My Adams F2 in brushed copper.
-tj in the Cruz Mtns
Re-entry Jazz Acolyte. Plays 4th trumpet in Footnotes Big Band. My favorite musicians are in no particular order, Miles, Kenny, Lee Morgan, Dominick, Aubrey Logan, Duke, Count, Thad, Sammy, and Maria. Alumnus of 1984 Santa Clara Vanguard and 2017 Santa Clara Vanguard Alumni Corps
Apologies for the repost. I'd hoped to get the thread I started here but in lieu of that here's what I posted.
This is "TJ," aka "the chief gearhead" on Trumpet Master.
A few days after TrumpetMaster bit the wax termite, my Martin Committee arrived. Like many, I hoped it would return, thinking perhaps it was just another brief outage.
Like you, I'm also a member of TH, but for some reason TM was where I posted the most. I just happened upon some topics others were interested in, and discussions ensued.
Since trumpet pedagogy is complex even when discussed in person, the discussions I found most interesting where equipment focused, specifically threads about vintage horns. I loved the vintage horns "eye candy" thread, and also the Martin Committee "Club."
So first things first, I'm not trying to recreate another MCC, but I would like to solicit the opinions and knowledge of those who either play or have experience with these horns, because quite candidly, I'm absolutely smitten with my recent acquisition, and even the story of how I found her is a good one. If ever there was a horn which lived up to its hype, at least from my perspective, the Martin Committee does so swimmingly.
I'd been wanting to play one for years, starting back when I was a young lad. Then, after my return to playing, and my love of vintage horns (I have a 53 Olds Recording which I bought from the daughter of the original owner) I began searching for a Committee, specifically one from the "preferred era." I played a couple Medium Bore horns, and found them similar enough to my Olds that I didn't see a reason to pursue them.
After searching the usual online marketplaces I found one in, of all places, Facebook Marketplace. Had the seller not been a music professor, author of trumpet methodology books, and mutual friends of a couple people whom I hold in the highest esteem, I'd likely have moved on. But he is all those things, and after a couple FB messages I committed to buy the horn. He was in fact not the seller, but was representing the seller, who was a 70 year old woman, who had owned the horn since 1965 when her mother bought it for her at a used music store in Texas. The previous owner was, according to her, a local musician who played in jazz clubs in the area. She played it in high school honor band, and then apparently put it away and didn't do anything with it for.....50 years.
It is a large bore "Deluxe" model, SN 194587, which puts its build date sometime in 1956 as far as I can tell.
During the week that it took for it to arrive, I completely geeked out on the horn, reading and re-reading what little has been written about them. At this point TM was gone, so I could not read about it there, although occasionally I'd read it through Google archives.
When the horn arrived, I heard the UPS truck at our gate, and then saw my wife walking up the driveway with the box in her hands. She too had been looking forward to its arrival, because she loves me and because, well, she was probably tired of me saying "you know what happens in 2 days?"
I opened the box, opened the sadly non-original case, put my mouthpiece in the receiver, and blew air in to it. After quickly slightly modifying my approach to the kind of air the horn wants, I immediately realized that this horn is unlike any other horn I've ever played, and I was in love. I can't really put in to words how it feels, but the way it resonates and the feeling in my embouchure are large, round, sonorous, without edge, dark, and rich.
The horn is in very good condition mechanically. The valves are fast and not badly worn, and there are only a couple small signs of repair. The only disappointing aspect of it is that someone buffed and re-lacquered the bell, making the beautiful engraving hard to see. There's still enough left for an experienced artist to touch up, and that's what I intend to do, as soon as I am willing to go without having it for a couple weeks. I sent it to my local brass tech to have the bent lead pipe straightened and the horn cleaned, and I washed it in hot water which removed the old cellulose lacquer.
I bought a set of Harrelson's mouthpiece gap shim kit and have been trying different gaps. With my Monette Classic Resonance MP the gap was .226", which by all accounts is way too large, and which strangely made the horn very sharp. With the gap reduced to <.100" it's much better, although still slippery and still produces the known flat 2/3 valve combo sound.
Here are some photos...I'll update the thread when I have more to share. Oh, by the way, I found a woman who can do the engraving through Robb Stewart, and I spoke with her.
-tj in the Cruz Mtns
The seller is a friend and someone whose integrity I can personally vouch for. I’m happy to conduct a play/visual examination as he is local. I’m also a Committee owner/player.
A friend of a dear friend had an old Blessing Artist that had belonged to her dad. She offered it to me and I graciously accepted it. It's a bit banged up but plays nicely. With a few dents removed and things straightened it will be a neat old horn. The serial number is 40756 which seems to indicate a pre-1946 build date (perhaps 44 or 45).
Curiously the horn came in a Conn case, which I'm assuming is non-original. Does anyone recognize the case?
