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teruterubouzu
02-18-2013, 01:18 AM
I am planning for my next uke. This one will be a soprano.

My heart wants a vintage Martin, but my brain doesn't know nearly enough about them. Can anyone point me to good resources for learning more about the different models, price ranges for years/models, challenges of owning a vintage instrument and the like?

I am also considering getting a Kiwaya KTS-4 and then later getting a vintage Martin. The main reason is I'd like an instrument that I wouldn't have to worry about. Do you use a vintage instrument as your main player? Am I just being paranoid?

Thanks in advance for your help.

mm stan
02-18-2013, 05:58 AM
Aloha Teru,
What does that mean....I know that is not your name:) he he anyways the ukulele site does good setups...here is for your Kiwaya http://www.theukulelesite.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=kiwaya+kts+4
as on vintage martin, it is hard to select one just by model or uke...best to try them before you buy....Good Luck.... but most sound good, even the base model style O's happy strummings

uke552
02-18-2013, 06:26 AM
Hopefully this link works...

http://www.geocities.com/~ukulele/martin2.html

A pretty good site explaining the different vintage Martin ukes.

KoaChameleon
02-18-2013, 07:29 AM
Hi there.
I'm lucky enough to own a 60's Martin and a Kiwaya KTS-4 and can honestly say that I prefer the Kiwaya.
It is so light and resonant, it really sings. The Martin has that lovely woody bark to it though, so I suppose it depends on what you're looking for? I wasn't able to try either before I bought them but was lucky to end up with two fine ukes.
A good argument to get both I reckon!

Chris Tarman
02-18-2013, 07:36 AM
I have a Kiwaya KTS-7 and three vintage Martins. You certainly can't go wrong with a Kiwaya.
I do play my Martins or my vintage Gibson more than any of my other ukes, but I mostly play at home. I have taken them on road trips and played at uke club meetings, but if I was playing publicly or traveling a lot, I would be a lot more likely to use the Kiwaya. I'm actually thinking of having a pickup installed in it just in case I ever get to the point where I play in front of an actual audience.

coolkayaker1
02-18-2013, 07:44 AM
My Kiwaya concert, and my prior Kiwaya tenor, are quieter than my Martins. I like a tad louder. I actually, Chris, have been thinking like you--maybe getting a pick-up in the Kiwaya at some point (I have two ukes with pickups already--Mya moe passive and Koaloha tenor active--but I don;t have a concert with a pickup).

coolkayaker1
02-18-2013, 07:46 AM
terut, I'd go straight tio the Martin if I was you. The reasons are in the vintage uke thread from Oldpharte recently.

Here it is-- my opinion remains as stated in this great thread.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?76830-Well-I-almost-joined-the-lofty-ranks-of-vintage-Martin-owners

"Don't be afraid of the man behind the curtain".

Nicko
02-18-2013, 07:50 AM
I think I read around here somewhere that someone's impression was that the Ohana SK-35 and/or SK-38 sounded more like a vintage Martin than the Kiwaya KTS-4 does. Anyone?

Chris Tarman
02-18-2013, 08:25 AM
I actually meant to say this in my first post about the Kiwaya...
If you think you want a vintage Martin, then go for it. I absolutely love all three of mine. They sound fantastic and they have character. Don't be in a big hurry, and try to shop around. If you can play them ahead of time, that's best. That said, however, I bought all three of mine without playing them first. The first one (the Style 2), I bought from Elderly Instruments after about a half hour phone discussion comparing three different Martins. The other two were eBay finds (as was my Gibson).
My Style 3 had a couple of tight cracks that I got repaired (they weren't too bad or expensive). That wasn't surprising considering its 80-some years spent in a rear-loading soft bag. The Style 2 from Elderly had several repaired stable cracks when I got it. The Style 1 (which is a good twenty years younger than the other two) was nearly perfect.
Well-repaired (or easily repaired) cracks wouldn't stop me from buying a vintage instrument as a player. I suppose they might affect collector value, but I want them primarily to play.

coolkayaker1
02-18-2013, 08:39 AM
Well-repaired (or easily repaired) cracks wouldn't stop me from buying a vintage instrument as a player. I suppose they might affect collector value, but I want them primarily to play.
Agree with Chris here.


PDXUKe on UU, THom, will be listing an Ohana 38 soprano for sale soon, and invited inquiries now:
COMING FOR SALE: Ohana SK38, SK35, Martin S1, Mainland Banjo Uke (his signature). Much less expensive than Kiwaya.

