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View Full Version : My Dream Uke -- Martin Vintage Tenor



Stevelele
08-09-2016, 07:10 AM
I think I have now owned over 60 ukes at one point or another. Played so many customs, special ukes -- there have been some really great ones. I wrote a list of them at one point just to keep track--I think that was my 500th post.

Out of all the ukes I've owned, I've only kept a few. Even though many were amazing, I felt like I didn't really need to keep them--let someone else enjoy it, you know, and try not to become a hoarder. A few of them I regret selling, but for the most part, I'm happy with what I have.

But one thing that I've always felt I've been missing is a tenor uke with a vintage sound that my martin soprano makes. After searching and trying different brands, some Japanese ukes, and after going through several vintage ukes, I came close to giving up. Figured that it's impossible to get that kind of sound out of a tenor.

Recently Bearbike posted his scratched up vintage martin for sale--he had to take the posting down because he loved the uke too much. I had looked at this posting with a lot of interest, because I was talking to a UU'er about buying his 14 fret Martin tenor. Bearbike's post really inspired me to give a martin vintage tenor another try.

I just received it yesterday. Slapped on some southcoast strings. And wow.... I know there is no such thing as a holy grail, but this uke has come close for me! it's bright, twangs just right, resonates beautifully. Also has a nice thin, fast neck. I don't know if it's the age and wear of the mahogany, the construction they made back then or what. But wow, what a great uke! Not saying I won't ever sell it, but I certainly doubt it.

janeray1940
08-09-2016, 08:04 AM
I don't play tenor due to small hands, and I generally don't even care for mahogany, but - if one of those vintage Martin tenors came my way at the right time I'd snap it up! I've test-driven a couple and they're great - nice resonant tone and a very playable neck, even for stubby little hands like mine. Congrats on getting a great uke!

stevejfc
08-09-2016, 08:40 AM
Great uke Steve. I'm kinda like Jane in that I don't play tenor, but have kept my eye out for the right vintage Martin concert. Anyway,.....enjoy!

spongeuke
08-09-2016, 09:17 AM
Glad to hear from another vintage Martin player. I am also curious about the Martin Tenors. I have my share of Sopranos and a keeper Concert but never bonded a Tenor although I have a wonderful Little River Walnut. I have a friend that plays a Martin Tenor. I'll give it strum next time I see it.

Ukulele Eddie
08-09-2016, 09:38 AM
Given the number of instruments you've enjoyed, that is quite a testimony. Congrats on the great acquisition!

Joyful Uke
08-09-2016, 10:23 AM
A few of them I regret selling, but for the most part, I'm happy with what I have.

I haven't paid attention to the Martins, but now will have to take a listen.

Which ukuleles have you regretting selling? Must have been hard making the decisions on what to let go of with over 60 ukes!

Stevelele
08-09-2016, 12:04 PM
I had a beautiful DaSilva that I probably shouldn't have sold, and an amazing Santa Cruz Guitar company concert I shouldn't have sold (not interested in buying others--i know there are some second hand ones out there, but what's done is done). Those are the main ones that come to mind. I don't really miss the other ones, but I still think about those sometimes. Oh and the one that got away was a concert that kris barnett made--he let me play it--i should have bought it....he has since stopped making ukes


I haven't paid attention to the Martins, but now will have to take a listen.

Which ukuleles have you regretting selling? Must have been hard making the decisions on what to let go of with over 60 ukes!

alohasu
08-09-2016, 04:14 PM
I have a 12 fret 60's Martin tenor. I haven't tried 14 fret tenor. Does anyone try both? If yes, except for access to high chords, any difference in tone color?

coolcow
08-09-2016, 08:56 PM
I had a beautiful DaSilva that I probably shouldn't have sold

Would like to know more about the DaSilva...never have the chance to try one

mm stan
08-09-2016, 10:07 PM
Vintage Martins are amazing in tone and playability, I bought my second martin concert a few months ago
They all have a traditional ukulele sound and should be left in high G. Happy strummings
However my tenor and vintage 1929 martin soprano sound just as good :)

Stevelele
08-10-2016, 03:33 AM
thanks everyone--very happy to bond with a good group that's appreciated these martins far longer than I have. Mine is in great condition which is a bonus. Always been curious whether it's possible to replicate this sound with a new uke--but i know that new martin tenors don't sound anything like the old ones. so maybe it's just the way they age.

strumsilly
08-10-2016, 04:49 AM
thanks everyone--very happy to bond with a good group that's appreciated these martins far longer than I have. Mine is in great condition which is a bonus. Always been curious whether it's possible to replicate this sound with a new uke--but i know that new martin tenors don't sound anything like the old ones. so maybe it's just the way they age.my Collings mahogany sounds similar to the vintage Martin tenors

bearbike137
08-10-2016, 11:53 AM
I just received it yesterday. Slapped on some southcoast strings. And wow.... I know there is no such thing as a holy grail, but this uke has come close for me! it's bright, twangs just right, resonates beautifully. Also has a nice thin, fast neck. I don't know if it's the age and wear of the mahogany, the construction they made back then or what. But wow, what a great uke! Not saying I won't ever sell it, but I certainly doubt it.

:shaka::cheers::smileybounce::music:

Nickie
08-11-2016, 03:09 PM
Congratulations! Vintage Martins are tough to beat.

Doc_J
08-11-2016, 04:29 PM
Steve, I'm happy for you. I know you have tried out many ukes to get to this one.
Had a 12-fret Martin tenor with a really nice neck profile, and that vintage tone. I'm trying to remember why I sold it.

