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Thread: NUD: C.F. Martin S1 All Solid Mahogany Soprano

  1. #1
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    Jan 2019
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    Default NUD: C.F. Martin S1 All Solid Mahogany Soprano

    While I visited home over the holidays (Allentown, PA), my son and I took the opportunity to visit the C.F. Martin factory for the museum and tour in nearby Nazareth. Iíd highly recommend the stop if youíre in the area or passing through. They do a fantastic job of showing you everything step by step from solid wood billets to finished instruments.
    [A random unrelated comment from the experience: I found it odd one of the other tour takers was wearing a Fender ball cap. I thought it was akin to wearing a Pepsi shirt and visiting World of Coke in Atlanta, or is it a generational thing that Iím more brand loyal.]

    As you worked your way around the factory, they had a display representing their plant in Navajoa, Mexico, where they produce all their strings and several ukuleles and guitars. The three Navajoa-produced ukuleles they had on the display were a T1K (Solid Koa Tenor), an S1 (Solid Mahogany Soprano) and an OXK (HPL Soprano). These same ukes were hanging on the wall in the 1833 Shop where I got to play each one.

    Recently, feeling my collection was not complete, Iíd been looking at solid mahogany ukes, but mostly in the concert scale. However, picking up the S1 felt so good, and it made that sweet jangly ukulele sound with every strum. I was hooked. I wasnít even too bothered by the friction pegs which Iíve avoided to date.

    That S1 stuck in my mind as we returned from our trip. Enter ReverbÖ. I found a great deal that I couldnít pass up.

    So, yesterday was New Ukulele Day for my Martin S1!
    I spent some time cleaning and conditioning the fretboard, cleaning the neck and body, and installing some Martin M600 clear fluorocarbon strings.

    As I cleaned up the fretboard, it looked more like Rosewood than Sipo (the fretboard material listed for current Martin S1ís) which made me think this is older than I thought. I found several discussions talking about the lack of dating/tracking of Martin ukulele serial numbers. Then, I found AustinHingís post "Trying to date my Martin S1Ē (https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...e-my-Martin-S1). Based on his serial number and mine (4116), Iím estimating this S1 is circa 2012-2014.

    Can anyone else provide a better estimate?

    Getting to play it some today, it sings like a mahogany ukulele should. I feel like the extra years have treated it well, and itís well on the way to the solid wood being fully opened up.

    Here's what it looks like now.
    Martin S1 - 1.jpg Martin S1 - 2.jpg

    Thanks for reading.

    Cheers,
    Adam

    C.F. Martin (C1K) All Solid Koa Concert - Uke Logic Soft Tension High G in Sandia Pink
    C.F. Martin (S1) All Solid Mahogany Soprano - Martin M600 Clear Fluorocarbon Soprano/Concert
    Kremona Coco All Solid Cedar / Indian Rosewood - Uke Logic Hard Tension High G in Sandia Pink
    Outdoor Blue Nickel Soprano - Martin M600 Clear Fluorocarbon Soprano/Concert
    Kala (KA-SPMT-TRI) All Solid Spruce / Pau Ferro / Mango Tenor - Worth Brown Tenor + Fremont Soloist Low G

  2. #2
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    Mar 2015
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    Default

    Awesome. I had my hands on one of those for a while and it was a great little uke. In fact, if I'm ever in the market for a solid mahogany soprano again, and have the money, I'd consider getting one. I hope you enjoy it.

  3. #3
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    Congrats on your new baby. I bet that sounds like a humdinger!
    "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.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Welcome to the S1 club, Adam! I don’t suppose your S1 uke comes with the original Martin Feeding and Caring booklet which provides the print year of the booklet. It’s not a direct indication but does give you a more or less accurate idea when your S1 is roll out from the Mexico factory.

    I have upgraded the Grover fiction tuners to Gotoh UPT for lesser hassle. No regrets there and tuning is a Breeze now.
    aNueNue Moon Bird US200 || Kamaka HF-1 || Martin S-1 Uke || Eddy Finn EFTS-20-S || Kala KA-SLNG || Martin C1K Uke || Yamaha GL1
    Check out my ukulele themed paintings in UU forum thread

  5. #5
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    I have to agree that the Martin tour is well worth the drive, and the S1 is a beauty. As for the Fender hat, I'm surprised that was allowed.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  6. #6
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    Judging by the serial number, yours is definitely quite old. I have an S1 with a serial number in the 16000s and that was made in 2017 I believe. Based on the fairly light-coloured fretboard and bridge, I would've said they're either sipo or morado, but the serial number definitely tells you that they're rosewood.

