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beeejums
04-21-2010, 09:15 AM
So... I look at this in the Elderly instruments catalogue, and I wonder, "Why?"

http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/180N/5KUKE_mtn1.jpg

http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/5KUKE.htm

Is it a collector's item? Limited run? Aged in an oak barrel for 30 years? Regarded as art over instrument? Or just overrated? Brand-name recognition? Arrogance? I can't find much information about it, or why it's so expensive (including a forum search here, because this thread has probably happened before).

My guess is that it's too expensive to be treated as a product that would be paid for and the consumer then be either satisfied or not satisfied with it, so there are no reviews (per se) or really anything at all.

I could contact a luthier and have something equally ornate custom built for less (I think). Am I wrong?

haole
04-21-2010, 10:14 AM
It's definitely a collector's item. An original one is worth five figures easily, so $4200 for a reissue must be a bargain, right? ;)

Martin's obviously not targeting uke players like the ones found on UU with this one. Their ideal buyer is the retired, "money is no object" type who might have sentimental reasons for wanting a vintage Martin ukulele.

I played one of these at the Sam Ash (formerly Manny's) in NYC, and was not impressed. It's built cleanly (it better be for that much money), and has a classic look with nice koa and inlays. But it's a brick. It's much heavier than most other sopranos, and to me it was really lacking in projection. It sounded like it was wrapped in tape. Maybe being in a glass case for so long hasn't gotten it enough playing time to "open up," but when ukes going for 1/20th of the price sound sweeter and clearer right out of the box, you know the builder isn't trying to compete for your ear. If money were no object, I'd still probably take a stock Hawaiian K-brand, Kiwaya, or even a Mainland over it.

Is it a bad choice for everyone? Nope. I can totally understand someone buying this if they have fond memories of their father/grandfather playing one like it, or if they have to have anything with the C.F. Martin name on it, or if they genuinely think that it is the greatest ukulele they have ever played. But for a punk kid like me, it's a joke. Nearly any custom builder can and will build you something to your own specs (not someone else's from 80+ years ago), with (probably) a better sound and (definitely) nicer wood and more upscale cosmetics, for much less money. Martin isn't trying to compete with Chuck Moore or Pete Howlett or Dave Means. People will buy a 5K because it's a Martin, and that's good enough for the Martin company.

Note: I'm not trying to bash Martin, or its fans, or anyone who actually likes this uke. I actually hope there's someone out there who likes this uke enough to buy it; otherwise it'd be a waste! There's gotta be someone on the forums who has one and is willing to share their opinion on it. Maybe even a comparison?

Tigeralum2001
04-21-2010, 12:42 PM
I guess if you want an investment grade uke, there you go. Not to say others aren't good investments, but a quick search of eBay shows me Martins keep or gain value. Other ukes don't seem to do this, likely for two reasons. 1. They don't have the brand recognition that Martin does universally. 2. They haven't been around long enough to have "vintage" instruments.

I love KoAloha, personally, and would love some of their earlier instruments. But "vintage" is circa 1998! My Martin is circa 1950s (and it's considered young by Martin standards). Martin has proven that it withstands the test of time, though some argue the newer ones don't/won't.

All that said, for that kind of cash on one uke... I'd go for a custom something. Probably a Moore Bettah with some cool inlay work.

clayton56
04-21-2010, 11:07 PM
Remember there are people with money, more than you think. If you work retail never forget that. I once waited on a lady who spent that much on two pairs of eyeglasses because she wanted something with a blue tint. The ones we had that were already tinted happened to be solid gold. She just reached in her bag and pulled out a wad of cash that would choke an elephant.

If someone thinks that uke is pretty, especially if it's a present, price could be the last consideration. What do you think Warren Buffet's wife is going to get him for Christmas?

Spooner
04-22-2010, 09:31 PM
It's pretty and all and nice to see that model "reinvented."
But I played one of these and didn't care for the sound.
You're really just paying for the retro model and martin name.
My spruce cutaway laminate Kala sounds better IMO.
You can definitely do a lot better for a lower price with a custom builder (cough cough Chuck Moore ; 0 P )

aaghawaiian@aol.com
10-24-2013, 09:19 AM
The Martin 5k is Gods Gift !!!!!!! I just rec. a month ago and Love it!!!! Heavy ???? NO WAY !! But I do take my Patek Phillipe off when I play it. But I do highly recommend supporting my HAWAIIAN BRADDAS !!! And my next will be a Kamaka. The new IZ Martin which I also just purchased will take your breath away!!! What a comfortable tenor and gorgeous sounding !!!!! Next uke you buy blindfold yourself and buy the best sounding! dont be scared of the price. Life is short enjoy the wave!!!

