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Tigershark
09-09-2014, 11:04 AM
Does anybody else play vintage ukuleles? Or are most on the forum more interested in the modern instruments. I was just thinking I don't see a lot of discussion of the old stuff.

HBolte
09-09-2014, 11:31 AM
Hate to be one of those...but if you do a search you will find that there are a lot of vintage players here. I have a 1920's Style O and a 50's O. What do you play?

aquadan
09-09-2014, 11:36 AM
We're around. I have a 40s/50s Martin Style 1, and a 20s Kumalae. The Martin is everything I hoped for sound wise even though it looks like it's been played hard. But I got it's history when I bought it, so I appreciate why it looks the way it does. The Kumalae is a quiet sweet sounding little instrument with lots of character. These have whetted my appetite for more vintage in the future.

YorkSteve
09-09-2014, 12:00 PM
I recently acquired a La Foley soprano, probably from the 1920s. It is a little gem, as light as a feather, and sounds wonderful. How it has survived all these years I'll never know, but I hope it lasts a few more.

river_driver
09-09-2014, 12:01 PM
I have a mix of old and new... on the old side I have a c.1960 Silvertone bari, and a c.1925? Supertone. And a c.1940 Silvertone soprano arriving tomorrow! Oh, and sturdy old plastic fretboard Harmony that's currently on loan to Mom.

(FWIW, I suggested we have a separate vintage section on the forums a few months ago... that got shut down pretty fast...)

ukantor
09-09-2014, 12:08 PM
I've got a 50s/60s Martin Style 1 Soprano. It is a bit of a battered survivor, but is sound in wind and limb, and I love it. I used to have a very tidy Style 0 of similar age, but it was so nice, I didn't want to risk dinging or scratching it, so it hardly ever got played. I sold it, and ended up with my old warrior Style 1 which I am happy to take anywhere.

John Colter.

l3uffer
09-09-2014, 12:25 PM
I have a 1960's Giannini baritone that has to be one of the best vintage ukes out there (especially for the $300-500 price range!).
The tone is so mellow and warm, and it's full of good depth that a lot of ukes would probably lack without age. I wouldn't necessarily say that my baritone (or vintage ukes in general) are better than their contemporary counterparts, but there's something about the ones that are still around that have such character to them - something that makes them a worthy consideration in tandem with ukes that are being birthed today.
I've contemplated selling him a couple of times, but really, it wouldn't be worth it in the end! Brad Ranola at USpace/Anacapa tried it and he loved it so much (I think he has a Harmony bari??) that after trying my Giannini, he would try and find his own on eBay haha!
The fretwork is a bit shoddy, but the sound and the feel really cover over that. I think most ukers would be concerned with build quality of vintage ukes, which is why they turn to modern ones, seeing as how we have machines that make cuts to the nanometer these days... uber precision beats out vintage tone, I guess!

chefuke
09-09-2014, 01:06 PM
Yeah, loving the oldies -

strumsilly
09-09-2014, 01:14 PM
I do. To me, nothing beats the tone of a lightly built instrument made of mahogany tha'ts aged a good number of years.

kypfer
09-09-2014, 01:23 PM
My "John Grey & Sons" banjolele is probably from the '30's ... I play it when I want that "banjolele sound" 'cos it's the only banjolele I've got ;)

I've also got an old Skylark soprano, maybe '60's or '70's, found it cheap, still in it's original box, with fragments of the original silk-wound strings attached. It wears a generic set of black nylons now (sounds kinky!). Tuned up to D (high A) it sounds a little more lively than when tuned down to C, so I leave it like that. It's nothing special, but the violin-style tuning pegs raise an eyebrow from those knowledgeable enough to recognise the difference ... and yes, they're a pig to tune !

PhilUSAFRet
09-09-2014, 01:24 PM
I have a vintage Martin O I got in 1951 for my 10th birthday, and I acquired a Kamaka 71-72 White Label soprano not long ago. All my others are "modern"

river_driver
09-09-2014, 02:37 PM
I don't fool with them, no.
How are the old Tonk Brothers, by the way?

Tigershark
09-09-2014, 02:57 PM
Well, maybe it's not as bad as I thought :)

The Martin models from the first wave of ukulele madness (1915 - 1930s) inspire me so much. Washburn made some fantastic instruments in the 1920s and 30s, but I don't currently have one.

