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sequoia
05-06-2016, 06:13 PM
My neighbor owns a vintage Martin soprano from the 1920's in perfect condition. Nary a scratch. Sounds phenomenal. I mean really great. Beautiful patina. However, her old wooden tuners are not working well. It has gotten to the point where the instrument will not hold tuning. She wrote me the following email. The name of the luthier has been redacted, but he is a real pro and knows what he is doing. It is not me. I wouldn't touch this instrument with a ten foot pole. Any opinions?

Dear Rick.

I wonder if you’d know anything about this question I have:
(A luthier) says he can insert some new easier-to-operate pegs into my Martin --- the things they screw into would be inserted into the peg holes – no damage to the instrument he says. It’d be nice to have easier tuning – but do you know if this would affect the value of the instrument? It wouldn’t be “pure” anymore…

spongeuke
05-06-2016, 08:44 PM
I've installed Pegheds on four preWWII sopranos. I only had to slightly ream one hole one time, the rest went in without modifications. A small drop of glue was used a couple of times. A surprisingly easy conversion and doesn't change the look.

coolkayaker1
05-06-2016, 11:11 PM
The value of the early Martins lies in their originality. The original wooden pegs, though not easy to tune (although many do use them successfully), are very unique and valuable.

I strongly suggest that she sell the Martin in its unreamed, unmodified--thus unsullied, still Nazareth pristine--condition and then treat herself to an instrument of her liking with her newfound wad of cash.

PS If you take good quality photos and post them here, sequoia, I'm sure you could get a sense of model and market value...and who knows, maybe even a buyer.

If her plan is not to sell it for various sundry and personal reasons, then it's assumed that she wishes for it to retain its value; she must stay away from the tuner-altering luthier just as a handmaiden carved from ice avoids the beach.

Michael N.
05-07-2016, 12:31 AM
Not sure about Martin ukes but pretty much every other instrument that have friction pegs; they are seen as a replacement item. Reaming the holes a little is seen as a given, standard practice. That includes violins that can cost huge amounts of money.
Rather than fit pegheds I would fit a paper spiral bushing. The existing holes will need to be reamed a tiny amount, the shaft of the pegs worked a small amount.
Do the spiral bushings with hide glue and everything is reversible. When those spiral bushings wear then new ones can be fitted, although they last a long time. No more wood ever need be reamed again. It's just a matter of replacing that spiral bushing.

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g193/mignal/75cd0f93-698b-431a-b29b-82189e8ded14_zpsan8f3lyu.jpg (http://s56.photobucket.com/user/mignal/media/75cd0f93-698b-431a-b29b-82189e8ded14_zpsan8f3lyu.jpg.html)

http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g193/mignal/1235f68c-2ebb-4e11-8a00-33363ea803e2_zpsbdoemhjo.jpg (http://s56.photobucket.com/user/mignal/media/1235f68c-2ebb-4e11-8a00-33363ea803e2_zpsbdoemhjo.jpg.html)

That instrument dates from around 1770 and is one I bushed with paper. Once the bushing is trimmed back flush you see a tiny ring. With finish touch up you would have to look very close to notice it. Of course you have only removed the tiniest amount of original wood, minimal invasive procedure. You are adding rather than taking away.
An experienced violin repairer might be the person to see. They are accustomed to doing bushings, minimal invasive procedures, know how to fit pegs and do touch up.
They don't tend to be the cheapest musical instrument repairers though. In fact they are probably at the top of the tree. Having said that if the original pegs can be reused it's unlikely to cost much more than the cost of fitting 4 pegheds by a professional luthier. Finish touch up will add to the cost but that really isn't necessary. It's only to colour the paper bushing so it lies closer to the colour of the headstock. The natural colour of the paper may already be close enough.

Michael N.
05-07-2016, 01:34 AM
BTW. She really will notice a huge difference in ease of tuning when the original pegs/holes have been worked on. If she can tune harmonically (sounding two strings together) it makes it even easier. I've always found tuning up to the note easier than overshooting and tuning back down.

