View Full Version : Martin 1K Binding Mystery

07-04-2017, 05:43 AM
First, Happy Independence Day to everyone in the US!

Next, I have been reading The Martin Ukulele by Tom Walsh & John King. Excellent book and resource for those interested in Martin's history and ukuleles. Complete with tons of beautiful, UAS-enabling pictures.


Which brings me to the reason for today's post. The binding on mine appears to be black celluloid. Not rosewood or even faux tortoise as the book identifies as the bindings used.

Does anyone know if Martin ever used black bindings on koa sopranos? Or, could the rosewood or tortoise turn black as it ages? If so, it aged uniformly, as the binding is solid black with no variations in color.

Pics can be seen in my NUD post below.


Pukulele Pete
07-05-2017, 04:51 AM
I think better pictures would help. You may have the only 1K with black binding , wouldnt that be cool !

07-05-2017, 02:23 PM
I think better pictures would help. You may have the only 1K with black binding , wouldnt that be cool !

Cool indeed! Thanks, Pete. Uploaded some more pics here. That binding looks black to me. Black as midnight, black as coal, same color as the tuner buttons.


FWIW, I adore this uke and don't care what color the binding is. But it would be interesting to solve the mystery!

07-05-2017, 07:25 PM
edit: I see you have it dated to 1933, I would expect rosewood at that time but you never know. Mine is 1927-32, pre decal. It is rosewood.
Here is one dated 1943 that appears to have black binding?
These are remarkable instruments, old Koa is special.

07-06-2017, 05:49 AM
There is also a 1K dated as 1935 on eBay with black binding. So yours may be the first year it was done.

07-06-2017, 01:31 PM
Interesting finds, D28! The date of 1933 on mine was from the shop where I purchased it. They said it was due to the presence of front decal + bar frets, the logic being that bar frets were discontinued in 1934.

However, I have since read that bar frets on Martin guitars were discontinued in 1934, but they may have been used on ukuleles after that time. So I guess the only thing I can say for certain is that mine was most likely made sometime after stamps were no longer put on the back of the peghead, and prior to the discontinuation of koa ukes! LOL! Which is to say - nothing is certain! :rotfl:

07-06-2017, 05:24 PM
Now that I think of it; I think I heard the stamp and decal were used 32-34, but I'm not certain of that. I could see the bar fret thing being a vague determination unlike the '34 cut off for guitars. Yours looks to have the same tuners as mine, regardless of these unknown details it's vintage and a real beauty- enjoy!

07-07-2017, 01:09 AM
Thanks, D28! :)

How about some pictures of yours?