For Sale – 60’s Martin Magna alto …

Click here for more info on, and pictures of, the Richards Martin Magna alto sax... Very sad day, but, as they say, “Times is ‘ard…” – and I’ve taken the decision to sell the Richards Martin Magna alto and use the money, rather than let the alto languish in the case (just like so many C-Mels did…).

So if anyone has a spare 1400 UK Pounds – that’s around, at today’s rates, US$1900 or 1500 Euros, plus shipping  – they’ll be getting a gorgeous old lady with loads of spirit !  Click on the picture ( or here ) for more pics/info and a sound clip.

I have a few lesser Martin and Martin stencil alto’s around the house, so I’ll select the best of those (best player, naturally, not looker) to leave me still with alto capability, for those very rare Eb occasions.

This will bring two benefits –

a) I’ll have to fix up all the other alto’s to find the best one, and I won’t feel so bad about neglecting a lesser horn, with fewer sentimental attachments – plus –

b) It’ll allow me to concentrate more on C and Bb tenor/soprano.  There just ain’t enough time and energy to keep up a good enough standard on everything, and I’ve still got to find enough time for C/Bb clarinet, flute and fife/whistle…  Sigh –    email me if you’ve interest or questions


Click here for more pictures of, and info on, the Richards Martin Magna alto sax.

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26 Responses to For Sale – 60’s Martin Magna alto …

  1. lewis Pelham says:

    I am very sorry to read the above. Although you have come up with all the right reasons, ask yourself if you would really prefer to keep it; I strongly suspect that it would have to be torn from your grip.
    What is the “Richards” part of the title please.    😥

  2. Alan says:

    Lewis – from what I understand, the (Paul) Richards Music Company (RMC) took over control of Martin at the start of the 60’s (61?) – hence the ‘RMC’ engraving on the back, near the serial number.
    I’ll be sad to see it go too, but it won’t get a lot more playing…  Needs must.

    (Edit) Doing a little more digging, it seems that RMC officially stood for Roundtable of Musical Craftsmen according to sources like saxpics

  3. ukebert says:

    Sorry to hear that Alan, must be like losing an old friend. Hope that you get a serious offer from someone who will let it have the playing it deserves.

  4. Alan says:

    ukebert – I’m disappointed !  If you bought it with your student loan (must now be at negligible interest) instead of spending it all on beer and curries…   😆
    I’ll be glad to sell it, and equally as glad (but admittedly poor) to not !

  5. ukebert says:

    Haha Alan, there are two many instruments on my list to merit me spending a term and a half’s loan on a transposing instrument 😉

    And beer and curries, forsooth! A worrying amount goes on Chocolate instead…

  6. Alan says:

    Just to let you know that the Magna is settling in very nicely in Nevada City, California
    Obviously missed, but I’m sure she’ll be lovingly played !

  7. walter webb says:

    It is settling in fine, but maybe not for long, as I may send it out for a repad and regulation and a modified pinky table by Lance Burton of Miami Florida.  Do you think me daft?  What do you think of the MartinMod guy and his work?  It seems top notch, according to respondents on SOTW.  I find the low B key to be ridiculously small, and that Bb roller on the side is quite slender to hit right off.
    Alan, it’s a great sax, but I need a new start with the pads to sing clearly.  As you know, the palm key f pad was a goner, and a few more are close to gone, so I am just going to jump off the cliff again and make it right.  In any case, this Magna is home to stay.
    Regards, Walter

  8. lewis Pelham says:

    Ah yes; the Modified Pinkie Table…the reason why I do not play American horns. My Buescher Big B is a delight…except for the typical, inaccessible (at speed) & wretched “pinkie table”. The very reason why I do not take it to gigs.
    One would have thought that when Selmer, in 1933, introduced the ideal layout, other manufactures would applaud the fact & follow suit….sadly no.
    National pride, and tradition, can be taken too far.
    I would be interested to see how these modifications are carried out; perhaps the Buescher could then regain its rightful place, wailing, on a stage.
    I have just “Googled” Lance Burton to see examples of his work. Ironically the only Lance Burton known to google is a Stage Magician…..perhaps not inappropriate!

