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View Full Version : HELP PLEASE - Vintage Ukulele Found!!



chrisg14mac
12-20-2010, 09:53 AM
Dear all,

My friend found at a garage sale (what appears to be) a vintage ukulele. I am just starting on the ukulele, so I can't even begin to appraise it - so I am wondering if anyone out there can give us their opinion? If does appear to be valuable, does anyone know what is the best way to sell something like this?

I've attached some photos. It is a soprano uke, with "Wurlizter" engraved on the back of the headstock and on the inside. It also has steel strings?? It looks to be in great condition and is even with its original hard case.

Any advice would be appreciated. We don't know if we have something to get excited about - or just an ordinary old ukulele.

Thanks!!!

Chris1865318654186551865618657

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 09:57 AM
It does appear to be quality built from the pictures.. Not sure of value, or woods those had.. I'll see if I can dig up some info.. If ya dont' mind me asking, what did it cost his/you?

Looks like an awesome find...

chrisg14mac
12-20-2010, 09:58 AM
Here's one more photo - showing the inside.18659

chrisg14mac
12-20-2010, 10:00 AM
Not sure exactly what he paid - but I know it was not a lot. Probably less than $100. The person who sold it did not know anything about ukes.

Thanks for your help. Anything you can find out would be great!!


It does appear to be quality built from the pictures.. Not sure of value, or woods those had.. I'll see if I can dig up some info.. If ya dont' mind me asking, what did it cost his/you?

Looks like an awesome find...

Pukulele Pete
12-20-2010, 10:00 AM
I think you have something to be excited about. Looks high end. I'll give you 100 bucks for it. The steel strings part seems odd though.

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 10:03 AM
I am thinking those were made by Martin... you may have stumbled onto something..

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 10:08 AM
http://elderly.com/vintage/names/martin-style-3-m-soprano-ukulele-(1930%27s)--180U-945.htm

chrisg14mac
12-20-2010, 10:10 AM
Wow! Thanks for looking into this. Do you think a Wurlitzer is comparable to Martin?
http://elderly.com/vintage/names/martin-style-3-m-soprano-ukulele-(1930%27s)--180U-945.htm

Pukulele Pete
12-20-2010, 10:12 AM
When I first saw it I thought "Martin" . Could have been made by Martin for Wurlitzer. I think that would make it more rare and more valuable than a Martin.

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 10:13 AM
Most definatly if it is a Martin built, which this one sure has the signs..

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 10:14 AM
AND even pay for shipping.. <grin>

ukeeku
12-20-2010, 10:17 AM
It looks like a Martin because it is. Wurlitzer (the juke box company) had them built in the 30's. I would contact elderly to have it apraised. the fact it is in really good shape and has the original case makes it worth some money.

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 10:18 AM
"Style 3 Martins were originally made for professional ukulele players and are, therefore, really fancy-schmancy. There are plenty of distinguishing features: a thick white binding around the soundhole, the distinctive design behind the bridge, the fretboard reaching up to the soundhole with a line down the middle. Value roughly $2,000 for the mahogany and $3,000 or over for an early 3K in top condition."

Quoted from Ukulelehunt.com

ukeeku
12-20-2010, 10:19 AM
http://www.tikiking.com/uke_db/Wurlitzerdb.html

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 10:21 AM
If it's a style 5, which it looks like it could be, we're talking in the 4K$ range.. Style 3, a couple large...

pdxuke
12-20-2010, 10:25 AM
Looks style 3 to me. I'd immediately get those steel strings off of it. You hit the jackpot. Put some uke strings on it and tune it up, and then we need a sound sample.

And BTW, I'll give you $300 for it :-)

TCK
12-20-2010, 10:27 AM
Way to go guys- tell him it's worth a ton why don't ya ;)
I thought 5K the second I saw it...style 3 would have the skunk stripe on the fretboard, and it should also have a celluloid whoop de do at the body. 5's did not have that stuff on them.
Funny know one has said this yet- GET THOSE STEEL STRINGS OUT OF THERE (then hope to whomever they have not twisted the neck). Oh good- I got beat to it.
Your friend SCORED...course, good luck like that means you can't sell it, you have to learn to play it

pdxuke
12-20-2010, 10:31 AM
Get a picture of this over to Chuck at Fleamarket Music's Uke Yak. He'll be able to tell you.

