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View Full Version : Tell me about Martin soprano SO ukes



uke552
07-09-2009, 08:07 AM
I have searched the forums and have not seen a review of the Martin SO. I have seen a few reviews on YouTube. I know several forum members own them and I would like to hear what you think of them. I have only looked at them on-line (never played one). I have thought of purchasing one, it will be the only Martin I will ever be able to afford. Any comments would be welcome.

UKISOCIETY
07-09-2009, 08:55 AM
I've emailed Rayan a review of my Martin S-O - twice - and it's never been added to the review page. I'll look for it and send post it here. In the meantime, a short review:

It's not worth the money. There are so many better ukuleles out there - many for less than half of the $299 suggested retail price of a Martin S-O. Plus, Martin's inner bracings aren't long enough to span the width of the uke. Mine developed a split on the back, right where the bracing ended. Cost $60 buck to get repaired.

If you're set on getting a Martin, it's better to find a vintage Martin Style 0 and pay 100 bucks more. They're infinitely better. But if you simply want a soprano uke that sounds the same - or better - than an S-O, buy Ohana, Mainland, or Kala.

hoosierhiver
07-09-2009, 08:56 AM
I haven't heard many people say they like them.

UKISOCIETY
07-09-2009, 09:01 AM
Here's a photo of the inner bracing of my Martin S-O. The side is where the dark line and the string's shadow meet. Notice that the brace is far short of meeting the edge. The short dark wood bits are the repair blocks.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3278/2575599048_d587f323df_b.jpg

UKISOCIETY
07-09-2009, 09:22 AM
Here's my review:

Martin Soprano S-O

Summary
Features 8
Sound 10
Action, Fit, & Finish 7
Reliability/Durability 4
Customer Support 0
Overall Rating 7
Submit a review for this product!

Features:
All mahogany body, rosewood fretboard, steel frets, Peg friction tuners, plastic saddle and nut, Martin strings. There are no fret inlays, which I prefer.

Sound:
With the Martin strings it comes with, it's a bit quiet for my taste. Replacing the strings with Aquila Nylgut makes an enormous improvement in volume and tone. That said, with the original strings on it, the modern Martin S-O is much louder than comparable mahogany bodies sopranos, probably due to its very thin body wood. With the Aquila strings, my Martin makes a bright "crunch" when strumming. It's a thinner sound than the mellower Flea soprano, making it perfect for Bluegrass, Folk and Pop.

Action, Fit & Finish:

The action is high on the higher frets on the Martin. No buzzing, no clumpy "thump" sound to any of the frets. The finish is beautiful. I like looking at the wood grain on the body – it displays depth to the wood grain.

Reliability/Durability:

This is a fragile instrument, partly due to the inner framework of the body. The supports on the inside don't fully span the width of the body. Because of this, my uke experienced a split where the bracing ends. The repair fixed the problem, but I was out $60 because of it. It still sounds great though.

Customer Support:
I have no experience with this aspect of the Martin, except for the individual dealer.

Overall rating:
I give it a seven. It would be higher if the body braces were better and if it were about $90 dollars less. They charge $300 for it and I think they're trading on their name. But the new Martin S-Os are sounding good. I've played some that were made in the early '90's or '80's and they had a thinner sound to them. But mine dates from around 1997 and I'm very happy with it. I've also played some new S-Os in shops and their great sound continues. I had a luthier add inlay dots on the top of the neck, making mine a unique Martin S-O!

lefty dan
07-09-2009, 01:28 PM
Tim I just PM you
Dan

lefty dan
07-09-2009, 01:30 PM
Alan, can you tell me what it cost to put the poison markers on your Martin. Im a lefty and would like to have it done.
Thanks
Dan

UkeNinja
07-09-2009, 02:14 PM
Nice review. I still wonder what's going on with the review section, and especially the outsourcing bit. It could be a valuable resource for aspiring playahs...