  9. walter webb says:

    Lewis, you can find lots of info and postings by him on the Saxontheweb Martin forum, and at     He does Bueschers too.  Let me know what you think.

  10. lewis Pelham says:

    I clicked eagerly on your link & was greeted by “Page not found”, increasing my belief that he is indeed a stage magician.  😕

  11. Mal-2 says:

    The trailing spaces got included in the link, which is why you got a 404.

  12. lewis Pelham says:

    Thanks Mal, that did the trick.
    Walter. Apart from the welcome scooped stop on low Bb, I fail to see any advantage over the original.
    My real bugbear is the low C# on American horns. One has to reach back for it and it rotates in the wrong direction.
    Awkward in the extreme if used frequently in any key sharper than C!  🙄
    Perhaps this is the reason for the Old Standards being in flat keys.

  13. alan says:

    D’you know, if I could live my life over, I’d train as a sax/woodwind tech in the UK and move to the US to set up business…
    Very nice to have those mods, but what exactly will it achieve for the cost ?  I must be the most easy going (or most un-demanding) player in the world, I’ve only just recently started using palm risers – courtesy of arthritis, I just knew the side-effects of living on a couple of houseboats would come back to bite me.
    And the pads ?  Well Walter, I honestly didn’t know the palm-F was shot, it played all the way down with ease  – obviously those high ones go dark first as they collect most water, but there’s a heck of a difference between dark/hard’ish (but well seating) and shot – and the tech who completely overhauled it in the early nineties didn’t dope or waterproof the pads.  There is a huge amount of life left in most of the pads unless it’s going to be played hard every night – why not go for a strip/lube (which it could probably do with) and with just obvious replacements ?  Unless there is a personal need for roo pads, or bigger reflectors.
    It did take more than a few months, and some extended mouthpiece testing, before I found the correct embouchure and singing mouthpiece combination.
    Yep – I’d be a US woodwind tech next time around  🙂   Oh, and mouthpiece seller/advisor, hopefully to the stars…  😆   Probably live down south, New Orleans way, but on a hill…

  14. lewis Pelham says:

    If the palm F is leaking , then every note below it is affected. I see that as every note on the horn. Draw your own conclusions.
    Yes Alan, from what I read, I too would be a “sax tech” in the Americas. My only fear would be the boredom of continually changing customers’ reeds!
    Another essential attribute would be practising the very concerned facial expression on examining a horn, with the accompanying sharp intake of breath.   🙂

  15. Mal-2 says:

    Most old standards are in flat keys because that’s where ALL the horns lie best, not just saxophones. The C-mel is rather neutral in key choice. No longer are “string keys” so horrible, but the flip side is that Billy Strayhorn tunes get that much more complicated. I swear 80% of what he wrote is in Db.

    The Martin Mods keys are longer (no more reaching back for C#, it says on the site), and also get more leverage. Though this also means having to move the C# further, it’s a trade-off I’d accept. I have the C# on my Buescher sprung about as lightly as possible, and it seems to be to the slight detriment of B and Bb. The thing is, if I’m going to have the pinky table re-engineered, I want a lot more than more leverage, I want modern action (and I do have an idea how this could be done without reversing the axles — even with a split bell). Articulated C# with a link to the B, and all three bell keys linked to the G#. This WOULD require putting the C# all by itself on an axle further away (the simplest means of articulation I can think of requires three posts to be used), but the G#, B, and Bb could remain mounted as they are.

    I have an unrestored “backup body”, I may just have to try it out. Too bad I already chopped up the pinky cluster from the Yamaha tenor, I could have used the touches. Get another parts horn? Hmm…

    A sharp intake of breath can also be referred to as “sucking”. 🙂

  16. Lewis Pelham says:

    Similar to your solution, I use a “halfway house ” solution on my American horns.
    Linking the low C# to the much more accessible G#. It does tend to make the G# heavy to operate, but, in my opinion, far better than the original lay out.
    On a Conn C melody that I modified, this system was incorporated with a huge G# touch key. The additional leverage resulted in superb, fluid, light key work.

