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View Full Version : Well...I almost joined the lofty ranks of vintage Martin owners...



OldePhart
02-13-2013, 10:45 AM
Unfortunately too many people recognized this http://www.ebay.com/itm/330870158526?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649 as a thirties or early forties Martin T1 in spite of some pretty seriously heavy-handed cleanup of the terribly damaged finish that removed all the marks.

So...did somebody here win this baby? It ended up going for almost twice what I was willing to risk without being able to tell for sure if the neck was straight, etc.

John

Jnobianchi
02-13-2013, 12:06 PM
If I can't get confirmation of a straight neck on a vintage uke, I will not bid or buy. Turns out, two of those I bought - WITH written and in one case photographic confirmation of a straight neck - turned out to be twisted and went right back for a full refund. Doesn't make not getting it any less disappointing, but you may have saved yourself of a ton of strife. :)

OldePhart
02-13-2013, 12:28 PM
If I can't get confirmation of a straight neck on a vintage uke, I will not bid or buy. Turns out, two of those I bought - WITH written and in one case photographic confirmation of a straight neck - turned out to be twisted and went right back for a full refund. Doesn't make not getting it any less disappointing, but you may have saved yourself of a ton of strife. :)

Yeah...and there won't be any refunds on this one since it was sold as "parts." Even if I had been able to confirm a sound neck and structure I wouldn't have won it because I would have stopped at $300. My aim was to make it a nice player since it's obviously never going to be valuable to collectors after the severe damage and even more severe "repair" of the finish. :)

Not that I'm castigating whoever started stripping the finish. On the part of the front where the finish remains you can see that it pretty much had to be refinished. It almost looks like it's been in a fire...

John

Jnobianchi
02-13-2013, 12:31 PM
Right - that would have been my approach, too. This guy seriously overpaid. Ah, well. I'm all about not overpaying. :D

OldePhart
02-13-2013, 12:34 PM
Right - that would have been my approach, too. This guy seriously overpaid. Ah, well. I'm all about not overpaying. :D

It looks like the buyer was relatively new to eBay...I bet the seller is doing back flips; he started the auction at 9.99 with no reserve and it sat in the teens until a couple of days ago. LOL

John

hmgberg
02-13-2013, 01:49 PM
I saw it and thought it might have been a Martin, but someone asked if there was a stamp inside the sound hole. The seller responded that there was not.

chrimess
02-13-2013, 02:17 PM
If a straight neck is what you are after, john, you'd better not win my banjolele this season.


Unfortunately too many people recognized this
http://www.ebay.com/itm/330870158526?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649 as a thirties or early forties Martin T1 in spite of some pretty seriously heavy-handed cleanup of the terribly damaged finish that removed all the marks.

So...did somebody here win this baby? It ended up going for almost twice what I was willing to risk without being able to tell for sure if the neck was straight, etc.

John

Patrick Madsen
02-13-2013, 02:35 PM
Yeah, I saw it also. Thought it looked like a Martin but thought it was too good a deal to be. I don't think they started putting a stamp in the soundhole til '62. May the '62 is just for baritones.

OldePhart
02-14-2013, 07:12 AM
I saw it and thought it might have been a Martin, but someone asked if there was a stamp inside the sound hole. The seller responded that there was not.

Yeah...I saw that, too. Not all Martins have the stamp inside the sound hole; I'm not sure when they started doing that but many of the very early ukes don't have it. The front and back of the headstock have been sanded down enough to remove any marks there, too. However, it pretty much couldn't be anything but a vintage Martin or a recent counterfeit that someone spent a ton of time "aging" - and then didn't use the Martin name to up the bidding.

So, bottom line, it's a Martin but will never be a valuable Martin. With some elbow-grease and TLC it might become a great player, though.

John

HBolte
02-14-2013, 07:36 AM
It looks like the buyer was relatively new to eBay...I bet the seller is doing back flips; he started the auction at 9.99 with no reserve and it sat in the teens until a couple of days ago. LOL

John

Ebay is amazing. I often get much more than expected.

hmgberg
02-14-2013, 08:03 AM
I thought martin always put the stamp inside the sound hole. They added "made in USA" in 1962. The stamp on the back of the headstock was there until the early 1930s. It was replaced by a decal on the front. There were several years during which the headstock had both.