-tj in the Cruz Mtns
This discussion is similar to those that I have about watches and vintage Alfa Romeos, both products made in an era where things were written by hand if at all, which were manufactured in low numbers and which were never expected to become valuable, collectible items.
It’s true that people consider the best years of the Committee to be during the time period you cite. It’s also true that some people believe those same Committees are inferior to the Handcraft versions of the late 30s and early 40s. I’ve never played a Handcraft so I can’t comment on that, but logic would dictate that later horns would be better in terms of quality and consistency. Technology, metallurgy, assembly techniques and other macro-economic factors (post-war worker sentiment, pay, and empowerment) would seem to lead to a more efficient company, and thus a better product.
As for its quality, it remains a Martin Committee. You’re right that it probably shouldn’t be silver, although I’ve occasionally seen other silver examples. If it was made in 63 as the SN indicates, it is an RMC horn, but depending on the exact year of the acquisition, it could be that the case is year appropriate, although I can’t make out the “Wurlitzer badge” and you’re right, it’s not the tan case of the 50s.
What I do know is that I’ve got a fair number of hours on my 56, and that yesterday I played both back to back, and last night sat in my chair with one in each hand comparing them. My 56 is, as far as I can tell, nearly 100% original as the person I bought it from had owned it since 1964 and it was purchased used from a music store in that year.
The only differences I can find in the silver horn are the first valve “kicker” and the shape of the finger hook on the lead pipe, which is just a slightly more abbreviated “C” than on mine. The engraving is obviously new and was done after the horn was plated.
Shawn from Brass Cellar did not question its authenticity or value, stating that rebuilds are becoming more expensive and that the work on the horn alone probably cost $1500+.
What’s most important is the way it plays, and it plays beautifully. It is unmistakably “Committee” in every way, and again, very similar to the things we love and put up with when compared to my 56.
When I hold it in my hands I can’t feel like I am a fool for not buying it, because I don’t think I’ll ever find a better example of a Committee at any price.
I was playing a 2 valve G bugle but without a doubt my favorite musical memory was being part of the Santa Clara Vanguard 50th Anniversary Alumni Corps and our performance at the end of DCI Semi-Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 11th, 2017.
Seemed like it to me…also because of its size. I think the pinky hook is just bent from abuse. I haven’t checked the serial number other than to find that it’s apparently from the early Elkhart production. What other resources are there?
I was recently gifted this, ahem, “patinated” Bach 37. I’ve never played Bach horns for more than a few minutes, and since I play almost nothing but jazz, have never associated them with a sound I dig. But I’m also largely ignorant about them. I know they’re the standard in symphonies, but also used in jazz as well. I’ve also never really dug the sound….I get what they’re supposed to deliver, it’s just not really MY concept of sound.
That said, I kinda like this one. It needs to be cleaned and tuned up. I can’t even remove the valves, but they work pretty well despite only getting oil from the holes in the bottom caps. The first valve tuning slide is seized and it’s a little tweaked. Maybe it’s sentimental; the previous owner was a dear friend and transitioned recently. Maybe it’s my fascination with vintage horns….but I’m going to keep it.
Would anyone like to offer some thoughts? I believe it was made in the late 60s/early 70s, but I’ve never seen one from this era with the first valve ring.
-tj in the Cruz Mtns
I was recently made of aware of this horn by the good people at ACB and I’m obsessed with playing one. If it works for me as advertised, it may just be the horn I’ve been looking for. Fans of it say that it’s round, dark, and warm, while being a very efficient instrument.
There are some cool videos on YouTube by Joe Babiak, a recent convert to Martin’s horns.
Now if I could just find buyers for my Miyashiro and Olds.
Oh yeah, I don’t want to go down that philosophical rat hole, because it leads to all kinds of conundrums, such as “is ‘my sound’ the sound that naturally comes out of my horn, or is it the sound that I want to have come out of my horn after years of playing other people’s music the sound of which I’ve either agreed or disagreed with, then tossed the disagreeable characteristics out and kept the agreeable components, thus inculcating someone else’s sound but tempered and tinged with the elements of my own equipment, age, physiognomy and perspective….damn my brain hurts now.
Interesting perspective that "my horn" is really someone else's horn that the listener tends to admire. That was what roped me into the Getzen 4-valve Etena. Was a real fan of Rick Braun, and at the time I was in the market for a flugelhorn, that is the horn I chose and he is the reason why. However, I sound like me on it, not like Rick Braun, and I am OK with that.
Well that’s partly true. The Benge is more me than the Miyashiro, but it’s still brighter than I’d like. Point is, if there was a situation in which my “next horn” is too dark for the ensemble, I have the Benge as well as the Recording if I need to brighten things up a bit.
TJ, sounds like you answered your own question. The Benge is you!