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ChrisRCovington
10-20-2011, 09:07 AM
Hello all,

I'm new to the forum so please excuse my silly questions. I've been playing ukuleles for a few years (rather poorly I might add) and have recently decided to upgrade a little bit. I am trying to stay in the $300 range and have always loved the look of Kamaka and Martin. This is what I am considering: 1. a new Martin S1 or 2. an old Kamaka off of ebay that might need some gentle restoration. I've noticed you can get Kamaka gold label or Keiki for the mid $200 range in okay shape. I could then send it off to the factory for a good clean up.

I really enjoy the Martins when I play them in the store. I got to play a few old Martins and they were *really* great! They made me sound better than I am! They are also a bit out of my price range right now. Do you think the new S1s will ever grow into that old Martin sound? On the other hand the Kamaka always seem to sound spot on, too. I've never played one though but really admire them. If I can get one for a good price and it only needs minor repair it could be a good ukulele upgrade for me.

Thoughts, opinions, advice? :)

Best regards,
Chris

Gmoney
10-20-2011, 09:13 AM
Repeat after me... "Kamaka". Now again, with feeling, "KAMAKA"

A new S1 just isn't in the same ballpark acoustically to a vintage or new Kamaka or IMO, just about ANY comparable uke from Mainland, Mele, Ohana, or even Makai.

mm stan
10-20-2011, 09:28 AM
With me, it's either a newer model kamaka, new or used or a Martin vintage..no other way sorry...good luck and let me know what you get for your upgrade..Happy strummings...MM Stan
Buying new or used, I pick mine not by names but by their preformance.....play them and see if you personally like the sound and playability and comfort.. even the with top of the line
there are lemons..guess the more you pay the better the consistancy..but not always as each uke is individual as you and me..they all have their own voices, and they will tell you..:)
My advice is if your top budget is 300.00 ....save and wait for the deals to come around and buy used, you can get a used newer model kamaka soprano or a martin vintage around 500.00, in the long run you will save alot more money. But mid level ukes, I enjoy too... in fact I prefer them more when I play alone at home..simplicity is best for me.. but the higher end ukes allow for more
creativity and preformance..

Trinimon
10-20-2011, 09:37 AM
Too bad you can't get to physically handle them to get a feel for sound etc. Unfortunately I'm Kamaka biased so my opinion is moot. :P

I'd love to get my hands on a nice Kamaka pineapple... Too many ukes, not enough $$$. GRRRR!

janeray1940
10-20-2011, 09:38 AM
One of each?

Seriously, I faced the same question when I started playing. The new Martins were pretty lackluster, and I couldn't find a vintage one in my price range, so I went Kamaka and have never looked back. I haven't yet tried the new S1 though, and while initially there was some good buzz about those, people I know who have have said they aren't all that.

A third option you may not have considered yet: Kiwaya. This will probably be my next uke - they make a great vintage mahogany Martin that is so much better (and about twice as pricey) as the modern Martins. Fabulous playability and a great vintage mahogany sound. For those of us (like me) who really don't want the issues that come with a vintage instrument, these seem the way to go.

laundromatt
10-20-2011, 10:03 AM
Probably not the answer you're looking for, but I'd recommend saving up a bit more and getting a Kamaka that doesn't need fixing up. You can find them here or elsewhere (ebay, craigslist, etc.) starting at around $400-500 depending on the age / body size.

ChrisRCovington
10-20-2011, 03:40 PM
Hello all,

There is some very sound advice here, thank you all. I would normally agree with the whole save the extra cash and just get a vintage in good shape, of either the Martin or Kamaka for around $400-500 (heck why not both right?). But, at a certain point I have to justify the purchase to my girl and it gets harder to do as the dollar signs go up. The vintage Martins are dreams. I've played a few and ALL of them sound great. Even the S1 makes me sound like I'm a better player than I really am. A Kamaka I would imagine would do the same. I'm sure an answer will present itself at some point. I'll keep playing my Applause that I love right now and keep everyone posted when I pull the trigger on the up grade. Thanks again!

Chris :)

oldtimestrings
10-20-2011, 04:00 PM
Consider a vintage Favilla. The poor man's Martin. Many of them play and sound just as good as the basic vintage Martins, and you should definitely be able to pick up a nice one in your price range.

olgoat52
10-20-2011, 06:42 PM
Sound wise, I can't think of a more diverse comparison. You are talking about two different animals. The Martin all mahogany chunky early '20s sound versus the island sound of the Kamaka. That would be my first decision.. Which sound do I want or like. The koa is so different from the mahogany.

mm stan
10-20-2011, 07:44 PM
I agree with Olgoat52.... the newer kamaka is more complex with more resonation and substain ...while the martin is a warm woodsy traditional sound....both have their own merits..
it boils down to personal perference.. which decides.... good luck..