OldePhart
02-14-2013, 11:18 AM
I thought martin always put the stamp inside the sound hole. They added "made in USA" in 1962. The stamp on the back of the headstock was there until the early 1930s. It was replaced by a decal on the front. There were several years during which the headstock had both.

You might be right...

I can easily see a stamp being there and the seller not seeing it, though. If you look closely at the pictures, especially of the unstripped finish on the lower bouts of the top, that uke has been through the ringer. I'm guessing it was in a building that had a fire from the pictures - or maybe just hanging over a fireplace for a long time, then left unprotected in an attic for a few decades. The wood inside the uke is so discolored that the stamp could easily be obscured or what have you.

In any case, from the headstock, fretboard markers, and bridge style that pretty much can't be anything but a Martin T1 from the apparent age of it unless somebody was making really close Martin clones fifty years ago (I've heard that some of the Favilla baritones were pretty close to Martin copies, but I don't think they were exact, as this appears to be).

Sure would be interesting if the buyer were a UUer and would shoot a video after cleaning it up...I'd really like to see how it sounds...

John

Barbablanca
02-14-2013, 11:37 AM
Maybe I should start a new thread, but I am wondering what on earth the appeal is of Vintage Ukes? There is one on ebay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Martin-5K-Ukulele-/170988995923?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27cfbd0553) that I linked to from the above link It is currently up to $8000 and has not met its reserve and you can buy it now for $15,000 - Why would anyone do that? If it is to play, you can get a modern instrument of spectacular quality for an eighth of that price, surely?

Is it just for the pleasure of owning something old? Heck, one of my favourite books is 102 now - my copy of Skeat's "Etymological Dictionary". I love it and love the fact that it was owned by two intelligence officers (one in WWI and another in WWII - it was probably used for code-breaking). It has history... But I got it in a junk shop. There is no way I'd have paid even fifty bucks for it, let alone thousands.

I'm afraid that for me the vintage world is just one big :confused: puzzle.

OldePhart
02-14-2013, 04:40 PM
@Barbablanca - I'm with you to a point - you won't see me buying any $8,000 ukes, new or old. I'm not even a big fan of vintage, especially not for the sake of vintage, but, sometimes, if you don't mind some scars and road wear you can pick up a really good sounding and playing vintage for actually less than you would pay for a decent new instrument. That was the "appeal" for me in this particular auction until the bids went too high for a sight-unseen uke being sold as "parts." :)

John

coolkayaker1
02-14-2013, 04:49 PM
I'm afraid that for me the vintage world is just one big :confused: puzzle.

Hi, BB. The vintage ukes that most people buy are in the $300 "beater" range to around $1700 or so...well under the price of some of the new, higher end K brands. I'd say the average price is around $600-800.

An example would be any of the Martins on this website:
http://www.gryphonstrings.com/inventory/instrument_page.php

Look at those Martin "O"s for $465. You could sell enay one of them again on UU, Fleamarket or eBay for the same pirce...no loss. And in ten years, when more of them have been used as kindling or sat on by clumsy ukers (like me), who knows what it'll be worth.

All ukes are fun--new or old--but only an older uke will retain all it's purchase price value, and will likely appreciate over a decade or two. It's hard to say this about most other ukes. Martins, Kamakas and a few others enjoy this price appreciation. Some are starting to climb, like my Favilla baritone (pics on Baritone UAS thread), but I still only paid $300 for it. Frankly, I wish I'd have put the same money I just spent on new Martins (and I adore them) into vintage Martins.

So, besides the thrill of the hunt (as John shows us with this thread), it's also the fun of playing it and the maintained value. The ones you cite are wall hanger collectibles... I don't know of anyone on UU buying those (although there could be someone).

