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Swamp Yankee
02-13-2019, 02:03 PM
Just came in today - it's got a few cracks that look like they've been there for years. It's got a lot of finish crazing...but it plays like it's brand new and sounds sublime! No problems with intonation...I love it!

I'm guessing it's from the 40s or 50s - the music store label sets the latest likely date as 1958, early 59, as it's marked 'Honolulu, T.H.'

Anybody know if the date of manufacture can be narrowed down further?

links to pics:

https://www.hangoutstorage.com/banjohangout.org/storage/photos/large/70/7068-5439161322019.jpg

https://www.hangoutstorage.com/banjohangout.org/storage/photos/large/70/7068-14039161322019.jpg

Swamp Yankee
02-13-2019, 02:05 PM
mo' pics

https://www.hangoutstorage.com/banjohangout.org/storage/photos/large/70/7068-4239161322019.jpg

https://www.hangoutstorage.com/banjohangout.org/storage/photos/large/70/7068-3039161322019.jpg

https://www.hangoutstorage.com/banjohangout.org/storage/photos/large/70/7068-25838161322019.jpg

https://www.hangoutstorage.com/banjohangout.org/storage/photos/large/70/7068-15738161322019.jpg

Ukecaster
02-13-2019, 02:30 PM
Wow! Dream uke!

Swamp Yankee
02-13-2019, 02:43 PM
I think I made out reasonably well. I'm overjoyed that it's such a wonderful player as it is!

The biggest fly in the ointment, so to speak: some former owner must have sprayed some gahd-awful perfumey air freshener inside of it. I'm going to hit a pet store tomorrow and buy some activated carbon granules - put them in a couple of paper spice infuser bags and drop them inside. Then I'll seal the uke up for a few days in one of my humidi-baggies.

Jerryc41
02-14-2019, 01:41 AM
Very nice. I'm sure someone will be able to narrow down the date. I have a soprano that's from about 1944. Someone had it repaired, with a spruce top applied by (I forget his name - the luthier from Maine). It's nice that it has the sticker from the store in Honolulu.

Swamp Yankee
02-14-2019, 01:50 AM
Something I found on the internets re: Bergstrom Music,

'In 1907, James W. Bergstrom of the Bergstrom Music Co. of Honolulu, spent time making business connections on the East Coast of the U.S. It seems likely that he was the first to introduce the ukulele to Frank Henry, who was always willing to take on new projects at Martin. In December of that year, Bergstrom ordered six ukuleles from Martin as a trial to determine the price that Martin would charge. Martin established a price of $6.50 each, which was likely considered by Bergstrom too expensive to be able to compete with the Hawaiian-made instruments they were selling. It would be a few more years before Martin received its next request for ukuleles.'

UkerDanno
02-14-2019, 02:36 AM
Very cool, I'd love to find a vintage Martin concert, my soprano is a lot of fun to play, but a little small.

Captain America
02-14-2019, 04:06 AM
I am always curious how vintage Martins stack up to today's comparably priced ukes.

I can't help but think that sometimes they don't measure up, but sometimes they surpass. The soundboard on a guitar is pretty big, and lends itself to seasoning more than the uke soundboard.

Ziret
02-14-2019, 04:30 AM
Congratulations! That truly is a dream uke.

Swamp Yankee
02-15-2019, 07:31 AM
No guesses as to year of manufacture?

EDW
02-15-2019, 08:13 AM
I am no expert, but from what I can tell it is late 40s-mid 60s, which seems to be the same as what you already know.

Swamp Yankee
02-15-2019, 08:34 AM
I am no expert, but from what I can tell it is late 40s-mid 60s, which seems to be the same as what you already know.

Thanks for the feedback. Is there anything in particular you see that puts its earliest date in the late 40s?

Cluze
02-25-2019, 01:10 PM
I am, by no means, an expert in vintage Martins, but I do have some reference material; namely "The Martin Ukulele" by Tom Walsh & John King.

According to the information there, Martin started using the black-buttoned Champion tuners sometime around 1946. (That was the first year that they were actually inventoried, but they may have been used as early as the 1930's. During WWII, they intermittently used wooden pegs, so this is very likely post-war. Your frets also appear to be t-bar frets, which became standard equipment on concert models in 1947. This configuration, with t-bar frets and the Champion black button tuners, was standard from 1947 until the concert model was discontinued in 1965.

Swamp Yankee
02-25-2019, 03:57 PM
Cool! Thanks for that info.
Meanwhile, I'm still trying to determine when Bergstrom closed. I think it was while Hawaii was still a territory. If so, I might narrow the window even more.

spongeuke
02-25-2019, 09:31 PM
Nice score, My Concert is my only sure fire keeper. I'd say it is post war with the T frets and black button tuners that I think are Champions. The Bergstorm decal I have seen on other ukuleles beside Martins, but it looks like it has been there awhile. Happy Strumming.

Swamp Yankee
02-26-2019, 02:17 AM
This is one of the results from searching "Phillip Kellerman Bergstrom Honolulu", I am sure there will be others of interest. The link is complicated, you have to scroll down to Bergstrom and find that the Star Advertiser had an article on going out of business on 31 October 1955, with a lot of other stories over the years as well.
ulukau.org/gsdl2.82/cgi-bin/hni?e=d-00100-00---off-0hni--00-2----0-10-0---0---0direct-10---4-------0-1l--10-en-Zz-1---20-about---00-3-1-00-0-0-01-0-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&d=sectiononepage172&gg=1

If the link does not work do the google search and also look up ulukau hawaii electronic library.

The Star Advertiser newspaper based in Honolulu also has an archive which you can access back a long way, it includes earlier live's of the newspaper like the Honolulu Advertiser. But it also has a small joining fee. If you pay the fee you can probably link the index in ulukau to get the full pages of the newspaper articles. Even if you are not interested in the uke in this thread, the history of Kellerman's Bergstrom music shop looks very interesting.

Wow! Perfect! Thanks for that link. That does help narrow the dates quite a bit. So, best guess puts its date of manufacture between 1947 and 1955.


Nice score, My Concert is my only sure fire keeper. I'd say it is post war with the T frets and black button tuners that I think are Champions. The Bergstorm decal I have seen on other ukuleles beside Martins, but it looks like it has been there awhile. Happy Strumming.

Apparently, Bergstrom was in at the very beginning of Martin's ukulele history. From what I've read, Bergstrom ordered the first 6 ukes Martin made for selling, and its likely it was Bergstrom that persuaded Martin to build them in the first place.