  17. Mal-2 says:

    I do have an enlarged G# touch covering the original “typewriter key”, but it is not linked to anything else.  Unfortunately, if I made G# trigger low C#, I’d get all screwed up in F minor, where it’s not all that unusual to go from Ab to low C (and I do not release the G# key). I expect C# to trigger G#, but not the reverse.

    Mostly I don’t want to do any more to make it behave differently from my other horns. It’s bad enough that my soprano has a high G and nothing else does, soprano and alto have high F# and nothing else does, and the pinky cluster of the C-mel is not linked to the G# (when all the others are). I don’t need any more to think about. The high F# issue comes up infrequently and the high G almost never (I’d probably use an altissimo fingering out of habit, even on soprano), and it’s just inevitable that altissimo varies from one horn to another. The C-mel is pretty close to the alto’s altissimo pattern and not at all similar to the tenor, aside from F# and G (F# matches the tenor and is not altissimo on the alto).

    I use the bell keys more than I use altissimo most of the time, especially on C-mel because low Bb is such a useful note in most of the keys I face. I don’t use much altissimo at all on tenor (never got very good at it), and generally only up to A on bari, so the mismatch between horns is not so problematic. On alto I have reasonably good command of the range up to D4 and can force out Eb, E, and F (though they aren’t pretty). On the C-mel, C#4 and D4 are not as stable as the alto, but on the good side, Eb, E, and F are not so shrill as to be unusable. They’re not particularly stable, but at least they have a reasonably useful sound to them.

    I know it’s a pipe dream, but it would be nice if the whole “normal” saxophone spread had the same altissimo fingerings. It will never happen thanks to the bari’s coil, but why does tenor have to be so divergent? It probably isn’t the swan neck shape, as the C-mel does not seem to be affected at all.

    In any case, the real problem on these horns is where the pinky key axles are. Since it’s really not reasonable to attack this, we have to decide just what compromises are acceptable in attempting to bring the vintage action up to modern standard (or even 1950’s Selmer standards). I think moving the C# onto its own axle would be reasonable — as long as it’s acceptable to not be parallel to the others, the bow post can stay where it is. At least one post needs to be added at the top, and if an articulated C# is desired then a post somewhere in the middle (with a pin sticking out of both sides, or a long axle screw) will also be necessary. I do not know about Martins in particular, but I think I could rig up the B key to close the articulated C# without having to totally re-engineer the B. I would just have to add an arm to it. The mechanism would be dramatically different from what is in use today, but it would function the same and that’s the most important part.

    I actually came up with the articulated C# idea for the benefit of my Dolnet low A bari, which lacks this feature. On bari, this is particularly annoying. I have not implemented it yet, but it certainly seems possible. When I got the C-mel, I realized it could benefit from the same treatment, though the specifics would of course be different.

    Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures and a log whether the hack “takes” or not.

  18. MartinMods says:

    That is the way to simply link the B to the C# on the vintage horns for an articulated C#.  I  thought about  this method for the last year and I’m sure it will work fine.  The prototype with the MM Deluxe LH Table keys is almost finished.    The Deluxe version offers a tilting Bb linked to the C# AND a tilting B linked to C# as well.  This may be rendered obsolete by an original RH hinged Mk6-Style mechanism I’m putting on a Conn Chu tenor.  Mounted on the body just like the Mk6, the vertical rods extend South only 4″ or so.  Lever arms link them 1/2 way back to the Left side from there, just under the bell flair.  The original LH spatulas and arms are removed.  New arms are attatched to the original rods,  which extend 1/2 way to the Right, to couple with the corresponding arm of the new mechanism via a small roller linkage.   The Martin G# keys pose a small problem in that their lever mechanism must be replaced with a rotating rod mechanism.  Feel is like a Mk6 – Tilting Bb linked to C# and a tilting B linked to C# as well.  The articulated C# is as described above.   There are various spatula layouts available.    I’ll post pict links this weekend.