RevWill
07-09-2009, 02:24 PM
But if you simply want a soprano uke that sounds the same - or better - than an S-O, buy Ohana, Mainland, or Kala.

Aren't Mainland mahogany sopranos essentially based upon vintage Style O specs?

uke552
07-09-2009, 03:45 PM
Alan, Dan and all-thanks for the info/insight.

DRANKLIVE
08-20-2009, 05:14 PM
Thanks for this, I was also interested in the S-O.

UKISOCIETY
08-20-2009, 05:18 PM
Alan, can you tell me what it cost to put the poison markers on your Martin. Im a lefty and would like to have it done.
Thanks
Dan


Sry, forgot to post about this. A friend who's a luthier charged me $20. Don't think that's typical, but I don't know.

JBennett
09-22-2009, 12:08 PM
I'm new to the forum, and pretty new to the Ukulele. I'm mainly a guitar player.

I have owned a cheapo Johnston soprano uke for a while and fiddled with it casually but never took it too seriously. On a whim I tried out an S-O uke at Matt Umanov guitars in NYC and instantly understood that all ukes are not created equal. Fast forward a few weeks, some intense research (trying out as many ukes in the 100-600 dollar price range) and I've got a second hand Martin S-O. It's probably from around 2000-2002 I'm guessing by the 4,083 serial number.

here it is:
http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/32396/323961.jpg

The one I got (from gryphon stringed instruments, CA) over the internet is even nicer than the brand new model I tried in the store (and half the price). The new one had a very raw look to the wood. Like there wasn't any finish on it at all. Mine has a soft satin sheen to it. It has nice action and plays in tune up the neck. I'm going to put on some fresh strings down the line since I don't know what these are that it shipped with, but I like the sound of them. It's a loud and warm little instrument. I hope I don't have to deal with any cracks like in the first review of the thread!

Anyway, I couldn't afford to buy one new for 350-450 dollars, but I was happy to pay 225 for this used model and it is hard to put down. Much more fun than playing the cheapo Johnston model which was frustrating to tune and sounded more like a toy.

The one thing I wish this Uke had is fret markers at 5,7, and 10. I have a hard time jumping up for the occasional bar chord with no dots! I might try to install some 1/8" clay dots if I still feel the need for them after a while.

Skottoman
09-23-2009, 06:01 PM
I have a Martin S-O. It is the thinnest bodied uke I have. Thus it has a very bright (compared to my others) Banjo'y sound. I really like strumming it.

The only downside I see is the lack of markers on the fretboard. Other than that it really has a unique sound due to the thin body.
Cheers,
Skottoman

JBennett
10-14-2009, 10:30 AM
I don't know if anyone checks the "luthier" threads so this is a repeat (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20239).
I added some fret markers to my s-o Uke.

http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x23/jonathanbennett120/DSC03332.jpg

http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x23/jonathanbennett120/DSC03330.jpg

http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x23/jonathanbennett120/DSC03321.jpg

http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x23/jonathanbennett120/DSC03325.jpg

lefty dan
10-14-2009, 11:09 AM
I had an so Martin. I bought it for 200.00 used. I thought I wanted a tenor so I sold it to buy a tenor. I now have been playing for a while and wish I never got rid of the so Martin. I learned that I like sopranos best. So If anyone out there has a so Martin and doesnt like it. Let me know and maybe we can work
something out.
The one I sold was well put together and sounded great. So sorry I sold it.

Just my two cents.
Dan

uke552
10-16-2009, 09:27 AM
I don't know if anyone checks the "luthier" threads so this is a repeat (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=20239).
I added some fret markers to my s-o Uke.

http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x23/jonathanbennett120/DSC03332.jpg

http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x23/jonathanbennett120/DSC03330.jpg

http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x23/jonathanbennett120/DSC03321.jpg

http://i180.photobucket.com/albums/x23/jonathanbennett120/DSC03325.jpg

Thanks for sharing this. Since my original post, I picked up a used S-O and have been generally happy overall. I have been trying to figure out what to do about fret markers. I thought about a circle template and a silver paint marker but not sure. Also want to put some Worth strings on it (I have tried Hilo, Aquila and Martin carbons)-suggestions?

