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Thread: Comparisons of Vintage Baritones: Martin, Favilla, Harmony, etc.

  1. #1
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    Default Comparisons of Vintage Baritones: Martin, Favilla, Harmony, etc.

    Over the years I've had a couple Favilla baritones, a Silvertone (Harmony) baritone, and most recently a Martin baritone. All were mahogany and sounded great, but somewhat different. Currently I have nice examples of a Favilla and a Martin baritones, and found it interesting to compare/contrast them. There has been some discussion on UU about these two models in particular. BTW the Silvertone I had last sounded every bit as good as the Favilla I had at the time. Although the action on the Silvertone was quite high.

    First, Martin & Favilla seem quite a bit different to me, beyond the obvious physical differences. The Favilla has a more guitarish sound to me and the Martin is more uke-sounding to my ears. My Favilla has a Flamenco guitar quality to the sound, not unlike a baritone from Les Stansell (which now sell for about 10x what a Favilla costs). Both are responsive and sound very different to me, even their resonance sounds different. I prefer the Favilla played fingerstyle rather than strummed. I like the Martin better as a strummer. The Martin has a little reverb/echo quality to the resonance, while the Favilla is more typical resonance of a single tone, great played fingerstyle. Both are very responsive.

    The physical differences are interesting. The Favilla body is wider and deeper, but a bit shorter than the Martin. I'm sure that bigger size has a factor in the resulting Favilla sound. Favilla's have a 19" scale, vs. 20" for the Martin. The neck on the martin is thinner and flatter similar to high end tenors I've played. The Favilla neck is stout, so is the fretboard 1.45" width at the nut vs. 1.34" for the Martin. Not sure of my preference, but I'm leaning towards the Martin.

    Just wanted to get a conversation going about these old baritones.

    Here's a sound sample of each and pics.

    Martin with D'addario nylon strings (?)
    https://app.box.com/s/0k8jpwqp6lf8oebvymkr4n5av5t5nn49

    Favilla with Martin FC strings
    https://app.box.com/s/0q7vz6z9zhc4xjvcnrorz6885zu5ffja

    I also dug up an old recording of the Silvertone with Aquila Nylguts for comparison.
    https://app.box.com/s/3qz943sbntfigaezjcc6vrz5g8z3mf3i

    P1090243 by hejenkins, on Flickr
    P1090246 by hejenkins, on Flickr
    Last edited by Doc_J; 09-21-2019 at 05:15 AM.
    -Hodge
    Humble strummer of fine ukes.

  2. #2
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    I have two baris, one (Kala cedar top) has a 20.125" scale that I find awkward, the other (Lani spruce top) has a 19.75" scale & feels a bit better, I would like to try a 19" but they aren't the standard size any more unfortunately - I liked your Favilla's tone.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3

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    Nice post, and thanks for the sound clips. I have owned both Martin and Favilla, and I would characterize the Martin as more "delicate", from both a build and sound perspective. I eventually sold the Martin because I liked the feel of the Favilla neck better. They both played great, and were deeply resonant. Since then, I have become a victim of UAS. I still have the Favilla, but don't play it as much as my Baritone cutaways, since they accommodate my preferred genre better, at least from my perspective.

    I've never owned a Harmony (Silvertone/Airline) baritone, but I have been tempted many times to take the plunge. I'm just a bit reluctant to buy an older used one without getting to play it first. Besides, there are so many current makers offering excellent instruments at a great value that this may be the golden age of ukes. I'm just a player, not a true collector, so that may color my decisions.

    By the way, I am the current owner of the Pohaku Golden Atomic which you sold to Vic, and he in turn sold to me. WOW!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Croaky Keith View Post
    I have two baris, one (Kala cedar top) has a 20.125" scale that I find awkward, the other (Lani spruce top) has a 19.75" scale & feels a bit better, I would like to try a 19" but they aren't the standard size any more unfortunately - I liked your Favilla's tone.
    Thanks. This particular Favilla is a bit nicer sounding than the last one I had.

    Quote Originally Posted by Griole View Post
    Nice post, and thanks for the sound clips. I have owned both Martin and Favilla, and I would characterize the Martin as more "delicate", from both a build and sound perspective. I eventually sold the Martin because I liked the feel of the Favilla neck better. They both played great, and were deeply resonant. Since then, I have become a victim of UAS. I still have the Favilla, but don't play it as much as my Baritone cutaways, since they accommodate my preferred genre better, at least from my perspective.

    I've never owned a Harmony (Silvertone/Airline) baritone, but I have been tempted many times to take the plunge. I'm just a bit reluctant to buy an older used one without getting to play it first. Besides, there are so many current makers offering excellent instruments at a great value that this may be the golden age of ukes. I'm just a player, not a true collector, so that may color my decisions.

    By the way, I am the current owner of the Pohaku Golden Atomic which you sold to Vic, and he in turn sold to me. WOW!
    "Delicate" is fair description of the Martin dimensions compared to the more beefy Favilla.

    Glad to hear the Pohaku Golden Atomic is in good hands. I often thought of it as a modern Favilla-like baritone with the 19" scale, thicker neck and deeper body. The great difference is the curved arch back on the Pohaku, which improves the resonance and projection. I miss that one.

    The old Harmony baritones, do seem a step lower in finishing detail. I guess they were sold at a lower price point and in higher numbers.
    But, they can sound as good as any baritone out there.
    -Hodge
    Humble strummer of fine ukes.

  5. #5
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    How about the Giannini bari ukes, did you ever compare one to the Martin & Fav? I only tried a bari once, didn't do much for me, but might try again. Those 2 sound great!
    John

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ukecaster View Post
    How about the Giannini bari ukes, did you ever compare one to the Martin & Fav? I only tried a bari once, didn't do much for me, but might try again. Those 2 sound great!
    I never tried a Giannini, but friends have attested to their sounding very good.
    -Hodge
    Humble strummer of fine ukes.

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