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View Full Version : To buy or not to buy: vintage Martin soprano



snowball6
02-24-2011, 08:03 PM
Hello, I need some help identifying a ukulele I am concidering purchasing. The uke in question is an old Martin. It appears to be Koa. What I would like to know is some information on possible age, model and whether it is worth buying. There is no paper label inside but rather a stamping/etching that says Martin with some other text. I can write down exactly what it says tomorrow. There is no logo on the front of the headstock, there might be a logo on the back but I never thought to look there. It has had some repairs on the face. Any help or info would be helpful. Thanks!

mm stan
02-25-2011, 04:51 AM
Aloha Snowball6,
WOW ..Nice Koa Martin style O, do you have pictures of the headstock and tuners...If I was you, even with the damage on the soundboard, if it sounds good, I'd get it..How much is it anyways...I wouldn't mind
having that anytime....Who's selling it?? Happy Strummings and Good Luck! Let us know if you get it...MM Stan

RyanMFT
02-25-2011, 05:55 AM
I don't think I have seen a style O Koa Martin before. I like it!

The stamp inside the body is normal. Martin didn't use paper labels on the inside of vintage ukuleles. If the stamp has "Made In USA" then it was built after 1962. However, I bet it is much earlier. If there is no logo on the front of the headstock, but has a stamp on the back that says CF Martin and Co. that makes it earlier. From what I have read, there isn't a specific date that they changed from stamp to logo, but others here might be able to pin that down for you a little closer. I think by the 40's they were applying the logo to the front of the headstock....but I am far from an expert on Martin.

Stan is right, a picture of the headstock would help, and what is it going for? If you can get it for a reasonable price it is a desirable ukulele!

GX9901
02-25-2011, 06:54 AM
This site (http://www.geocities.com/~ukulele/martin2.html) has some info on vintage Martin ukes. It looks like a koa style 1.

hmgberg
02-25-2011, 08:13 AM
Use the chart at the site GX9901 just posted. It does look like a koa style 1. Style 1 can be distinguished from the style O by the double position markers on the 7th fret and by the top binding. I can't tell from the pictures whether it has binding or not. I am assuming that the other responders here do not see binding. As far as I know, Martin did not make an koa style O. They did make some custom ukuleles, so if it has no binding... Anyway, Martin stopped making the 1K in the early 1940's.

If you don't want it, you can send it to me!

WhenDogsSing
02-25-2011, 08:18 AM
If it has the stamp on the back of the headstock, it is pre-1935. They started putting decals on the front of the headstock around 1935.

pdxuke
02-25-2011, 02:54 PM
Wow. A beauty. Of course you're gonna buy. You can't NOT buy!

Chris Tarman
02-25-2011, 03:16 PM
It's a Style 1. The Style 0 had single dots at the 5th, 7th and 10th frets. Styles 1 and 2 had double dots at the 10th. Some of the earlier Style 1s had less-noticeable binding, making them look a bit more like Style 0s. The older ones had rosewood binding, but at some point they switched to tortoiseshell plastic. In some of the photos I've seen of the rosewood bound ukes, the rosewood is not easy to see unless you look pretty closely.
I've always read that they started the decal on ukes in '30 (or some say '32), and for a couple of years used the decal in conjunction with the stamp on the reverse side. But whenever they did it, "No Decal" = earlier and more desirable!
If I ran into one that I could afford, I would definitely buy it, cracks and all. I have a ca. 1930 Style 2 and a '50s Style 1. I adore them both! My Style 2 has a TON of repaired cracks (repaired a long time ago and very stable), and it plays like a trooper, and barks like a Martin uke should.

Harold O.
02-25-2011, 03:24 PM
If you don't buy it, you will always have the story that goes "Did I ever tell you about that old Martin uke I let slip by..."

If you do buy it, you'll be able to say "Excuse me while I whip this out."

Chris Tarman
02-25-2011, 03:33 PM
The stamp inside says "C.F. Martin & Co." over "Nazareth, PA", which is your sign of quality!

snowball6
02-25-2011, 04:38 PM
The stamp inside indeed says "CF Martin Co" over "Nazareth PA." Thank you so much for the information, I am so happy to know what I am getting adn to know more about it, because of everyone's help, I have decided to get it. The situation is a bit unique with how I am getting it... I work at a local music store and my boss has had this thing for a good 20 years. He thinks it had been stepped on at one point which explains the repair. I am going to get it from him so I will be getting a great deal. I already love it, it is sitting in its case waiting for our luthier to look at the crack.

Here are some pictures of the headstock stamp, I think the bindings might be rosewood. they are very hard to see.

Chris Tarman
02-25-2011, 04:50 PM
Yay! Congratulations in advance! IMO, it is hard to beat old Martins for sound and "mojo".

philpot
02-25-2011, 05:20 PM
I think the real question is... why on earth would you not buy it??? ;)

RyanMFT
02-25-2011, 05:55 PM
Sweet!! I would get it if I could too.

peewee
02-25-2011, 07:20 PM
If it has the stamp on the back of the headstock, it is pre-1935. They started putting decals on the front of the headstock around 1935.

And if those friction tuners are original, it's post 1926 (27?)
My 20's 1K with rosewood tuning pegs has the same rosewood binding. When did they switch to the plastic tortoise shell?

TCK
02-25-2011, 08:24 PM
Sure is pretty- koa style 1...can't be beat for mojo. Glad you are getting it, as it seems it will be well loved-congratulations!

Chris Tarman
02-26-2011, 02:02 AM
And if those friction tuners are original, it's post 1926 (27?)
My 20's 1K with rosewood tuning pegs has the same rosewood binding. When did they switch to the plastic tortoise shell?

1938 according to this: http://www.geocities.com/~ukulele/martin2.html

PhilUSAFRet
02-26-2011, 02:07 AM
Does it look like this?

http://cgi.ebay.com/MARTIN-SOPRANO-UKULELE-STYLE-2-K-Koa-Pre-1935-/260743108886?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb5801916

Yet another ukester that says, if it's a good deal, it's a must buy.