Thinking about a style 3

DuckyI

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I am working towards a ukulele purchase some time later this year. I am a dedicated soprano player and I don't have very many ukes. My main instruments are a pair of Timms style 0's, one mahogany and one koa. I couldn't be happier with these. In terms of tone and playability, I would never need another uke. But as we all know, it doesn't quite work that way ;)

I love the look of the Martin Style 3, and I would like to have one. I have been reading lots of threads around these here on UU, and I know it has been a hotly debated topic.

I don't think I can stretch my budget to a vintage style 3, at least not without several years of saving. That leaves the following options:

- second hand Laughlin or DaSilva
- a second hand contemporary Martin style 3
- Kiwaya KTS-7 or second hand KMS-K
- custom from a luthier (who?)

What do you think about what is out there? I would especially love to hear from you if you have experience with any of these ukuleles, or if you would like to convince me that vintage is the only way to go!
 

ScooterD35

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It would help to know what your maximum budget number is.

Scooter
 

kerneltime

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Up to about $1500.
I think only the Kiwaya would be under that budget from the list of style 3 alternatives. Are you chasing style 3 purely for sound or aesthetics? Ohana does a pretty good job on both fronts for that.
 

EDW

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You really could not go wrong with those choices. It probably depends on where your priorities and tastes are. I am sure various players may have their own take on this. Some would like a fresh new instrument with no issues or potential problems which, if from a custom luthier, has been built to your specifications. The Kiwaya instruments are beautifully built and sound and play well and would be an easy option as they are very consistent. In some ways they are a no brainer with no issues or concerns.

Buying a used instrument would be somewhat on a case by case basis, depending on what is out there, so that it a little hard to assess until you see one you like. Certainly the custom builders you mention would be great options.

Old vintage Martins are certainly lovely and may be well seasoned and played in over the years. Some would object to an instrument that had some issues or previous repairs. In some ways, a Martin would be a top consideration for me, BUT it would be a matter of taking time to find the right instrument in the right condition at the right price.
 

DuckyI

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I think only the Kiwaya would be under that budget from the list of style 3 alternatives. Are you chasing style 3 purely for sound or aesthetics? Ohana does a pretty good job on both fronts for that.
Ah you know, this is where mentioning budget can be confusing, since I am in the UK. Besides the Kiwaya KTS-7, there are two other options on that list that are currently on the market roughly within budget. Also, I am on the waiting list for Wunderkammer and that I think a Style 3 replica might be achievable in that budget too. I am not really interested in the Ohana, as I would like an instrument that is of the quality that I have become used to with my Timms'.

I would love to hear about people's experience with the instruments I mentioned - I can always decide to keep saving for a better option.
 

ScooterD35

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Up to about $1500.
I would set that amount aside and keep saving while constantly scanning/searching for the right deal. For instance, $1,500 is more than halfway to this Centennial model currently on EBay. In my experience, patience and perseverance pretty much always pays off in the end, and the right instrument will eventually show itself.


Scooter
 

kerneltime

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I would set that amount aside and keep saving while constantly scanning/searching for the right deal. For instance, $1,500 is more than halfway to this Centennial model currently on EBay. In my experience, patience and perseverance pretty much always pays off in the end, and the right instrument will eventually show itself.


Scooter
Shameless plug, you can get the real deal : https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/index.php?threads/martin-3k-vintage-1920s-pick-your-fav.153679/
 

Knows Picker

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Get the real deal, even if you have to do unspeakable things like working overtime.

If you know what you "really" want, any substitution will always be just that.
 

hendulele

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If you go the vintage route, don’t rule out a Gibson. They‘re harder to find but generally easier on the bank account. Mine (a late ‘20s UKE-1) is fantastic and was about $400 on Reverb.
 

Patty

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Ah you know, this is where mentioning budget can be confusing, since I am in the UK. Besides the Kiwaya KTS-7, there are two other options on that list that are currently on the market roughly within budget. Also, I am on the waiting list for Wunderkammer and that I think a Style 3 replica might be achievable in that budget too. I am not really interested in the Ohana, as I would like an instrument that is of the quality that I have become used to with my Timms'.