I get why people play modern instruments, but I am just more excited about playing when it's on an old Martin.

lakesideglenn
09-09-2014, 03:59 PM
I love anything old made of mahogany. I have several including a Washburn 700 from the early 20's, a 50ish Martin O, a late 40's Gibson tenor, a Beltone teardrop soprano (I believe made by Favilla) a 20s Maxitone, a B&J soprano, as well as a few other vintage Ukes in other woods. Old mahogany is my favorite though...can't buy new "old" wood!

Macmuse
09-09-2014, 04:05 PM
We're around. I have a 40s/50s Martin Style 1, and a 20s Kumalae. The Martin is everything I hoped for sound wise even though it looks like it's been played hard. But I got it's history when I bought it, so I appreciate why it looks the way it does. The Kumalae is a quiet sweet sounding little instrument with lots of character. These have whetted my appetite for more vintage in the future.

We have a Harmony baritone too. But aquadan turned out not to be a baritone guy (so I'll just go ahead and claim that one).


I don't fool with them, no.

Hah! The heck you don't. Lol. ;)

brimmer
09-09-2014, 04:31 PM
I play my Martin Style 1 very often. Like others have said, old mahog is a wonderful thing...

actadh
09-09-2014, 04:53 PM
My first vintage one was a 1950's Kay birch soprano, I knew it needed work when I bought it, and is still waiting for that work to be done to it when I get time. But, it cost next to nothing and is just neat to look at.

My second one was an unknown camp style ukulele that is made of plywood - probably 40's-50's. As with the Kay, it needs work, but it is great for anything chorded on the first three frets. I bought those two while waiting for my HMS Luna to come in.

My third one was a 50's Harmony soprano with the plastic fretboard. I loved the sound of the ones in the videos here on the forum. It is the smallest of all my ukuleles. Getting ready to put some Martin M600's on it.

My latest is the only one that is really playable - a 1940's Silvertone solid mahogany super soprano that has Aquila Reds. That is my go-to for a vintage sound. It was my travel ukulele to New York City this summer and I got to play it in Strawberry Fields. As others have said, it is super light one and has a wonderful glow to the wood.

I bought the last two while waiting for my Outdoor Ukulele Tenor package. Glad I didn't wait :)

RyanMFT
09-09-2014, 05:01 PM
I live and breathe vintage! I've got...well, a few. I'm lucky to have vintage Ukes ranging from the 1890's to the 1950's. I play and enjoy the heck out of them all.

Phluffy the Destroyer
09-09-2014, 10:16 PM
I have an old T.V. Pal that I play 3 or 4 times a year. It has a crack in the body, but still sounds pretty amazing for a ukulele made out of authentic 1950's plastic, lol...

ukulelekarcsi
09-09-2014, 10:31 PM
Me too. I've had new ukuleles (say, built in the last 20 years) but they don't seem to stick and are the first ones to be sacrificed when I have to sell some.

It has nothing to do with monetary value: a late 1990s National Reso-Phonic went out, and I've kept a cheap plywood 1970s uke for the last 10 years. Although 'old' seems to hold its resale value a little better than 'new'.

It also isn't really about musical value (sound, playability), because the Polk-a-lay-lee is frankly unplayable (you can squeeze tunes out of it, not much more) while the national and even some magic fluke ones I sold were pro instruments (as in, you could use them for making a living out of music, or blend in with a serious band).

I think it's because I like old stuff in general. I even like a worn chair better than a new one. Prefer a wind-up clock to a digital one. The illusion that something that survived decades must be of a good quailty, perhaps? (not always true: some old stuff is well-preserved because no-one ever liked using it - why did that stuff end up in the attic anyway?). Yes, they had better wood supplies in the olden days, and wood does open up, and labor was cheap so time was taken during the manufacture, but seriously if you blind-test a 300$ antique uke against 300$ new one I wouldn't dare to take a bet. Play that old Dobro slightly wrong and it starts buzzing like a bee.

Perhaps it's also because older instruments are a bit dented and scratched. I'm clumsy, and it's heartbreaking to make the first scratch on a new instrument. But hey, when someone broke it in before you, it's easy! I don't have mint antique ukuleles, some of them even underwent major surgery. I don't mind taking even the expensive old ukuleles out, I've had 8-year olds playing my 1930s Gibsons and tiple (okay, fair, I did tell first them not to smash them).

But I think the main reason is rarity, and that I like to stand out. Silly really. Not having the same ukulele as my neighbor, you know. Although my neighbors don't actually even have one.

