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bsfloyd
11-26-2017, 09:17 AM
Hello gang! In my search for my first ukulele (currently playing a friend's), I find myself very much attracted to the vintage style look. I found that Ohana makes their 28 "Nunes" and 39 "Martin 3M" models. And, Martin has their HPL OXK, and their S1 models with their vintage looks. I would appreciate to hear user comments of these. Are there any other makers / models in similar price ranges that I could consider as well?

I should add that I'm not against Martin's high pressure laminates as I have played their guitars in the past and thought highly of them under first impressions.

Thanks!

vcs700s
11-26-2017, 11:05 AM
Ohana Vita Uke

lakesideglenn
11-26-2017, 01:40 PM
Why not buy a real vintage Martin ?

maki66
11-26-2017, 02:06 PM
Favilla vintage sopranos can still be had via ebay at attractive prices.
I was amazed how good the one we bought sounded.
We need another because my wife like it so much that she has claimed it for herself.
Some say that Favillas are the equal of vintage Martins, but I couldn't say as I can't afford Martins.
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2499334.m570.l1311.R4.TR5.TRC2.A0.H1.Xfav illa.TRS0&_nkw=favilla+ukulele&_sacat=119025

MopMan
11-26-2017, 04:24 PM
I own an Ohana CK-39, which is a solid mahogany concert-size homage to the Martin Style 3. It gets a very good recommendation from me. You can read my review here (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?129846-Ohana-CK-39-Concert-(Martin-S3-Type)).

actadh
11-27-2017, 03:51 AM
Might want to look at Brueko and Mainland, too.

bsfloyd
11-27-2017, 04:10 AM
Why not buy a real vintage Martin ?

This is a very good question. I admit to having very little experience with ukuleles. I know from my guitar experience that Vintage Martins can fetch a pretty high dollar - one that I cannot afford. I will need to look into the vintage Martin ukuleles.

Thanks for the suggestions and links to everyone! I will look into all the ones mentioned....

EDIT - Please, let me ask you all this.... I am a lover of ragtime and Dixieland music (and performer on drums and percussion). I love the sound and feel of old rags played on the ukulele. Sadly, none of the players I play with use a ukulele. While I admittedly do not know the full history of the ukulele yet (I am still learning), do you feel this style of music would best be apt for the soprano? Perhaps the different sizes didn't exist yet back in the early 1900's? I have read that the ukulele was used in the early jazz groups, just not great detail about it. Thanks!

janeray1940
11-27-2017, 04:28 AM
When I first began playing I thought I wanted a vintage Martin, but couldn't find one in time for the uke class I was about to take, so I started with a very basic Ohana mahogany soprano. It was fine, but really soon the sound of koa caught my ear and I gravitated toward Kamakas, which years later are my main players.

But I still had a vintage itch to scratch! I found a few drawbacks to true vintage - mainly, having to deal with cracks and slippy tuners and other fussy things I don't have patience for, as well as the fact that most vintage ukuleles stop at 12 frets and I tend to play beyond that regularly. So my ideal vintage-style mahogany soprano ended up being a Kiwaya KTS-5, which has the look along with more frets and impeccable craftsmanship. You can see their full mahogany soprano lineup here (http://takumiukulele.com/product_cat/artist-series/).

bsfloyd
11-27-2017, 05:33 AM
Thanks for the link, janeray - those Kiwaya Artist models are beautiful!! Sadly, out of my budget. However, I now know of them and can possibly work up towards getting one in the future. I really find them stunning in appearance.

Laura - the Bruko instruments seem wonderful! Simplistically beautiful, and very affordable. I didn't think Mainland to be into the vintage look but I will check again. I will say that I am really liking the Bruko line.

bsfloyd
11-27-2017, 05:53 AM
But I still had a vintage itch to scratch! I found a few drawbacks to true vintage - mainly, having to deal with cracks and slippy tuners and other fussy things I don't have patience for, as well as the fact that most vintage ukuleles stop at 12 frets and I tend to play beyond that regularly. So my ideal vintage-style mahogany soprano ended up being a Kiwaya KTS-5, which has the look along with more frets and impeccable craftsmanship. You can see their full mahogany soprano lineup here (http://takumiukulele.com/product_cat/artist-series/).

I wonder how their Eco Line instruments are. Like I stated before, I don't mind a laminate instrument if they are made well. My guitar playing experience lend me to believe that laminate instruments can sound nice when quality build. Those old Yamaha lammies are nice. Sure the tone wont improve with age, but if they sound good from the get go and they retain that sound then it wouldn't be a bad thing. Kiwaya does put up a nice pitch on them.

bsfloyd
11-27-2017, 06:10 AM
I see what you were talking about the Mainland's, Laura - I now see their Classic 1920's style... also, very affordable.

RafterGirl
11-27-2017, 07:35 AM
I just received my Famous/Kiwaya long neck soprano a few days ago. FLS- 1G. I have a review in the Uke Talk forum.

bsfloyd
11-27-2017, 07:56 AM
Thanks RafterGirl, I will look it up...