HBolte
10-24-2013, 09:45 AM
Maybe this one is for the person that doesn't want to spend $16,000 on a vintage 5K?

mm stan
10-24-2013, 09:52 AM
For 4000.00 I prefer a Chuck Moore Anyday....playing would be better, investment just as good, and look much nicer....but that is jus me..

grendel1972
10-24-2013, 10:33 AM
For 4000.00 I prefer a Chuck Moore Anyday....playing would be better, investment just as good, and look much nicer....but that is jus me..

I agree with you, but it's not really a fair comparison. One can actually buy this Martin without being on a waitlist that has been closed for years or winning the lottery on the rare occasion one comes up for sale on Chuck's website. Not that I would buy the Martin for that price, but to compare it to a Moore Bettah is like saying you'd rather have a custom-built car than a similarly priced production model. Apples to oranges.

Skinny Money McGee
10-24-2013, 10:47 AM
Remember there are people with money, more than you think. If you work retail never forget that.

You are so right about that. Michael Dell just ordered a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (220million), for his personal Jet. Someone like that could order Martin's entire production of 5k's and give them out as Christmas gifts, if he wanted to.

hawaii 50
10-24-2013, 10:48 AM
For 4000.00 I prefer a Chuck Moore Anyday....playing would be better, investment just as good, and look much nicer....but that is jus me..

Hey Stan...there you go again, talking like a guy that already has a MBU or 2...only you can get one when you want....Lol

I played the new Martin 5K with Stan at a Waikiki uke shop...I thought the neck was kind of wide...but it sounded ok....
fyi they were selling it for 6K

so looks like Elderly has a better price...

PeteyHoudini
10-24-2013, 12:11 PM
In the summer of 2013, I received an unexpected $5000 and I could have bought one of these new 5K to do a review and add to my new Martin uke collection. In Canada, "it only" costs $3825 + tax. LOL However, spending $4000 to do a review for a uke I might not like would be sheer lunacy. As people have commented here, it seems its for those sentimental people or for those with cash to throw around.

Petey

Radio Flyer
10-24-2013, 01:44 PM
i bet they sell every one they make and still have people waiting. how else could patek phillipe sell watches?

PeteyHoudini
10-24-2013, 02:52 PM
Well said, Bill1 !!!

Petey

coolkayaker1
10-24-2013, 04:42 PM
My body will be buried cinders in an urn by the time that brand new 2013 5K Martin soprano gains value as a vintage.

aaghawaiian@aol.com
10-25-2013, 09:27 AM
A ukulele is an investment in your soul.

pdxuke
10-26-2013, 09:49 AM
Well, live and let live. If you wanna spend those kind of clams on a newly made blinged up Martin, who am I to say you can't?

I"m enjoying the modern Martin 2M I bought for almost 1k smackers, and enjoying it a lot. Some will say I overspent and should have bought a Kiwaya. Maybe they're right. But know what? I like my new Martin.

So, like Bill said, if you make 5x what I make in a year, then spending 5x or so on what I spent on my 2M is doable for you. So go for it, and enjoy it and post a sound link so we can enjoy it too :-)

EDITED TO CONFESS that I have been thinking about their modern 3 cherry and 2k, and have not completely ruled out the possibility that I'll someday bite.

Django
08-04-2015, 09:48 AM
I have owned vintage motorcycles from the 40s, 60s and 70s. They have character and style, but they are a lot of work and they are a never ending labor of love. I have also owned vintage banjos, mandolins and guitars, and like the vintage bikes, they are a labor of love and somewhat of a responsibility as was my wooden Beetle Cat sailboat. I would rather look at my old triumph or Indian than a newer bike, but I would much rather take the new one down a twisty road.

