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View Full Version : talk to me about your Martin T1K, please



janeray1940
11-26-2013, 07:22 AM
Aloha UU... some of you who know me might be familiar with my ongoing, waxing and waning "tenor envy." The short version: tiny hands that can't form barre chords well on anything larger than a concert uke, but a tendency to play a lot of classical pieces that go really high up the neck, resulting in a plinky, less-than-satisfactory sound on the higher frets.

I've got a Mexico-made Martin T1K tenor in my possession for a test-drive right now, and - I'm leaning toward making it mine. The neck is much slimmer than most tenors I've tried; it's really easy to play and sounds great. Intonation is a little flat on the first string past the 12th fret, but I'm hoping a string change can resolve this. Barre chords in first position are still kind of clumsy, so whether or not I can adapt remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, I'd like to hear from others who own this instrument - do you love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between? I'm actually really impressed by how good it sounds, and how nice it is to play, for the price. Curious to know what others think of this model.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!

Mattyukaholic
11-26-2013, 08:08 AM
Hopefully someone with the T1k will post soon. I've been looking into the C1k and every review I've seen have been really positive. Here's one about the concert from gx9901:

http://gx9901ukes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/fine-senorita.html?m=1

janeray1940
11-26-2013, 08:13 AM
Hopefully someone with the T1k will post soon. I've been looking into the C1k and every review I've seen have been really positive. Here's one about the concert from gx9901:

http://gx9901ukes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/fine-senorita.html?m=1

Thanks, I hadn't even thought of looking at reviews of the concert size version. For the tenor, there's also this (www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMRZNANdO8M) which sounds really similar in tone to the one in my possession right now.

Dan Uke
11-26-2013, 08:32 AM
I thought you were a Kamaka girl? The concert longnecks have very thin necks. The downside is that they are significantly more expensive than a Martin but then again, it's a Kamaka

Doc_J
11-26-2013, 08:33 AM
Speaking of mahogany tenors, have you tried a Collings UT1?

Are you playing it reentrant or low g? Putting a low g on a tenor for the first time is almost a religious experience. :)

janeray1940
11-26-2013, 08:39 AM
I thought you were a Kamaka girl? The concert longnecks have very thin necks. The downside is that they are significantly more expensive than a Martin but then again, it's a Kamaka

I think I tried your concert longneck and it seemed quite playable to me - the downside (other than cost) is that it's near impossible to buy one unless I do so sight-unseen. And I've got a lousy track record with sight-unseen ukes - I really prefer to try before I buy. If yours ever comes up for sale again and I'm not flat broke, we should talk...

And - the Martin in question has a strap button attached, so I'm actually able to test it out the way I really play, which has given me a bit of an advantage :)

janeray1940
11-26-2013, 08:41 AM
Speaking of mahogany tenors, have you tried a Collings UT1?

Are you playing it reentrant or low g? Putting a low g on a tenor for the first time is almost a religious experience. :)

Funny you should bring that up - I've tried a couple of Collings tenors. LOVED one, HATED the other - they were that different.

Right now the Martin is strung reentrant with Aquilas, but as soon my LaBella flatwound arrives from Uke Republic, I'm restringing it with that and Martin M620s.

UkerDanno
11-26-2013, 09:02 AM
definitely try the Martin strings, I have a C1K and love the sound and simple look of it...and for a solid koa, the price is great! Compared to aquilas, I think the MArtins will give a brighter sound and probably help the intonation.

strumsilly
11-26-2013, 11:56 AM
I don't own one, but have played several at music stores, and was favorably impressed. I think it's a very nice uke for the price. I thought I preferred wider necks until I got a hold of a Martin bari. The slightly narrower neck [ 1 3/8 vs 1 1/2 ] really makes a bari much easier to play [for me ]

janeray1940
11-26-2013, 12:02 PM
definitely try the Martin strings, I have a C1K and love the sound and simple look of it...and for a solid koa, the price is great! Compared to aquilas, I think the MArtins will give a brighter sound and probably help the intonation.