    The S1 is a jangle monster. I've acquired a few more expensive mahogany sopranos since and they don't come even close. They are warmer-sounding than the S1, sure, but if you really like the soprano jangle then the S1 is excellent.

    Also, I don't get why so many people berate Martin for the wood they use in their more modern ukes. My S1 has a fantastic wood grain on it that shimmers similarly to ukes twice its price. It's beautiful in its simplicity.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dohle View Post
    Judging by the serial number, yours is definitely quite old. I have an S1 with a serial number in the 16000s and that was made in 2017 I believe.
    I have a Centennial model soprano, #15,773 and an S1, #12,925.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  8. #8
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    Jan 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by AustinHing View Post
    I don’t suppose your S1 uke comes with the original Martin Feeding and Caring booklet which provides the print year of the booklet.

    I have upgraded the Grover fiction tuners to Gotoh UPT for lesser hassle. No regrets there and tuning is a Breeze now.
    Unfortunately, no booklets with it. It came with just a generic gig bag (Road Runner not the grey C.F.Martin) that was dusty and appeared to have been laying around for a while. I'm not sure how old the strings that I cut of were, but they desperately needed changing.

    On the Gotoh UPTs, did you do the work yourself? Any challenges? I've thought about changing the tuners in time, but for now I'm getting acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of traditional friction tuners. It's not as frustrating as I might have thought, but I was sure to tighten the screws when I changed the strings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dohle View Post
    Based on the fairly light-coloured fretboard and bridge, I would've said they're either sipo or morado, but the serial number definitely tells you that they're rosewood.

    Also, I don't get why so many people berate Martin for the wood they use in their more modern ukes. My S1 has a fantastic wood grain on it that shimmers similarly to ukes twice its price. It's beautiful in its simplicity.
    I'm positive the fretboard is rosewood. By comparison, the Sipo on my brand new C1K looks nice, but nothing like the beautiful grain of the S1's fretboard.

    I can't agree with you more on the mahogany wood quality. The rich tone and grain pattern is amazing. It's why I'd been looking to bring a mahogany uke back into the collection. And Martin's the build quality from the top to the sides to the back almost feels like they built in a "comfort" edge around the whole body--I love the feel.
    Adam

    C.F. Martin (C1K) All Solid Koa Concert - Uke Logic Soft Tension High G in Sandia Pink
    C.F. Martin (S1) All Solid Mahogany Soprano - Martin M600 Clear Fluorocarbon Soprano/Concert
    Kremona Coco All Solid Cedar / Indian Rosewood - Uke Logic Hard Tension High G in Sandia Pink
    Outdoor Blue Nickel Soprano - Martin M600 Clear Fluorocarbon Soprano/Concert
    Kala (KA-SPMT-TRI) All Solid Spruce / Pau Ferro / Mango Tenor - Worth Brown Tenor + Fremont Soloist Low G

  9. #9
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    Dec 2018
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    Although the UPT installation instructions is fairly straightforward, I got my local luthier to do. I just donít trust myself for reaming straight holes in the S1.

    As for the mahogany type, it is mentioned in the product description on the Martin website, that itís made of genuine mahogany which in fact refers to Cuban or Mexican (most likely) or Honduras mahogany. Typical solid mahogany ukes are most likely to use African/ Khaya mahogany. That could be one of the many reasons for the vintage jangle sound.

    Not to mentioned the single piece neck (no stacked heel) with dovetail joint which is hard to see even in other prestigious brandsí top tiered ukes. Sure itís one of plainest ukes ever at that price tag but itís non issue. Simply buff it to add a bit of shine to it.

    aNueNue Moon Bird US200 || Kamaka HF-1 || Martin S-1 Uke || Eddy Finn EFTS-20-S || Kala KA-SLNG || Martin C1K Uke || Yamaha GL1
    Check out my ukulele themed paintings in UU forum thread

  10. #10
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    Beautiful little Martin S1 Adam.

    I know that these days Martin dyes some of their fretboards. The fretboard on my 1T IZ bled a black dye onto the cloth when I conditioned the fretboard with Music Nomad F-One Oil. The wood on the fingerboard was very dry even though it came directly from the factory to the dealer.
    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 donít begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    óLou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

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