JBennett
10-16-2009, 09:39 AM
Well, if you do try to drill some holes and fill them with magic-sculpt, make sure you get a scrap piece of rosewood and practice a bunch before you go into the neck. That was my one mistake. BUT, my screwup aside on one of those dots, it was a quick, easy job. Probably took me 20 minutes to drill and fill. (I know, I know, should have taken 25 minutes and not screwed up!)

I did the whole job without even loosening the strings.

Maybe if you do drill, get a bit with a "Brad Point". That might be better for keeping your bit exactly where you want it to stay.

uke552
10-16-2009, 09:48 AM
Thanks! BTW, looks like you did a fine job!

Pukulele Pete
10-20-2009, 05:30 AM
I have a Martin S O . It is the second uke I've owned and I like it alot. I bought mine used on Ebay. It looks great, it is flawless. It sounds great.
The frets are big , its a little plain looking but it is a really good ukulele.
I also own a vintage Martin style 1, Kiwaya kts-4, Harmony Roy Smeck ,
Stromberg-Voisinet banjo uke, a hawaiian souvenir uke ( its all koa and one of my favorites) and a Grizzly I built with inlays and bone nut and saddle.
Get a drill bit, start your hole with a small awl . You can get fret markers on Ebay, they are made of white or black plastic ,about 4 bucks. Mask your neck with tape to protect it, leave small spaces where you want your markers, start the hole with the awl, drill a whole about 1/4 inch , put a little titebond on the marker and stick it in and clip off the excess. After it is dry trim carefully with an exacto knife. Thats the way I did it and it worked great. P.S. I put markers on the neck not the fingerboard.

coolkayaker1
01-17-2016, 02:11 AM
I have a Martin S O . It is the second uke I've owned and I like it alot. I bought mine used on Ebay. It looks great, it is flawless. It sounds great.
The frets are big , its a little plain looking but it is a really good ukulele.
I also own a vintage Martin style 1, Kiwaya kts-4, Harmony Roy Smeck ,
Stromberg-Voisinet banjo uke, a hawaiian souvenir uke ( its all koa and one of my favorites) and a Grizzly I built with inlays and bone nut and saddle.
Get a drill bit, start your hole with a small awl . You can get fret markers on Ebay, they are made of white or black plastic ,about 4 bucks. Mask your neck with tape to protect it, leave small spaces where you want your markers, start the hole with the awl, drill a whole about 1/4 inch , put a little titebond on the marker and stick it in and clip off the excess. After it is dry trim carefully with an exacto knife. Thats the way I did it and it worked great. P.S. I put markers on the neck not the fingerboard.

Good tip, Pete.

There's someone selling an SO on eBay now as a vintage uke. Lemme find the link.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-C-F-Martin-Ukulele-Hawaii-Hard-Case-Minty-1950-60s-Hardly-Used-NR-/111875852237?hash=item1a0c5207cd:g:KE0AAOSwUV9WmQU u

I don't know how ro report this to eBay, but seems an unknowning seller is going to rook some unknowing buyer.

Pukulele Pete
01-17-2016, 03:02 AM
Bought my second SO , I like them so much that I now have two. I have 6 vintage Martins but the one I play the most is the SO. The latest SO , I put a side marker on the
5th fret , sort of a bench mark that helps me find my way. I leave it out all the time even in winter , it is always on the coffee table . I've had no problems at all with humidity or cracks.
Its a great uke I'm not afraid to really wail on , sounds great , loud with Martin m600 strings, pretty durable . I dont need more than 12 frets ,I really dont like the extended fretboard on S1's .
Right now they can be had pretty cheap , I paid less than 200 for each . One of the things I like best about Martins is the nut width , seems just right for me.