Peterjens
09-09-2014, 10:34 PM
75% of the 'ukes I owe are vintage and I play them 75% of the time.

dsummers
09-10-2014, 01:19 AM
I have a 50'ish Martin concert, tenor and a 60'ish Martin baritone. I am very fotunate that they are all in excellent condition and have the original cases and the action is great on each one. Each one sounds superb!

river_driver
09-10-2014, 08:14 AM
Hi, RD. Good memory! This is bad--super bad--but I still have to string them up! I have been so busy this summer with work (excuses, excuses) that what little free time I've had I play the ukes I have already strung up. But, I will get on it this autumn. Thanks for reminding me.

Y'know, I've got a little free time...I could help you out with that...

fynger
09-10-2014, 08:29 AM
have vintage Jetel and Vintage Keech Banjo Ukes

RichM
09-10-2014, 08:56 AM
I never set out specifically to amass vintage ukes, but I seem to have ended up with quite a few of them. I think my favorite is my Ludwig Wendell Hall, perhaps the best banjo uke ever made. My Regal two-point has one of the deepest bass voices I've ever heard on a concert-sized uke. And you can't beat a 1930 Style 0 for a good time. :)

kenikas
09-10-2014, 08:43 PM
My ukes are pretty well split between vintage and modern, but I do love the oldies! Many of mine need a bit of work but that adds to the enjoyment for me. I have a 20's Kumalae, 20's Nu-Way banjo uke, 3 unknown maker banjo ukes from the 20's-30's, a 40's Hanalae, a 50's Gold Label Kamaka Pineapple, 60's Harmony soprano and Roy Smeck soprano, and I just got a white label Kamaka that needs quite a bit of work.

Roselynne
09-10-2014, 09:03 PM
Vintage sopranos and new tenors here! All listed in my signature.

drbekken
09-11-2014, 01:25 AM
I've got an open-back NMS Co banjo ukulele, probably from the 1920s, and a Harmony from the 50s or 60s, plastic fretboard and all. However, what I play these days is my new Martin OXK or a cheap Rogue soprano.

vanflynn
09-11-2014, 04:31 AM
So what is "vintage"?

I still have (and play) a '68 Kamaka that I played in 3rd grade. If the uke is vintage then so am I!

Tigershark
09-11-2014, 04:53 AM
Does anybody play an early Hawaiian built ukulele? I haven't had such great luck with these as players. Wondering if anyone plays an old koa Kumalae or Nunes from the teens or twenties.

strumsilly
09-11-2014, 05:07 AM
Maybe they aren't talked about much because we don't want to drive the prices up any higher. You know, supply/demand. they aren't making any more of them. btw/ I just bought my 3rd Favilla baritone. got one strung linear C, one G, and I think I' ll string this one reentrant .I really love the 19 inch scale. seems perfect for me. they are still a bargain, but I paid double what I paid for my first one, so lets let this be our little secret. Oh, I also have a Favilla soprano which I don't play much as I like a longer fretboard, but it's a nice instrument too.

chefuke
09-11-2014, 11:54 AM
Does anybody play an early Hawaiian built ukulele? I haven't had such great luck with these as players. Wondering if anyone plays an old koa Kumalae or Nunes from the teens or twenties.

I play a Leo Nunes and currently restore a early Fancy Akai. The sound of the leo beats anything I ever played to my ears.

chefuke
09-11-2014, 11:55 AM
So what is "vintage"?

I still have (and play) a '68 Kamaka that I played in 3rd grade. If the uke is vintage then so am I!

Looks like you both are. So awesome that you still own and play the Kamaka.

theabsurdman
09-12-2014, 08:35 AM
I like old things.
3 of my ukes probably qualify: an 1890-1910 favilla marca aquila, a 70 y/o uka-lyka (fashioned after a balalyka), and 1950s plastic uke, "the Columbian".
The favilla is the favourite of my collection.

katysax
09-12-2014, 12:57 PM
For the most part I prefer modern. I have a Vita uke that shows its age but is a wonderful player and I do play it. I have a late 40s early 50s Martin Tenor that I rarely play.

RyanMFT
09-12-2014, 06:46 PM
Does anybody play an early Hawaiian built ukulele? I haven't had such great luck with these as players. Wondering if anyone plays an old koa Kumalae or Nunes from the teens or twenties.

I play my Royal Hawaiian, fron the 20's as well as a 1900- 1910 uke which was made on Maui, and occasionally play my 1890's unknown builder ukulele. However, I am quite careful with them and play with abandon on my later Martin, Regals, and Favillas.