BadLands Bart
10-21-2011, 02:56 AM
Save up some more money and get a Kamaka!!!!

ChrisRCovington
10-21-2011, 03:17 AM
Hello all,

Wow, this has turned out to be a very helpful thread. Thank you all again.

I realize the Kamaka and Martin are very different, but to me they both say "traditional ukulele." I'm not a very strong player (an even worse singer :D) so sometimes the mystique is almost as important as the sound I can make with the instrument. I like the sound of both makers so I guess I'll have to see what makes more sense. I think what might be best is see which one presents itself to me first (I'm sure at some point I'll end up with one of each). Who knows maybe I'll be able to find a vintage of one or the other at an antique shop or something?

I might have to look into Kiwaya and Favilla, too. Although to be honest instead of helping me you made it worse because now I have two more ukuleles I might want to own at some point ;) Kidding aside, I agree too many ukuleles not enough $$$!

Best regards,
Chris

roxhum
10-21-2011, 03:33 AM
Hi Chris, I can't speak for the Martins. The vintage Martins I have seen for sale are a bit too rich for my blood. I had an older model Kamaka and I have had two newer model Kamaka's and the newer are so excellent they are worth the extra couple hundred dollars. A Kamaka made in the last 10 years is the way I would go. You can easily find a second hand soprano or pineapple for $500 and with a little bit of luck for less and that would include a case. I don't play very well either but I swear I play better with my Kamaka. They are a dream to play and sound wonderful. The newer one's sound better than the older one's, in my opinion and with my limited experience. Save a couple more hundred and then watch the UU marketplace and Flea Marketplace for the next good deal.

ChrisRCovington
10-21-2011, 05:58 AM
So let me know if this sounds right: If I get a Martin get an old one, if I get a Kamaka get a new one. That is the exact opposite of what I was considering but that is why I came on here to ask. :)

Thank you all!
Chris

oldtimestrings
10-21-2011, 06:11 AM
So let me know if this sounds right: If I get a Martin get an old one, if I get a Kamaka get a new one. That is the exact opposite of what I was considering but that is why I came on here to ask. :)

You were considering the exact opposite because you wanted to stay in the $300 range. To pursue the reverse (old Martin or newer Kamaka) you're going to have to double your price range. There's a reason why the older Martins and the newer Kamakas fetch the higher prices. They are better instruments.

mm stan
10-21-2011, 06:32 AM
Find a uke that compliments your voice, has a nice tone, and feels easier to play is the secret...brand names and asthetics come second.... Yes kamaka and martin is at the top of uke chain
for all the reasons mention before...and you do pay more for it..and it's worth every cent...Kamaka year 2000 and up, Martin 30's and up Good Luck..in finding your holy grail uke..

philpot
10-21-2011, 12:55 PM
I've only ever played 1 vintage Martin, so I have a very limited base to make this judgment from, but I'd take my Kamaka over any ukulele I've ever touched.

molokinirum
10-21-2011, 02:43 PM
I lean to the Kamaka. Got to say, I've never played a Martin yet. BUT...love my Kamaka!!!!!

hmgberg
10-21-2011, 03:27 PM
So let me know if this sounds right: If I get a Martin get an old one, if I get a Kamaka get a new one. That is the exact opposite of what I was considering but that is why I came on here to ask. :)

Thank you all!
Chris

Yes. I have a few vintage Martins and a newer Kamaka. I've played the newer Martin S-O, as well as the S-1. No comparison. Vintage Martins are just the best for that traditional mainland sound. The Kamaka, as has been stated earlier, is great (the best IMO) for that traditional island sound. When I want a ukulele that pops and snaps, I play a Martin. When I want one to soothe me, I play my Kamaka. They are both great. Very different. You will end up with both of them eventually. The real question is, "Which one should I buy first?"

strumsilly
10-21-2011, 04:01 PM
DITTO on the Kiwaya. I had two vintage martins which I sold after getting my Kiwaya.their solid ukes are awesome. I think the vintage Martins are great but overpriced. I just got a vintage Gretsch soprano that sounds very similar to the martins at a fraction of the price.
One of each?

Seriously, I faced the same question when I started playing. The new Martins were pretty lackluster, and I couldn't find a vintage one in my price range, so I went Kamaka and have never looked back. I haven't yet tried the new S1 though, and while initially there was some good buzz about those, people I know who have have said they aren't all that.