  19. MartinMods says:

    Here are picts of the articulated C# on a Conn Chu tenor

    As far as I know, this is the first articulated C# on a vintage LH/Split-Belled sax.   Amazingly simple, though the tab placement must be precise, it works better than modern mechanisms.  There is only one tension spring (not counting the G# linkage) on the upper C# rod to keep the C# closed, and a leaf spring coupling at the C# clutch, which acts as a spring lever to open the C# pad cup when C# is pressed, but enables the B to close C# when B is pressed.  There is no noticeable increase in load when the B closes the C#.  Fast and sure.

    And here are picts of the MM Contemporary LH Table keys (Mk6 adaptation) – a work in progress on a Conn Chu tenor:

    These feature, besides the normal Mk6 tilting Bb/C# linkage, a tilting B/C# linkage and a sliding roller on each R/L linkage, for adjustable leverage and key motion.

    for questions, email me at

  20. Mal-2 says:


    That is exactly how I visualized the mechanism if I were to do it on my Dolnet. Snip the axle in the middle and put a post in there, then add the clutches and reverse the spring on the C# pad side. Add a spring to the C# key (touch side) which is a bit stronger than the one that opens the C#, so it normally stays shut. This should be at least as good as a modern mechanism in practice, even if it is going to be a #$@&#$ to adjust.

    Knowing you have the exact same idea, and better skills, I’ll gladly let you take care of that. 😀 Would it be possible to have an adjustment screw on the B-to-C# clutch on horns with enough space? Are you shaking your head at my hacks on the Buescher C-mel? :mrgreen: I think all of them are pretty obvious in intent, except the one that cracks the side C — and I won’t need that once I have a high F#.

  21. MartinMods says:

    The C#/B linkage requires some precision inthe tab placement.  As far as an adjusting screw, I think simpler is better in this case.  As the C# tab makes contact so close to the B rod, there is quite a bit of force being transferred there, and it is better spread over a larger surface area, than focused at the end of a screw, which would wear right through the brass in a few days.

  22. Mal-2 says:

    Understood about the small contact area of a screw — but I was thinking more along the lines of turning the tabs into longer levers, maybe 10 to 12 mm, rather than the 4 or 5 mm they have to be to fit between the rods. Then the leverage would be decreased and a screw might work. (And no, I don’t know where you would put them — I think that would be specific to each horn.) Also, for anything like this, I would imagine you’d use a flat-head screw and invert it (use the head for contact), with a groove cut in the end so it can be adjusted from the outside without taking a key off.

    Still, if it works, it works. Sometimes simpler is better. Didn’t some linkages on old horns get as quick-and-dirty as two spring hooks catching each other? It worked then, it should work now.

  23. MartinMods says:

    Articulated C#:   At least on this Conn Chu, and I imagine that it is the same for most other vintage horns (some baritones excluded), the amount of  rod rotation is much less on the C# than the B, since the pad cup arm on the C# is so much longer.  On this mechanism, the short C# tab makes contact with the B tab,  just 2mm from the B rod, giving the B mechanism a tremendous amout of leverage over the C#, while still insuring that the C# closes or stays closed when the B spatula is pressed.  With so much leverage, there is a relatively wide margin of error in the C#/B adjustment (using paper thin cork or tech-cork) since the B hardly even notices that the C# exisits.

    Pict Links Below: Almost finished now.  Just some find adjustments, a spring, and some buffing.  Mk6 ease + for any old vintage saxophone.

  24. MartinMods says:

    The rollers are essential, and must be added to the Bb bell linkagd as well.  The sliding rollers are for the initial adjustment only.  Then they are soft soldered into place.

  25. pippo sax says:

    hi , i am italian , >I have some question about mr burton , can you mail me pz oldhorn at

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