Ukulelezaza playing an Ohana SK38:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kgQE1AaM5A

PS No promises a Ken Middleton designed SK38 will have you playing like Remco. lol BUt at leeats his is the only youtube Mr Sandman tutorial for uke where the "bells" (which is really the girls singing "bom bom bom bom bombom bom...") are actually played on the instrument; everyone else seems to hum that part.

collarbone
02-18-2013, 01:20 PM
I have a vintage Martin that I bought a while ago and had become my main player. I only really play around the house and treat it very gingerly, but it is holding up very well and does not seem any more fragile than other ukes I have or have had. I have never played a Kiwaya except briefly at a music store so I have no input as far as that goes. Here is a thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?73115-Fear-of-vintage&highlight=fear+vintage) about vintage ukes that I stared, which got thoughtful replies from people here at the UU (including some people who have commented on this thread). Good luck, I'm pretty sure that whether you chose Martin or Kiwaya you will end up with a great uke.

RichM
02-18-2013, 01:44 PM
I love my vintage Martin (1930). It has a lovely sound is definitely the nicest sounding soprano that I've played. It wasn't particularly expensive as things go. It has a repaired top crack that is very nearly invisible and otherwise in lovely shape. It doesn't strike me as particularly fragile, so I play it as much as any of my ukes. The Style 0 ukes are still reasonably priced for vintage ukes. I'd recommend picking one up if you have a Martin jones; should you ever change your mind, it will sell easily and might even appreciate in value.

RyanMFT
02-18-2013, 01:55 PM
I have a vintage 30's/40's Martin style O. It is wonderful, and like others have said, it is not fragile. I take mine with me to jams and I don't worry about it. These were meant to be played and Martin made A LOT of them. I wouldn't take it to the beach or camping, I've got others that I wouldn't be so upset if they were banged around a bit. However, if you want a vintage Martin, go for it and play the heck out of it.

pdxuke
02-18-2013, 02:03 PM
I have a vintage 30's/40's Martin style O. It is wonderful, and like others have said, it is not fragile. I take mine with me to jams and I don't worry about it. These were meant to be played and Martin made A LOT of them. I wouldn't take it to the beach or camping, I've got others that I wouldn't be so upset if they were banged around a bit. However, if you want a vintage Martin, go for it and play the heck out of it.

:agree: This.

Buy one. Play the heck out of it. When you're done--pass it on to the next player/collector. They will buy it.

rpfrogner
02-18-2013, 02:13 PM
Be afraid of the vintage Martin.....be very afraid. Don't buy one!!! Leave them all for me :)

rpfrogner
02-18-2013, 02:28 PM
Just kidding of course. The vintage Martin is a very well made instrument, and as others have stated above it was meant to be played. I have not owned a Kiwaya soprano, but I did have a Kiwaya concert ukulele (which I did not play a great deal so I sold it). The Kiwaya was a fine instrument, but my preference would be the vintage Martin. I doubt very much that if you buy the Kiwaya you would take it to the beach or on a camping trip either. The chances are good right now that you can buy a good vintage Martin for slightly less money than a new Kiwaya if you are patient and shop around. Either would be a great instrument so it just depends on whether you believe you prefer new or vintage. No reason to be afraid of vintage though.

pdxuke
02-18-2013, 02:54 PM
Just kidding of course. The vintage Martin is a very well made instrument, and as others have stated above it was meant to be played. I have not owned a Kiwaya soprano, but I did have a Kiwaya concert ukulele (which I did not play a great deal so I sold it). The Kiwaya was a fine instrument, but my preference would be the vintage Martin. I doubt very much that if you buy the Kiwaya you would take it to the beach or on a camping trip either. The chances are good right now that you can buy a good vintage Martin for slightly less money than a new Kiwaya if you are patient and shop around. Either would be a great instrument so it just depends on whether you believe you prefer new or vintage. No reason to be afraid of vintage though.

I just saw two vintage Martins, an 0 and style 1 go on ebay this week for less than $425. Cosmetic issues, maybe a crack, but my guess is great players.

under $500: http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/40309/index.php
..gone over by the best Martin set up shop in the US, if you ask me.

A kiwaya KTS4: http://elderly.com/new_instruments/names/kiwaya-kts-4-mahogany-soprano-ukulele--KTS4.htm
Prettier? Yes. Sound good? You bet. I owned one. SOLD IT. Know why?

...because my Martin vintage instrument sounded like a Martin, and I wanted a Martin sound.