I'm with you on this - the simple look is very appealing to me. The Aquilas are sounding pretty bright as it is, but I have a feeling I'm going to prefer the Martins.


I don't own one, but have played several at music stores, and was favorably impressed. I think it's a very nice uke for the price. I thought I preferred wider necks until I got a hold of a Martin bari. The slightly narrower neck [ 1 3/8 vs 1 1/2 ] really makes a bari much easier to play [for me ]

The neck on the Martin is narrower than the neck on my Kiwaya KS-0P soprano, amazingly enough. I'm really surprised at how easy the Martin is to play - really underscores the whole "try before you buy" discussion for me, as I really doubt that any online discussion could have convinced me that I'd be able to play a tenor comfortably.

And the price makes the whole decision a lot easier - if I end up not totally committing to playing it all the time, I won't feel bad about keeping it around to play "sometimes" as I would if I invested in a pricier instrument.

RichM
11-26-2013, 12:22 PM
While I don't own a T1K, I've played several in shops and have been favorably impressed. The biggest issues I've seen has been inconsistency; at one shop, two visually nearly identical ukes sounded very different-- one bright and punchy, the other dull and blah. You've already overcome that issue by having one in your hands that you really like the sound of. If you strip away some folks' obsession with their instrument's country of origin, you have an all-solid koa uke at a very agreeable price. And I imagine the Martin name will help guarantee a reasonable resale value if it doesn't become one of your go-to instruments.

janeray1940
11-26-2013, 12:33 PM
While I don't own a T1K, I've played several in shops and have been favorably impressed. The biggest issues I've seen has been inconsistency; at one shop, two visually nearly identical ukes sounded very different-- one bright and punchy, the other dull and blah. You've already overcome that issue by having one in your hands that you really like the sound of. If you strip away some folks' obsession with their instrument's country of origin, you have an all-solid koa uke at a very agreeable price. And I imagine the Martin name will help guarantee a reasonable resale value if it doesn't become one of your go-to instruments.

I've actually found that true with just about every brand of uke I've owned or tried - two identical instruments sound and/or play completely differently. Doesn't matter if it's a mass-produced import or a K-brand - some are just better than others. I think this is a good one!

As far as the country of origin goes - I do try to buy U.S.-made whenever possible, not just with ukes but with other products as well. Sometimes it's nearly impossible (electronics, for instance) so I do try to be flexible about it - I'm not so rigid about it that I'd rule this one out because of its country of origin.

Maiden Uke
11-27-2013, 03:41 AM
I have a T1K, bought here on UU, over six months ago. I am very happy with it's sound and looks. I think it is beautiful in it's simplicity.

The T1K is my main player right now. The smaller nut width and slim neck profile are very comfortable for my small hands.

It came strung with Orcas, which I had never heard of, but researched to find that they are made in Japan, and reviews say they are similar to Fremont Blacklines. The original Martin strings were not available as the seller had already switched them out to another Uke. I've been pleased with the tone, volume and playability. After reading a lot about different types of strings, I'm curious about trying Martin 620's or Worth Browns on it.

I think as you play the T1K, you will be able to decide whether it is a good fit for you.

Hochapeafarm
11-27-2013, 07:07 AM
Hello, I recently (a couple of months ago or so) purchased a Mexican-made Martin T1K tenor and I absolutely LOVE mine -- I went through an inordinate amount of ukes to find one that I can play without pain and play comfortably. This Martin is the answer for me, hands down. Mine did come with the Martin M620s and I did like them a lot...however, I am a Low G girl, so I bought some Low G PhDs -- love 'em. I feel my instrument was made with care and attention to detail; I love the solid Koa sound, especially with the Low G. I give this uke a 10/10! :-)

janeray1940
11-27-2013, 07:21 AM
I have a T1K, bought here on UU, over six months ago. I am very happy with it's sound and looks. I think it is beautiful in it's simplicity.

