What's up with the Martin C1K?

AustinHing

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Got a pic?

my pic did no justice but you should see subtle horizontal flame lines.
IiIterZ.jpg


The back is less obvious but the flames are speckle here and there
4rhgncW.jpg


Of course this can not compare to a high grade koa ukulele, but this is like 100x better than most of the C1K!
 

YogiTom

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A bit of a backtrack, but I’ll just add on to what some others have said re: the lighter color and appearance of sapwood koa.

I personally think the dramatic two-tone color found between sap and heartwoods in species like koa to be part of their intrinsic beauty. And from a woodworking perspective, I know koa sapwood is great to work with. Perhaps someone with more knowledge can chime in on actual strength and density differences between the sap and heartwood (if any). Personally, I love seeing both in book matched form, which is probably why I jumped on my Kanile‘a Platinum.

And, diverging from the OP on Martin C1K, but I know Kanile‘a is re-planting koa trees to ensure they have a steady supply going into the future, and (I imagine) to help reforestation in general. Not sure when they started that project, but perhaps the lighter colored models popping up are from some of the trees they planted? Or maybe—as others rightly pointed out—it is due to premium heartwood koa becoming harder and more expensive to come by these days.
 

AustinHing

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An interesting read on the color variations:
“Out of all of the Hawaiian Islands, koa grows predominantly on the Big Island,” says Chris Allen of Koa Wood Hawaii in Kurtistown, Hawaii. “By state law, you can not cut down live koa trees and there are just not enough of them on Oahu for harvest. At the low elevation, the koa tends to be real blond and not have a lot of color or character to it. That’s why the Big Island has the best koa. And Maui has nice koa, too, but again, not as much.”

https://www.woodshopnews.com/news/koa-is-highly-sought-and-high-priced
 

Swamp Yankee

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I recall being stunned by the price of a Taylor GS Mini in a Guitar Center in Warwick, RI a few years back. "They want $700 for a mahogany top GSM that retails new for $499?!?!"
Then I saw the electronics, peeked inside the soundhole, and found it was actually a koa GSM that was topped with the most boring looking piece of koa I've ever seen.
 

YogiTom

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An interesting read on the color variations:
“Out of all of the Hawaiian Islands, koa grows predominantly on the Big Island,” says Chris Allen of Koa Wood Hawaii in Kurtistown, Hawaii. “By state law, you can not cut down live koa trees and there are just not enough of them on Oahu for harvest. At the low elevation, the koa tends to be real blond and not have a lot of color or character to it. That’s why the Big Island has the best koa. And Maui has nice koa, too, but again, not as much.”

https://www.woodshopnews.com/news/koa-is-highly-sought-and-high-priced

Interesting, thanks for the share!
 

Ukecaster

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Here's another for sale now, guy says he hand selected it from among 7 at a dealer, saying that this one had the most beautiful koa grain in the group.

20190417_115842.jpg
20190417_115909.jpg

Personally, I prefer plainer ones, like this older model. Of course, I don't have one at all, but would like to try one eventually.

20190417_120510.jpg
 

Ukecaster

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Another comparison pic of an older C1k with newer. This older one has nicer koa, and I really like the darker rosewood fretboard, compared to the mostly lighter colored boards these days.

Old vs New C1k.JPG
 

Dionysis

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I had. Martin C1K purchased used off reverb. Eventually I also acquired a koa Kanilea and a koa Koaloha. I did a blind sound test with these as well as a couple of other concerts i had, judged by a couple of friends.

They gave it a three way tie between the Kani, Koaloha, and Martin. It was not as pretty to look at as the others, but was very well made, no defects. It smelled great! It was light and pleasant to play.

In hindsight, if I was doing it all over again and was new to he uke world and wanted to buy my first solid wood, good-sounding uke without spending twelve hundred bucks, I would go with the Martin. Then I would play the crap out of it and not shop around for a better uke till I WAS ready to spend twelve hundred.

In the end I sold the others, but still have the Koaloha. Now I want to switch to mostly tenors, so I will be selling the concert, or trading it towards a tenor Koaloha.

I just bought an Opio long neck concert, and it is not as evenly balanced nor as smooth as my concert Koolaha.
 

Jerryc41

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I have one and so does a friend. We like both the looks and the sound. Maybe it an "eye of the beholder" thing. When you consider the price, compared with a KoAloha koa concert, it's a bargain. I got mine used for under $400.

02.jpg
 
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Swiftsailor98

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I absolutely love my C1K. I'll agree with some other posters, there are certainly variations in the Koa appearance from uke to uke--you have to look around for a great pick. That's another reason I loved buying from Mim--pictures of each individual uke.

For comparison, below a some pictures of the front any back of my C1K.

As for sound, I can't claim any comparison to a K-brand because I've never heard them side by side live. IMO, it's my best sounding uke and well worth the price I paid.

C1K - 1.jpg C1K - 2.jpg
 

Nickie

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Does anyone play a Martin with a pickup?
 

Ukecaster

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These seem to be getting lighter all the time, this one reminds me of the light color of those bamboo ukes.

C1K light.JPG

C1K light2.JPG
 
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Dohle

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Every Martin C1K (and the tenor T1K as well) I've seen have been much lighter coloured than the typical Hawaiian made ukes. For some reason, Martin ukes made of koa don't have that reddish tint to them that's typical for many other koa intruments. It makes them a bit plainer but also somewhat distinct, in my opinion. I like them quite a bit.
 

Jerryc41

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Isn't it a camera/flash thing? I have a C1K and it's sort of dark, not fancy, but much darker than that.

Eugenio

Definitely! How does the Martin below look? More appealing? It's the same picture with a little processing done to it.

Martin C1K 2.jpg
 

Kenn2018

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Does anyone play a Martin with a pickup?

I have a Martin 1T IZ with a Baggs 5.0 pickup installed.

I find it curious that the K models models made in Mexico have finished bridges whilst the ones made in Nazareth, PA have the ugly lumps of unfinished raw wood for bridges. I oiled mine with Music Nomad F-One Fretboard treatment and it darkened it nicely. But, sheesh! I shouldn't have to do that on a $1800 uke.
 
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man0a

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Every Martin C1K (and the tenor T1K as well) I've seen have been much lighter coloured than the typical Hawaiian made ukes. For some reason, Martin ukes made of koa don't have that reddish tint to them that's typical for many other koa intruments. It makes them a bit plainer but also somewhat distinct, in my opinion. I like them quite a bit.

Hawaii-made koa ukuleles usually come with high-gloss finishes these days, which does darken the wood. I have a 1970s koa Kamaka with a satin finish that is similar in color to my Martin C1K.