View Full Version : C.F. Martin & Co. Style 3 Cherry

08-24-2009, 03:11 PM
First, the basics, per the review guidelines here . . .

What year was it made? Where was is made? 2008; Nazareth, Pennsylvania.
How many frets? 17 total, 12 fret neck
Solid-Top? Laminated top? Solid top, back and sides
Any pickups or electronics? No
Body and neck woods? Solid American cherry top, back, sides and neck; katalox fretboard. All materials are certified sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council
Finish: Satin
Body style: Soprano
Bridge style: Traditional uke bridge
Tuners: Grover friction pegs; resistance adjustable via screws
Neck/Scale: C-profile, 13.6" scale
Included accessories: Fitted locking thermoplasic case, Martin branded, manufactured by TKL

This ukulele has a very satisfying sound. Cherry is a robust-sounding tonewood. It is not as bright or "plunky" sounding as koa, and not as brilliant and rich sounding as my Glyph custom curly mango. Both my Glyph and my Ko'Aloha are somewhat louder, but the 3C holds it own with them very well. It's also worth pointing out that both of my others are older and more opened up at this point. Single notes ring out bright and clear for fingerpicking, but strums retain a fullness that remains well-suited to singing.

Action, Fit & Finish
In a word, perfect, just what you would expect from a quality, Nazareth-made Martin, whether 4, 6 or 12-string. The fit, finish and playability are on par with my custom Glyph and frankly much better than my Ko'Aloha (which, I must point out in its defense, is a much less expensive instrument as well). Finish is Martin's non-catalyzed cross-linked satin lacquer, meaning it's very durable, resistant to most stains or solvents, and will wear into a lovely semi-gloss patina with use (the neck is already starting to shine up under the first five or so frets). Anyone who has seen a well-loved Style 15 Martin will recognize what I'm talking about. Inside, braces and kerfing are well-cut and nicely finished with no visible glue or other signs of sloppy workmanship. Fret ends are dressed nicely; in fact, the frets are "pocket-pressed," like all newer Martin guitars. This means that the fret slots are not cut all the way through the fretboard from side-to-side, but are rather cut into pockets into which the frets are pressed. This gives the smooth look and feel of a bound fretboard without actually being bound.

This is a very well-made instrument. In four-plus months of ownership, I've found the tuners to hold well and the instrument to handle everything I've thrown at it with aplomb. I've played it outside and inside, in my car and under picnic pavilions, in my office and in my living room. It's lightly-enough made to resonate well, and sturdy enough to hold up to any reasonable use and wear.

Customer Support
I have dealt with C.F. Martin & Co. customer service occasionally in the past 9 years that I've owned their instruments. I've always found them to be helpful and responsive to my concerns. In fact, right now I am having a repair performed on one my guitars - the instrument is 7 years old and being repaired at no expense under Martin's lifetime warranty for U.S.-made instruments. Like the U.S.-made guitars and unlike the S0 uke and LX "Little Martins" made in Mexico, the 3 Cherry is covered by Martin's lifetime warranty.

Overall Rating: Excellent. Sadly, the price of a U.S.-made instrument will nearly always exceed what you can get in an import, but then again, some things are more important than bottom line price, at least to me.

What other gear do you own?

Ko'Aloha Koa Soprano
Glyphy Custom Mezzo-Soprano, "The Goddess"

Martin D-15
Martin HD-28V
Martin 00-18VS Custom
Martin 000-42
Martin 000-18GE
Martin LX Black
National-Resophonic Delphi
Fender Standard Telecaster
Ephiphone Dot 335
Agile AL2800

One final bit: according to Martin Customer Service, only 36 Style 3 Cherry ukes have been made; I have the only left-handed example.

08-24-2009, 07:21 PM
Awesome review. I've been wanting to hear about their cherry wood for some time now. Thanks!

It is a steep price but Martin's never seem to depreciate in value.

lefty dan
08-25-2009, 05:26 AM
Herb, Thanks for the review. Im thinking about a Martin Cherry. Im also a lefty. Did you flip it or is something different about yours?
Im going to Elderly Interments to look at one next week.
Thank in advance.
Dan zenking12@yahoo.com

08-25-2009, 06:03 AM
Herb, Thanks for the review. Im thinking about a Martin Cherry. Im also a lefty. Did you flip it or is something different about yours?
Im going to Elderly Interments to look at one next week.
Thank in advance.
Dan zenking12@yahoo.com

Nope, not flipped. It's a factory-built lefty, the only one so far according to Martin's Customer Service. Since they're fan-braced I guess the only real difference is the side dots and the "L" on the neck block along with the model and serial number.

Here are some pics to go with the review . . .

Here's the case that it ships in:


Here's a closeup of the Martin nameplate on the case:


The interior label from the Forest Stewardship Council:


Traditional interior hot stamp:


08-25-2009, 06:40 AM
And some more pics, since I can only insert four per post:

The neck block showing the manufacturer (you can just see the bottom line, "Est. 1833"), model number ("L" indicates lefty) and serial number (modern ukes are serialized, unlike the vintage ones):


Back of the headstock showing the old-fashioned hot stamp:


And finally, a shot of the body/fretboard, showing the top line inlays, katalox fretboard, the 10th fret ivoroid diamonds and the grain of the cherry wood top:


lefty dan
08-25-2009, 11:20 AM
Man thats nice. How long have you owned it and how long have you been playing uke?
I have some questions and sent you a PM .


Ko'Aloha Koa Soprano
Stew mac kit soprano
Martin HD 28
Morgan Monroe Blues King

08-25-2009, 01:07 PM
Hi Dan - never got your PM, but feel free to ask away. :)

lefty dan
08-25-2009, 01:53 PM
Hi I dont know why the PM didn't go but here is my questions.

How long have you been playing uke?
Would you buy the Cherry again ?
Where did you buy it from and how much did you pay if your OK with saying.

Ive been playing guitar for some years and started getting into uke. I have a Koaloha soprano like I see you have. I also have a Martin HD-28 guitar and a Stew mac uke I built.

Im going to Mich on a trip tomorrow to visit my mom. I live in Ca. In Mich. I like to stop and shop at Elderly instruments, a store that sells Martins at good prices.

The cherry Martin is not cheap and I just wanted to hear from someone else. I looked at the underground today and saw your review.
Dan zenking12@yahoo.com

08-25-2009, 03:15 PM
Hi Dan -

I've been playing uke for about five years and yes, I'd definitely buy the 3C again. I love the look, the feel and the sound and as I mention in the guts of the review, bottom line price is not always the bottom line for me. Without getting too political, I believe Americans have become too accustomed to cheap imports (not just musical instruments) and it has gutted our economic base in many ways. I like to support American companies when I can and when it makes sense to do so.

I bought it from Elderly actually, now that you bring them up. I paid $1,299 back in March, if recall correctly. Definitely not cheap. However, I'm supporting an American company which pays workers in Nazareth, PA a good wage with benefits and in full compliance with health, safety, and environmental regulations. That means a lot to me and I put my money where my ideals are when I can.

Elderly is a great store. Since 2003, I've purchased three guitars and 3 ukes from them - this one, my Ko'Aloha soprano about five years ago and my wife's Ko'Aloha soprano six years ago.

lefty dan
08-25-2009, 04:48 PM
Herb, I feel the same way. I would and do buy American when ever I can.
I own a Martin HD-28 and I love it. So having said that I would guess the Martin Cherry uke would make me just as happy.
Thank you for the review and I will let you know if I buy something at Elderys this week.