View Full Version : New Martin 3s

Pete Howlett
10-31-2008, 01:37 PM
Tried a natural Cherry and Koa MArtin retro 3s today. I have a great respect for this company but have to sadly and regretfully say that these two beauties were just that. They had no personality, warmth or ... I dunno, I can't explain it. Maybe it was because they were too perfect, too symmetrical, too clean - binding was superb on both. However, there was none of the old pazzaz there and the matte/slightly satin finish is a big mistake.

Still 10/10 for trying to reissue - 5/10 for sound quality and historical integrity - faults are:

Very ugly headstock - to long
Fingerboard end to utiliterian - no softening
Fingerboard too thick
Braces not notched but feathered into the linings - this is very poor and lazy construction technique for such an expensive instrument
Neck to body joint imperfect - gap at the top and the fitting wasn't great either
Finish sprayed on too dry - it makes a rasping sound as you pass your hand over it. This is artificial matte finishing
Plus points are:

Superb overall build quality
Good selection of materials - koa subtle curly, not outrageous but AAA and the cherry was a good rising match although could have been more on the quarter for the top and back
Cone heel perfectly proportioned
Interior exceptionally clean with the kerfed lining scaled properly to the instrument, braces neatly sanded and finished

Kaneohe til the end
10-31-2008, 01:49 PM
Very ugly headstock - too long
Fingerboard too thick

isnt this subjective though?

10-31-2008, 02:10 PM
i think he might be comparing them to the old martins.

great review, disappointing though. i would still love to play an old and the new one side by side.

Pete Howlett
10-31-2008, 10:52 PM
yes, any review is totally subjective and of course I am comparing them to the originals - after all, as re-issues, they are an attempt at copying the 3's of the 20s and 30s. There's repro and revisioning. These are more of the later and loads of people will like them.

Sound wise, they were both a little restrained although the koa had the bounce!

11-01-2008, 02:50 AM
Thanks for the review Pete, I really trust your opinion and your ears on these matters. I have yet to play those new Martins. Perhaps our friend will let me have a go one day...

I am interested that you rate them only 5/10 on sound, the owner of the ukes has raved about their sound and says they are better than his old ones. Do you think they just need playing in and time to mature? Or do they have issues that mean they probably never will sound that good?

Are you going to post this on the Martin board? They have some strong opinions about these ukes.

Pete Howlett
11-01-2008, 04:00 AM
If you are going to spend in excess of $1500 you expect it to be exceptional - my yewkulele was just as good as the cherry and the koa struggled to equal my Helsinki. Rod said it was the Aquila sound but the yewk had Hilos on against Worths on both these instruments. Fit and finish was very high but as a said, I'd want much more for my bucks in the sound department.

No I won't post on the Martin forum - I get enough trouble posting amongst friends:rofl:

11-01-2008, 05:47 AM
I am with Pete on the sound, its not good in fact at all to my ears, the 5K and 3 that I played were down right bad.

Construction is good but I would expect better for the price, I think its a soundboard thickness issue, I was not able to pull out a micrometer and measure but the two I played looked very thick and that would really screw with the tone.