View Full Version : Looking at a Vintage Martin or Gibson Baritone

Patrick Madsen
08-31-2012, 09:45 AM
Hello All, Just sold a uke and am thinking on trying out a baritone for a change. Dang UAS anyway.

I have been conversing with a gentleman from California who is selling out his dads uke collection. He was a prof. musiciain back in the day.

Anyway, he has a vintage Martin on ebay http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-1960S-MARTIN-BARITONE-UKULELE-VINTAGE-COLLECTIBLE-ESTATE-SALE-NO-RESERVE-/230840797026?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35bf2f0762#ht_2454wt_1165

and also a few Gibson and Favilla Baritones. He hasn't given me any prices yet but am just checking it out. He wrote saying a gentleman was trying to decide between one of his dads old Kamaka B."s or the Martin and if I chose, to shoot him an offer on the M. The M is from around 1964 I think.

As an old guitar player, I do like the higher end stuff but am only looking at this because I've had contacts with him before and really haven't decided on what I'm really looking for. Thanks for any suggestions.

08-31-2012, 01:41 PM
Hi, PM. I am not a Martin expert, and don't own one. The Martin on eBay is exceptionally presented, with the video and impeccable feedback. The Seller looks like an up-and-up guy.

But, $1500+? An advanced search of "completed auctions" on eBay shows many identical to his that have recently sold for $850 or so. TheMartinLady (seller) had one a month ago that looks identical, no major blems, that didn't sell for even $999 recently--you could likely contact her and buy hers and save about five hundred clams. lol See it under "completed auctions" Martin baritone ukulele.

Just an observation as an avid eBayer, but not knowing Martin ukes. It seems overpriced.

Patrick Madsen
08-31-2012, 01:55 PM
Thanks Coolkayaker. After thinking about it, I really don't care about the make of a uke. It's about the feel of the neck, action and intonation; a radiused neck would be a bonus. This is an exploratory bari to see if I like them or not so I'm setting a budget of around 500 and will look for a used one. I go by the premise that the right one will come when it comes so I'm in no hurry.

He really is a an up and up guy selling off some of the ukes his dad played professionally. I had no idea what a Martin was worth or if I even wanted one so came to my knowledgable friends here.

08-31-2012, 02:11 PM
Good idea on trying a less expensive one. I just got my first bari a month ago, and I really love the sound and the feel of it. The fretting, though, on some of my jazzy chords is, to put it plainly, nearly impossible for me. I have small/medium hands. Ugh! But, it's a keeper, and I will play it routinely. Tenors seem right for me, concerts a tad cramped, and sopranos, only for fun.

I'm sure someone will chime in on a good used bari for your $500 budget. Take care and pplay hard, PM

08-31-2012, 02:17 PM
Lots of vintage baritones pop up on ebay and a few others that of course, I can't remember this minute... Favilla, Giannini, and others that are solid mahogany and sound sweet....all well under your budget. A little cleanup and a setup, maybe new tuners, maybe not. tc.

08-31-2012, 02:19 PM
You should follow up on that Favilla. In good shape, a Favilla Bari should haul in around $400-$450 and I'm sure it would be a great player. In fact, if you're not interested, pm me what he'd like for the Favilla.

08-31-2012, 02:32 PM
The price on the Martin is way too high. I recently sold a Martin baritone in near mint condition for around $1000 if my memory serves me right. You can find them at prices less than that depending on condition. Martin necks are slim, narrow, and "fast" as the expression goes, truly comfortable and nice to play. They're certainly not chunky. Quite honestly though, I wasn't that impressed with the sound of my Martin as compared to other mahogany baritones I have played. I had a Gianinni that I paid $100 for that sounded and played as good as the Martin. The Gianinnis do have a chunkier neck than the Martins.

The very best baritone I've owned so far was a Kala spalted maple limited edition with the Tree of Life inlay on the neck. It was an absolutely wonderful sounding and playing instrument. I only sold it because I had a Mya-Moe coming. I will be getting my Mya-Moe maple bodied, spruce top baritone (S/N 798) in about a week. I am sure it will be the best baritone I have ever played...!!!

08-31-2012, 02:42 PM
Do post a video, WDS, when you get that MM Bari!

08-31-2012, 02:45 PM
Do post a video, WDS, when you get that MM Bari!

Will do. It'll be here next week.

08-31-2012, 03:13 PM
Will do. It'll be here next week.

Here's a MM bari video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVXRtkfCrO4

Patrick Madsen
08-31-2012, 04:19 PM
I saw yours Tim. If I had known then what I know now.... The Kaniela that sold recently looked nice also. And the MM Kanaka is playing on the video is outstanding.
If I hear back from him on the Fav. DidgerD. and don't take it, I will definitly let him know you are interested.

Thanks guys, I really appreciate your input. WDS, I still play Plywood Jesus at least once a day, it's one of my favorites.

08-31-2012, 07:38 PM
Here's a Favilla baritone ukulele from the 1960s for sale at Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto.
Gryphon's a great place with a very knowledgeable ukulele luthier and it sells quality stuff.