The T1K is my main player right now. The smaller nut width and slim neck profile are very comfortable for my small hands.

It came strung with Orcas, which I had never heard of, but researched to find that they are made in Japan, and reviews say they are similar to Fremont Blacklines. The original Martin strings were not available as the seller had already switched them out to another Uke. I've been pleased with the tone, volume and playability. After reading a lot about different types of strings, I'm curious about trying Martin 620's or Worth Browns on it.

I think as you play the T1K, you will be able to decide whether it is a good fit for you.


Hello, I recently (a couple of months ago or so) purchased a Mexican-made Martin T1K tenor and I absolutely LOVE mine -- I went through an inordinate amount of ukes to find one that I can play without pain and play comfortably. This Martin is the answer for me, hands down. Mine did come with the Martin M620s and I did like them a lot...however, I am a Low G girl, so I bought some Low G PhDs -- love 'em. I feel my instrument was made with care and attention to detail; I love the solid Koa sound, especially with the Low G. I give this uke a 10/10! :-)

Thank you both for the feedback on the comfort factor - I'm finding it to be true for me too.

I put a Fremont Soloist low G string on the T1K, and it sounds great. I've got some M620s on the way but I also have some PhDs on hand, so I'll probably end up trying both. Pretty sure this one is going to be a keeper - I can see this being my dedicated low G uke, freeing up my concert uke to go reentrant once again...

dalamaricus
11-27-2013, 09:06 AM
I've tried a couple of T1Ks at Gryphon and liked them. One time they had a used T1K that was much richer and fuller sounding than the new one next to it. I don't know if that just happened to be a better instrument or if it had opened up well. If it's the latter then you have something to look forward to!

Hochapeafarm
11-27-2013, 03:05 PM
I've tried a couple of T1Ks at Gryphon and liked them. One time they had a used T1K that was much richer and fuller sounding than the new one next to it. I don't know if that just happened to be a better instrument or if it had opened up well. If it's the latter then you have something to look forward to!

I concur with dalamaricus -- I tried one at a different store initially before I bought the one that I have. That particular one didn't "do it" for me, for some reason. But, then I tried another one at this other music store and I was blown away by the sound -- and how the instrument played. This isn't to say that the first one I tried was "bad" (or anything at all of the sort), but they are, I think, each unique and they have their own voices. I would say in the two months that I've had mine, it has opened up even more. In fact, I just actually thought to myself when I played last night, "Wow, this sounds crazy-cool -- I think she's opened up more!" But, she sure sounded awesome to me from the first strum, regardless! Hope you keep your Martin T1K, janeray1940. :-)

janeray1940
11-27-2013, 03:14 PM
I've tried a couple of T1Ks at Gryphon and liked them. One time they had a used T1K that was much richer and fuller sounding than the new one next to it. I don't know if that just happened to be a better instrument or if it had opened up well. If it's the latter then you have something to look forward to!


I concur with dalamaricus -- I tried one at a different store initially before I bought the one that I have. That particular one didn't "do it" for me, for some reason. But, then I tried another one at this other music store and I was blown away by the sound -- and how the instrument played. This isn't to say that the first one I tried was "bad" (or anything at all of the sort), but they are, I think, each unique and they have their own voices. I would say in the two months that I've had mine, it has opened up even more. In fact, I just actually thought to myself when I played last night, "Wow, this sounds crazy-cool -- I think she's opened up more!" But, she sure sounded awesome to me from the first strum, regardless! Hope you keep your Martin T1K, janeray1940. :-)

It's the sounds-great-from-the-first strum that I tend to trust. I've played for some years now and to this day I have absolutely no idea if any of my instruments have "opened up" - when they start sounding better, I generally think it's because I've become a better player more than anything else :)

PeteyHoudini
11-28-2013, 01:11 PM
Hi!