NOTLguy
09-13-2014, 02:59 AM
I recently purchased an old Banjolin built in Chicago in 1920 ish. It was in pretty poor shape but I brought it back to life as a Banjolele. It is birds-eye maple with solid brass tuners and the original hide head. It sounds amazing. I suppose you could call this 'vintage' even though it was originally a mandolin-banjo.

70813
70814

Regards,
Bill

BigD
09-13-2014, 04:39 AM
1950's harmony bari. Still is one of my favorite ukes, plays great sounds great. Isnt the best to look at but is solidly built, the member i bought it from did a good job getting into usable shape (thanks Dan) I understand ppl not wanting to mess with vintage if work needs to be done. Just the saying 'it needs work' is scary to a lot because something tiny can turn into an un-usable ukulele. But if you have someone whos trustworthy and knows what they are doing (like many of the fine folks here) theres no reason to be scared off from a vintage, you may come to really enjoy them. For reference i have a pono pro classic cedar top acacia sides that is beautiful, and i still pick up my 100 dollar baritone more. Just a thought! And its been said a million times on here but i tell anyone i know or anyone who asks about getting into vintage, get a harmony or one of the brands similar to it. Your not going to spend much, ull get a solid wood instrument in most cases and have a good story. The fact that mine was made in chicago ( i live in the burbs) 60 years ago is kinda neat.

strumsilly
09-13-2014, 06:02 AM
Ha, maybe that's why I like my Favillas so much, made in NYC about the same time I was.

Nickie
09-15-2014, 03:50 PM
I'm a vintage uker....does that count?

aquadan
09-15-2014, 04:16 PM
Speaking of vintage, someone needs to go and buy that Martin concert at antebellum so I can stop obsessing over it.

http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2014/09/c1935-martin-1c-concert-ukulele.html

allanr
09-15-2014, 05:04 PM
As you can see from my signature, I have a mix of old and new(er);ukuleles.

I love them all, and truth be told, most of my playing time is spent on the Godin, the National, and the Koaloha. But since most of my ukes are always accessible I play the vintage ukes regularly. Especially the Gibson soprano and the Harmony concert.

molokinirum
09-16-2014, 06:13 AM
Oh yes....I have a 1935 Kamaka pineapple that I play.

peewee
09-16-2014, 06:35 AM
pre-war martins and 21st century K-Brands for me!

Coconut Willie
09-16-2014, 07:07 AM
I don't have one.....but sure wish I did!!!

Ukejungle
09-16-2014, 10:41 AM
I love my vintage Martins.

1952 Style 0 (Dawn)
1920 Style 1 (Nicky)
1950-ish Style 2 (Calie)
1930-ish 5K (Uncle Teddy)
1957 Martin Tenor (Parker)

I have a 1920's May Bel at Jake's right now sitting in the queue to get fixed up.

davidrboy
09-16-2014, 10:46 AM
My 1920's Harmony banjo uke hangs above my desk at work, and gets plenty of play: http://antebelluminstruments.blogspot.com/2013/06/c1920-harmony-made-canoe-scene-banjo.html

My 1940's Style O sees plenty of play as well. MMMMmmmmmm.... old mahogany.

YorkSteve
09-16-2014, 11:41 AM
I keep scanning this thread to see if anyone else has a La Foley. So far, nobody...I may start a very small owners group.:)

...and I did http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/group.php?groupid=270

strumsilly
09-16-2014, 12:49 PM
I do. To me, nothing beats the tone of a lightly built instrument made of mahogany tha'ts aged a good number of years.
can you tell what my current favorite vintage flavor is?
70982

drbekken
09-17-2014, 12:54 AM
http://youtu.be/BORFJ87VMks

Here's one on a vintage uke.

pdxuke
09-20-2014, 09:10 AM
My keepers are mostly vintage. I've got a few modern Martins (a 2 and the OXK) and a Kamaka pineapple and Baritone. Most everything else is vintage. And I'm down to the vintage instruments I really care about: the '48 Martin 0 and the Redhead, as well as the Favillaand Martin Barrys.

Rick Turner
09-20-2014, 09:58 AM
If I'd started building ukes when I started building guitars and basses, they would be vintage by now! Shoulda, woulda, coulda!

Uk3player78
09-20-2014, 04:04 PM
Can i pop in a silly question. I have been looking at vintage ukulele's and both on ebay and youtube videos i see cracks. Cracks repaired and not repaired both on Koa and mahogany ukulele's. Why is this?