MopMan
11-27-2017, 11:03 AM
I am a lover of ragtime and Dixieland music (and performer on drums and percussion). I love the sound and feel of old rags played on the ukulele. Sadly, none of the players I play with use a ukulele. While I admittedly do not know the full history of the ukulele yet (I am still learning), do you feel this style of music would best be apt for the soprano? Perhaps the different sizes didn't exist yet back in the early 1900's?

Are you familiar with the Squirrel Nut Zippers? They are an early jazz revival band from the 90s... one of their principal members, Katharine Whalen, used a baritone ukulele on all of their early recordings.

You don't need a soprano to play classic rhythms with a healthy swing.

maki66
11-27-2017, 02:41 PM
One thing about most vintage ukuleles I don't care for is the narrow neck, most are 1 3/8".
Tuners can be changed out easily. Cracks are fixable.

janeray1940
11-27-2017, 03:50 PM
I wonder how their Eco Line instruments are. Like I stated before, I don't mind a laminate instrument if they are made well.

I've had two from the Eco line, a KS-0P thinline pineapple which I sold, and a Famous (Kiwaya's brand for the Japanese market) FLS-2PG longneck pineapple. I'd say they are very well made! The biggest difference I can see between the Eco and the Artist lines is that the two from the Eco line that I've encountered have chunkier necks. Not wider nuts, but a chunkier profile, which is a bit challenging for my small hands.


One thing about most vintage ukuleles I don't care for is the narrow neck, most are 1 3/8".
Tuners can be changed out easily. Cracks are fixable.

Ha, regarding the neck, see above! :) A matter of personal preference, as are the tuners and cracks. I don't like fiddling with stuff or getting repairs if I can avoid it - I think I was born lacking the "tinkerer" gene.

bsfloyd
11-28-2017, 04:18 AM
Are you familiar with the Squirrel Nut Zippers? They are an early jazz revival band from the 90s... one of their principal members, Katharine Whalen, used a baritone ukulele on all of their early recordings.

You don't need a soprano to play classic rhythms with a healthy swing.

This is the first I heard of The Squirrel Nut Zippers - thanks for the tip! The band seems very interesting. I look forward to listening to them.

bsfloyd
11-28-2017, 04:34 AM
I've had two from the Eco line, a KS-0P thinline pineapple which I sold, and a Famous (Kiwaya's brand for the Japanese market) FLS-2PG longneck pineapple. I'd say they are very well made! The biggest difference I can see between the Eco and the Artist lines is that the two from the Eco line that I've encountered have chunkier necks. Not wider nuts, but a chunkier profile, which is a bit challenging for my small hands.

Thanks for sharing your experience with the Kiwaya Eco line, janeray. I'm a bit on the fence about spending almost $300 on a laminate, but the Martin OX laminate is the same price so they don't stand alone. I do know that a well built laminate can sound very nice. Plus, less temperature and humidity sensitive. Perhaps a good "go anywhere instrument and keep the higher dollar ukulele at home" mentality.

However, I have been seriously considering the Martin S1. Which I know is over my initial budget, but I have always had good experience with Martin guitars in the past. I mentioned their OX above which is much more in my budget, but I never did like the appearance of the multi colored sandwich neck. I agree they are very much structurally sound as I owned one of these in an OM sized guitar for years, but just the appearance of it. I mean, we should like the looks of what we play, right :)

So... while I am still in research and learning mode, I am leaning towards the Bruko model 6 and model 2, the Martin S1, and the Kiwaya KS-1. A bit different of a group, but then again not.

I can say I am having a great time discovering all of these. And, I owe it all to all you great folks here - truly a great bunch of people and a great forum!!

janeray1940
11-28-2017, 05:15 AM
So... while I am still in research and learning mode, I am leaning towards the Bruko model 6 and model 2, the Martin S1, and the Kiwaya KS-1. A bit different of a group, but then again not.


The Martin S1's have gotten better recently - I wasn't a fan initially but my local shop has a couple in right now and they're pretty good - not that I need another ukulele, but I was recently quite tempted! The Kiwayas are definitely superior from a craftsmanship perspective though, in my opinion anyway.

As for Bruko - hmm. I'm not a fan, and if at all possible I'd say try before you buy. I know some people love them, but I often wonder if it's purely a matter of price. If cost is the primary deciding factor, I'd consider something like an Ohana SK-20 (https://ohana-music.com/product/sk-20-solid-top-mahogany-soprano/). This (or something similar, soprano mahogany top) was my first uke and with a string change was pretty good.

bsfloyd
11-28-2017, 05:30 AM
The Martin S1's have gotten better recently - I wasn't a fan initially but my local shop has a couple in right now and they're pretty good - not that I need another ukulele, but I was recently quite tempted! The Kiwayas are definitely superior from a craftsmanship perspective though, in my opinion anyway.

As for Bruko - hmm. I'm not a fan, and if at all possible I'd say try before you buy. I know some people love them, but I often wonder if it's purely a matter of price. If cost is the primary deciding factor, I'd consider something like an Ohana SK-20 (https://ohana-music.com/product/sk-20-solid-top-mahogany-soprano/). This (or something similar, soprano mahogany top) was my first uke and with a string change was pretty good.