I have a T1K but I'm also the one who did that review you linked to. hehe When I was at a music store in Montreal a few years back, there was a T1K and an S1 on the wall. I actually preferred the sound of the T1K and bought it right away. Definitely put the M620 strings back on it. The sound of my T1K is great. The one downside is that the action is pretty high on it and makes playing difficult higher up. I'm not sure the intonation is bang on after the 12th fret. Someone said that about my video where I play up real high. Best for you to change the strings and test it out for awhile. If you're not happy with the intonation, then don't do it. It'll make you not want to pick it up.

I actually have a new 2k tenor and now that is one heck of a uke. I plan on doing a three tenors comparison video (T1K, style 2 tenor, 2k tenor) in January 2014. I've got too many things on the go right now and December is busy with Christmas and all. I can honestly say that the 2k tenor is worth the cash if you like the T1K sound. I bought the style 2 tenor after the T1K but I prefer the T1K sound actually. However, that made me think of 2k tenor and I waited 10 months to get it fresh from the Martin factory and that is the tenor uke I've long wanted. Its sound is more like the T1K than the style 2 but more refined, and the action and overall playability is way better. So, you might consider that instrument if you have a hidden piggy bank around stashed with gold coins! ;-) hehe

I also have the new 2k concert uke and I love it. I played the C1K at the music store in Toronto a month ago and it was interesting, but the 2k concert won out hands down so I bought it on the spot. It's strange I prefer Martin's larger ukes (concert and tenor) in koa to the mahogany. I also have a style 2 concert in mahogany but I prefer the 2k. However, I prefer the mahogany soprano ukes to the koa! I can't figure out the contradiction! hehe

Anyway, you know best the uke you're looking for!

Petey

janeray1940
11-28-2013, 05:04 PM
Hi!

I have a T1K but I'm also the one who did that review you linked to. hehe When I was at a music store in Montreal a few years back, there was a T1K and an S1 on the wall. I actually preferred the sound of the T1K and bought it right away. Definitely put the M620 strings back on it. The sound of my T1K is great. The one downside is that the action is pretty high on it and makes playing difficult higher up. I'm not sure the intonation is bang on after the 12th fret. Someone said that about my video where I play up real high. Best for you to change the strings and test it out for awhile. If you're not happy with the intonation, then don't do it. It'll make you not want to pick it up.

I actually have a new 2k tenor and now that is one heck of a uke. I plan on doing a three tenors comparison video (T1K, style 2 tenor, 2k tenor) in January 2014. I've got too many things on the go right now and December is busy with Christmas and all. I can honestly say that the 2k tenor is worth the cash if you like the T1K sound. I bought the style 2 tenor after the T1K but I prefer the T1K sound actually. However, that made me think of 2k tenor and I waited 10 months to get it fresh from the Martin factory and that is the tenor uke I've long wanted. Its sound is more like the T1K than the style 2 but more refined, and the action and overall playability is way better. So, you might consider that instrument if you have a hidden piggy bank around stashed with gold coins! ;-) hehe

I also have the new 2k concert uke and I love it. I played the C1K at the music store in Toronto a month ago and it was interesting, but the 2k concert won out hands down so I bought it on the spot. It's strange I prefer Martin's larger ukes (concert and tenor) in koa to the mahogany. I also have a style 2 concert in mahogany but I prefer the 2k. However, I prefer the mahogany soprano ukes to the koa! I can't figure out the contradiction! hehe

Anyway, you know best the uke you're looking for!

Petey

Petey, thanks for the detailed response! Really interesting to hear your koa vs. mahogany preferences. I tend to prefer koa ukes in general, yet of the ukes I own I play a mahogany soprano the most.

I can only wish I had a "hidden piggy bank" around somewhere. If I have one, I've misplaced it :) I'll have to admit, part of the appeal of this uke is the wallet-friendly price - I tend to gravitate toward much higher-priced instruments (hence only owning a few) and it would be really nice to have a uke that doesn't cost the equivalent of a month's rent! But I can also see myself going down the road you mentioned: seeking out a US-made Martin at some future point. And so it begins... Hoping the new strings will take care of the intonation issue. I actually can't hear it, but my tuner can, and that's enough to bother me.