A third option you may not have considered yet: Kiwaya. This will probably be my next uke - they make a great vintage mahogany Martin that is so much better (and about twice as pricey) as the modern Martins. Fabulous playability and a great vintage mahogany sound. For those of us (like me) who really don't want the issues that come with a vintage instrument, these seem the way to go.

ChrisRCovington
11-16-2011, 02:42 PM
Hello all,

So I pulled the trigger and I didn't listen to any advice from here. I'm sorry. I had my reasons though. First I really like the Kamakas and everyone seems to agree that new is better than old. Only now, new cost $850! That is now well outside of what I can swing. It just isn't an option for me at this point. As for Martins old is better than new. That's cool and I respect that and even agree (I've played a couple old Martins and have to say they are great) but I'd rather play it before I buy it and I haven't seen any anywhere near me. So I went to the Guitar Center today and played the new S1 they've had just about forever collecting dust. I think I am the only person who has ever picked the thing up. Well during the shuffle it got a ding on the back bottom a few millimeters long. Just for fun I asked the guy at the register if they'd be willing to knock a few bucks off. He checked on it and knocked a lot of bucks off. I pulled the trigger and got the ukulele for a very good deal considering the only damage isn't really visible and will be jammed in my armpit most of the time anyway. The result is I got a Martin for less than I'd pay for a lot of Chinese and Indonesian made ukuleles and it sounds a lot better too! I think I will one day look into an old Martin and a new Kamaka but for now I am happy with my purchase. A rule of thumb ask for discounts the worst they can say is no.

Best regards,
Chris :)

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
11-16-2011, 02:46 PM
Congratulations on finding your new uke! As you're enjoying the S-1, may as well begin saving for your dream uke (whatever it ends up being).

Trinimon
11-16-2011, 02:56 PM
Congrats on the new uke!

mascompro
11-16-2011, 03:45 PM
Nice, the best Uke, is the one that works for you.

earljam
11-16-2011, 03:54 PM
Hello all,

There is some very sound advice here, thank you all. I would normally agree with the whole save the extra cash and just get a vintage in good shape, of either the Martin or Kamaka for around $400-500 (heck why not both right?). But, at a certain point I have to justify the purchase to my girl and it gets harder to do as the dollar signs go up. The vintage Martins are dreams. I've played a few and ALL of them sound great. Even the S1 makes me sound like I'm a better player than I really am. A Kamaka I would imagine would do the same. I'm sure an answer will present itself at some point. I'll keep playing my Applause that I love right now and keep everyone posted when I pull the trigger on the up grade. Thanks again!

Chris :)

You need a different girl.
:shaka:

guitharsis
11-17-2011, 12:16 AM
Hello all,

So I pulled the trigger and I didn't listen to any advice from here. I'm sorry. I had my reasons though. First I really like the Kamakas and everyone seems to agree that new is better than old. Only now, new cost $850! That is now well outside of what I can swing. It just isn't an option for me at this point. As for Martins old is better than new. That's cool and I respect that and even agree (I've played a couple old Martins and have to say they are great) but I'd rather play it before I buy it and I haven't seen any anywhere near me. So I went to the Guitar Center today and played the new S1 they've had just about forever collecting dust. I think I am the only person who has ever picked the thing up. Well during the shuffle it got a ding on the back bottom a few millimeters long. Just for fun I asked the guy at the register if they'd be willing to knock a few bucks off. He checked on it and knocked a lot of bucks off. I pulled the trigger and got the ukulele for a very good deal considering the only damage isn't really visible and will be jammed in my armpit most of the time anyway. The result is I got a Martin for less than I'd pay for a lot of Chinese and Indonesian made ukuleles and it sounds a lot better too! I think I will one day look into an old Martin and a new Kamaka but for now I am happy with my purchase. A rule of thumb ask for discounts the worst they can say is no.

Best regards,
Chris :)

Congrats Chris

Sounds like you got a nice ukulele and a great deal. Enjoy!

PhilUSAFRet
11-17-2011, 04:28 AM
A good example of comparing apples to oranges

telebob
11-17-2011, 04:33 AM
Enjoy your new Martin S1 uke... :)

... as for your rule of thumb, always ask for a discount... especially on a banged-up instrument. :)

ChrisRCovington
11-17-2011, 06:49 AM
A good example of comparing apples to oranges

The problem is I like apples and oranges and I just wanted to know what I should get first. Turns out apples were in season at the moment. :) Now to figure out to get an orange...

Chris

allanr
11-17-2011, 09:02 AM
Sometimes you gotta just go with your gut!

I own a vintage Martin and a Martin S-O. The vintage sounds better... But, the S-O sounds pretty damned good. Loud and clear and clean as can be, and I picked it up used for just $200. The new S-1 looks like a much better uke than the S-O. So...

Congratulations!!