View Full Version : Now for Something Completely Different: A Found Martin Uke in Closet

01-04-2015, 05:19 PM
I play in a local ukulele orchestra/class. One of the beginners came to a session with a terrible little soprano uke that was nothing more than a toy really and she couldn't play a lick. She said she paid $30 bucks or something for it. It sounded really horrible and was impossible to tune. I suggested gently (and very politely) that perhaps she should get, ahem, a slightly better instrument. She said she didn't really have the money to spend on an uke. I suggested a $120 dollar Oscar Schmidt or similar quality budget brand. She shook her head. Too expensive.

Imagine my surprise when she showed up next week with what looked like a beautiful little Martin soprano ukulele. Oh, she said, this was my grandmothers. I found it in the closet. It sounds really good. What she had was a perfect mint condition 1920's Martin soprano uke. Never really played and man, does that thing cut through the fog of an uke orchestra. Now, I don't worship at the alter of C.F. Martin inc., but I have to admit this little thing has a projection that I have never heard before.

I told her that the instrument could be quite valuable, so she took it into the city for an appraisal and was quite surprised at the assessed value. She also said she would never sell it for any amount of money ever because it was her grandmother's and is precious to her, so this thread isn't about selling the uke. I just thought you people on this forum would appreciate the fact that yes, occasionally, a really valuable uke does show up in peoples closets, yard sales, etc. Keep your eyes peeled.

She took some pictures for me and I have posted them below. The uke is a late 1920's, 0 model Martin soprano in absolute mint condition except for some crazing on the finish.

Also from a builder point of view, note the pretty radical body side taper.

01-04-2015, 05:27 PM
Great story. I'm not much for going to garage sales, but sometimes I go just to look for ukuleles. Someday.....

Patrick Madsen
01-04-2015, 06:42 PM
What a great story.

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
01-04-2015, 06:46 PM
Nice find. Make sure she trims those string tails. They will vibrate on the soundboard possibly the cause of making it sound horrible as you put it.

01-04-2015, 07:12 PM
Good point. One of my pet peeves is pictures of ukes with long string tails. An incredibly beautiful ukulele with raggedy strings sticking out. Trim them things off! I have found that toe nail clippers work perfect. It's not like you are gonna need the extra.. Just a personal pet peeve. I will shut up now.

01-05-2015, 04:02 AM
The radical side taper on the Martin soprano back is also a radius...as this pic shows ;)

01-05-2015, 06:12 PM
great story~ and nice example of the vintage martin, it's likely been built in WWII with wooden pegs which make it light as feather....

Matt Clara
01-06-2015, 02:11 AM
I need closets like hers!

01-06-2015, 02:51 AM
Great find! You might suggest she try Martin M600 strings, it will really sing!