Stay curious my friend. For me the uke exploration never ends, kind of like travelling to different places. Each place has something to offer.

sillyrib
08-12-2016, 11:08 PM
I got my martin tenor a couple of months ago. It was sitting in an old ladies attic for many years. still had a tuning fork an extra set of old martin strings and a martin strings price list from the 50s in the pocket of the original case. Took a while to get it tuned up but I haven't stopped playing it since. Its the perfect size for me and I like how the fretboard extends to the soundhole which you don't get in the lower end martin concerts and sopranos. Martin baritones are nice also but give a boomy sound that doesn't work for many songs.
One thing is strange though is how mellow the tenor is compared to the concert and soprano. The smaller you get the louder it gets. My style 2 soprano is a cannon compared to the tenor.

Teek
08-13-2016, 09:58 PM
Congrats on finding your dream dance partner! May you have a long and happy partnership!

I have Style 3M c. 1940, a '60s bari that I love, moreso because it was my Mom's, and a K.Yasuma blueprinted clone that is lovely. I adore those Martin necks! I also have a Collings UT-2 all mahogany and it does have a Martinesque sweetness, and is basically also a Martin clone. If I didn't have that, or even the Yasuma, I'd be hunting for a Martin tenor as well. I agree the sopranos have huge lungs!

Ukejenny
08-14-2016, 05:52 AM
Congratulations on your wonderful instrument! It may not be a holy grail situation, but certainly a holy moly situation!!!

I just don't have the stretch for tenor, so my vintage wish list consists of a Kamaka longneck pineapple. Someday...... someday..............

Stevelele
08-14-2016, 10:03 AM
yeah, my martin 2m is a cannon too and has the nicest sound. I was almost tempted to make it into a frankenuke and have someone do a long neck on it, but that kind of felt like sacrilege.


I got my martin tenor a couple of months ago. It was sitting in an old ladies attic for many years. still had a tuning fork an extra set of old martin strings and a martin strings price list from the 50s in the pocket of the original case. Took a while to get it tuned up but I haven't stopped playing it since. Its the perfect size for me and I like how the fretboard extends to the soundhole which you don't get in the lower end martin concerts and sopranos. Martin baritones are nice also but give a boomy sound that doesn't work for many songs.
One thing is strange though is how mellow the tenor is compared to the concert and soprano. The smaller you get the louder it gets. My style 2 soprano is a cannon compared to the tenor.

Griffis
08-14-2016, 06:36 PM
Congratulations Steve! I've owned a couple of vintage Martin guitars and a few non-vintage ones as well. The only vintage Martin ukulele I ever had was a baritone. All wonderful instruments.

Enjoy that beauty.

bearbike137
03-26-2017, 03:50 PM
Steve - I love my vintage Martin tenor so much that I bought another! I may never buy another brand new uke again....

:shaka:

good_uke_boy
04-15-2018, 05:27 AM
I had a beautiful DaSilva that I probably shouldn't have sold, and an amazing Santa Cruz Guitar company concert I shouldn't have sold (not interested in buying others--i know there are some second hand ones out there, but what's done is done). Those are the main ones that come to mind. I don't really miss the other ones, but I still think about those sometimes. Oh and the one that got away was a concert that kris barnett made--he let me play it--i should have bought it....he has since stopped making ukes

Hi, Stevelele. I'm trying to take good care of, and really enjoying, your Santa Cruz. FYI, there's a video of it in the Ukulele Mike tribute thread:
http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?130916-Ukulele-Mike-Lynch-Tribute-Videos&p=2057855#post2057855

merlin666
04-15-2018, 05:36 AM
Old thread, but I recently visited some of the Hawaiian islands and as it was a rainy holiday had opportunity to check out nine ukulele stores and try many Hawaiian ukuleles, new and vintage, as well as several vintage Martins. I must say that the old (20s and before) Martin ukes really stood out of the crowd and I was close to picking one up but Soprano is not my size. The expereince left me wondering why those old ukes are so outstanding, is it the real Swietania mahoganii that was used, or something in their build characteristic?

Strumdaddy
04-15-2018, 09:14 PM
I too adore my Martin tenor. The only other siren song for me is from a Gibson tenor.
Anyone had a chance to compare the two?

spongeuke
04-16-2018, 07:01 AM
Old thread, but I recently visited some of the Hawaiian islands and as it was a rainy holiday had opportunity to check out nine ukulele stores and try many Hawaiian ukuleles, new and vintage, as well as several vintage Martins. I must say that the old (20s and before) Martin ukes really stood out of the crowd and I was close to picking one up but Soprano is not my size. The expereince left me wondering why those old ukes are so outstanding, is it the real Swietania mahoganii that was used, or something in their build characteristic?
I'm a fan of the old Martin sopranos that I play. That old dark mahogany while not flamed seems to ring out in the right hands, (not always mine) but I try. I've over purchased over the years so now I'm schelping around a 1927 and a 1918 Martin 1Ms. So far there doesn't seem much interest in either. I think that it is the old verses new thing plus people are playing Concerts or Tenors with the extended fret board.

Mr. Sweetie
04-23-2018, 05:57 PM
I'm a fan of the old Martin sopranos that I play. That old dark mahogany while not flamed seems to ring out in the right hands, (not always mine) but I try. I've over purchased over the years so now I'm schelping around a 1927 and a 1918 Martin 1Ms. So far there doesn't seem much interest in either. I think that it is the old verses new thing plus people are playing Concerts or Tenors with the extended fret board.

I have heard at least one of your Martins, I believe the 27 twice now. Ft. Bragg and Occidental. Lovely instruments and the tone the produce is wonderful. I will introduce myself next time I see you.

Best to you!