09-01-2012, 03:18 AM
You should follow up on that Favilla. In good shape, a Favilla Bari should haul in around $400-$450 and I'm sure it would be a great player. In fact, if you're not interested, pm me what he'd like for the Favilla.

:agree: Check this one out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo-lyrf85Qo

And this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej5eUczAbmM

And for fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoGIBXm6AuQ

09-01-2012, 03:39 AM
I've got an old Favilla Baritone that sounds really nice. I bought it off eBay with the original old tan canvas case with a couple of minor cracks that were easily repaired by my luthier and it looks great no scratches or dings. I gave about $300 for it. Most I see on eBay go from 3 to $400. That one on Gryphon with the original case would go for about $450 on eBay. I think Gryphon has it a little overpriced.

09-01-2012, 04:48 AM
In the lower price range, Savagehenry's Koloa solid mahogany baritone has bone nut and saddle. It has the fit, finish, look and tone of an instrument that costs hundreds of dollars more. It's very light for a baritone, which probably why it sounds so good. I love the old vintage ones, but as a player, if I wanted to wade into the baritone waters with a gorgeous, sweet sounding solid instrument, it's hard to beat.

09-01-2012, 08:44 AM
It may not be a vintage, and I don't know if all of them have this pattern to them, but if I wanted a decent baritone for $400, I'd have to jump on one of these


Patrick Madsen
09-01-2012, 10:39 AM
I think I bought a Favilla, just sent the email. Reading his response I can see why he is charging more for his dad's instruments; they're customized to his professional needs.
I grew up at Disneyland from the time it opened to the late 60's. We'd buy a ticket and go hang out on Tom Sawyers Island all day. This will remind me of fond memories being there and perhaps may have seen him play.

"Sounds like a Favilla is exactly what you should be after. Dad felt when they were customized a bit, and set up properly, they rivaled any Martin. Most of them have bulky necks though, so he shaved them to his liking. However, many believe headstock and neck "bulk" actually enhance tone - especially sustain - so he experimented, by inlaying "tap-tuned" steel and carbon fiber rods under the fingerboards. Since the fingerboards had to be removed for this, he would usually radius them before reassembly. This kind of stuff is way beyond most ukulele players, but you sound quite savvy, and I thought you would appreciated why dad's instruments are special. He was totally into maximizing an instruments potential. His custom Favilla, unlike any other, is very beautifully finished".

I'm shaking for some reason.

09-24-2012, 06:20 AM
you may want to look into a Pono. there have been some refurbished ones on ebay for a good discount. I bought an older PB used that is a very nice instrument. Solid mahog, nice binding, grover tuners, and it even had a pickup. I have 3 baris, one a vintage Gibson, and it actually compares favorably. the sprucetop Lanikai and Kala are nice instruments for their price also. I like the solid mahog baris best though.

09-24-2012, 08:52 AM
That particular Martin Baritone - the one in that ebay link - has been banged around a bit. Looks structurally sound I suppose, but lots of dings on the headstock and the back, which would indicate less than loving care. The price is quite high for its condition, but I don't think $1500 is out of the question for a bari in really good shape. Sounds like someone here sold one for $1000 - that would certainly be an excellent price for one in mint condition. I'm not crazy about buying somewhat pricy vintage stringed instruments on ebay - I would prefer to have the reliability and accountability of a reputable dealer - there are plenty of them selling on-line and most of them can be counted on to describe their instruments faithfully and take them back without question if there's a problem. Another good option though is to buy one from someone on this list who can provide good references if asked.


09-24-2012, 05:19 PM
You can't go wrong with a Favilla. I'm in love with my Favilla baritone. It's strung with Southcoast strings (GCEA). It's got a beautiful sound.

09-24-2012, 05:35 PM
A year ago I paid 1200 for a Martin baritone on eBay. (pictures are in my profile) I had 'lost' bids for several Martins on eBay. They were all mint and went for a little under 1500. The Martin I bought is near mint and sounds wonderful. I tried other tunings but it seems made for the usual G tuning.

This Martin was also being sold by a son after his father died. It even came with a 40 year old picture of the father playing it.

mm stan
09-24-2012, 06:48 PM
Aloha Pat,
Just be patient...yes all those dealers on Ebay elavating the prices....hee hee I won two....one came back as a tenor and the other the guy backed out, think the price was too low
About 900.00 is a fair price to me and my top price...yes the martins have a slim fast neck and comfortable ...and nice deep resonation with good strings.. I got me one and a kamaka
baritone too... love them alot.. Good Luck bruddah....if I see something, I will let you know..nothing sounds like a good Martin Baritone...

09-24-2012, 07:15 PM
Pat, I am shaking with you. That sounds like a really special instrument. With its history and its customized features I just know you are going to be thrilled with it. I am looking forward to seeing it in your hands playing "Plywood Jesus" I especially want to see that customized neck, Can I do some measuring?

Patrick Madsen
09-24-2012, 07:44 PM
Thanks Guys, Would love for you to take a look Brian. I haven't heard back from the guy and am thinking on contacting him just to let him know I am still interested. In fact think I'll do it now lol.
Thanks Stan, I'd really appreciate you keeping an eye out.