Kiwayas sound like Kiwayas, and that's a great sound.

But vintage Martins--at least to these old ears--have something special. There is NO substitute. Not even a modern Martin sounds as good (although they are very good.)

So, you have to decide what sound you want, weigh it against the cosmetics, and go.

You can also get beautiful vintage Martins. I have an almost perfect one:
http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/33126/Extra.php

I paid $800 three years ago. Did I over pay? Not to me I didn't. To others--yes. I'm happy with my purchase because it is what I wanted.

My views on playability v. collectibility are maturing. I would have no problem buying a less that cosmetically perfect Martin now--it's the sound I'm after.

Chris Tarman
02-18-2013, 04:38 PM
I just saw two vintage Martins, an 0 and style 1 go on ebay this week for less than $425. Cosmetic issues, maybe a crack, but my guess is great players.

under $500: http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/40309/index.php
..gone over by the best Martin set up shop in the US, if you ask me.

A kiwaya KTS4: http://elderly.com/new_instruments/names/kiwaya-kts-4-mahogany-soprano-ukulele--KTS4.htm
Prettier? Yes. Sound good? You bet. I owned one. SOLD IT. Know why?

...because my Martin vintage instrument sounded like a Martin, and I wanted a Martin sound.

Kiwayas sound like Kiwayas, and that's a great sound.

But vintage Martins--at least to these old ears--have something special. There is NO substitute. Not even a modern Martin sounds as good (although they are very good.)

So, you have to decide what sound you want, weigh it against the cosmetics, and go.

You can also get beautiful vintage Martins. I have an almost perfect one:
http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/33126/Extra.php

I paid $800 three years ago. Did I over pay? Not to me I didn't. To others--yes. I'm happy with my purchase because it is what I wanted.

My views on playability v. collectibility are maturing. I would have no problem buying a less that cosmetically perfect Martin now--it's the sound I'm after.

What he said.

RichM
02-18-2013, 05:49 PM
Bernunzio has a 1930's Style 1K (that's right, a koa Style 1) on special this week for $995... someone should grab that.

pdxuke
02-18-2013, 05:54 PM
Bernunzio has a 1930's Style 1K (that's right, a koa Style 1) on special this week for $995... someone should grab that.

Huh. Not seeing that on sale. The one with the peg heads as tuners?

coolkayaker1
02-18-2013, 06:22 PM
Rich, you have Thom and I salivating. We both lack a koa Martin. lol I have ordered from Bernunzio twice before...great store. No complaints.

It's going to be hard to beat that vintage koa on Gryphon, though it is pricey, T.

pdxuke
02-18-2013, 06:51 PM
Rich, you have Thom and I salivating. We both lack a koa Martin. lol I have ordered from Bernunzio twice before...great store. No complaints.

It's going to be hard to beat that vintage koa on Gryphon, though it is pricey, T.

Yeah. That K on Gryphon is a beauty.

pdxuke
02-18-2013, 06:55 PM
Actually both the soprano ks they have now are lovely. The 1 from the twenties is not as pretty as the two, but man, that sound...

RichM
02-18-2013, 07:06 PM
Huh. Not seeing that on sale. The one with the peg heads as tuners?

Correct--the discount came through their email newsletter.

coolkayaker1
02-18-2013, 07:10 PM
Correct--the discount came through their email newsletter.

oh, snap!!

pdxuke
02-18-2013, 07:12 PM
oh, snap!!

snap, indeed.

teruterubouzu
02-19-2013, 01:08 AM
You guys are amazing. All of your replies are a tremendous help.


Aloha Teru,
What does that mean....I know that is not your name:) he he anyways the ukulele site does good setups...here is for your Kiwaya http://www.theukulelesite.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=kiwaya+kts+4
as on vintage martin, it is hard to select one just by model or uke...best to try them before you buy....Good Luck.... but most sound good, even the base model style O's happy strummings

Thanks, Stan. My nickname comes from a Japanese tradition of making a special doll to wish for good weather (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teru_teru_bozu). I like that meaning, but I picked up on the name after a character used it as her online name on a Japanese tv show.

I've bought two ukes from HMS (one for me and one for my boyfriend), so if I do buy the Kiwaya, it would definitely be from them. Unless I'm just looking in the wrong places, Minneapolis seems to be lacking in good places to buy/try ukes.


Hopefully this link works...

http://www.geocities.com/~ukulele/martin2.html

A pretty good site explaining the different vintage Martin ukes.

