PDA

View Full Version : Martin T1 Iz Commemorative Tenor #500 - Conclusion



Kenn2018
02-12-2019, 11:24 AM
I purchased a Martin T1 IZ model ukulele that was issued by CF Martin as a tribute to Hawaiian performer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole ("Iz"), from a UU Forum member in late September, 2018. It was special because it was the 500th made. I knew from the onset that there were some problems with the ukulele’s matte finish, but the price was attractive.

It sounded great and played easily and the solid, quilted Mahogany that was used for the body was exceptional. I hoped that it could be refinished locally, or sent back to the factory for refurbishing. I was told by a Martin service representative that I should take it to the Martin Service Center nearby to get their evaluation of its condition.

Unfortunately, the service tech said that it would be cost-prohibitive to refinish it. It would cost more than the instrument was worth and would take a couple of months to do. They told me that Martin informed them that it was a one-off problem with the matte-finish coat not adhering properly, and that Martin had not received any other complaints about the finish on this models.

So, I decided to make the uke my beater for gigs and to take to club meetings. I purchased a set of black Gotoh UPT-L planetary geared tuners and asked the tech to replace the PegHeds that originally came on the 1T, and to check the setup.

I received a phone call the next day from the service manager informing me that the ukulele had been damaged while the tuners were being changed, and that the damage was not repairable. The manager then told me that they would replace the tenor with a new one from Martin—free of charge! I reminded them that the instrument had some problems and was not in perfect condition when I brought it in. He told me he understood, but they stood by their work, that was their policy, and they would make things right.

Wow! A very pleasant surprise!

He’d put in an order with Martin and let me know when the new ukulele was delivered. I’d examine it then. And, they would change the tuners and do the setup once I gave my approval.

Fast-forward to mid January 2019 and the replacement #665, arrived. I won’t bore you with why it took so long. The quilted mahogany was not quite as nice looking as #500. The fretboard looked dry. Plus, the bridge was very pale, dry and raw—as though they shaped it, and stuck it on, but did not apply any finish to it.* And to be honest, it doesn’t sound quite as clear to me as #500 did. But it’s very close.

I approved and they replaced the tuners with the Gotohs I supplied. They did a setup, and offered to install a pickup in it for no charge! I went with an in-stock Baggs 5.0. They also installed a strap pin on the heel for me. All as an apology for the inconvenience, and for the length of time it took to get the ukulele delivered and the damage done to the original ukulele.

Double Wow!

After trying several sets of strings, I have settled on Low-G Freemont Black strings. But I may go back to a set of Martin Fluoros leter. I’m am thrilled with the ukulele and the replacement Gotoh planetary tuners. Everything turned out well in the end. However, I am a little sad that an historic instrument was ruined during this drawn-out process.

When I asked what they would do with the once-again functional, but dented #500, he said he wasn’t sure. I recommended that they donate it to a local charity or youth group. He said he would suggest that to the owner.

I will be a customer of this Martin dealer/repair center for life.

Here are some photos of the replacement uke with the new Gotoh tuners.

115539 115540 115541 115542 115543

Kenn2018
02-12-2019, 11:27 AM
CONTINUED...

*Both the bridge and the fretboard looked very dry. I applied a little Music Nomad Fretboard Oil to both. They took it greedily. The bridge soaked it all up almost immediately and the wood turned darker—which is a much more pleasing appearance. I had to be careful not to apply too much and possibly affect the pickup in the slot. Surprisingly, the strings had already dug indents into the bridge’s wood! I think it is walnut that is soft and loose-grained. I put a piece of Red Nylgut String under the bottom of the tied strings, before tightening, to lessen the formation of the grooves—maybe?

A lot of black pigment came off when I oiled the fretboard. The walnut was actually paler after oiling. I think Martin dyed it to look more uniform. Trying to make it look more like an expensive ebony.

jelow1966
02-12-2019, 12:32 PM
Do you have any pictures of #500 for comparison? Sounds like you ended up with a good deal and a nice uke, even if not quite as nice as the first one.

John

Jerryc41
02-13-2019, 06:04 AM
I've often wondered what happened to you and that Iz. That's a fantastic story about a fantastic shop. If it hadn't been a Martin shop, I bet the outcome would have been totally different. Did you see what the problem was with the Gotoh conversion? That would be good to know for future reference.

I've done several Gotoh conversions with no problems, but on one I had a slight problem. As I was enlarging the hole, a tiny speck of wood split near the hole on the back of the headstock. It was barely noticeable, but I had to tell the owner. She didn't care at all.

Kenn2018
02-13-2019, 07:49 PM
I've often wondered what happened to you and that Iz. That's a fantastic story about a fantastic shop. If it hadn't been a Martin shop, I bet the outcome would have been totally different. Did you see what the problem was with the Gotoh conversion? That would be good to know for future reference.