I am not wealthy and I don't have debt, but I do have one of the new Martin 5-K ukuleles and to me it is a work of art. Less hand work and more precise than the old ones. Maybe a little less personal and I will have to make my own history. The abalone inlays fit the curves better, the fret work is more precise and the finish is as near perfect as it can get. The Koa has a warm, amber glow and the Abalone sparkles. The tone is bright and resonant, and bound to improve with age. Maybe it has less character, but I will be patient as it opens up and becomes the instrument of its potential. It is still a thing of beauty and has the look and heritage that makes it every bit a Martin 5-K, and the value is that I appreciate it for exactly what it is, a 1922 design built to extremely high standards with a pedigree. I cannot justify the price, upkeep and responsibility of a vintage 5-K, but I got this one at a deep discount, (new for $3,060.00, still a lot of money to me), and I don't regret it. Value is not always measured in dollars. To me, sometimes it is worth it to have something this fine, and I feel that it is truly fine. I will never have to look for a better instrument and I am content, as I should be.

Highmiles
08-04-2015, 11:04 AM
I will probably never own a 5K Martin, but I won't rule it out. Until a couple months ago, I played guitar exclusively. My first two guitars were inexpensive, but by the third one, nothing but a Martin would do. In 1963 I bought a 000-18, and over the next 50 years, I owned dozens of Martins. I did it on a tight budget, but never regretted buying any of them. Usually, I would sell what I had to finance the next one. By the end of this cycle, some of the values were higher than I ever imagined I could afford. The funny thing, is that it was painless getting to that point. I felt then, and still do, that some instruments have more soul than others, and that some display superior hand made craftsmanship and beauty. I see the same thing in a Kamaka ukulele, or a Moore Beddah. It matters to me that Kamaka is a family business, and that someone cared when they made the instrument. I never lost money on a Martin, and I imagine it will be the same when I get a Kamaka. The key is to love what you are getting, and then keep it for a long time, because you chose wisely. Instruments can be art in more ways than one, and those are the ones I am attracted to.

mm stan
08-04-2015, 09:14 PM
I still think again years later the moore bettah is and will always be a better uke and investment..

Pukulele Pete
08-05-2015, 01:32 AM
Now don't get me wrong , Martin ukuleles are my favorite ukes and I've never seen a 5K in person. From the pictures I've seen these new 5K's look as though the original bridge
popped off and a bridge from a Grizzly kit was glued in it's place. For a very expensive ukulele , the bridge looks very unfinished . I don't understand what Martin is thinking
when they do this.

Django
08-05-2015, 03:10 AM
The bridge on my non-vintage 5-K is essentially the same as a vintage 5-K bridge. The vintage bridge has a glossier finish, but the bridge is basically the same. Value and perception is a funny thing. I don't value this as an investment as much as I do for the joy of ownership and for me, it is a special privilege to be able to pull it out and play any time that I like, or just look it over and be amazed by the beauty of its form. To me, the proportions and details of a Martin instrument are timeless and classic. A wise woman settled a debate once be simply saying, "if everyone loved roses, what would a daisy do?" Martin Guitars have always had a special place in my life, and the 5-K ukulele, new or old has a special appeal to me that I cannot quantify in dollars.

I mostly play the ukulele fingerstyle with a Uke Leash. The Ukulele is a very intimate instrument and I find the traditional guitar shape fits me well. I do have other Ukuleles, but it is the Martins that I go too the most, (Recent 5-K, 3-K and 3 Cherry). They all have their own voice. The 3-K and 3 Cherry were purchased used and the playability and charm of those instruments gave me the desire to own the 5-K which I bought new at a deep discount. In a time when high end bicycle prices have exceeded $15,000.00, and high end bicycle wheels exceed $3,000.00, the $3060.00 that I spent on this new 5-K does not seem unreasonable at this point in my life.

coolkayaker1
08-05-2015, 03:46 AM
I agree with the concensus of many (e.g. Four-String Farmhouse forum, where the new models have been discussed--and lamented--in detail), and say this with having four 2011-2013 Nazareth, PA models on my wall as I write: the new Martins, circa 2010 onward, are not built to the same standards as the vintage Martins.