Try it out on an inexpensive vintage uke. It's fun! BTW, Barbablanca, it was you that urged me to buy the great Robert Johnson book. It's great--you are right! Thanks. Please don't tell me you're playing Robert Johnson on a 2012 Kala! lol

hmgberg
02-14-2013, 05:22 PM
I have vintage ukes for which I paid anywhere from $8.00 to, well, a lot more than that, but most were under $100. The 5K is a little too rich for my blood, however. I like vintage things in general. It's not snob appeal, just that I appreciate things that have some history, enjoy the idea that I am one in a line of people who have played and enjoyed them; I consider myself the custodian of the moment. The notion that the uke I'm playing now was played 80 years ago stimulates my imagination. I also like to restore them. Hey, I live in a house that was built in 1832. I have photographs of my house made in the 1800s. I have researched records to find out who lived here before me, and so on. That said, I have new ukuleles as well, three of which I made myself. Because...I never met an ukulele I didn't like. That's not completely true, but I can find some reason to like almost any uke.

As far as the Ebay uke, it could be that the stamp inside went unseen by the seller. Everything else about it seems to suggest it's a Martin. The Japanese made some great copies, though. Yasuma. C.F. Mountain. Can't be sure, I guess. But I hope whoever bought it likes the way it palys and sounds.

pdxuke
02-14-2013, 05:27 PM
I'm afraid that for me the vintage world is just one big :confused: puzzle.

It's a matter of personal taste. But if you've ever played some old Martins, for example, that have been well cared for, it's almost impossible to find something made today that has the same sound. As Steve said, both my vintage Martin sopranos were purchased for the same price or less than a new Kamaka, and certainly far less than any Collings uke, to name another modern well made instrument. So, most of them are not that expensive compared to modern ukes, and for we who like vintage ukes, it gives us another choice.

Now, I'm on a Barry kick. And the Silvertone (made by Harmony) mahogany 1969 uke was purchased for $125, and looks great, and sounds far better than any baritone I have heard for that price. My Favilla was under $500, is from 1955ish, is beautiful, and sounds better than any baritone I have heard that is new for that price. (The only modern barry I've heard a sample of that sounds better to me is a $1400 Kamaka.)

Play a vintage Kamaka, Favilla, and especially Martin, and see what you think. The way it sounds may convince you. :-)

coolkayaker1
02-14-2013, 06:13 PM
http://www.ebay.com/itm/230887118880?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649

Barbablanca, I saw this tonight and couldn't help but to show you. An 80 year old uke, one well-repaired crack (cracks happen, as lopng as they're repaired well it's all good) and just as Thom and Howard pointed out, these vintage ukes can be winners. Look how pristine this baby looks! Looking at the photos, my mouth tastes like spearmint. This uke is so unique and minty!

Not everyone wants a five hundred smackeroulian uke. But, a new Koaloha production soprano MSRP is, what, $750 now or something...and the street price is $550+. This rare tenor is less! And one could probably find a dusty one with an unrepaired crack for less than half that price, put a little elbow grease into it, and sell it for this price.

Anyhow, I couldn;t help but show one example of what drives vintage ukers. John in Texas is soon to catch the bug...I can tell: he just sneezed! lol And he's much better than I at setting up ukes and stuff--this ought to be right up his alley.

My house is newer, my truck is new, my Apple is new that I'm typing this on...yet I now like old ukes. Go figure!

Patrick Madsen
02-14-2013, 07:31 PM
[QUOTE=coolkayaker1;1187886]http://www.ebay.com/itm/230887118880?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649


That Wendall Hall is being sold by the family of a former professional musician. He played for many years at Disneyland and for motion pictures from there. The family has a whole slew of guitars and ukes they are selling. He took very good care of his instruments and in some cases modified them to suit his playing.

The big thing about vintage instruments for me is the craftsmanship, quality and sound of an old instrument. There's no comparrison of a newer Martin and one of my vintage Martins. The necks of a vintage has such a nice feel to them. Slim, low actioned and fast. The mellower sound of an aged instrument is hard to find in a new instrument. And the years of previous owners playing it comes thru more often than not.

