-in bevel-topped toneholes are in good shape.
I can detect no leaking in any of the tonehole seams, nor the body-to-bow, nor bow-to-bell seams.
The bow somehow seems to have avoided any bottom-flattening...it looks good and round.

The intonation is really good...I'd even say great on this horn.
When I first played it against the tuner it was dead-on except for the highest keys...the High E and High F.
I lowered the key height opening of those two and it brought the pitch right down.

And like I mentioned, this horn has that toe-curling bottom-end that makes Martin horns so popular.

The horn comes with a lovely, authentic vintage Martin case.
The hardware works, the latches flip up, etc.
There is wear on the bottom of the case and there is staining of the interior green plush.

As usual, I've taken too many pictures. But then again...if you are in Timbuktu or somewhere remote, you might appreciate the pictures before you buy it and pay for shipping. My intent was to take multiple pictures of the worst of the dents and resolders.

Martin Imperial Tenor


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