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View Full Version : How can I date a vintage Martin Style 3?



cigarfan
10-14-2013, 02:37 PM
I believe this specimen is from the 1940s but I can't be certain. Are there any markings or other clues that would date it? I know it has the logo on the headstock and not stamped on the back. That changed in the 30s?

598365983759838

soupking
10-14-2013, 02:45 PM
That newer 'cause it's parend-less. I think they started in the '40s doing them that way. Paging Dr. Tarman...

RichM
10-14-2013, 03:05 PM
Buy it a nice dinner and ask it a lot of questions about itself.

HBolte
10-14-2013, 03:14 PM
It does not have the stripes on the finger board either, that puts it in the mid 50's. I'm not at home so don't have Tom Walsh's book with me to pinpoint it further.

coolkayaker1
10-14-2013, 03:15 PM
Martin eliminated the "mustache", which is really called a parend, at the base of the instrument in 1950. Yours is post-1950.

Martin eliminated the fretboard "stripe" and used the seven dot pattern in 1955, if this is true of yours (and I think it is from the photo), yours is post 1955.

Finally, Martin added Made In USA in the sound hole in 1960. If yours does not have this, then yours is 1955-1960, specifically.

(If yours does have this Made In America, and I can't see it in the photo, it is post-1960).

I'm not a Martin savante, and I'm not even a Chris Tarman; all here is according to Walsh/King.

I think, but do not know, that Remco ('zaza) is playing that vintage Martin 3 in this fabulous video (while the uke vintage could be challenged, the fabulousness of the video is without dispute).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQxOV9AFC5g
Why do I guess 1955-60 style 3 and not a style 2 for Remco? The seven fretboard dot pattern. Again, a guess. I think they are lovely, and do reflect a time of cost cutting for Martin, who essentially emasculated the Martin 3 style to save some hand work, but, thankfully, later reinstated the parend and striped fretboard in the latest models. (that very last line is opinion only). Yours, or the one pictured, is in stunning condition, cigar. A worthy part of a Martin 3 serial collection. Thank you for sharing it. There is one like it on eBay now, same vintage (I emailed the seller that his dates are wrong, but he didn;t change the listing) but he's asking an arm and a leg for it. It's only worth an arm.

cigarfan
10-14-2013, 03:55 PM
Martin eliminated the "mustache", which is really called a parend, at the base of the instrument in 1950. Yours is post-1950.

Martin eliminated the fretboard "stripe" and used the seven dot pattern in 1955, if this is true of yours (and I think it is from the photo), yours is post 1955.

Finally, Martin added Made In USA in the sound hole in 1960. If yours does not have this, then yours is 1955-1960, specifically.

(If yours does have this Made In America, and I can't see it in the photo, it is post-1960).

I'm not a Martin savante, and I'm not even a Chris Tarman; all here is according to Walsh/King.

I think, but do not know, that Remco ('zaza) is playing that vintage Martin 3 in this fabulous video (while the uke vintage could be challenged, the fabulousness of the video is without repute).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQxOV9AFC5g
Why do I guess 1955-60 style 3 and not a style 2 for Remco? The seven fretboard dot pattern. Again, a guess. I think they are lovely, and do reflect a time of cost cutting for Martin, who essentially emasculated the Martin 3 style to save some hand work, but, thankfully, later reinstated the parend and striped fretboard in the latest models. (that very last line is opinion only). Yours, or the one pictured, is in stunning condition, cigar. A worthy part of a Martin 3 serial collection. Thank you for sharing it. There is one like it on eBay now, same vintage (I emailed the seller that his dates are wrong, but he didn;t change the listing) but he's asking an arm and a leg for it. It's only worth an arm.

Thanks coolkayaker1. Appreciate the complete answer. And you are right, it does have seven dots on the fretboard.

59839

coolkayaker1
10-17-2013, 05:52 AM
It's a fine specimen, cigar. I hope you keep it, play it and enjoy it. It's keen.

cigarfan
10-17-2013, 08:03 AM
Thanks Steve. Based on the many discussions here on UU regarding vintage ukes I wanted to give one a shot. I'm very much looking forward to it. Probably paid too much but I'm learning. Ordered the Walsh/King book on Martin Ukes. Would like to get smart on the subject. I'll post some better pics when it arrives.

coolkayaker1
10-19-2013, 03:39 PM
Dennis, Steve here. Yes, I'd love to see more photos when it arrives. We all pay too much for ukes--then when they double in price in 5 years, we're glad we did. lol That is a very interesting 3 you're getting because it was only made like that for short years.

cigarfan
10-20-2013, 12:51 AM
When it arrived it was caseless, had 50 year old strings and my guess is severely de-hydrated. No cracks thank goodness. I have it in a case with an Oasis for a rejuvenation period after which I will clean it up and change strings. Even with the ancient strings I can hear how nice it sounds. Photos coming.