Sven
05-07-2016, 02:18 AM
Sure an untouched instrument is worth a lot to collectors. But if you can't use it to make music my opinion is that it's close to worthless. I installed a carbon rod in the neck of my 1930's Dobro tenor guitar and made it playable, and I love it and use it a lot. Before it just sat in a case with its bowed neck.

That said, I think the paper method sounds great. Wooden pegs aren't hard to use. My tounge in cheek advice for those who doubt them is, turn the peg until the string is at the desired pitch. Then stop.

Neal
05-07-2016, 04:55 AM
Michael N. and Sven have offered the best advice. Tuners on stringed instruments are replaceable items that, when done well, will not devalue an instrument. There are no playable Stradavarius' with original tuners..or necks, probably. Only if you intend to use this Martin as the centerpiece of a shrine to the Gods of Tin Pan Alley, unplayed in the special glass case, should you have the original pegs. But then you'd better have the original strings as well, or they get angry.

strumsilly
05-07-2016, 05:29 AM
an instrument that doesn't stay in tune is worthless. I have used wooden pegs before and after learning how to use them liked them as much as modern friction pegs. BUT, I love my UPTs and would actually prefer a vintage Martin with them.If the owner is going to keep the uke, repair or replace, if not, let the new owner decide.

RPA_Ukuleles
05-07-2016, 06:06 AM
Any real pro luthier should posess plenty of skill to restore friction pegs to perfect operating condition. Unless they are completely worn out of course. And with the description of the instrument being "perfect" i dont imagine the pegs being so much worse off than the rest of the instrument. Wooden friction pegs are more the purview of violin luthiers than guitar luthiers, so it would be best suited for one that has significant experience with pegs. Theres a beauty and simple elegance in the original configuration of such an old instrument that's a bit of a bummer to modify it. And in this case it's hard to imagine that the original pegs couldnt be worked to function as good or better than new.

sequoia
05-07-2016, 05:17 PM
The value of the early Martins lies in their originality. The original wooden pegs, though not easy to tune (although many do use them successfully), are very unique and valuable.

I strongly suggest that she sell the Martin in its unreamed, unmodified--thus unsullied, still Nazareth pristine--condition and then treat herself to an instrument of her liking with her newfound wad of cash.

PS If you take good quality photos and post them here, sequoia, I'm sure you could get a sense of model and market value...and who knows, maybe even a buyer.

If her plan is not to sell it for various sundry and personal reasons, then it's assumed that she wishes for it to retain its value; she must stay away from the tuner-altering luthier just as a handmaiden carved from ice avoids the beach.

Thanks for all the responses. I agree with them all and mostly said the same thing to her that you all are saying. If it was mine, I would sell it in a heartbeat and use the money to buy tools and wood. The appraiser quoted about 4 K ($US) which I think is probably a bit optimistic, but it would bring a bundle. She doesn't want to sell because it was her grandmothers. We shall see what the luthier does with it. Will report back if I remember... Below are pictures of the uke I posted a while back.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?103399-Now-for-Something-Completely-Different-A-Found-Martin-Uke-in-Closet&highlight=martin

coolkayaker1
05-08-2016, 03:26 PM
Thanks for all the responses. I agree with them all and mostly said the same thing to her that you all are saying. If it was mine, I would sell it in a heartbeat and use the money to buy tools and wood. The appraiser quoted about 4 K ($US) which I think is probably a bit optimistic, but it would bring a bundle. She doesn't want to sell because it was her grandmothers. We shall see what the luthier does with it. Will report back if I remember... Below are pictures of the uke I posted a while back.

http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?103399-Now-for-Something-Completely-Different-A-Found-Martin-Uke-in-Closet&highlight=martin

That's a nice Martin. Those Style 0s were very popular in the 1920s...many were made as it was the entry level instrument. Someone said it would fetch 4K, as in US dollars? She should run to that person and say "I'm too lazy to flip it; I'll sell it to you for $2,000 and you can resell for a huge profit!" Lol. For the rest of us, those can be bought on FMM, eBay, etc. and in that condition, for around $500. 😮🙂

You've given your friend good advice, sequoia. Thanks for sharing her plight...I mean story. 😄👍😝