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 10:33 AM
Way to go guys- tell him it's worth a ton why don't ya ;)
I thought 5K the second I saw it...style 3 would have the skunk stripe on the fretboard, and it should also have a celluloid whoop de do at the body. 5's did not have that stuff on them.
Funny know one has said this yet- GET THOSE STEEL STRINGS OUT OF THERE (then hope to whomever they have not twisted the neck). Oh good- I got beat to it.
Your friend SCORED...course, good luck like that means you can't sell it, you have to learn to play it

Well, I was hoping he would reward honesty, and take me up on doubling his money, lol... hahha.. I love seeing people unknowingly score like this only to loose their bowels when they hear what they have, hahhah.. .

Man, I just wish someday Karma would let me find something like this.. Actually I have, but my honestly approach has ruined many a deal for me. I been offered things before for pennies, and I just couldn't take it knowing better, so I end up schooling them only to have the deal stop dead in it's tracks.. hahhah.. But, even when that happens to me, I feel better about being honest anyway..

In his case, he didn't know what he was buying either, so that is an honest, and awesome score.. I'm still thinking style 5 on this one.. some serios bank..

TCK
12-20-2010, 10:41 AM
Not sure of the credibility of the statement, but I just read
"In 1922 to 1925, Martin made 297 standard Martin models (but with a simplier soundhole rosette) for Wurlitzer. These have the Wurlitzer name and model number on the back of the peghead." here (http://www.vintageinstrumentcenter.com/martin-made-other-brands/)
There is a guy who has one here (http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/89997/t/Wurlitzer-3K-Plus.html?page=1)
and why not- here is an add for them at much lower prices :)
http://img80.imageshack.us/img80/181/ukulele.jpg
Looks like yours is an 839- worth $30...I will send you fifty for it right now

Tudorp
12-20-2010, 10:46 AM
Ok that settles it. I will give you full retale, PLUS 300% finders fee per that catalog retale price..hehheh

chrisg14mac
12-20-2010, 11:24 AM
Thanks to all!! I am sure my friend will be pleased to hear this!! I really appreciate your input.

Chris Tarman
12-20-2010, 12:52 PM
That is much more like a Style 5 than a 3. Good score! Why don't I ever go to THOSE kinds of garage sales????

mm stan
12-20-2010, 02:44 PM
Gee I wonder if I'll hit the jackpot one day...wow....this gives you hope...................to dream...

rem50
12-20-2010, 02:48 PM
Wow! What a christmas present!

Chris Tarman
12-20-2010, 05:05 PM
I have no idea what the Wurlitzer versions go for, but if that was a Martin 5K that SAID Martin, it would sell for as much as $12,000. Get those steel strings off of it right away!

UKISOCIETY
12-20-2010, 05:23 PM
Take those steel strings off now!!

Chris Tarman
12-20-2010, 05:39 PM
Take those steel strings off now!!

Seriously. We can't stress that enough. Apparently.

Jnobianchi
12-20-2010, 08:05 PM
And say it again - TAKE THOSE STEEL STRINGS OFF NOW.

Wurlitzer had a whole line of string instruments that the top manufacturers made for them. AND, just like this one, they were not exactly the same as the manufacturing company's existing model lines, frequently made of better quality woods than were normally available in the original model line and with custom features. I'd agree that these are definitely rarer than a regular Martin 3K or even a 5K. More valuable - its hard to say. That's always in the eye of the beholder, and a player who wants a Martin 5K only might value this lower, while someone who wants a rare - few of its kind Martin - will value this above a 5K, I think.

So based on Dave's excellent catalog page - it sure looks like Wurlitzer's best, model 839.

SO COOL!! :)

pdxuke
12-20-2010, 08:10 PM
i'd immediately get those steel strings off of it. You hit the jackpot. Put some uke strings on it and tune it up, and then we need a sound sample.

And btw, i'll give you $300 for it :-)

again:
Steel
strings
off

( we may not stop bugging you till we hear that you've removed them...:D)

Teek
12-20-2010, 09:21 PM
I just popped in, saw what looked like a Martin 5K in a Wurlitzer case and thought WOW, I just read up on those YESTERDAY, and NOW I'M LOOKING AT ONE!!!

Get the strings OFF and for God's sake DON'T LET THE ENDS SCRATCH THE FINISH IN THE PROCESS!!

IS IT HUMIDIFIED? If not, don't do it really fast... but look into that.

And please don't leave it out say sitting on the couch uncased...

FYI I just OVERPAID for a Martin COPY. But I'm really really really happy for you. :smileybounce:

Pippin
12-21-2010, 01:25 AM
I am thinking those were made by Martin... you may have stumbled onto something..

Right you are. These were made by Martin and are very nice ukes.

chrisg14mac
12-21-2010, 02:30 AM
I told him to remove the strings - but he insists on keeping them on!! (just kidding) :)

He's coming over today, so I'll tell him the good news then. We'll take off the steel strings right away!!