Cornfield
10-20-2013, 02:36 AM
Buy it a nice dinner and ask it a lot of questions about itself.

That is where I was going to go to :)
You can tell when a vintage uke wants to be asked out on a date. She'll be wearing a cowgirl hat.

ichadwick
10-20-2013, 05:54 AM
...clues that would date it?

Maybe if you bring it flowers...

cigarfan
10-21-2013, 05:38 AM
I appreciate all the advice but my little vintage Martin keeps telling me she is 29 and I know that can't be true. Flowers, candy and conversation hasn't cut the mustard and she's not wearing a cowboy hat ... where do I turn from here? LOL

RichM
10-21-2013, 06:38 AM
When it arrived it was caseless, had 50 year old strings and my guess is severely de-hydrated. No cracks thank goodness. I have it in a case with an Oasis for a rejuvenation period after which I will clean it up and change strings. Even with the ancient strings I can hear how nice it sounds. Photos coming.

The old Martins are the best. They have a unique tone that is all their own. Maybe I'm taken in by the mists of the past, but I've never heard a modern uke that has the tone or the mojo of a vintage Martin. We are very fortunate that they are not only plentiful, but still pretty reasonably priced.

Chris Tarman
10-21-2013, 05:53 PM
Sorry I didn't see this earlier.. I was running a half marathon in Utah this weekend. Yes, I agree with Steve. '55-'60 (if no MADE IN USA stamp inside). I prefer the older styling with the parend and striped fingerboard, but ANY Style 3 is a great uke! And that one is in fantastic condition. Good score!

Chris Tarman
10-21-2013, 05:57 PM
Now, you guys calling me "Dr. Tarman" need to keep in mind that I've actually only ever handled TWO vintage Style 3s... Mine, and a '40s (still had the parend and stripes but had ROUND dot position markers) that belongs to a guy I know in my town who doesn't play ukulele and wasn't interested in selling it. It's hanging on his wall... Gah!
In fact, other than that Style 3 that doesn't belong to me, I think I've only played two other vintage Martins besides the three I own. That should be changing this coming May though, if all goes according to plan... heh heh heh.....

cigarfan
10-22-2013, 02:51 AM
Thanks Chris. I can confirm, no "Made in USA" stamp inside so 55' - '60 is right on. Put a set of Living Water strings on and she has come alive. Of course anything would be better than the 50-yr old strings that were on it! It is quite a challenge to stabilize strings with the old tuners. I'm hoping it gets easier. The sound is incredible though. Awesome!

cigarfan
10-22-2013, 03:09 AM
BTW guys, what is a good case to fit a Martin Style 3? The length of neck seems a little short for those I've measured.

coolkayaker1
10-22-2013, 02:51 PM
I think I've only played two other vintage Martins besides the three I own. That should be changing this coming May though, if all goes according to plan... heh heh heh..... Indeed, Dr. Tarman. Indeed.

Chris Tarman
10-22-2013, 06:33 PM
BTW guys, what is a good case to fit a Martin Style 3? The length of neck seems a little short for those I've measured.

I have mine (and also my Style 1) in a Guardian case that I got from Elderly. It's not great, but it fits Martins nicely and it does have a somewhat vintage look. I really like the padded handle and the green plush interior. If I was traveling or packing it around a lot, I might try to find a better one, but for my purposes that one works just fine.

cigarfan
11-07-2013, 01:41 AM
As promised, a few photos of my new Martin Style 3 dating back somewhere between 1955 and 1959 as indicated by the good folks here. My understanding is the original owner was a player so there are a few typical wear marks from a uke this old but overall I would call the condition "very good" and the sound is as you would expect from a vintage Martin.

http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2964.JPG

http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2965.JPG

http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2966.JPG

cigarfan
11-07-2013, 01:41 AM
http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2967.JPG

http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2968.JPG

http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2969.JPG

cigarfan
11-07-2013, 01:42 AM
http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2970.JPG

http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2971.JPG

http://home.comcast.net/~dglair/pwpimages/DSCN2973.JPG

coolkayaker1
11-07-2013, 02:25 AM
Dennis, Dennis, Dennis. That ukulele is amazing! You call it very good shape, I call it excellent. I have, and have seen, many Martins that are of much lesser condition. It is truly an exquisite example of a Martin that can be dated to a very specific period--as you say, '55-'60. Many Martins were from a much more broad period of time and thus more difficult to date.