I've done several Gotoh conversions with no problems, but on one I had a slight problem. As I was enlarging the hole, a tiny speck of wood split near the hole on the back of the headstock. It was barely noticeable, but I had to tell the owner. She didn't care at all.

The tech working on it, did not know that the tuners had threads that screwed in different directions so that the string tension tightened them in the mounting holes. He tried to force the issue, the tool slipped his hand hit a shelf and something heavy fell and the corner hit the headstock and put a large dent into it that extended into the inlays.

I have heard from others that they stand by their work whether a $200 ukulele, or a $20,000 guitar. Martin, Taylor, McPearson (Made here in Sparta, WI). They have an international reputation for the instruments they sell and the repairs and restorations they do. Really friendly and knowledgeable people there. Dave's Guitar Shop in La Crosse, WI.

PS: The tech that worked on the IZ is no longer there. Not just because of the T1, but it was the culmination of several problems.

Jerryc41
02-14-2019, 01:33 AM
The tech working on it, did not know that the tuners had threads that screwed in different directions so that the string tension tightened them in the mounting holes. He tried to force the issue, the tool slipped his hand hit a shelf and something heavy fell and the corned hit the headstock and put a large dent into it that extended into the inlays.

I have heard from others that they stand by their work whether a $200 ukulele, or a $20,000 guitar. Martin, Taylor, McPearson (Made here in Sparta, WI). They have an international reputation for the instruments they sell and the repairs and restorations they do. Really friendly and knowledgeable people there. Dave's Guitar Shop in La Crosse, WI.

PS: The tech that worked on the IZ is no longer there. Not just because of the T1, but it was the culmination of several problems.

Thanks for that. Those PegHeds are a bit unusual. Too bad the guy lost his job, but the owner has to cut his losses.

As expensive as some ukuleles are, they are much less costly than guitars, so I'm glad I picked the right instrument.

uketanzon
02-14-2019, 03:47 AM
I used Novus number 2 plastic polish on my Iz soundboard to give it a semi gloss look and bring out the wood figure.
The Iz does not have to be so dull and plain. Inleftbthe side and back alone as I like the look of the glossy top with the satin .....you could also do the reverse... very pleasd with results. remove strings, must Use a moist rag tip..a bit of novus number 2 paste, slow even circular motions, even light pressure over entire surface, dry and buff. repeat as necessary to get the shine you want....do not want to over do it....Need to remove strings so you can get around the bridge plate and have an nice even gloss look around the entire top. see more photos in in my reply posts

then I used martin Guitar spray wax to finish iit off. happy with results.

Santa Cruz guitars uses novus to remove light scratches....there are three levels of novus..
1....very light abrasive final buff
2..medium
3. for heavy scratches

Jerryc41
02-14-2019, 06:48 AM
I used Novus number 2 plastic polish on my Iz soundboard to give it a semi gloss look and bring out the wood figure.

Nice - and daring!

Kenn2018
02-14-2019, 10:24 AM
I used Novus number 2 plastic polish on my Iz soundboard to give it a semi gloss look and bring out the wood figure.
The Iz does not have to be so dull and plain. Inleftbthe side and back alone as I like the look of the glossy top with the satin .....you could also do the reverse... very pleasd with results. remove strings, Use a damp rag, a bit of novus number 2 paste, slow even circular motions, over entire surface, dry and buff. repeat if necessary....do not want to over do.

That came out very nice. I may do something like that to mine. I was considering using Turtle Wax, that I understand Taylor Guitars use on their instruments.

In the meantime, I just hand-buffed mine a little with a piece of t-shirt cloth. It took down the matte finish to more of a satin look.

That quilted mahogany wood is just too pretty to be dulled by a matte finish.

uketanzon
02-17-2019, 01:51 AM
Santa Cruz guitars uses novus to remove light scratches from there guitars....there are three levels of novus polish
1....very light abrasive final buff
2..medium
3. for heavy scratches

need to take strings off to get around the bridge plate so gloss appears even on entire top with no dull spots...I like the look much better, but remenber once you start there is no going back to the dull finish.

If you iz is getting some shiny spots from playing, hand rubbing or arm rest, and its annoys you, then this makes a sensible alternative to just gloss out the entire top.
I think martin choose wrong in making the instrument so dull and sedate looking on the wood finish.

Kenn2018
02-17-2019, 04:24 PM
I think martin choose wrong in making the instrument so dull and sedate looking on the wood finish.

I agree 100%.

But I also disagree with them using a streaky Walnut fretboard and bridge. The pale, roughly-made, soft bridge is a disgrace. The dyed fretboard isn't much better for an instrument that is over $2k MSRP. From photos it looks to me that they are using the same items that are used on the Mexican-made instruments.

ScooterD35
02-19-2019, 03:18 PM
The IZ model’s fingerboard and bridge is East Indian Rosewood, not Walnut.

Scooter