View Full Version : NUD/RUD.... Martins

04-02-2014, 11:49 AM
Oh boy..... The Martin T1K I ordered from Elderly arrived today, and looked as homely as it sounded. The headstock was semi-gloss around the logo, but rest of that plate was matte. I don't know if they rub adhesive around for the logo, but that was weird. The Koa looked like something that was anything but Koa. The G and C strings were clear, and the E and A strings more opaque (but not Aquila opaque). Since I had a set of Martin 620 strings on my desk, I looked and they're all clear.

The tone was very much like the C1K, but with a bit more volume. My Kala Asov tenor (solid spruce top/solid ovangkol B&S) beat its pants off in terms of volume, and no string change was going to make the Martin that much louder. I thought it was odd, because the few reviews of the T1K I've seen mentioned how loud it is. The Kala has a deeper and somewhat larger body. The frets were guitar size, and felt like speed bumps compared to my other ukes (including the two C1Ks). That's good and bad I suppose. I do prefer a larger fret, but these were a bit of a surprise. It also had a very slight gap along the neck/body joint. It was wrapped back up and shipped out less than an hour later. I didn't take a pic, but man that Koa looked sickly.

The first C1K we bought is tops. Warm sound, better than expected volume, and looks great. The second is still in question. It doesn't have the warmth of the first, but does have a nice crisp tone. The first's thuddy note is F#, and the second's falls on G. Thuddy notes on open strings bug the heck out of me, and you can hear the open G string bark when playing chords. I'm getting tired of paying for shipping, so the barking G string C1K has one more day to make the cut. What Imreally need to do, is stop fishing for diamonds in the rough via mail order, and go for a Kamaka/Kanile'a. The sound samples I've heard on YouTube seem very nice in concert and tenor sizes, but I'm really interested in a concert ukulele.

Honestly, I just want to play. I do have an ear, however, and thuddy notes are hard for me to overlook. Most responsive instruments have them, I just prefer when they don't fall on an open string.

The Mexican Martins can be good for the money, but order them from a shop that doesn't require mailing them back and forth. I hate to say this, but a place like GC doesn't charge for shipping, and it can be returned on the spot. I'd probably order three, just to make sure there was a winner in the bunch.

P.S. RUD is Returned Uke Day. I guess IRUD would've been more appropriate: Immediately Returned Uke Day. :(

04-02-2014, 12:33 PM
Bummer...how disappointing! Hope you have better luck on your future purchases. I am enjoying my Martin IZ model (even though I know some would say it is overpriced, not really a replica of his instrument, etc.) It is well made with good tone and projection. Too bad Martin is diluting their brand name with inconstistant products.

04-02-2014, 01:51 PM
So sad that Martin's production quality and QC is so bad! I'm glad I got my C1K last year, the early ones must have been better!

and Dulcilo, glad you're enjoying your IZ!

Skinny Money McGee
04-02-2014, 01:53 PM
None of these Martin dealers in PA have ukes you can try out?

04-02-2014, 01:55 PM
Sorry it didn't work out! I guess going with a place where you can play in person and not have ship back has a lot of advantages.

04-02-2014, 03:01 PM
None of these Martin dealers in PA have ukes you can try out?

I called around, and they don't stock them....for the most part. I'm just outside of Philadelphia, and we used to frequent Acoustic Roots in Bryn Mawr. They're gone now. Lots of Guitar Centers, but they don't stock them either. There is a GC about 4 miles away, and I can order through them, and decline without paying for shipping once it's in. I try to do real music store thing, and had great success with Penny Lane Music Emporium, Bernunzio's, and even Elderly. That T1K cost me $15 to ship back, so.....

On the positive side, we've been playing the first C1K for a couple weeks longer than the second. We live in a townhouse, so whilst driving my convertible tonight, my wife and I strummed the day lights out of the second one. I pulled over when it was my turn. ;) I don't know that it will ever sound as warm as the first C1K, but it has great clarity. I like both, and some string experimentation might make it even better.

I'm not going to say that Martin doesn't make really nice ukes at a really good price. I will say that they vary, and only one of the three was a loser ( the tenor). These are less than half the price of the K brands, so they're worth a shot.

04-02-2014, 05:18 PM
My wife and I had the second C1K in my little convertible tonight, and had to make a uke stop along the boulevard:
http://youtu.be/UxgHTM_yWW8 It's not a bad sounding instrument at all, and considering the top was down, the acoustics were pretty good.

04-03-2014, 04:39 AM
Hi, Frank. That's a cool video of your strumming in the convertible.

I appreciate the candor of your thread. The good and the bad. Well stated.

The Mexi-Martins, from the threads I have seen on UU (having never owned one) seem to be =, as you say, quite variable. A couple threads even about missing letters and crooked headstock decals and such...things that just shouldn't have passed QC.

You are right to try and play in person on those, I think. I am glad you have one (or is it two) that meet the grade and you enjoy. That's the key.

04-03-2014, 05:11 AM
Yeah... That convertible is more fun than we expected. :) 65555 That was sometime in February...LOL! The C1K in the video is the second one, and I was strumming hard to see if I could cut down the time it takes to open up. I don't think it made much difference, but it amused my wife. It's certainly a nice sounding instrument, and I'll loose $35 sending it back. Elderly has a Kamaka HF-2, and Kanilea concert in stock, but I've never played one. Nuprin has posted a video here of his C1K and Koaloha, and he sold the Koaloha.....

It would be fantastic to have a store within 25 miles that carried ukes over $250, but it's tough to even find a solid top. I returned an Ohana to Elderly, and have been waiting to see what they'd charge me for shipping and handling. Two weeks after they received it, the money was put back in my bank this morning. $20 for their S&H, and $15 for me to ship it back. The Martin T1K I had for less than one hour yesterday will cost the same, and take two weeks to process as well (they told me that's about normal). So $70 to try two ukes that I hated.

The only way around that is Guitar Center, with shipping to the store. Processing a return is much quicker, since it's done right there, but the only better ukes they carry are Martins.

04-03-2014, 06:07 AM
Elderly's Return Policy: My packing slip says 5 days for returns, but their site says 30 days. I called, and they aid their policy has been updated to 30 days. That means I can take my time with a couple of string changes, etc. one slip on that matte finish, however....