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garyg
11-27-2011, 05:45 AM
Greetings pickers, I've been looking at vintage Martins and am curious about the price differential, mainly between the M2 and MO models. I asked this question in the past and the response was that there were no differences in construction, wood quality or age, etc. that would affect sound among models 0-3. The differences were in the bling (e.g., bindings) and of course the Model 3 has an extended fingerboard. Can this really account for the large discrepancy in price between O models and 2 & 3 models or are the higher prices for the latter models or is this driven by rarity? Inquiring minds want to know. cheers, g2

myrnaukelele
11-27-2011, 07:15 AM
I've been wondering this myself. I've owned a Martin soprano since 1987 or so. It sounds great but has no bling- it's very plain. I'm thinking it's the rarity of the older Martins that make them so valuable.

WhenDogsSing
11-27-2011, 07:40 AM
It's a combination of the relative rarity of the Style 1s, 2s, 3s, and 5s to Style 0s and the relative "bling" of each of those styles to a Style 0.

They didn't make as many Style 1s, etc as they did Style 0s.

hmgberg
11-27-2011, 09:11 AM
The rarity of koa models vs. mahogany models (many more mahogany ukuleles made) accounts for the difference in price between same models. The differences between Os, 1s and 2s, is mainly cosmetic; the greater variations in sound have more to do with when the ukulele was produced. Style 3s are different than the others, aside from the bling. The extended fingerboard is ebony. I think it's much nicer to play. On the other hand, I find the lower models sound spunkier and louder. That's the trade off. I think were one to create a value formula to account for all the differences in tone, volume, playability, appearance, etc., you would find that a nice Style O is the best value. I've never played an O I didn't like.

Pukulele Pete
11-27-2011, 01:06 PM
When I see a Style 2 my mouth waters like Homer Simpson looking at a donut. I think the 2's are worth so much more is because they look so damn good.

hmgberg
11-27-2011, 01:28 PM
When I see a Style 2 my mouth waters like Homer Simpson looking at a donut. I think the 2's are worth so much more is because they look so damn good.

I think so, too. Let's get a couple.

mm stan
11-27-2011, 02:05 PM
Purely asthetics, variation in tone in all models even though essentally its the same uke dementions. ..through the years the different formula in the finish ....
Beats me why they didn't make a style 4... The Koa models were more limited, thus more highly prized...with higher price tags...I have a thin neck tenor,
which has good playability....rare for me...

gaspar
11-27-2011, 02:48 PM
[QUOTE=mm stan;811719]
Beats me why they didn't make a style 4... [/QUOTE

same here! why the jumped to style 5 from style 3?

hmgberg
11-27-2011, 04:23 PM
[QUOTE=mm stan;811719]
Beats me why they didn't make a style 4... [/QUOTE

same here! why the jumped to style 5 from style 3?

I can't recall exactly, some superstition.

Chris Tarman
11-27-2011, 05:16 PM
I think it's the rarity. I have a Style 2M from right around 1930 and a Style 1M from sometime much later ('50s, I'm thinking... pre '63 anyway). They both sound great, but different. In this case, the difference in sound probably has more to do with age (or possibly with some variables at the factory from the two eras) than because of the different styles. I've also played a '40s Style 3, which, admittedly, needed new strings. It also sounded quite good. I suppose there might be SOME loss of tone because of the extended fingerboard interfering with the soundboard, but I can't imagine that there would be much. My Kiwaya KTS-7 has Martin Style 3 bling, and it is every bit as loud and full-sounding as my Martins. The value goes up (in my opinion) because the fancier the model, the fewer were made and sold, and therefore the fewer there are around today.

Rick Turner
11-27-2011, 05:51 PM
My pal, uke player extrordinaire "Ukulele Dick", aka Rick McKee, swears that on average, the "lower level" Martins without the extended fingerboards sound better...more top vibrations because of less damping. He says a real player will go for the lesser models unless those higher notes are absolutely needed.

Very interesting.

Also, note that there is virtually NO DIFFERENCE in craftsmanship from the cheapest vintage Martins to the most expensive. That is one of the things I admire most about that company's instruments. "Less expensive" never meant "cheap" in the pejorative sense of that word. Good on them.