I'm really looking forward to your comparison of the three tenors.

coolkayaker1
11-28-2013, 06:09 PM
Janeray1940, I read this thread with interest. I haven't mentioned this until now, because, I thought the T1k was a "shoe in" since it was in your hand.

I might suggest to you a vintage Martin tenor. Friction tuners, which I know you're not afraid of from your past ownership and threads. Excellent intonation (I don't know why, they just do have it). I think your buddy peewee has one for you to try. How much? The entire ukulele market is softening (as one can see from KoAloha Pineapples, Mya Moes, Kanileas and other popular ukes languishing on UU Marketplace currently), so that means a "buyers" market. Vintage Martins tend to go from $800 to $1200, but prices are deflating a bit. Probably can get a sweet one for $900 (which is more than the $500 t1K, admittedly) and be resold for about the same--or more, in years ahead.

Plus, from what I know of you, a vintage tenor would be fitting for your personality. Perhaps you could even get a 1940! Just a thought. :-)

janeray1940
11-28-2013, 06:16 PM
Janeray1940, I read this thread with interest. I haven't mentioned this until now, because, I thought the T1k was a "shoe in" since it was in your hand.

I might suggest to you a vintage Martin tenor. Friction tuners, which I know you're not afraid of from your past ownership and threads. Excellent intonation (I don't know why, they just do have it). I think your buddy peewee has one for you to try. How much? The entire ukulele market is softening (as one can see from KoAloha Pineapples, Mya Moes, Kanileas and other popular ukes languishing on UU Marketplace currently), so that means a "buyers" market. Vintage Martins tend to go from $800 to $1200, but prices are deflating a bit. Probably can get a sweet one for $900 (which is more than the $500 t1K, admittedly) and be resold for about the same--or more, in years ahead.

Just a thought. :-)

And a good thought it is. I've tried peewee's Martin tenor, and that's actually what rekindled my tenor envy in the first place! I had given up on ever finding a tenor that was comfortable to play until I tried that one.

Realistically though - they rarely come up for sale where I can actually try it in person (and as you may remember from past posts of mine, my track record with sight-unseen instruments is poor - I've rehomed every last one). And the few I've seen were well upwards of $1000 - when talking that kind of money, I'd be inclined to have Mike DaSilva build me another plane-Jane custom in a bigger size.

Also - bridge pins. They fill me with terror! :)

Dan Uke
11-28-2013, 07:24 PM
And a good thought it is. I've tried peewee's Martin tenor, and that's actually what rekindled my tenor envy in the first place! I had given up on ever finding a tenor that was comfortable to play until I tried that one.

Realistically though - they rarely come up for sale where I can actually try it in person (and as you may remember from past posts of mine, my track record with sight-unseen instruments is poor - I've rehomed every last one). And the few I've seen were well upwards of $1000 - when talking that kind of money, I'd be inclined to have Mike DaSilva build me another plane-Jane custom in a bigger size.

Also - bridge pins. They fill me with terror! :)

Good luck...the only advice I can give is what Coolkayaker mentions in that the street price is $500. Don't rely on the prices from McCabes as they tend to sell at MSRP which is higher.

janeray1940
11-29-2013, 05:01 PM
Good luck...the only advice I can give is what Coolkayaker mentions in that the street price is $500. Don't rely on the prices from McCabes as they tend to sell at MSRP which is higher.

Oh yeah, well aware of that, and usually I am okay with the higher price since it's backed up by a return policy and some degree of tech support. But this is from a private seller - haven't settled on a price yet but I know what my upper limit is.

In other tenor-related news, I had the good fortune to play a Collings UT3-K today. Holy. Moly!!! :)

Doc_J
11-29-2013, 08:05 PM
Oh yeah, well aware of that, and usually I am okay with the higher price since it's backed up by a return policy and some degree of tech support. But this is from a private seller - haven't settled on a price yet but I know what my upper limit is.

