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EDW
01-11-2018, 02:08 AM
For those who have played or owned various vintages of Martin ukes, let's say from the 20's-60's, are there basic characteristic differences in tone and playability from one era to another?

Are Martins from any one era significantly different, due to wood, care of the builders, construction, etc, or is it really a matter of differences of any one instrument to another?

I have heard lots of variations in videos and clips and I am unsure whether it is due to differences in strings, players, recording quality or the instruments themselves.

RichM
01-11-2018, 03:06 AM
The best investment you could make. It will answer a LOT of your questions!

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EDW
01-11-2018, 03:12 AM
I'll seek it out. Does the book talk about differences in the tone and playing qualities or is it more of a historical resource?

RichM
01-11-2018, 03:14 AM
I'll seek it out. Does the book talk about differences in the tone and playing qualities or is it more of a historical resource?

Historical resource, but very detailed. It lays out the difference in woods, construction details, etc for different years.

Ukecaster
01-11-2018, 03:35 AM
Will be interesting to hear opinions on this. I don't have much experience, but have heard repeatedly that Martin ukes from the 20's and 30's sound better, not sure why...maybe thinner woods and lighter bracing?

RichM
01-11-2018, 03:48 AM
Will be interesting to hear opinions on this. I don't have much experience, but have heard repeatedly that Martin ukes from the 20's and 30's sound better, not sure why...maybe thinner woods and lighter bracing?

I'm no expert, but I can offer my opinion. I own a 1930 Martin Style 0. It is, to my ear, perhaps the best-sounding soprano I've ever heard. I can offer the following 2 observations:

1. I've played various vintage Martins, including a couple of Style 5s. The higher trim models sound and feel pretty much the same as my Style 0-- great, but not "better." I'm comparing mahogany to mahogany-- I've actually never played a vintage koa Martin.

2. I've played virtually every modern Martin ukulele model (it's nice living fairly close to the Martin factory :)), and they are nice, but to my ear, a different animal. I don't find the tone of modern Martins particularly similar to the tone of the vintage ones.

I can't tell you why that is-- it's just my opinion, and I'm biased (meaning: I like what I like, and that doesn't mean what I like is empirically good :)).

D28
01-11-2018, 05:00 AM
I would generalize any vintage Martin as consistently good, like you can't really go wrong. I've played some across that spectrum and owned some too and would stand behind that any day of the week.
But.. There are some that really seem to be exceptional, a 1930 1k I own for instance, so maybe there is something great in that time frame- there is for Martin guitars no doubt. I say this not only based on sound but overall feel and playability which I find more important by just a hair, wood variance is where you'll get most initial differences.
I couldn't say for sure if there is an actual build difference to later ones, wether documented or realized.
There's plenty to choose from and create your own hypothesis. I can't think of a better endeavor.

spongeuke
01-11-2018, 10:06 AM
This thread plucks my heart strings.
My passion is to rescue or restore vintage Martins. Currently play these WWII made Concert, Style O, 1, 2, & 3 Sopranos just because they are as old as I am.
I think that the difference in various vintage Mahogany Martins could be largely due to how they were treated by the owners and repairmen. There are differences in tone but it is a matter of individual taste.
I've had 2 that were modified one by a skilled luthier and another by an inspired tinker. The first spruce topped one was interesting but I passed it on. The 2nd had an unbraced back applied and is a great schelp-arround ukulele that has lived in my car but stays reasonably tuned and is a cannon, louder that the average uke.
Looking forward to playing the 1930s Style 1, I'm replacing the blown out bridge and fixing a cigarette hole in the face.

uketeecee
01-11-2018, 03:10 PM
I've played a lot of old Martin ukes. Some sound great, some sound just OK. Some have issues, some don't. One thing they all have in common is character.

Why such wide variation? These fragile things were made a hundred years ago by hand. Variations existed from the start and these variations grew over the decades for reasons spongeuke outlines.

When you find a great old Martin uke you will know what all the fuss is about.