Chris Tarman
11-28-2011, 05:35 AM
I can believe what Rick says about the extended fingerboards, but I haven't noticed it myself. Granted, I've only played ONE actual Martin with an extended fingerboard. If it's true that you get better tone without the extended fingerboard, then I'd take a Style 1 any day. I'm a sucker for tortoiseshell, so the Style 1 has the right combination of tone and subtle bling to be just about perfect. I've actually never played a Style 0, if you can believe it. I need to get one of those someday!

garyg
11-28-2011, 05:52 AM
Thanks everyone, sounds like there's more variation based on age than model. I have a 40's 1M in soprano and just wondered if it was worth picking up an 0 or a 2 if I ever found reasonably priced ones. Sounds like I need to play them to know, they could sound just the same as my 1. cheers, g2

Pukulele Pete
11-28-2011, 09:12 AM
I have 30's Style 1 and a 60's style O . They both sound great but different. It's funny but the style 1 was a wreck when I got it. I repaired it and now its nice but when I play it ,it sounds to me like the sound is being pumped out through the sound hole. Maybe because the wood is older and drier? but it sounds great , I don't know if I would say it is better than the O , just different. I have a few ukes but the style 1 is the only one I have that feels like the sound gets pumped out through the soundhole.

mm stan
11-28-2011, 10:03 AM
Thanks everyone, sounds like there's more variation based on age than model. I have a 40's 1M in soprano and just wondered if it was worth picking up an 0 or a 2 if I ever found reasonably priced ones. Sounds like I need to play them to know, they could sound just the same as my 1. cheers, g2
I've got both of those...I got the style 2 first and thought is sounded awesome and warm...then I got the "O" which is brighter..closer to a Koaloha or Mya Moe...both different and good in
their individual ways...love them both...

Chris Tarman
11-28-2011, 05:42 PM
Thanks everyone, sounds like there's more variation based on age than model. I have a 40's 1M in soprano and just wondered if it was worth picking up an 0 or a 2 if I ever found reasonably priced ones. Sounds like I need to play them to know, they could sound just the same as my 1. cheers, g2

Yes. It IS worth picking up an 0 or a 2 if you ever find reasonably priced ones. ALWAYS!

peewee
11-28-2011, 06:47 PM
I find my 20's sopranos to be much finickier players than the two 40's-50's style 0's that I've played. (not a large sample)
The frets are very shallow, and the strings are a little closer together at the nut on the oldsters. I think the difference boils down to bar frets vs T frets and a narrower nut configuration. They require more precise finger placement, not always easy on a soprano. But Roy Smeck seemed to manage OK, so I'll keep working on it.
And of course the 20's style 1 comes with Rosewood binding instead of plastic tortoise-shell. Anti-bling.

Leastbest
11-29-2011, 04:08 AM
I'm a newbie so don't know which style this Martin Uke is but it sure sounds great. It is circa 1920 and I had my luthier put grover tuners on it. Take a look and tell me which style it is.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/randallbott/6425167493/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/randallbott/6425167291/

Thanks

mm stan
11-29-2011, 04:35 AM
Looks like a style "O"..no bindings..

Jnobianchi
11-29-2011, 04:45 AM
Leastbest -

It looks like a 20s or 30s Style 0 Soprano, but I can't quite see the side. It looks like there might be binding, and if there's rosewood binding between the sides and the back and top, you've got a 20's Style 1; if the binding is tortoise shell, you've got an early to mid 30's Style 1. Could also be a late 40's Style 1, as they didn't use the headstock decal for a few years in there. A close up of the side of the fretboard will show the type of fret, and that will tell us.

As to why the high numbers cost more. Bling was already mentioned. Rarity was mentioned earlier, and that's certainly a big factor, too. They made a lot of Style 0s and there are still plenty of them around - I got my early 60s 0 for $150 bucks in the early 90s - now they can be had for $400-600. Still not too expensive and still common.

They didn't make as many 1 and 2s, and they made a lot less 3 and 5s. They were the only manufacturer on the mainland making Taropatches, and they supposedly introduced the Concert - those are both VERY rare and cost quite a bit. Two Taropatches were sold in the last six months that both went for $2.5K+. The older tenors and baritones are also rarer, and correspondingly more expensive.

Then there are the koa ukes, which are definitely rarer, and so, they are the most sought after and expensive. $5K for a Style 5K is - appropriately - about what they cost. But - a style 0K, which they made, which fetch north of $1K easily and more than $1.5K is not unheard of. They just didn't make many at all.

And then, there are Martins made for other manufacturers, which are unique styles. The 3K version they made for Wurlitzer in the mid 20s is outstanding looking, and I've only ever seen one of them, but they probably made a few. The ukes they made for Oliver Ditson in the 20s are also very pricy, even the style 0 - which are rarer than even the 3 and 5 vintage ukes from the same period. Those with a dreadnought body are more common, those with a plan Martin style body are rare as hens teeth. Retrofret has one Ditson Style 2 going for $1.6K http://www.retrofret.com/products.asp?ProductID=3608&CartID=44885311292011

So if you go for the common style 0, you've got the best value. As Rick and others note, the workmanship is as good as on the top-line ukes. But, rarity, style and better materials DO impact value immensely.

Leastbest
11-29-2011, 06:40 AM
Thanks for the info. I'll take pictures of the sides.