This was really helpful! Exactly the sort of site I was hoping to find to explain the different models. Thank you!


Hi there.
I'm lucky enough to own a 60's Martin and a Kiwaya KTS-4 and can honestly say that I prefer the Kiwaya.
It is so light and resonant, it really sings. The Martin has that lovely woody bark to it though, so I suppose it depends on what you're looking for? I wasn't able to try either before I bought them but was lucky to end up with two fine ukes.
A good argument to get both I reckon!

Ending up with two more ukes would not be the worst thing in the world.


I have a Kiwaya KTS-7 and three vintage Martins. You certainly can't go wrong with a Kiwaya.
I do play my Martins or my vintage Gibson more than any of my other ukes, but I mostly play at home. I have taken them on road trips and played at uke club meetings, but if I was playing publicly or traveling a lot, I would be a lot more likely to use the Kiwaya. I'm actually thinking of having a pickup installed in it just in case I ever get to the point where I play in front of an actual audience.

I don't play publicly because I'm just a beginner, so this gives me something to think about. Thanks!


terut, I'd go straight tio the Martin if I was you. The reasons are in the vintage uke thread from Oldpharte recently.

Here it is-- my opinion remains as stated in this great thread.
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?76830-Well-I-almost-joined-the-lofty-ranks-of-vintage-Martin-owners

"Don't be afraid of the man behind the curtain".

Thanks! That thread was really interesting. I like the idea of playing an instrument that had a life before me. I just worry about being the person who accidentally breaks an instrument that has survived for years before me.


I think I read around here somewhere that someone's impression was that the Ohana SK-35 and/or SK-38 sounded more like a vintage Martin than the Kiwaya KTS-4 does. Anyone?

Interesting... Thanks!


I actually meant to say this in my first post about the Kiwaya...
If you think you want a vintage Martin, then go for it. I absolutely love all three of mine. They sound fantastic and they have character. Don't be in a big hurry, and try to shop around. If you can play them ahead of time, that's best. That said, however, I bought all three of mine without playing them first. The first one (the Style 2), I bought from Elderly Instruments after about a half hour phone discussion comparing three different Martins. The other two were eBay finds (as was my Gibson).
My Style 3 had a couple of tight cracks that I got repaired (they weren't too bad or expensive). That wasn't surprising considering its 80-some years spent in a rear-loading soft bag. The Style 2 from Elderly had several repaired stable cracks when I got it. The Style 1 (which is a good twenty years younger than the other two) was nearly perfect.
Well-repaired (or easily repaired) cracks wouldn't stop me from buying a vintage instrument as a player. I suppose they might affect collector value, but I want them primarily to play.

I'm not sure how patient I am. It seems like it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a new instrument I could play right away while I then save up and hunt for the perfect for me (don't mind wear or stable cracks) vintage uke.


Agree with Chris here.


PDXUKe on UU, THom, will be listing an Ohana 38 soprano for sale soon, and invited inquiries now:
COMING FOR SALE: Ohana SK38, SK35, Martin S1, Mainland Banjo Uke (his signature). Much less expensive than Kiwaya.

Ukulelezaza playing an Ohana SK38:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kgQE1AaM5A


PS No promises a Ken Middleton designed SK38 will have you playing like Remco. lol BUt at leeats his is the only youtube Mr Sandman tutorial for uke where the "bells" (which is really the girls singing "bom bom bom bom bombom bom...") are actually played on the instrument; everyone else seems to hum that part.

And how did you know he is my favorite player? He plays ukulele in the way I dreamed of when I decided to pick up the instrument. Of course I will never play as well as him, but that sort of sound is what I'm looking for.


I have a vintage Martin that I bought a while ago and had become my main player. I only really play around the house and treat it very gingerly, but it is holding up very well and does not seem any more fragile than other ukes I have or have had. I have never played a Kiwaya except briefly at a music store so I have no input as far as that goes. Here is a thread (http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?73115-Fear-of-vintage&highlight=fear+vintage) about vintage ukes that I stared, which got thoughtful replies from people here at the UU (including some people who have commented on this thread). Good luck, I'm pretty sure that whether you chose Martin or Kiwaya you will end up with a great uke.

I do worry that I will be paranoid about breaking a vintage instrument and I have some of the same worries about buying vintage. If I do go vintage I will probably stick to trusted sellers because I do not yet have an eye for things that are minor problems vs. serious.