Martin's disregard for their own established heritage is evident from across the room: Martin "changed the formula" by such things as the extended fretboard on the Style 2 models (never on the vintage Style 2s), which right away is not only a historical travesty, but limits the soundboard movement unless it is done impeccably, fine-tuned by a skilled hand, which these new models are not.

Premiere Martins of the past, such as a Style 3 or Style 5, were specifically made by the absolute top, most experienced luthier at Martin for ukuleles. In other words, the luthier himself was "hand-selected". The respected luthier then hand-selected all woods, they hand-built and tuned the instruments. They were amazing, and sounded heavenly. It's the equivalent of a Casey Kamaka-built Kamaka. With the recent "revival" models, Martin appears to think buyers will pay thousands for production models, with the 3s and 5s being built exactly the same as the lower-end models, just adding more expensive "bling". Nah ah, Martin. Nah ah!

While the intonation is impeccable, the new Nazareth Martins are not resonant and are over-built/heavily constructed. I believe that Martin does not follow their own past standards in tooling and hand-work (yes, including the poorly-finished, "blocky" bridge mentioned by PPete, which can also be spotted by any Martin enthusiast from across the room...lol)) on the new ukuleles as they did in those pre-1960. The bracing is more stout on the new models, the weight of the ukes is more than the vintage models, and the resonance and tone are lacking in recent builds; volume is low due to the "heaviness" of it all. It is not a matter of "opening up", in my eyes; the new models are different and, because of their stout build, they will not ever open up like the airy vintage models. I feel they will have little long-term appreciation (and, generally, can be bought at a significant discount on the used market compared to "street prices", giving them quite a loss for the initial owner). Admittedly, I won't be around in 100 years to find out if the 2012 Martin has appreciated in value.

It has been said by another knowledgeable player on UU in a prior thread, and I think the sentiment is right on: Kiwaya now makes a better quality, feather-weight, more tuneful and resonant "Martin" than does Martin itself.

Why, pray tell, would I own four newer Martins if all that is true? Two I bought new before I understood their shortcomings (yes, I got reamed as they would sell for 1/2 the paid price now) and two I bought used, only as a completist for my collection and filling "holes", and the original owner took the skinning. lol

That said, of course, the user must weigh his or her own enjoyment versus value, which is true of everything in life.

:) These are my observations and opinions.

Django, I am a Massachusetts/New Hampshire native, and miss the area greatly. Sounds like you are enamored by your 5K, and that is all that matters for you. I, too, have instruments that I love--some of which others would disagree with me. Roses and daisies as you say. You might consider googling Four String Farmhouse, a subforum of the Martin forum (just google it). Create a free account (there's a slight approval process delay of a few days, but you have plenty to read there in the meantime) and you can discuss your uke, learn about Martins, and generally have fun and kick around with some of the most knowledgeable Martin players and owners in the world. Enjoy!

I will be hiking in New Hampshire this autumn, in fact. :-)

Django
08-05-2015, 04:26 AM
Generally, I don't spend much time on forums and for me, the value is my enjoyment of the instrument, but I think that Martin gets an undeserved bad rap. My daughters can worry about the monetary value after I am gone. For all of the negative comments, I have not seen a used, newer 5-K for sale, (I could have missed some). I have a vintage Martin 1, probably from the 50s. It is a little too airy and open to my ear and it rarely comes out. How these instrument open up is still to be seen, but the tone and resonance is more to my liking and playing style. My three year old 3-K is very resonant and I hope that it doesn't open up too much more. Maybe I am just lucky or have an ear that doesn't appreciate the vintage ukulele sound in the same way as some others. I just want people to know that some of us love these instruments and are grateful to Martin for the option of having a new one. I don't have a lot of appreciation for the instruments of the 50s through the 80s and if you look at the fit and finish of a 1920s Martin, you will see flaws that go with being completely hand made. That is part of the character and charm of a hand made instrument. I don't doubt that there are opinions that carry more weight and value than mine, as I am not an expert. I just know what I like, and I prefer my newer 3-K over any vintage ukulele that I have played in my limited experience.

Like it or not, Martin is the one that gets copied, whether it is guitars of ukuleles. Most of us have Martin to thank for the innovations and styles that we have come to love as well as setting the benchmark so high for quality and craftsmanship over the years.