I am a guitarist so i'm not new to old stringed instruments eg, Martins. I can't recall cracks on them ever. Thanks!

Rick Turner
09-20-2014, 04:10 PM
Try being a guitar repairman; you'll see lots of cracks on Martins. I've got a couple in my shop right now; an older but not super vintage 000-18 with the classic pickguard crack from a shrinking pickguard and a newer 000 that has a top crack from living in super dry conditions. We fix 'em, they go back to sounding fine.

Ukes tend to be built much lighter than guitars, and a lot (most?) of the vintage Hawaiian ones were made in a much more humid climate than they wind up in. Hence shrinkage and crackage. We fix 'em, they (mostly) go back to sounding fine.

Take a look at some real vintage violins someday. They often crack. They fix 'em, and they go back to sounding glorious.

Uk3player78
09-20-2014, 05:16 PM
Try being a guitar repairman; you'll see lots of cracks on Martins. I've got a couple in my shop right now; an older but not super vintage 000-18 with the classic pickguard crack from a shrinking pickguard and a newer 000 that has a top crack from living in super dry conditions. We fix 'em, they go back to sounding fine.

Ukes tend to be built much lighter than guitars, and a lot (most?) of the vintage Hawaiian ones were made in a much more humid climate than they wind up in. Hence shrinkage and crackage. We fix 'em, they (mostly) go back to sounding fine.

Take a look at some real vintage violins someday. They often crack. They fix 'em, and they go back to sounding glorious.

Thanks. It was a couple of Martins and Gibsons i saw. A vintage Martin is what i would like one day. Love the tone.

Tigershark
10-04-2014, 05:42 PM
Can i pop in a silly question. I have been looking at vintage ukulele's and both on ebay and youtube videos i see cracks. Cracks repaired and not repaired both on Koa and mahogany ukulele's. Why is this?

I am a guitarist so i'm not new to old stringed instruments eg, Martins. I can't recall cracks on them ever. Thanks!

They are really common, for so many reasons. Sometimes they dry out, not enough humidity. Or too much string tension. Or damage. Not really a big issue when fixed properly.

Uk3player78
10-05-2014, 09:30 AM
They are really common, for so many reasons. Sometimes they dry out, not enough humidity. Or too much string tension. Or damage. Not really a big issue when fixed properly.

Thanks. I have a vintage Martin UAS also modern Martin. General UAS. :P

Kid Caviar
01-04-2015, 04:29 AM
I do! I'm just joined today. I play my 1890-1910 Favilla soprano, a 1930s Slingerland 024 banjolele all the time and will play my "new 1920? Favilla soprano now that I reglued the bridge. I'm waiting on 4 Harmony tuners I won on ebay yesterday and will get my blonde Harmony(1950s/1960s?) plunking soon after I replace a missing one.

connor013
01-04-2015, 05:09 AM
I do! I'm just joined today. I play my 1890-1910 Favilla soprano, a 1930s Slingerland 024 banjolele all the time and will play my "new 1920? Favilla soprano now that I reglued the bridge. I'm waiting on 4 Harmony tuners I won on ebay yesterday and will get my blonde Harmony(1950s/1960s?) plunking soon after I replace a missing one.

Welcome to UU, KC. How do you like that early Favilla?

For me, my Bruko isn't quite vintage yet, but my Airline Bari is. It needed some work, but man does it sound great now.

k0k0peli
05-30-2015, 04:48 PM
I just added a vintage uke-a-zoid to my stable. It's 1920's-era, no name visible (but maybe it's a Regal) and it has 10 steel strings. Yes, it's a tiple. It joins my Varsity banjo-uke of the same era. Everything else I have that resembles a 'uke is newer, but that may change in the next few weeks.

Eyeguy
05-30-2015, 05:05 PM
Me. Vintage Gibson tenor.

http://i16.photobucket.com/albums/b42/iguy/DSC_0017-1.jpg (http://s16.photobucket.com/user/iguy/media/DSC_0017-1.jpg.html)

tbeltrans
05-30-2015, 07:39 PM
1925 Martin 2K soprano

Tony

drbekken
05-30-2015, 09:42 PM
I have a banjo uke from the 1920s, and a Harmony soprano from the 50s. Don't play them much, though.

jimavery
05-31-2015, 01:10 AM
I do have an old banjo uke but play it because it's a banjo ukulele, not because it's old. To be honest it's not a very good one - intonation is all over the shop, not that you'd notice on a banjo uke anyway. I don't play banjo uke often enough to make it worth my while replacing it.

