Fitting a Martin Committee (“The Martin”) Neck
Martin Committee saxophones pose a special challenge for neck fitting because of the teardrop hanging down in the way of the tenon. This, combined with the thickness of the tenon itself, make for a neck that can only be adjusted in one particular way.
This is not a difficult job, but it is one that takes finesse and foreknowledge. Fixing a botched neck fit job however IS a difficult job, so my advice is to use this information to help you make the correct decisions when taking your horn to a repairman rather than as a guide to try it out yourself unless you are already a repairman.
So ill-fitting Martin necks will present one or both of the following symptoms: actual air leak at the tenon joint and/or a neck that won’t stay in one place.
To test if the neck tenon is leaking, use one of these. This is a tenor version, if you’ve got an alto use the alto version.
If the tenon is leaking: the tenon must be unsoldered, expanded and fit, then resoldered. The teardrop part should stay attached to the neck. The teardrop is silver soldered to the ferrule; do not try to remove the teardrop. The tenon is soft soldered to the ferrule and the ferrule is soft soldered to the neck. Care must be taken to remove the tenon only. Done well, you will not see much lacquer damage.
The tenon obviously must be round, as must be the tenon receiver. It is relatively rare for Martin tenons to be out of round due to their thickness, but it is possible. Expanding an asymmetrical neck will merely create more problems- but correcting out-of-round neck tenons is a subject for another blog post.
Assuming the tenon is round but loose, the tenon must be done in a “can opener” style tenon expander such as the Ferree’s H59. The tenon is too thick for “petal” style expanders. The tenon, free of the neck, does not leave much room for gripping when inserting into the tenon receiver (body) or a tenon shrinker (which is often used in conjuction with an expander to fine-tune the fit), so you may need to make something to solder it to for ease of working.
If the tenon is not leaking but simply won’t stay in place, the problem is probably that the screw doesn’t tightly screw in to the outside of the neck tenon receiver, either because the teardrop is bent out or the screw is damaged or worn. If you have an adjustable thumbrest, make sure that the neck screw and thumbrest screw have not been interchanged- one is longer than the other and while the thumbrest can work with either screw the neck will only work with the correct neck screw.
This is a simplified walkthrough of a common problem on Martin Committee saxophones- use this information to your advantage while getting this work done by a knowledgeable saxophone repairman.