Pukulele Pete
11-29-2011, 08:01 AM
It's a style O . You can tell by the dots on the fretboard . A style 1 would have two dots at the 7th fret.

hmgberg
11-29-2011, 10:15 AM
It's a style O . You can tell by the dots on the fretboard . A style 1 would have two dots at the 7th fret.

Yes, it's a Style O, for the reason that Pete states. It's also, as John says, from the 1920s - early 1930s because there is no decal on the front of the headstock and an imprinted stamp on the reverse of the headstock. My favorite Martin period.

pdxuke
11-29-2011, 02:44 PM
I agree: an 0.

I have a '48 0; plain, simple, and a powerhouse. I sold my KTS4, and every vintage mahogany uke I owned because at the end of the day, nothing could come close.

If you like mahogany sopranos (and I love them), get a Martin 0 from the 40s or 50s.

And in the meantime... satisfy your mahogany urges with the incredibly affordable Ohana SK35. And since few of us can afford a Martin 2, buy the SK38--they did a great job!

uke4ia
11-29-2011, 02:53 PM
I've got a '20s Style 2, which is the instrument I learned on. And a '50s Style 3 that I bought for the extended fretboard, back in the mid-80s when there still wasn't much but Martins available in New England. I always found that the Style 2 sounded a little better. I rarely play either of them now, because I like the sound of my other ukes better.

hmgberg
11-29-2011, 03:55 PM
I've got a '20s Style 2, which is the instrument I learned on. And a '50s Style 3 that I bought for the extended fretboard, back in the mid-80s when there still wasn't much but Martins available in New England. I always found that the Style 2 sounded a little better. I rarely play either of them now, because I like the sound of my other ukes better.

It seems from your video that your 2M has a bone saddle as opposed to a mahogany one. Is that something that you did? To me, the uke sounds fantastic.

hmgberg
11-29-2011, 04:01 PM
I agree: an 0.

I have a '48 0; plain, simple, and a powerhouse. I sold my KTS4, and every vintage mahogany uke I owned because at the end of the day, nothing could come close.

If you like mahogany sopranos (and I love them), get a Martin 0 from the 40s or 50s.

And in the meantime... satisfy your mahogany urges with the incredibly affordable Ohana SK35. And since few of us can afford a Martin 2, buy the SK38--they did a great job!

Hey! Nice to see you again.

It's very interesting to me. I just posted a thread in "Buying Tips" because I've heard so many people write about how their Favillas and Gretsches are just as good as, or better than, Martins. I started to think maybe I should get one to compare for myself. I have a few Martins, but never even played any of the others. I've played a Kiwaya, but was not so impressed as everyone else seems to be. Now, you write that you got rid of your vintage mahogany ukes, as I recall they included a Gibson and a Gretsch. Somehow, I'm less inclined now.

uke4ia
11-29-2011, 05:12 PM
It seems from your video that your 2M has a bone saddle as opposed to a mahogany one. Is that something that you did? To me, the uke sounds fantastic.

In the '80s, a piece came off of the notch on the bridge that the G string fits into. Eventually it got to where I couldn't get a G string to stay on the instrument. They just pulled right off. So I had the local acoustic instrument store replace the entire bridge. I don't remember what the original saddle looked like. Do Martins usually not have a bone saddle? My Style 3 has one.

hmgberg
11-29-2011, 05:34 PM
In the '80s, a piece came off of the notch on the bridge that the G string fits into. Eventually it got to where I couldn't get a G string to stay on the instrument. They just pulled right off. So I had the local acoustic instrument store replace the entire bridge. I don't remember what the original saddle looked like. Do Martins usually not have a bone saddle? My Style 3 has one.

Styles 0, 1, & 2 had mahogany nut and saddle. Styles 3 and 5, bone (or plastic). I think the bone may be giving yours a bit more bite.

Pukulele Pete
11-30-2011, 12:51 AM
I think they have an ebony nut and saddle. That's what my Martins have.

hmgberg
11-30-2011, 02:09 AM
I think they have an ebony nut and saddle. That's what my Martins have.

I'm an idiot! I meant to write "ebony" and it came out "mahogany." I need a proofraider, "what wood" you think of that?

Pukulele Pete
11-30-2011, 03:07 AM
[QUOTE=hmgberg;813362]I'm an idiot! I meant to write "ebony" and it came out "mahogany." I need a proofraider, "what wood" you think of that?[/QUOT

Yes , you need a proofraider. ( just kidding )

hmgberg
11-30-2011, 03:11 AM
[QUOTE=hmgberg;813362]I'm an idiot! I meant to write "ebony" and it came out "mahogany." I need a proofraider, "what wood" you think of that?[/QUOT

Yes , you need a proofraider. ( just kidding )


Tanks! I thunk.