I love my vintage Martin (1930). It has a lovely sound is definitely the nicest sounding soprano that I've played. It wasn't particularly expensive as things go. It has a repaired top crack that is very nearly invisible and otherwise in lovely shape. It doesn't strike me as particularly fragile, so I play it as much as any of my ukes. The Style 0 ukes are still reasonably priced for vintage ukes. I'd recommend picking one up if you have a Martin jones; should you ever change your mind, it will sell easily and might even appreciate in value.

Hadn't really thought about the resale aspect. Good point. Thanks!


I have a vintage 30's/40's Martin style O. It is wonderful, and like others have said, it is not fragile. I take mine with me to jams and I don't worry about it. These were meant to be played and Martin made A LOT of them. I wouldn't take it to the beach or camping, I've got others that I wouldn't be so upset if they were banged around a bit. However, if you want a vintage Martin, go for it and play the heck out of it.

You are right, I probably wouldn't take the kiwaya in any treacherous situations either. Hmm..


:agree: This.

Buy one. Play the heck out of it. When you're done--pass it on to the next player/collector. They will buy it.

You were the first person I thought of when I decided to ask about vintage Martins. Thank you for the pep talk!


Be afraid of the vintage Martin.....be very afraid. Don't buy one!!! Leave them all for me :)


Just kidding of course. The vintage Martin is a very well made instrument, and as others have stated above it was meant to be played. I have not owned a Kiwaya soprano, but I did have a Kiwaya concert ukulele (which I did not play a great deal so I sold it). The Kiwaya was a fine instrument, but my preference would be the vintage Martin. I doubt very much that if you buy the Kiwaya you would take it to the beach or on a camping trip either. The chances are good right now that you can buy a good vintage Martin for slightly less money than a new Kiwaya if you are patient and shop around. Either would be a great instrument so it just depends on whether you believe you prefer new or vintage. No reason to be afraid of vintage though.

Ha ha! Have no fear, I don't think I'll be cornering the market on vintage Martins. I have too many other things I have to spend money on, like the electrician that's coming to my house in an hour. :(

teruterubouzu
02-19-2013, 01:09 AM
Whoa, my massive multi-quote reply was too long so I had to break it into two messages.


I just saw two vintage Martins, an 0 and style 1 go on ebay this week for less than $425. Cosmetic issues, maybe a crack, but my guess is great players.

under $500: http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/40309/index.php
..gone over by the best Martin set up shop in the US, if you ask me.

A kiwaya KTS4: http://elderly.com/new_instruments/names/kiwaya-kts-4-mahogany-soprano-ukulele--KTS4.htm
Prettier? Yes. Sound good? You bet. I owned one. SOLD IT. Know why?

...because my Martin vintage instrument sounded like a Martin, and I wanted a Martin sound.

Kiwayas sound like Kiwayas, and that's a great sound.

But vintage Martins--at least to these old ears--have something special. There is NO substitute. Not even a modern Martin sounds as good (although they are very good.)

So, you have to decide what sound you want, weigh it against the cosmetics, and go.

You can also get beautiful vintage Martins. I have an almost perfect one:
http://www.gryphonstrings.com/instpix/33126/Extra.php

I paid $800 three years ago. Did I over pay? Not to me I didn't. To others--yes. I'm happy with my purchase because it is what I wanted.

My views on playability v. collectibility are maturing. I would have no problem buying a less that cosmetically perfect Martin now--it's the sound I'm after.

Thank you for the link to Gryphon! I did not know about them. I do have a certain look I want, but I don't mind wear and tear as long as the instrument plays well. The care concerns me though. My main worry about vintage relates to me messing up an instrument that survived before I touched it.



You all have given me a lot to think about. This place is full of such great advice and helpful folks. Thank you!

coolkayaker1
02-19-2013, 01:45 AM
Reminder, t, is that Pdxuke is putting up that sk38 vintage Martin clone from his collection. If you want to buy now and save up for a vintage, that might be the way to go. Hey, it's good enough for Remco. PM Thom, aka pdxuke for details.

teruterubouzu
02-19-2013, 02:17 AM
Reminder, t, is that Pdxuke is putting up that sk38 vintage Martin clone from his collection. If you want to buy now and save up for a vintage, that might be the way to go. Hey, it's good enough for Remco. PM Thom, aka pdxuke for details.

Whoops, I missed that bit. Do you think the sk38 stacks up well against the kiwaya kts-4? I don't want to buy a placeholder uke if that makes any sense. I feel like Remco could make anything sing! Me, not so much.