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bukeh
01-01-2019, 09:15 AM
I tried a 1940's Martin T-1. I think of Martin as the gold standard for old guitars (mostly by reputation, having tried only one ever), so I was really expecting to be enthralled by it. I have to say I was disappointed. It was fine, but ordinary. I don't have any place to try ukuleles, so I've only played less than a handful of ukes that I don't own. For those who have played a number of them, have you played any old Martin tenors that live up to their reputation? How do the new Martin tenors compare to the old ones?

merlin666
01-01-2019, 09:24 AM
I tried a 1940's Martin T-1. I think of Martin as the gold standard for old guitars (mostly by reputation, having tried only one ever), so I was really expecting to be enthralled by it. I have to say I was disappointed. It was fine, but ordinary. I don't have any place to try ukuleles, so I've only played less than a handful of ukes that I don't own. For those who have played a number of them, have you played any old Martin tenors that live up to their reputation? How do the new Martin tenors compare to the old ones?

I had the good fortune to play several old Martins from the 1910s and 1920s in various Ukulele stores. Most of them were the simple style 1 or 0 mahogany Sopranos and without a doubt were the sweetest sounding ukes I ever heard. Maybe this was because they were still built with small-leaf mahogany at the time. Strangely enough, I found the higher numbered styles and old Martin koa ukes not quite as great. Can't comment on Tenors and "newer" builds.

spongeuke
01-01-2019, 03:17 PM
All the Vintage Martin Tenor owners I know still have them and will not part with them.

efiscella
01-01-2019, 05:32 PM
I recently purchased a 1940's Martin T-1 (tenor). Like you, I expected to be blown away. As you can see from my signature, I have many different ukuleles, and these are only the one's I kept. I have owned, and sold, a number of Pono's and Kanilea's, also. I think what I expected was for this Martin to blow all the others out of the water, and to tell you the truth, I do like it more than my Kamaka-- but not better than my KoAloha tenor, and KoAloha 6 string. After spending some time with the Martin, I have found it's sweet spot and it has become my "go to ukulele" for every song that is not Hawaiian. I find that the 1940's Martin matches the tone of my KoAloha but is much softer. The Martin, however, has a really sweet sound and the tone is excellent, much like the KoAloha. I also find that the longer I play the Martin, it seems to open up as I play and it becomes more and more resonate the longer I play. It has a beautiful tone. The KoAlohas' are also a bit easier to play with a faster neck and low action, but I also love playing the Martin. So, bottom line is that my 1940's Martin is just as good as my favorite ukuleles, the KoAloha's. After trying many different brands, the Martin is a keeper. I seem to pick up the Martin as often as I pick up the Koaloha tenor.
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Patrick Madsen
01-01-2019, 08:42 PM
The vintage all mahogany ukes seem to like nylon strings over fluro. I felt the same with a '46- '52 Favilla baritone that came with fluros. It didn'tpop like I expected it to. I figured that more than likely, they didn't have flurocarbon back when these were made; only nylon. Once I put on nylon it made all the difference. I like a bluesey, smokey sound on my mahogany ukes; nylon works for me... so far.

Nice looking tenor Effiscella. I do love the feel of a vintage Martin neck.

Scooter1552
01-19-2019, 01:27 PM
I own an early sixties Martin T1 and I love playing it. It has a very distinctive sound, strung with Aquila Reds, and I love the feel of the neck, it’s thin and delicate. Having said that, the instrument that I play the most is my Kanile’a tenor. It’s easier to tune, sounds great, and the neck is a little wider which makes it a joy to play. The Martin is wonderful to own because of its heritage and unique character. I don’t plan on parting with any of them.

EDW
01-19-2019, 01:58 PM
FWIW- I once had the opportunity to try a Gibson tenor that sounded amazing. I am not sure what year it was from, I think it was 40s era

Strumdaddy
01-20-2019, 05:17 PM
Cliff Edwards ended up playing a Martin tenor! Notice how he eventually had geared tuners in place. And remember that his instrument wasn't "vintage" at the time.
I have a 60's one that sounds amazing - sweet, balanced, loud...
I also have a Gibson tenor from 1927, it has a little more "sparkle" to it that makes me pick it up more, but vintage tenors are (usually) amazing.

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