I love my newer made instruments, but they are made by a luthier who makes them three at a time. His energy just radiates from them. The others I own are vintage and more likely than not, any additions will be vintage.

Barbablanca
02-14-2013, 11:25 PM
Hey, don't get me wrong guys and gals! I understand the appeal of a reasonably priced Vintage instrument (like those in the replies above) - what really puzzled me was why anyone would pay the huge sums being mentioned in that e-bay auction for a beat up old instrument that was not linked to any specific history of note.

Personally, I would never pay thousands of dollars for an object that belonged to someone specific "George Harrison's Strat" or "George Washington's dog's lead" or whatever, but I do understand that some people are willing to pay for a documented slice of history. However, what s the justification of asking $15,000 for that particular uke I linked to (or ones like it)? It appears to be in poor condition and has no particular "handle" to sell it - eg: it isn't advertised as: "This was the uke George (Formby, Harrison or Washington) learned to play on!" ;) or whatever. That's the real puzzle for me.

pdxuke
02-15-2013, 05:40 AM
Hey, don't get me wrong guys and gals! I understand the appeal of a reasonably priced Vintage instrument (like those in the replies above) - what really puzzled me was why anyone would pay the huge sums being mentioned in that e-bay auction for a beat up old instrument that was not linked to any specific history of note.

Personally, I would never pay thousands of dollars for an object that belonged to someone specific "George Harrison's Strat" or "George Washington's dog's lead" or whatever, but I do understand that some people are willing to pay for a documented slice of history. However, what s the justification of asking $15,000 for that particular uke I linked to (or ones like it)? It appears to be in poor condition and has no particular "handle" to sell it - eg: it isn't advertised as: "This was the uke George (Formby, Harrison or Washington) learned to play on!" ;) or whatever. That's the real puzzle for me.

I think the $8500 uke on ebay you are talking about is a Martin 5K. What you have to understand about that uke is it's the Holy Grail of Martins. If you collect Martins, that is it's appeal, for all kinds of reasons having to do with scarcity, etc. "-)

pdxuke
02-15-2013, 07:28 AM
Here's another example, Barbablanca:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Martin-pre-1930s-style-1-ukulele-soprano-with-hard-case-/160970433986?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item257a95e5c2&autorefresh=true

Someone just got a pre 30s Martin 1 soprano for under $400. It's not that pretty, but my guess is it's a heck of a player. I would guess that it sounds better than any modern mahogany soprano. And it's cheaper than a Kiwaya. You just need to be ok with the cosmetic problems.

HBolte
02-17-2013, 07:40 AM
Hey, don't get me wrong guys and gals! I understand the appeal of a reasonably priced Vintage instrument (like those in the replies above) - what really puzzled me was why anyone would pay the huge sums being mentioned in that e-bay auction for a beat up old instrument that was not linked to any specific history of note.

Personally, I would never pay thousands of dollars for an object that belonged to someone specific "George Harrison's Strat" or "George Washington's dog's lead" or whatever, but I do understand that some people are willing to pay for a documented slice of history. However, what s the justification of asking $15,000 for that particular uke I linked to (or ones like it)? It appears to be in poor condition and has no particular "handle" to sell it - eg: it isn't advertised as: "This was the uke George (Formby, Harrison or Washington) learned to play on!" ;) or whatever. That's the real puzzle for me.

It's just the kind of thing that if you're not into it, you don't see the value. It's just not for you that's all. If I could get a guitar from George Harrisons collection for mere thousands I'd be all over it. Unfortunately it would probably be many hundreds of thousands...

Here's an item http://www.ebay.com/itm/26-JDK-257-German-bisque-antique-Doll-blue-sleep-eyes-circa-1910-Kestner-/230813951254?_trksid=p3284.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSIC%26its%3DI%26itu%3DUCI%252BIA% 252BUA%252BFICS%252BUFI%26otn%3D21%26pmod%3D130853 271177%26ps%3D54

I wouldn't take it if it was given to me. Different strokes...