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View Full Version : NUD: Martin S-O rescue



Swamp Yankee
04-20-2019, 09:12 AM
I saw a listing from a local music consignment shop on Facebook Marketplace for this Martin S-O uke so I decided to take a ride with my wife to check it out.

What I found hanging among the cheap electric guitars and amps of dubious provenance was a very easy playing, sweet sounding soprano with a great neck carve.

It's very lightly built - too lightly built in fact...the internal bracing does not extend fully across the top or the back, and there's no lining at all. They simply glued the tops and backs to the sides.

In many cases, from what I gather from comments online left by other owners, and from descriptions of sellers, this design feature often results in small cracks developing in the back in the area between where the braces end and the sides. But in this uke's case, it resulted in the back coming away cleanly from the side on the lower bout for about 1/4 of its total circumference.

I ended up paying $75 for this little sweetie pie.

I typically see these listed between $200 with what seems to be the common crack issues mentioned above. Not a lot of information on them..and I can see why Martin dropped them - but I actually like it better than the replacement S-1 series in that it has a 12 fret neck.

I decided this would be the uke that I use to see how well I do handling repairs. If you look closely at the pictures, you'll see the task of re-gluing the back would involve forcing and holding the sides into shape in two directions - to realign the edges, it has to be pushed from the inside outwards along part of the separation, and from the outside inwards along the rest - as well as clamping it to let the glue set.

Currently I'm wondering if it's worthwhile to remove the entire back and fit it with new braces and kerfed linings - or maybe I'll just reglue it as it is .....dunno.

Has anyone rebuilt one of these with linings? I'd think back linings would not adversely affect the tone too much....though top linings might..

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Swamp Yankee
04-20-2019, 09:14 AM
and one more pic:

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Ukecaster
04-20-2019, 09:33 AM
Looks like a worthy project, with great learning potential. I'll be interested to pick up some tips, in case I ever run across a similar thrift shop find. Good luck!

Pukulele Pete
04-20-2019, 09:54 AM
I like Martin SO's so much I have two . Great ukulele , I would just glue and clamp it.
It's pretty much an S1 without the useless extra frets. Great deal .

Swamp Yankee
04-20-2019, 09:54 AM
Looks like a worthy project, with great learning potential. I'll be interested to pick up some tips, in case I ever run across a similar thrift shop find. Good luck!

35.7 mm nut, too ;)

Swamp Yankee
04-20-2019, 09:55 AM
I like Martin SO's so much I have two . Great ukulele , I would just glue and clamp it.
It's pretty much an S1 without the useless extra frets. Great deal .

Any issues?

Pukulele Pete
04-20-2019, 10:05 AM
No issues at all . I leave mine out on the coffee table all year round , forced hot air heat ,no humidification, no problems.
The first one I bought about 10 years ago and the other about 5 years ago.

Jerryc41
04-20-2019, 11:43 AM
I like Martin SO's so much I have two . Great ukulele , I would just glue and clamp it.
It's pretty much an S1 without the useless extra frets. Great deal .

That sounds like good advice. Redesigning what Martin did might have "unexpected consequences," aside from being a lot of work. I've used what was recommended by others: Titebond III. Of course you have a world of choices when it comes to glue.

glennerd
04-20-2019, 01:44 PM
Awesome find. The SO is my favourite Martin for the 12 frets and simple style.

CommonCurt
04-20-2019, 05:16 PM
Really wish Martin would start making these again. They should have went with 12 fret only for the S-1.
They could have even added binding. You know like the original Style-1's.

If I find a modern SO with a darker fretboard I will probably snatch it up.

AustinHing
04-20-2019, 08:10 PM
Really wish Martin would start making these again. They should have went with 12 fret only for the S-1.
They could have even added binding. You know like the original Style-1's.

If I find a modern SO with a darker fretboard I will probably snatch it up.

Well a Kiwi shoe shine could stain the fretboard darker. Not that I have tried it but have considered this on my S1.

PetalumaRescuke
04-20-2019, 09:55 PM
Looking at the pictures , I would remove the back, glue willing, and heal and neck blocks cooperate. This would give you literately some insight on construction and an opportunity to try some enhancement of sound quality that I found wanting when playing an SO many years ago. As many know my preference is for the WWII and later Martins.
Agree that kerfed lining on the back side will not effect the sound but it will make the body more ridged. If you are to remove the back ask again on what tools you need to take it off and put it back on. Replacing the braces should help, that thick brace seen through the sound hole looks over built and is not very attractive.

CommonCurt
04-20-2019, 10:35 PM
Well a Kiwi shoe shine could stain the fretboard darker. Not that I have tried it but have considered this on my S1.

True. Staining did cross my mind.

Jerryc41
04-20-2019, 11:10 PM
Really wish Martin would start making these again. They should have went with 12 fret only for the S-1.
They could have even added binding. You know like the original Style-1's.

If I find a modern SO with a darker fretboard I will probably snatch it up.

This one's beautiful, but it was sold months ago. Keep looking, and you'll find one.

https://reverb.com/item/17327227-martin-s-o-soprano-ukulele-made-in-mexico

Swamp Yankee
04-21-2019, 03:41 AM
Looking at the pictures , I would remove the back, glue willing, and heal and neck blocks cooperate. This would give you literately some insight on construction and an opportunity to try some enhancement of sound quality that I found wanting when playing an SO many years ago. As many know my preference is for the WWII and later Martins.
Agree that kerfed lining on the back side will not effect the sound but it will make the body more ridged. If you are to remove the back ask again on what tools you need to take it off and put it back on. Replacing the braces should help, that thick brace seen through the sound hole looks over built and is not very attractive.

I'm thinking that is the way to go... yes. It's a good opportunity for me to take on a low risk project that will be educational, and if I mess it up, I'm only out my time and $75 ;)

Swamp Yankee
04-21-2019, 03:52 AM
If I find a modern SO with a darker fretboard I will probably snatch it up.

I'm not a huge fan of morado fretboards either. My Martin 000-17SM guitar has a gorgeous amber shaded sitka top and a morado fb and bridge. Nice looking, but it would be drop dead gorgeous if darker rosewood, or even ebony had been used instead.

CommonCurt
04-21-2019, 08:09 PM
This one's beautiful, but it was sold months ago. Keep looking, and you'll find one.

https://reverb.com/item/17327227-martin-s-o-soprano-ukulele-made-in-mexico

Yep, that is one of the darker ones I've seen.
Did they every make the modern SO's with rosewood like they did the earlier S1's?

Swamp Yankee
04-22-2019, 01:47 PM
I've fallen in love with this uke! I put on a set of what I presume are Worth browns that I took off some second hand uke somewhere along the line... it sounds really nice and it just about plays itself.

AustinHing
04-22-2019, 02:34 PM
I've fallen in love with this uke! I put on a set of what I presume are Worth browns that I took off some second hand uke somewhere along the line... it sounds really nice and it just about plays itself.

Now you got me thinking about a S0!