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Thread: Would you rather vintage or new?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    261

    Default Would you rather vintage or new?

    I love hearing how people have scored deals. I love hearing how people have rehabbed instruments and brought them back to life. Love seeing NUD posts.

    I’ve looked at some eBay and reverb sites and checked out some vintage Martin ukes and vintage Kamaka ukes.

    The prices for some of them are super expensive.

    Would you rather spend your money on a vintage instrument that has seen a lot of life, may not be the most pretty or need additional repair? Or would you rather spend the same money (pristine instrument or instrument plus cost of repair) on a new instrument using the latest innovations and bracing, side ports, etc.

    I can see arguments for both...

    Just curious.

  2. #2

    Default

    OK, I prefer new or a younger used one at a good price. I do buy used but those were not ancient ukuleles (50 or more years old).

    I've tried vintage Martin sopranos (1940 - 1950's) and each time felt like I was going to break something as I struggled with the tuners. However that doesn't mean I don't look and consider buying one of those 50 year or more Kamakas or Nunes. What does worry me with the old ones is if I need to refurb something have I diminished the value. And I don't want to have to keep some nasty looking original case, yuk.

    My oldest uke is from the 1980's and it's being completely refurbed right now at National Guitars. The tuners were horrible, the finish needed to be redone and the cone had crud on it. Fortunately National Guitars are great at what they do and I was assured the resonator would come home looking like new. So that kind of proves my point. But I am looking forward to the new and improved resonator ukulele coming home and maybe doing a NUD. :-)
    K
    Sopranos, Concerts, and Tenors

    4 Sale: Pineapple - MP Cali, Tenor: Washburn, Luna Tattoo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Woodstock NY USA
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    I own a couple vintage Martins, some used Mya Moes, and have purchased used and brand new ukuleles. In my opinion, as a novice, the thing about vintage instruments is you have to take a bit more care with them in proper humidification and not leaving them in the car or bumping them. The tuners, are often friction tuners, which I happen to dislike greatly. They can sound, meh, or they can be amazing sounding—like my little 60s Martin soprano with Waverly tuners and my 60s Martin tenor with new Gotoh tuners. I have strummed newer Martins and I think the new ones (not talking about the custom Martins) are just not as nice sounding in comparison.

    A new modestly-priced uke, can be overbuilt but sound very nice. It can seem easier to take care of because it feels solid, and if it not one of a kind, you won’t be as fearful playing it out somewhere. But a new uke may need time to “open up” and you may have anxiety about keeping it pristine, like checking your new car for dings.

    So for me, the sweet spot is a used ukulele that has had time to open up and might even have a ding (no cracks) so it’s not “so precious.” Sounds great and I’m never afraid to strum it hard or take it to a jam.
    Last edited by Martinlover; 06-18-2019 at 04:24 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
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    Sparta, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default

    At what point does a ukulele go from "used" to "vintage"?

    I have a tenors that is over 10 years old. Several that are around 5. And a few that were bought new.

    I don't have much interest in ukuleles that are 30 or more years old. I think construction techniques have improved over the years. But the woods available even 10 years ago were nicer in density and figuring.

    I agree that I would feel very constrained playing an older vintage instrument. Especially if it was rare and valuable. But then I feel like that playing an expensive new uke.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    423

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrdr View Post
    I love hearing how people have scored deals. I love hearing how people have rehabbed instruments and brought them back to life. Love seeing NUD posts.

    I’ve looked at some eBay and reverb sites and checked out some vintage Martin ukes and vintage Kamaka ukes.

    The prices for some of them are super expensive.

    Would you rather spend your money on a vintage instrument that has seen a lot of life, may not be the most pretty or need additional repair? Or would you rather spend the same money (pristine instrument or instrument plus cost of repair) on a new instrument using the latest innovations and bracing, side ports, etc.

    I can see arguments for both...

    Just curious.
    New. There are some amazing builders of ukes, and vintage ukes are much more likely to have defects, some of which may not really be readily apparent. Though I do love a good uke story, unless that uke has traveled the world, I much prefer to build all the scars on my uke myself.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Honolulu, HI
    Posts
    64

    Default

    I like the idea of a vintage ukulele. I have a vintage guitar (1954) and love it and will be the first to admit that there are vintage instruments that have features no longer offered for one reason or another and that kind of forces one into the vintage market if the feature is something that really want. That said, in the ukulele world specifically, it seems like there's been a good deal more... credit given to the instrument and, as such, luthiers are turning out some amazing ukuleles.

    Theoretically, I like the idea of adding to an ukulele's story, but I like the idea of starting my own more.

    I mean, unless I find a really nice old Martin, I suppose. ;-)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
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    Petaluma, CA
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    As many know I am crazy about Vintage Martins, 70 old years or more. I rescue them and put them back in players hands, not in display cases. They are lighter and rightfully so. The wood is from sources that don't exist any more.
    I've played and have owned wonderful Luthier made ukuleles that are better than what I rescue, radius fret boards are great as well as sound ports, careful bracing and top treatment do wonders for tone. They are worth the 3+ times cost of most vintage ones.
    Last edited by PetalumaRescuke; 06-18-2019 at 06:52 PM. Reason: claify

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Honolulu
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    I'm a player and don't want to baby my gear in the classroom or at gigs. I've owned several vintage instruments from the 40 to 60s and they were a pain in the arse. I greatly prefer high quality new instruments.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Marin County, CA
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    At this point in my ukulele buying (read, not at all) I’d rather buy a well-loved “vintage” ukulele that may need a crack or two repaired or a bridge re-glued than a brand new uke of equivalent price. In my dream world, that would be pre-WWII Martin S2 with original gear. I could live with some slight play wear, but would prefer the soundboard be relatively pristine.

    If it was a total fixer, I’m not sure I would ever consider it. Unless it was something incredibly rare, and then more just as a wall-hanger/conversation piece.

    For me, there is added value in the instruments that have lived long, full lives, and that is something that a brand-new, straight from the factory or luthier shop uke will never have right out the gate.
    Current UAS fallout:

    Ohana SK-21A — ‘10s L. Nunes Ukulele 0 Hawaii Soprano — 1918-19 Martin 2M Soprano — ‘60s Kamaka ‘Keiki’ Soprano — ‘70s Kamaka White Label Soprano — Blue Frog Soprano — aNueNue Moon Bird US200 — Ohana SK-30L — Cocobolo Concert #382 (teak!) — Outdoor Ukulele Carbon Tenor — ‘50s Harmony Baritone


    Mead Ambassador/Horticulturist at Heidrun Meadery since 2017

    Teaching Music Together since 2019

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    769

    Default

    I guess it depends on the Ukulele.

    I recently bought a vintage Kamaka Tiki from 1972.
    I would rather pay twice what I payed for it for a recent Kamaka concert. But those cost three times as much this side of the pond, so vintage must do :-)

    I like modern tuners.
    Ohana SK30M mahogany super-soprano, Cort UKEBWCOP Blackwood concert, Anuenue African Mahogany Tenor, Fluke Koa Tenor, Hora M1176 spruce Tenor

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