I would love to hear about people's experience with the instruments I mentioned - I can always decide to keep saving for a better option.
I’m wowed by my soprano LoPrinzi, as I’ve said in another thread (with pix of it alongside my Timms). So I won’t repeat myself. A handmade LoPrinzi is well within your budget.
 

EDW

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If you go the vintage route, don’t rule out a Gibson. They‘re harder to find but generally easier on the bank account. Mine (a late ‘20s UKE-1) is fantastic and was about $400 on Reverb.
Although, Gibson 3 ukes are probably in the same price range as the Martin 3.

FWIW- Instruments certainly vary and each has their own sound. But, a few years ago,I had a lovely Gibson 2 that had great workmanship and style. It had nowhere near the tone, ring or projection as a Martin. It sounded quite nice, but a whole different character.
 

merlin666

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I also love the style 3 design and my choice would be the Kiwaya, though I have to admit that I have never played one. There is one on sale at HMS now

 

Dohle

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I'm certain you would not be satisfied with the Ohana Martin Style 3 replica if you're already used to Ken Timms level of quality. Same goes for the Mahi Mahi Style 3 replica. Both decent ukes but there are way better out there.

I can only say that my Kiwaya KTS-7 is the one uke I would run with out of a burning building, and I have plenty of lovely ukes, even some customs and a vintage Martin (albeit a Style 0). It's just that good, for me the ultimate ukulele. I've compared the tone of the vintage Martin and KTS-7 side by side with identical strings. The Martin won but only by a whisker, really hard to tell apart. Obviously a KMS-K would be even better if you can find one. But in any case, a Kiwaya Style 3 would be a no-brainer imo.

I haven't tried a Wunderkammer myself but I've read comments and listened to sound samples. Amazing ukes. I'd love to own one one day (but I won't).

I've seen some Brad Donaldson Style 3 ukes around the forum recently. I have zero experience of them but I'm sure someone can tell you about their quality which is supposedly excellent. Well below your budget as well.
 

EDW

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That KMS-K is a nice instrument. Those that I have heard sound great and have lovely wood

 

TheBathBird

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I had a Martin style 3 from the 20’s/30’s which (unbelievably stupidly) I sold a few years ago to buy a guitar. It had a lot of cracks, but they were all old and stable, and it sounded absolutely phenomenal. If I could turn back the clock I would hang on to it for dear life and sell my one remaining kidney rather than part with it again.

I doubt I’ll ever be able to replace it (like you I’m in the UK), but in my constant search for a uke that matches up to it I bought a KTS 7 a couple of years ago. It’s a genuinely lovely uke, flawless build, sounds great. I’ve just never really connected with it for some reason.

I also have a Wunderkammer Ike which I took in part exchange for a ukulele I was selling just after I bought the Kiwaya. It’s fabulous, I adore it, if I could only rescue one uke from a fire, that would be the one. I just wish it had more frets! I’ve been on Liam’s build list for over a year, which has given me time to change my mind about a billion times about what I’d like him to build for me - luckily his wait time seems to get longer and longer so I reckon I’ve got plenty of time to make my mind up!

So basically, of the ukes you’ve mentioned that I have personal experience of, my order of preference would be:

1. Vintage Martin
2. Something made by Liam
3. Kiwaya KTS 7

Sadly I don’t think the high-end modern Martins are worth the money, particularly not here in the UK where they come up fairly rarely on the second hand market. Obviously YMMV, MHO, FWIW, etc etc etc
 

Patty

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That KMS-K is a nice instrument. Those that I have heard sound great and have lovely wood

Oh my! Why was I not born to riches!
 

Ziret

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If you wait and watch, you may find a used Kiwaya KTS-6, a discontinued model that usually sells for about the price of a used KTS-4. Slightly less bling than a 7. Sounds fabulous. I had one, sold it, missed it, bought one in like-new condition. I learned my lesson and won’t sell again. But if you’re going for the bragging rights of the top of the line model, I get it. I wanted a 7 myself, but found this and stopped caring about the 7.