What's up with the Martin C1K?

Ukecaster

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I saw a few Martin C1K ukes on ebay, and was surprised at the look of these. To me, they look cheap and ugly, not a rich dark color, like most were before. What's the deal, low grade koa, cheesy finish, or both?

c1k.JPG
 

raffrox

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I had one. Low grade koa plus a natural finish means that it's looks aren't for everyone. As far as playability and sound goes mine sounded better to me than my pro series mahogany Pono.

I think the C1K is a great value for money uke if you can get one second hand. I wish I didn't sell mine.
 

Ziret

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I think that's how they've always looked, but the walnut fretboard doesn't provide the contrast and distraction that the rosewood (?) did. They've always had that soft finish and inexpensive koa, as Raffrox said. But maybe the wood on that batch is lighter than usual, too.
 

raffrox

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That's a good point about the walnut fretboard Ziret. Mine had a rosewood fretboard that I think does look a bit nicer.
 

JJFN

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I am very happy with my Martin Concert. The white background could be causing an underexposure in the photo. The camera is fooled into thinking there is more ambient light than is actually there.
 

Swamp Yankee

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I've had a few chances to play them. As far as I've seen, they've all suffered in the looks and fit and finish departments. Tonally, they sounded nice, but IMO, not nice enough to overcome the price, especially considering their appearance.
 

Ragtop232

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I've had a few chances to play them. As far as I've seen, they've all suffered in the looks and fit and finish departments. Tonally, they sounded nice, but IMO, not nice enough to overcome the price, especially considering their appearance.

Suffered in Fit and Finish? I've had quite a few Martin Ukulele's built at their Mexican facility and I'll have to say, while the Koa and Mahogany used is not master grade and pretty plain looking, I've never ever had one that wasn't perfect in fit and workmanship. Granted these are not high-gloss instruments, but they have all far exceeded my expectations for price to quality ratio and all have had that classic Martin tone.

I just wanted to offer my experiences with the Martin's I've had and still have that were built in Mexico. I've had 3 T1's , 2 C1K's and 3 S1's. I still have an S1 that I just couldn't part with.

YMMV
 

Ukecaster

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Here's a couple, a newer one on the left, and on the right how I've seen many in the past, a nice golden koa color.

C1K pic.JPG
 

ScooterD35

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I think that's how they've always looked, but the walnut fretboard doesn't provide the contrast and distraction that the rosewood (?) did. They've always had that soft finish and inexpensive koa, as Raffrox said. But maybe the wood on that batch is lighter than usual, too.

The C1K and T1K fretboards and bridges are made from Sipo (an African Mahogany), not Walnut.


Scooter
 

Ziret

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Good to know, thanks. I did just jump in with a guess instead of the facts.

The C1K and T1K fretboards and bridges are made from Sipo (an African Mahogany), not Walnut.


Scooter
 

CommonCurt

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That's a good point about the walnut fretboard Ziret. Mine had a rosewood fretboard that I think does look a bit nicer.

I've seen a few people saying that Martin uses Walnut on their Mexico made Ukes. According to their website they use "Sipo".

I really do not care for the look of it (for fretboards). Almost wish they would've used a dark Walnut instead if they really had to stop using Rosewood.
 
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jelow1966

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Here's a couple, a newer one on the left, and on the right how I've seen many in the past, a nice golden koa color.

View attachment 115903

The uke on the left is in a more natural state as opposed to the other which has been enhanced during the finishing. It could be the latest Koa they are using doesn't enhance as well so they leave it natural or they think a darker Koa would make the lighter fretboard stick out.

John
 

kerneltime

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Their Koa has changed quite a bit over time.. but based on other discussions the look of Koa and is not easy to map to the sound of it.. C1K is not a uke to buy for the looks but as an entry level uke of good quality and sound. The C1K I had, had excellent intonation, sound and overall feel.. the koa did not look like "koa" we see on high end ukes but when I was buying it was all greek and latin to me, I bought it cause it sounded good.
 

hendulele

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Mine has a few places where the grain isn't at all straight and the fretboard tone is light. Then again, mine set me back $400 and you'd be hard-pressed to find an all-koa instrument of similar quality for less than a few hundred more. I love it.
 

FinnP

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Here’s the one I had, very pretty, but the sound did not impress me.
Mine looks like it had rosewood fretboard and bridge?
CFB07448-A3A8-4F8A-A757-FE4D21FA0D9D.jpg
 

WestyShane

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The uke on the left is in a more natural state as opposed to the other which has been enhanced during the finishing. It could be the latest Koa they are using doesn't enhance as well so they leave it natural or they think a darker Koa would make the lighter fretboard stick out.

John

I have a block of unfinished Koa that I pulled out of the scrap bin at the Kamaka factory. It's as dark or even darker than the Koa used on the uke shown the right. I don't think Martin's finishing process enhances the color of their instruments all that much. The inside of my older "dark" C1K is also pretty much the same color as the outside, just not shiny.

Similarly, I once saw a Kanile'a at HMS that was so light in color that I asked if it was mango. Nope, just Koa sapwood instead of heartwood.

It looks to me that the lighter C1Ks are cut from the Koa sapwood instead of the heartwood. And I think they look just fine.
 
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rainbow21

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I am used to seeing the darker koa ukes. But if you go to the Ukulele Site and click on Kanile'a, there are now a number of much lighter toned koa ukes.