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Thread: Want a Vintage Martin soprano...need help.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Default Want a Vintage Martin soprano...need help.

    So Iíve decided I want a vintage mahogany Martin soprano. Style O or Style 1. My budget will be somewhere around $800. What is my checklist for deciding what to look for, what years to stay away from etc. I realize ultimately I have to play one and trust my hands and ears but any advice you Martin aficionados can give me would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    WPB, FL


    Very interested in this topic myself.
    1960's Martin Style-0
    LoPrinzi Concert (Redwood & Mahogany)
    Fred Shields Style-0 Replica
    Kala Elite 1MHG-S
    Ohana SK-25S
    Kala Elite 1KOA-T << Letting this one go soon. PM if interested.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Petaluma, CA


    I have sold, or gifted at least 16 Martins, all to satisfied players. I still have 2 Vintage Martins available.
    I will not move out any ukuleles that are not totally playable, this is my personal philosophy concerning instruments.
    The repairs and replacements I make are described and I do not attempt to hide them. They have a presentable fit and finish as well.

    The market has diminished so you can get vintage Martin Ukuleles at very reasonable prices.
    As I do not seem to be able to upload pictures, email me at for pictures, descriptions and such.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010


    What Spongeuke says!

    Also, try contacting Martin players (they usually have more than one, and could be convinced/begged/coerced into selling one off), look on ebay (several on offer, but be careful about the condition) and on other webforums (there was a wonderful 1950s style 2 on sale this week, well within your budget, on the French forum).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Bath, UK.


    I bought a wonderful vintage Martin from Spongeuke a couple of years ago; he was a pleasure to deal with, the uke was exactly as described and thanks to his excellent packing it made it safely all the way across The Pond.

    If Spongeuke has the model you're after you really couldn't do better than buying from him.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Catskill Mountains, NY


    From what I've seen, pricing and condition vary widely. And what is a vintage uke? I bought a 1944 Martin soprano that had it's damaged top replaced with a spruce top. I paid just $425, but I suspect the spruce top is why it was priced lower. I like the top, and I like the fact that it was made in 1944 - just like me. : )

    Reverb has serveral oldies for sale.
    Last edited by Jerryc41; 02-22-2019 at 01:10 AM.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    I don't know too much about playing and tone differences between different eras. I think that there will also be differences from instrument to instrument. That said, I believe most any Martins will be great players no matter what. There are some really pricey ones out there and there are some bargains. I would not worry about finding something in pristine condition. Often there are instruments that have been "well loved" and played and are terrific. I would certainly trust those that spongeuke has available.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2017


    Quote Originally Posted by Astein2006 View Post
    So I’ve decided I want a vintage mahogany Martin soprano. Style O or Style 1. My budget will be somewhere around $800. What is my checklist for deciding what to look for, what years to stay away from etc. I realize ultimately I have to play one and trust my hands and ears but any advice you Martin aficionados can give me would be much appreciated.
    I’m not a Martin expert (so cannot give you the particular details you seek) but offer a few general comments.
    - Ken Timms makes a Martin copy that’s very well regarded. Prices for them vary a little but are basically within your budget. Ken effectively allows you to buy a new Martin that will play and last like the old ones.
    - Old Ukes can be in any condition and can cost a fortune to restore, many sellers either don’t know the actual condition or willfully conceal it.
    - Old Ukes tend to cost more than they are actually worth as second hand instruments, they often sell at a premium based on their antique nature and investment value - beware, investments can go down in value as well as up.
    - Genuine enthusiasts who are more interested in the item than its monetary value are hard to find. But if you can find such a person then they might steer you towards something worth having. Such people typically put faults right and only have items of merit in their collection. You might pay a bit more for an item from such a person but it’s money well spent because (high) quality is assured.
    - if you are handy with tools then genuine enthusiasts will help you with restoration planing and work, they might even know of projects waiting for the right person.
    - Talk to Songeuke, have a conversation, I believe that he’s the type of person who’d be happy to assist someone with a common interest. He might well be able to direct you towards other like minded people too.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 02-22-2019 at 02:45 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    SE Connecticut, USA


    I believe I lucked out with my $500 1940s-50s Martin concert uke that I found on FMM. The cracks it has are old and stable, it sounds great, and it was fully playable right out of the box.

    But if you're contemplating buying one on line from an unknown private party, I think it's important to gets lots and lots of pictures and ask plenty of questions. Get an action measurement at the 12th fret for the G and A strings. Don't assume there's no problem just because the seller doesn't mention it.

    edited to add: ^^^ what Graham said^^^
    Last edited by Swamp Yankee; 02-22-2019 at 02:42 AM.
    Sopranos: aNueNue Khaya Mahogany 1, Bruko No. 6; Kiwaya KS-1; Kiwaya KTS-4; Kiwaya KTS-4K; Martin S-O
    Concerts:Cahaya CY-0112; Kiwaya KTC-1; Kiwaya KPC-1M; Kiwaya KCU-1, Takumi TC-1M, Takumi TC-3K, Musicguymicís Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Michigan, USA


    I might suggest you keep an eye on a trusted retailer who carries vintage Martin's and has a world class in-house repair shop: Elderly Instruments.

    They get in vintage Martin's all the time, and if something is wrong with it, they will tell you about it. Just go to their ukulele section, select Martin, and sort by arrival date to see what they have gotten in recently. (I tried to post a link to this search, but the system decided it was probably spam...)

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