Hippie Dribble
05-31-2015, 01:40 AM
I have been playing ukulele almost a decade now. Until the last 18 months I really avoided vintage ukes because I feared not having the ability to adequately care for them. I've since educated myself on a few things and also have met a fellow who lives near me and is a talented instrument builder and repairer who offers me advice as required. These things have all helped me to feel more confident owning some of these stunning instruments that I've always adored. I like the patina, the wear and the signs of use, even the odd crack doesn't bother me: to me these things just say it's an instrument that's been played a lot and loved. Currently I have only 3 vintage ukes (all concerts) but am always on the lookout, especially for sopranos. Unfortunately the ol' budget is very limited these days so I can only ever afford to purchase by selling on something else.

I own a Hollywood model 7 and 8 (from the 1920s) and a Johnny Marvin 'pro tenor' model (from the late 20s - early 30s).

ukulelekarcsi
06-01-2015, 04:13 AM
I own a Hollywood model 7 and 8 (from the 1920s) and a Johnny Marvin 'pro tenor' model (from the late 20s - early 30s).

Those are very fine instruments, congratulations!


So what is "vintage"?

The rules for 'antique' are a bit muddy, but generally it means 'at least 100 years old' (U.S. Customs norm), sometimes lessened to 'at least 80 years old' (going three generations back). So that's 1935 at the latest for your ukulele. 'Vintage' is much more liberal. Literally it means 'from a good year', and it could apply to something just a few years old. And it often is applied to newly made retro looking objects. So yes, you are vintage yourself!

tbeltrans
06-01-2015, 05:03 AM
The term 'vintage' is often used very loosely as a marketing or sales ploy. I don't know how this applies (if at all) to ukuleles, but I have often seen it in the guitar world. Guitars that were considered pretty much junk when they were new in the 50s or 60s (i.e. cheap Sears or Wards Airline, for example), being sold at high prices as 'vintage'. These instruments are probably being sold to nostalgic baby boomers who remember having them as kids. There were some very good products sold under the Wards Airline name and if one knew who actually made the item, a person could get reasonable quality at a decent cost. One example that I recall was that Fisher made some receivers and speakers for Wards under the Airline name. However, I don't recall any of the guitars being made by highly regarded makers. All the models I remember as a kid were rather cheap, as were the associated amplifiers.

I have also heard/read that "antique" refers to objects that are at least 100 years old. As to 'vintage' referring to good years for a given product, that does seem to be how it is used for wine (i.e. 'vintage' years, rather than being at least a certain number of years old). I know that with Martin guitars, "pre-war" are the instruments sought after and the 1970s being generally considered less desirable due to SOME (definitely not all, though some people would have us believe that) having some problems with inconsistent quality during those years.

For Martin ukuleles, what I have read so far seems to indicate that, at least for Koa wood, the mid 1920s are highly desirable. Not having seen many old (vintage?) Martins other than the one I own, I can't vouch for that personally - I have only read it in several places that seem/claim to know a lot about this stuff. However, if this is really true, then the term 'vintage' as it applies to certain years for wines, might also apply to Martin ukuleles from that era. Mahogany is different in that it seems to have been much more widely available, where apparently Koa is only available from Hawaii.

This is what Willie's American Guitars, a respected dealer of quality "vintage" guitars and amplifiers had to say about the Martin that I purchased:

We suggest getting the "Martin Ukulele" book by Tom Walsh and John King. They refer to letters of desperation from Martin to the wood suppliers in Hawaii saying: We urgently need more figured Koa. The supplier replying: plain koa no problem but figured koa is extremely scarce. Only one in 100 logs is curly. By the 1930’s figured koa was so rare that only some style 3 or 5 ukes had it. This uke is of the golden uke era from 1923 to 1927...etc.

I will probably get that book at some point. In searching around the net, I have found other sites that talk about vintage Martin guitars and ukuleles to indicate similar information.

If this is incorrect, please jump in and say so. I try to be clear as to what I have read or been told vs what I personally know, rather than just spouting as "fact" that which I don't really know for certain. I do know about mahogany because it is quite common in the guitar world, while "figured Koa" SEEMS to be held in high regard because it isn't nearly as plentiful and a segment of the guitar community likes not only its appearance, but also its sound. With guitars, there is often an "upcharge" for high quality Koa. Personally, I like Koa ukuleles, but prefer other woods for guitars.

Tony