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Thread: NUD: 1940s? Vintage Martin Concert Ukulele

  1. #1
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    Default NUD: 1940s? Vintage Martin Concert Ukulele

    So last Friday I saw this concert ukulele on Ebay that no one had bid on that was about to expire. The starting bid was lower than you usually see these things ($595) likely because between a good bit of crazing and some repaired cracks it's not as nice an example as some people would want. That said the ad said the cracks in the back had been professionally repaired by Portland Fretworks which appears to be a very reputable luthier, the seller had sold similar items before with good feedback, and while the crazing seems to be in a lot of areas the finish appeared to be staying intact. So anyway, I put in a couple bids and ended up getting it for $550 ($583 with tax).

    And here it is.


    It just got delivered to my office. All in all I think I did alright? My god is it light. Maybe even lighter than my Takumi concert. In normal lighting the crazing is barely visible. It really lights up if you take a picture with a flash or in raking light, but just looking at it you can't even tell its there. It really looks very nice; much much nicer than I expected. I looked inside and the repairs look well done; all the cracks appear to be cleated. The fretboard, frets, nut, and saddle all appear to be in good shape as well, and the neck seems nice and straight. I haven't played it yet, but its 3mm at the 12th. That's a half mil higher than my ideal but but totally acceptable to me. It looks well setup, and my hope was that since they bothered to get it repaired by a luthier that it would have gotten a setup too. Of course, I'll have to play it to know for sure. Oh yeah, they also replaced the tuners with Gotoh UPTs. I'm not sure whether that increases or decreases the value for most people, and its not something I personally would have bothered to do, but since this is a player not a collector uke they'll be nice to have on there. Came with a hard case too. Nothing fancy, just one of the generic tweedy no-name amazon/ebay cases but it seems totally decent.

    The only concern I have is that there is one check in the finish on the front, below the bridge that looks like it might be more than that (see 2nd photo). I noticed it in the photos on Ebay and think it just in the finish and since they repaired the other cracks I would hope they would have checked it, but who knows. Anyway, I think its just in the finish and that the fact that runs down a grain line just makes it look like it might be more. Hope I'm right.

    This was listed as 1940s. Curious what you all think? Do concerts generally follow the same dating guidelines as sopranos? It came with the friction tuners that had been on it. They were listed as the "orignials" but I have no way of knowing if that is the case (see photos). It has the logo on the front of the headstock, no stamp on the back of headstock, a stamp on the inside, and t-frets. I know that puts it as post WWII, but I don't know how to tell if it's actually from the 40s. Thoughts?
    Kala KA-ATP-CTG
    Takumi TC-1M
    1940s Martin Mahogany Concert
    Bruko Cedar Top Mahogany Soprano

  2. #2
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    That was a good catch at a reasonable price. The Gotoh tuners have a thicker shaft, so putting the original tuners back in would require - something.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryc41 View Post
    That was a good catch at a reasonable price. The Gotoh tuners have a thicker shaft, so putting the original tuners back in would require - something.
    Thanks Jerry! That what I was hoping. I did a search of sold listings on both Ebay and Reverb to try to get an idea if this was a good value before buy, but there are so few and the conditions vary so widely that it was really hard to tell. I only found a record of one that was sold for less than this, and it was in similar condition so I figured I was paying a fair price. Not a steal but a totally fair price given the condition that I would hopefully be able to recoup someday if I decide to sell.

    Yeah, I'm sure you are correct about the tuners. They would have had to ream the holes out, so they would likely need to be plugged and redrilled or have some kind of bushing made to put the originals back in . I'll keep the UPTs in. Even though its not something I would have personally done, I do like UPTs and I'm sure they'll be nice to have on there.
    Last edited by CPG; 07-12-2019 at 05:45 AM.
    Kala KA-ATP-CTG
    Takumi TC-1M
    1940s Martin Mahogany Concert
    Bruko Cedar Top Mahogany Soprano

  4. #4
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    It's in better shape than mine which appears to be from the same time period. Mine ran $500 - and I consider that to have been a decent price. How does it sound and play? I know mine plays like a dream and sounds like a choir of angels after they've been doing bourbon shots.
    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; Martin C-1 (ca. 1947-1955); Musicguymic's Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
    It's in better shape than mine which appears to be from the same time period. Mine ran $500 - and I consider that to have been a decent price. How does it sound and play? I know mine plays like a dream and sounds like a choir of angels after they've been doing bourbon shots.
    Well so far I only had a few minutes to step outside and play it on my lunch.

    Heres a quick and dirty clip:
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/EXzdifUK3PCHmt3o7

    It's got that real warm, thumpy, chunky sound that a lot of Martin's have. It plays really nice and has a nice tone. But being played outside in the open like that and only for a few minutes, its hard for me to gauge the overall sound. I also think it has a new set of Martin 600 on it and in general I find that those need to be played in a little and fully stretched to get the full tone out of them.

    Seems well setup too but again having only played it a few minutes and not yet being used to it as a new to me uke its possible I missed something. So far it seems comfortable to play, action is nice and there are no obvious buzzes (beyond my lousy playing).

    I'll need to play it some more to give a better verdict. So far so good though. Given that it's a Martin in good playing condition I suspect I will grow to love it.
    Kala KA-ATP-CTG
    Takumi TC-1M
    1940s Martin Mahogany Concert
    Bruko Cedar Top Mahogany Soprano

  6. #6
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    Wow, it sounds great, even on my tiny speakers. I like that it came in a vintage looking case.
    Good find!
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    Wow, it sounds great, even on my tiny speakers. I like that it came in a vintage looking case.
    Good find!
    Awesome. Thanks!
    Kala KA-ATP-CTG
    Takumi TC-1M
    1940s Martin Mahogany Concert
    Bruko Cedar Top Mahogany Soprano

  8. #8
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    It does indeed sound very good. Well done.
    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

  9. #9
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    Sounds like you got a keeper to me.

    I forgot to add: mine also spent a month or more this winter in a zip lock storage back with a spice bag filled with ground coffee tucked in the soundhole to rid it of the gawdoffal smell of some horrendous air freshener some prior owner sprayed inside of it. ... and I still think it was a good price at $500
    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; Martin C-1 (ca. 1947-1955); Musicguymic's Kolohe
    Tenors: Cordoba 24T; Kiwaya KTT-2K
    Baritones: Cordoba 24B

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swamp Yankee View Post
    Sounds like you got a keeper to me.

    I forgot to add: mine also spent a month or more this winter in a zip lock storage back with a spice bag filled with ground coffee tucked in the soundhole to rid it of the gawdoffal smell of some horrendous air freshener some prior owner sprayed inside of it. ... and I still think it was a good price at $500
    I actually ran across that thread when I was researching vintage Martin concert ukuleles. Your comments about how much you like yours (despite the smell) were one of the things that made me pull the trigger on this. So thanks!
    Kala KA-ATP-CTG
    Takumi TC-1M
    1940s Martin Mahogany Concert
    Bruko Cedar Top Mahogany Soprano

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