These newer instruments have a sweet tone, not as loud maybe, but they will probably hold up better than the lighter ones. As I have attempted to express, the newer Martins that I have and play are very nice, in my opinion, (that is coming from a guitar background). To each their own.

katysax
08-05-2015, 06:10 AM
At the official Martin guitar forum there is a sub forum called the "Four String Farmhouse". Many of those folks revere and collect Martin ukes. There are at least a dozen of them who would happily buy a 5K, or who already have. Nothing wrong with that, its all in what is important to you.

Pukulele Pete
08-05-2015, 09:36 AM
Just want to add that I think the 5K , new or old , is the best looking soprano ever made .

Mattyukaholic
08-05-2015, 10:53 AM
I genuinely think I might've got lucky but my modern Martin 3m is incredible. It is more resonant than any Kiwaya I have ever played and is louder than any of my KoAlohas, including the Sunday I owned.

The craftsmanship is spot on - a cleaner build than any K brand I have ever owned by a long shot, especially the bound fretboard.

It is true that I may have got lucky though. I owned a 3 cherry that was much more quiet. Honestly though, this one out plays all the kiwayas I have owned, the Timms and the Laughlin. And I've been through a fair few vintage Martins.

Having said all that - the best sounding ukulele I have ever played was a vintage style 2 from the 20s.

Pukulele Pete
08-05-2015, 11:07 AM
A 3M with a bound fretboard ? Wait ,.......what ?

Mattyukaholic
08-05-2015, 12:12 PM
A 3M with a bound fretboard ? Wait ,.......what ?

Wait, sorry, mixing my terminology sorry! It's not bound but the fret groove ends before the edge of the fretboard so you can't see the fret ends and it is incredibly smooth. It's a nice touch and attention to detail that gets overlooked.

Pukulele Pete
08-06-2015, 12:40 AM
While I'm correcting people I might as well add for anyone looking for it that , it is The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum.

bonesoup
08-07-2015, 02:04 AM
I don't value this as an investment as much as I do for the joy of ownership and for me, it is a special privilege to be able to pull it out and play any time that I like, or just look it over and be amazed by the beauty of its form.


Yes! It's hard to imagine how much excitement I'd feel every time I pulled a modern 5K out of its case, if I owned one. What a thrill. I think this is an important point and I like how you describe it. If I could compare the sounds of a modern to a vintage, I don't think I'd feel disappointed in the modern. I think like a neon flashing 5K behind my eyes would make me love the sound the modern makes. Relating to another recent thread, normally sound is king for me, but in this case, not so much for the 5K bling, but for its concept as the holy grail, I think that would sway me past any possible disappointments. Imho.


I genuinely think I might've got lucky but my modern Martin 3m is incredible. It is more resonant than any Kiwaya I have ever played and is louder than any of my KoAlohas, including the Sunday I owned.


Congrats on the style 3 and glad you got a good one! What do you think about the modern 3's being discontinued by Martin? I was sorry to hear that. Did a story behind that ever come out?

I have an OXK and its tone sounds so much better than the Kiwaya KS1 I had in my hands. Imho in my single anecdotal comparison, the OXK tone had depth and range while the Kiwaya was a dead plunk.

I'd love to own a modern style 2 concert someday. If I get one that sounds as good as Petey Houdini's, I'd be over the moon.

Django
08-08-2015, 04:48 AM
Please watch this video before passing judgment on the recent Martin 5K. I can not play like Brian, and a sound bite from me would not be fair the my 5K. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0sa2OHdUr0

I have no issue with the tone or playability. Also, thank you bonesoup for your input. Music is a very personal thing and I will let the intellectuals argue the interpretations. Play what you like, and just play, that is what it is really about. It is a gift to be able to enjoy and play music.

uketeecee
08-08-2015, 05:08 AM
The Martin 5K ukulele was introduced in 1922. It was Martin's top-of-the-line model and in limited production for just 20 years. Fewer than 750 were made.

Why are people willing to spend money on these things?

People have always spent money on beautiful, rare things of historical significance.

The new 5K is an acknowledgment of this.

Ukulele Eddie
08-08-2015, 05:36 AM
...These newer instruments have a sweet tone, not as loud maybe, ...