I don't believe Martin made many Style 3s during that period of time. I could be wrong, but, Arthur Godfrey's show peaked in approx. 1953 (before he fired Larosa "on air"), and he was on a steady decline for the latter half of the 1950s, and completely off the air (except specials) after 1960. At that time, ukulele popularity mimed Godfrey's popularity. The poor uke, I'm guessing suffered.

And the uke's suffering in late 1950s sales is now Dennis's distinct gain in uke value.

Hey, ho, that's a Keeper, with a capital "K"! Love it!

cigarfan
11-07-2013, 02:42 AM
Thanks Steve. As you know I am new to this vintage thing. I edited the dates to read 1955-1959 since the the "Made in U.S.A." stamp added in 1960 is clearly not there.

The total Style 3 Sopranos made in the 1955-1959 time period (per the Walsh/King book) is 375 ('55-100; '56-75; '57-100; '58-50; '59-50). Yes, I did pick up the book. Certainly well worth it.

coolkayaker1
11-07-2013, 02:49 AM
Dennis: Oh, you do have the book. You might consider, if not already, signing up for the free Four String Farmhouse Forum.


http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/forums/8/t/The-Four-String-Farmhouse.html#.Unub8PlQHNE

They'd dig seeing your photos, too. They may have more information about your uke (ukulelezaza is a member, and I think he has yours also, judging from that video I linked below). All Martin enthusiasts, and some from UU, too (Chris Tarman, Gary G, Terry, etc.)

Correct to edit out 1960, with the Made in USA Stamp added (although, I think it was added sometime during 1960, not at year's start, so a few niggling 3s may have been made in 1960 w/out the Made In USA stamp).

375. only 375! That is a LOW number. I think I'm going to faint.

Wait...yes...I'm definitely fainting nooooowww. --Steve

coolkayaker1
06-12-2015, 11:16 PM
80585Thank you to Dennis, who is an exceptional UUer. The ever-elusive pirend-less, fretboard stripe-less, Deco 3 of the late 1950s sounds as demure as it looks.

Anyone ever considering a ukulele purchase from Dennis, he's great. And he owns a vintage Martin guitar that'll knock your socks off!

cigarfan
06-13-2015, 02:58 AM
Glad you are enjoying that sweet little soprano Steve. Few ukes are able to rival the tone of a vintage Martin. And thanks for the kind words. Appreciate your contribution to the funding of my 000-42. ;)

tbeltrans
06-13-2015, 03:12 AM
I have mine (and also my Style 1) in a Guardian case that I got from Elderly. It's not great, but it fits Martins nicely and it does have a somewhat vintage look. I really like the padded handle and the green plush interior. If I was traveling or packing it around a lot, I might try to find a better one, but for my purposes that one works just fine.

Guardian cases seem fine to me. I have one for my 1925 Martin 2K soprano, even though it also has the original case. I just don't want that original case to get damaged. The Guardian cases are reasonably priced and fit these little Martins quite well.

Tony

Pukulele Pete
06-13-2015, 04:08 AM
Geez , when I got my Style 2 last year I thought i would never need
another ukulele . Thought I was all set. Now , because of this thread
I have realized I need a Style 3 .

Pukulele Pete
06-13-2015, 04:18 AM
Just want to add , You can get a genuine Martin case at Elderly Instruments that will fit like a glove.

tbeltrans
06-13-2015, 12:25 PM
Geez , when I got my Style 2 last year I thought i would never need
another ukulele . Thought I was all set. Now , because of this thread
I have realized I need a Style 3 .

I hope that doesn't happen to me. I just wanted one of each of soprano, concert, and tenor. I have that now. Rather than necessarily wanting to collect vintage Martins, that was what sounded good to me in a soprano, so I got one. I really hope I don't turn into a collector of either ukuleles or vintage Martins. However, it will only be in hindsight that I will know whether that happens or not.

Tony