Much thanks for the information janeray! I've always been a Martin fan, but I don't want to just lean one way based on my guitar experience with them as I'm sure things are different in the ukulele world. I appreciate you sharing your experience on the Kiwaya being a bit better in craftsmanship over the Martin. Of course I'm wanting to get the best I can for my money. Yes, the KS-1 is significantly less $$ which is a plus. And if they feel their all laminate is worth $$ more that other maker's solid instruments, they must be pretty confident about it. I wish I could up my budget to their KTS-4, but I'm already stretching to get into the Martin S1 price range. I have been keeping an eye on the used ukuleles section here to see if anything pops up....

Ziret
11-28-2017, 07:04 AM
I've played a Martin C1 and hear it every week in my uke group. It was light and easy to play, but nowhere near as loud as my Kiwaya soprano and nowhere near as nicely made. Nowhere near there price, either, though I got mine used. I think the S1 is a nice instrument and because of your affection for Martins, I think you'd like it. Also, used they are a great deal and there are many open box opportunities as well. HPL is quite heavy and doesn't feel like wood, unless you need an expensive bomb proof uke, I'd steer clear of their X series, the Kiwaya eco series is a much better deal.

bsfloyd
11-29-2017, 01:06 AM
Thanks for the share and info, Ziret. I have been seeing some S1's used on for pretty good prices. Too many choices.... :)

Tootler
11-29-2017, 02:25 AM
I can endorse the Brueko ukuleles. I have three, a "custom" soprano in pearwood which sounds great in either C or D tuning, a Rosewood custom concert and a standard No. 9 tenor. If you want an instrument that has plenty of "zing" Brueko ukuleles will deliver in spades. They are incredible value, quality instruments at affordable prices.

Barry Maz on his Got a Ukukele Blog has reviewed Brueko and Kiwaya ukuleles. Take a look. http://www.gotaukulele.com The first link on the page is to Reviews

bsfloyd
11-29-2017, 04:08 AM
I can endorse the Brueko ukuleles. I have three, a "custom" soprano in pearwood which sounds great in either C or D tuning, a Rosewood custom concert and a standard No. 9 tenor. If you want an instrument that has plenty of "zing" Brueko ukuleles will deliver in spades. They are incredible value, quality instruments at affordable prices.

Barry Maz on his Got a Ukukele Blog has reviewed Brueko and Kiwaya ukuleles. Take a look. http://www.gotaukulele.com The first link on the page is to Reviews

Thanks for your recommendation, Geoff! I am considering the #6 and #2 models currently at Uke Republic. I've been in conversations with Mike. He seems like a great person. I did see the Bruko reviews and videos on Barry's site and YouTube. Actually, it's his videos that are selling me on the Bruko's and the S1.

Another note - I recently came across a used Loprinzi mahogany vintage style model in very nice shape that I am considering as well. Just trying to find out more info on it at the moment.

Ziret
11-29-2017, 06:04 AM
The Loprinzi would be an excellent choice as well. Geoff's suggestion about looking at Barry's videos is a great idea. Bruko is a fun instrument, with a distinctive sound.

bsfloyd
11-30-2017, 01:27 AM
Favilla vintage sopranos can still be had via ebay at attractive prices.
I was amazed how good the one we bought sounded.
We need another because my wife like it so much that she has claimed it for herself.
Some say that Favillas are the equal of vintage Martins, but I couldn't say as I can't afford Martins.
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2499334.m570.l1311.R4.TR5.TRC2.A0.H1.Xfav illa.TRS0&_nkw=favilla+ukulele&_sacat=119025

Stumbled across this just yesterday - they have a mid 50's Favilla soprano a couple ukes down (also a few other vintage sopranos in the bunch):

http://www.vintage-instruments.com/navigate/catidx8.htm

I also found this mid 30's Regal at Gryphon:

https://shop.gryphonstrings.com/products/-c-1935-soprano-regal-ukulele-standard-approved-46692-

Either of these two seem to be a good deal, or something to stay away from?

Ukecaster
11-30-2017, 02:18 AM
That Favilla looks great, very clean. I've tried about 10 different sopranos, including a vintage 50's Kamaka, 40's Martin 0, a modern Martin S1, Kiwaya KTS-4, and a Timms 0. My 40's Favilla U-2 is still my favorite. It has a full, rich woody tone, great volume, more midrange, not plinky or banjo-like, as some sopranos can sound, at least to my ears. IMO, based on the one example I have, they are the best deal around on vintage mahogany sopranos. If I were looking at a mahogany vintage soprano, I'd grab that one, which is priced fairly, and you'll know it has been checked out and adjusted by a pro.

EDW
11-30-2017, 02:30 AM
Favillas can be terrific instruments. I have heard some folks refer to them as the poor man's Martin. While you will see some at highly inflated prices, often you can see a good bargain.

Vintage-instruments is a very reputable shop. I bought something from them a few years back and they gave terrific service.

bsfloyd
11-30-2017, 02:49 AM
Thanks for the confirmation, gang! I may contact the shop and get some more information on it. If anyone else is interested in it, have at it!!