While too quiet is a problem, I rarely hear people complain about too loud. Maybe it's because I don't play in groups, but I have played several Ukes that were for me too loud and to my ear traded volume for tone. And a few of these were from builders held in high regard. To me, it's like having a car that has gobs of horsepower but is not all that agile in its handling. Sure, it'll go like stink in a straight line but will get eaten alive in the twisties.

I'm really regretting that I sold the S3 Cherry that I had. It was the best Martin I've played, new or vintage. Beautiful tone and appropriate volume. Granted, I've only played a dozen or so Martins, but it still stood out for me.

tbeltrans
08-09-2015, 04:52 AM
I genuinely think I might've got lucky but my modern Martin 3m is incredible. It is more resonant than any Kiwaya I have ever played and is louder than any of my KoAlohas, including the Sunday I owned.

The craftsmanship is spot on - a cleaner build than any K brand I have ever owned by a long shot, especially the bound fretboard.

It is true that I may have got lucky though. I owned a 3 cherry that was much more quiet. Honestly though, this one out plays all the kiwayas I have owned, the Timms and the Laughlin. And I've been through a fair few vintage Martins.

Having said all that - the best sounding ukulele I have ever played was a vintage style 2 from the 20s.

This is why I bought my 1925 Martin 2K soprano. When I was looking for a soprano, nothing else I tried sounded like this one. I compared Collings, new Martins, Kamaka (of which I own an Ohta-San), and a few others. My intent was to have one each of tenor, concert, and soprano. The Martin completed my search. I think choice of ukulele is a personal thing, and my choices would therefore in no way reflect negatively or positively (i.e. have no bearing) on anyone else's.

Tony

coolkayaker1
08-19-2015, 05:27 AM
This is why I bought my 1925 Martin 2K soprano. When I was looking for a soprano, nothing else I tried sounded like this one. I compared Collings, new Martins, Kamaka (of which I own an Ohta-San), and a few others. My intent was to have one each of tenor, concert, and soprano. The Martin completed my search. I think choice of ukulele is a personal thing, and my choices would therefore in no way reflect negatively or positively (i.e. have no bearing) on anyone else's.

Tony

You've just shared my reflection, too, Tony. Yep, same experience with my trial of other "similar" brands.

(And, UkeEddie, if you really miss that Style 3 Cherry and want one, hit me up for purchase or trade)

aaghawaiian@aol.com
08-27-2015, 07:52 AM
Its been awhile !! I posted to blind fold yourself and listen to the sound dont look at the price. Martin will get you every time !!! What a gorgeous sounding ukulele . The 5k is gift from the big kahuna !!!! I have tried plenty of times but havent had the pleasure of owning a moore bettah, im still waiting for one to be for sale. I googled best tone woods and found that walnut is the closest to koa. So i had martin make and sign a gorgeous 5w walnut ukulele. What a masterpiece , the sound you i will always cherish and with walnut being dark the albalone pops like a picasso !!! Martin saved the ukulele from vanishing !!!! I respect all brands and if you play god bless!!!!! Martin uses 1 piece of wood for back and fronts that to me effects sound. Not 2 pieces glued together like most book matched. Martin lives on in my house!!!!!!!

herby660
09-28-2015, 10:40 AM
Love the Martin Cherry 3 too but I had quality issue with mine the bridge leant so far forward it starting to affect intonation. Another person I know had cracks appear in the fingerboard. Cant beat a good old Martin, if your buying new through don't buy a Martin buy a Laughlin 5K. It is streets ahead in looks, finish and tone.

tbeltrans
09-28-2015, 12:34 PM
One thing I did not mention earlier is that, comparing my 1925 Martin 2k to a new Martin 2k, mine seems quite a bit lighter and more vibrant. I don't know if they are building them the same now as they did then. I am not saying the new ones are poorly made, because they are high quality instruments, but they are different than the "original" (or at least they seem that way to me).

Tony

ukuleleden
10-28-2015, 04:28 AM
I had to come back to this thread to ground myself some on my Martin ukulele search. Since visiting this thread last, I have since been more focused on the Kiwaya's offerings. Being able to actually spend a good deal of time playing a KTS-4 and a KTS-7 completely put me on a new path all due to how much better I found the Kiwaya instruments themselves. I now share in the opinion and enthusiasm of those here and elsewhere who have recommended Kiwaya.