In other tenor-related news, I had the good fortune to play a Collings UT3-K today. Holy. Moly!!! :)

I'm guessing it was a good sounding Collings. :)

janeray1940
11-29-2013, 08:18 PM
I'm guessing it was a good sounding Collings. :)

Nah, it was terrible. So awful that I strongly suggested that its owner surrender it to me so that I could protect the world from its offensive sound and outrageously bad looks... :)

It was lovely. Sigh. I'm such a sucker for the fancy ukes!

PeteyHoudini
11-30-2013, 01:39 PM
Petey, thanks for the detailed response! Really interesting to hear your koa vs. mahogany preferences. I tend to prefer koa ukes in general, yet of the ukes I own I play a mahogany soprano the most.

I can only wish I had a "hidden piggy bank" around somewhere. If I have one, I've misplaced it :) I'll have to admit, part of the appeal of this uke is the wallet-friendly price - I tend to gravitate toward much higher-priced instruments (hence only owning a few) and it would be really nice to have a uke that doesn't cost the equivalent of a month's rent! But I can also see myself going down the road you mentioned: seeking out a US-made Martin at some future point. And so it begins... Hoping the new strings will take care of the intonation issue. I actually can't hear it, but my tuner can, and that's enough to bother me.

I'm really looking forward to your comparison of the three tenors.

Thanks. Glad my comments could help. 8-) I try to respond to any new Martin inquiries I see on this forum due to my experience with them but I easily miss seeing messages as I've got so much going and I'm not as much on the forum these days.

I understand your comment about a uke being worth a month's rent or more. I live in an apartment so I understand that comment very well. My USA MADE Martin ukes cost $250 more than my rent (not including sales taxes). As I said before, if you have doubts about a uke, don't buy it. You'll regret it. Don't trust tuners totally especially when going up the fretboard and looking at their values. If it sounds good, then that is good enough.

Yeah, the 3 tenors review has been on my mind for awhile hehe Of course that won't include the 1T IZ tenor. I don't want that one. I'm just working on "La Habanera" from the opera Carmen to sing and play for the three tenors review plus a Schumann instrumental called "Wilder Reiter" that I arranged for the tenor. December is a write off with pre-Xmas parties, etc... and family visits. End of January is more likely.

Good luck with your decision.

Petey

janeray1940
12-02-2013, 12:17 PM
So, a twist in the story: for the first time ever since I started playing ukulele, my fretting hand started to hurt. Really badly! Up until now, I didn't have any pain problems in my hands and I don't exactly want any, so - I've decided this is the universe's way of telling me to give up this whole crazy tenor notion and be happy with what I've got. The Martin is returning to its owner tonight :(

Thanks to everybody who provided feedback!

PeteyHoudini
12-02-2013, 01:39 PM
So, a twist in the story: for the first time ever since I started playing ukulele, my fretting hand started to hurt. Really badly! Up until now, I didn't have any pain problems in my hands and I don't exactly want any, so - I've decided this is the universe's way of telling me to give up this whole crazy tenor notion and be happy with what I've got. The Martin is returning to its owner tonight :(

Thanks to everybody who provided feedback!

Reminds me of the story about the new winter boots I bought last December 2012. I wore them for a week and suddenly I got such a pain in my left foot's arches that I had to go to the doctor and get anti-inflammatories. I stopped wearing those new boots and it went away. It's a year later now and it's snowed quite a bit up here in Ottawa, Canada so I feeling, cheapish, and not wanting to buy new boots. So, I started to wear these boots from last year as a kind of crazy test. No pain so far. LOL It's all about gambling. hehe

All the best,

Petey

bazmaz
12-02-2013, 08:27 PM
I think they are superb ukes for the money. Reviewed one very highly here

http://www.gotaukulele.com/2012/09/martin-t1k-tenor-ukulele-review.html