View Full Version : Martin questions?

12-30-2015, 08:50 PM
So if I was to go on the hunt for a vintage Martin soprano Style O, 1, or 2 (can't afford a 3 or better or Koa for now) Is there certain decades to target over others, as in 20's, 30, 40, 50, or 60's... Bar frets vs T frets, wooden pegs vs pat. friction etc.
Wondering also how far you feel the market is going to correct as I've read the numbers have been back sliding from their peak.
Condition I'm sure will play a bigger roll on resale as things continue to possibly marshmallow. Get a mint 60's or a repaired 20's with wooden pegs.....?
Or should one snap up any cheap Martin that's a good to great player regardless of condition? I have a recently acquired 40's concert size style 1 in humpty dumpty condition, been glued back together, looks bad but plays and sounds killer, low action great tone!!. Showed it to a "blue chip" high end music store, wanted an idea of value, they said there was nothing to talk about! Ha! Well I'm no cork sniffer, I'm glad to have it....has me wanting another Martin... :)
Just wondering the best way to approach the process?

Thanks for your thoughts

12-31-2015, 06:17 AM
Hi fretwear,

Sorry that I can't answer your questions but I will chime in anyway:

1) suggestion: buy this book: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1476868794?keywords=martin%20ukulele%20book&qid=1451578254&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

2) the above book does a great job of showing that since the uke is historically a trendy instrument, there are periods where many were built and other periods where few were built so I would focus on the periods where a lot were built. Those should be easier to find if nothing else.

3) I haven't followed used martin prices for long but the prices that ebay sellers are asking seem very high to me. Maybe they haven't come down yet or maybe they used to be even higher and I just don't know it. Anyway, I find it a little off putting. Remember when ebay was an auction site? Now it's all about waiting for a sucker to come along.

Hopefully someone else will answer your questions.

12-31-2015, 09:43 AM
If you want it to collect that's one thing, if you want it to play that's another. For me I'd rather spend the money on having a custom build with contemporary building techniques and the many more contemporary woods to choose from.

12-31-2015, 10:06 AM
I've always felt (and found) that there are great values in Style 1s and 0s from the late 40s- 1950s. That has always been the sweet spot for me in terms of what I've found that has been in the great condition I demand, and the playability. Remember that although there is great consistency in a Martin uke, they can sound different from instrument to instrument. I would at least want a sound check if buying long distance, with a return provision as a best case scenario.

12-31-2015, 10:28 AM
I think you will run across a multitude of opinions on this one, but I for one believe that there aren't many "bad" vintage martin ukulele's out there. (If they made it this far along they must be ok :)). If you are buying with the purpose of having a good player uke then I wouldn't be overly concerned about minor repairs (you may want to steer clear from headstocks that have been broken off and reglued, replaced bridges, warped sound boards and the like). There are not a lot of players that prefer the wood tuning pegs but they are manageable (granted that mechanical tuners are more easily worked). If at all possible, try to see and play a vintage uke in person before purchase to help avoid disappointment. My thought also is to buy what you like and not worry as much about resale. It sounds as if you have already been studying price, and it can vary greatly. Keep in mind that there are plenty of nice old Martin ukes available and deals still to be had.

01-01-2016, 03:59 PM
I have a preference for vintage Martins. All the ones from the 40s and before are wonderful. condition is important but one in perfect shape have not been played and won't have the mojo sound or never did. If repairs are done competently it can help the sound and playability. I've replaced compromised bridges with rosewood ones of identical dimensions that are just fine.
I have a few ready to sell and will have more in the future. Have to go play right now but will respond to inquires.

01-01-2016, 04:44 PM
I agree with comments #2-#6.

01-03-2016, 06:25 PM
Thanks for all the great input, the Walsh & King Martin book is on order and has shipped, looks to jam packed with great info on vintage Martin Ukuleles @!
Hmmmm....Martin UAS seems to be just a bit more insidious than say your everyday run of the mill UAS, just an observation....

mm stan
01-03-2016, 09:20 PM
What is cheap to you, remember most times you get what you pay for.
People sell ukes sometimes for a reason... good luck

01-04-2016, 02:20 PM
Congratulations on your vintage Concert Martin. I wouldn't hesitate to buy and try a variety of old Martin ukuleles to get first hand experience and decide what you like. You may be surprised, and the journey is just as pleasurable as the destination. Vintage Martin ukuleles really are the gold standard for design & tone, it's hard to go wrong.

Compared to vintage guitars, vintage ukuleles are a bargain. Collecting and playing are not exclusive - I know many serious players who have a passion for collecting old Martins, and many serious collectors who have a passion for playing old Martins :)


Condition is important, but don't be too rigid. Many wonderful old ukuleles have a couple of reglued cracks. If done properly, they are not an issue. A little bit of playwear is a good thing, then you don't have to worry too much about strumming away. The setup can vary quite a bit, and the sound too, so keep that in mind before making a judgement about a particular era or model. For me, condition and originality matter because then I know my instrument is close to factory spec in how it will play and sound. That's what is valuable to me. Don't be afraid of wooden peg models either, with proper setup (peg dope) and stringing, they can be incredibly stable once the strings settle in.

My personal preference is for the early ones from the beginning (1915) up to the early 1930's, which covers the golden era of the original Hawaiian music boom. The later ones can be great instruments as well, but I just love the idea of having something from that very special time. They are also more valuable.

mm stan
01-06-2016, 03:14 AM
This is a pretty nice Martin for 350.00 grab it :)

Trader Todd
05-01-2016, 10:49 AM
Curious if you have found anything yet?

05-01-2016, 11:52 AM
condition is important but one in perfect shape have not been played and won't have the mojo sound or never did.

So true. I just bought a VERY played vintage Martin tenor (from eBay) that sounds amazing. In fact, I only bought it because it had been played so much that I figured it had to sound great!