Thanks again for all your help!!


again:
Steel
strings
off

( we may not stop bugging you till we hear that you've removed them...:D)

harpdog
12-21-2010, 05:29 AM
FIRST - GET THOSE STEEL STRING OFF OF THERE BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!

They can wreck a ukulele.

I think I've read that Wurlitzer ukes were made by Martin, and that looks top-shelf to me.

Check at Fleamarket Music (dot com) and go to the Collectors Uke Yak section - submit the info and all the pictures to Check Fayne - he knows this stuff. Here's a link: http://www.fleamarketmusic.com/uke-yak/default.asp

Sweet looking axe - get those string OFF!


Edit: here's what the Tiki King says:

Tiki King's Ukulele Database:

Wurlitzer
Built by Martin for the Wurlitzer circa 1930's

http://www.tikiking.com/uke_database.html

UKISOCIETY
12-21-2010, 06:18 AM
Wonderful find!

As for the steel strings, can you believe I found a plastic TV Pal that some idiot had put steel strings on? On a uke with PLASIC FRETS???!

Teek
12-21-2010, 10:02 AM
Were there any frets left on it, or just holes in the fingerboard? And yes I believe it, I never underestimate human stupidity anymore.

Chris Tarman
12-21-2010, 02:19 PM
Were there any frets left on it, or just holes in the fingerboard? And yes I believe it, I never underestimate human stupidity anymore.

Agreed. If there's one thing that several years working as a peon in retail shops taught me (which has only been reenforced by my current career over the past 16 and a half years), it's that just when you think you've seen the stupidest thing that people could possibly do, they will surprise you and top it.

bbycrts
12-21-2010, 02:34 PM
Psst! Has anybody mentioned the steel strings?

Yes?

Okay, just checking...

;)

Seriously - what a find. Thanks for sharing...

UKISOCIETY
12-21-2010, 02:51 PM
Were there any frets left on it, or just holes in the fingerboard? And yes I believe it, I never underestimate human stupidity anymore.

Yes, a couple were worn down a little, but raising the action made it playable. Still, i/m surprised the neck hadn't snapped off.

v30
12-21-2010, 03:34 PM
I think you should probably take those steel strings off (sorry couldn't resist).

Very happy for you, hope you enjoy it (or buy something nice for xmas with the proceeds) !

ukulele-melee
12-21-2010, 04:45 PM
I've got some new-old-stock steel uke strings in original packaging... at some point long ago this was considered ok. But take them off anyway.

micropilot
12-21-2010, 08:54 PM
Found some info

http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/89997/t/Wurlitzer-3K-Plus.html?page=1

UkeToaster
12-21-2010, 10:26 PM
wow you hit the jackpot. This uke is rare and in great condition....WOW

Hippie Dribble
12-21-2010, 10:44 PM
:drool:...uuuuhh....I-I-I th-think Im'a breakin' out in a cold sweat...look at them there purty butterflies...ahhh, eugenie, p-p-please pass my medication dear...

mm stan
12-22-2010, 12:23 AM
Wow in mint condition with even the original case yet....no handle on the case but no big thing... is your friend a uke player????wonder if it's for sale????:drool::drool::drool:

chrisg14mac
12-22-2010, 02:30 AM
He's not a uke player - so I think he wants to sell it. Do you have any suggestions on how best to do this? A few people have suggested for him to get it appraised and speak with a dealer. Any thoughts?

Wow in mint condition with even the original case yet....no handle on the case but no big thing... is your friend a uke player????wonder if it's for sale????:drool::drool::drool:

WhenDogsSing
12-22-2010, 03:24 AM
Gruhn's Guitars in Nashville offers appraisal services as does Elderly Music in Lansing, Michigan.

Tudorp
12-22-2010, 04:50 AM
Definatly get it appraised. Make sure you take it, or send it to a reputable dealer, and not some hack or pawn shop who will try and undermind it. Keep in mind any re-seller or dealer won't give retail for it, and typically only half, maybe a bit more depending on how bad they want it. So, if it is worth $3000, you might expect a dealer to offer $1500 or so for it. And that is to be expected, because they are looking at it as a business investment, and plan to sell it for profit. You want to be fair to them as well. You will make the best $$ selling it retail yourself, BUT may or may not have the connections to get high dollar for it, so, in some cases, offering it to a dealer/retailer may be the best so you and him/her can make some $$ on it. Food for thought.

Maybe on consignment to a retailer like Elderly. They do take consignments. They will typically take 30% of the sale, but it might be your best bet for top dollar to you. They have the flow, and connections to get top dollar for it, so that is the case where you both would win.

BTW; I am curious what your friend's reaction was when you first informed him what he found?