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Thread: Vintage Martin ukuleles...

  1. #1
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    Default Vintage Martin ukuleles...

    I've been having an ongoing debate with people on the "Martin Ukulele" facebook page concerning bar frets and when they were used and discontinued. I was told and found backup documentation that in 1933 Martin put the decal on the headstock and in 1935, they went from bar frets to using T-frets, making mine a '33 or '34. Then during the war years, went back to bar frets for a few years.

    Well, there are some people on there that swear by a well-known Martin history book that evidently says that Martin used bar frets until 1947.

    I bought my Martin style 0 back in 2013 and was told by the guy I got it from, who was/is some sort of "collector" and he told me it was a 1930's, evidenced by the decal and bar frets. At the time I found documentation that backed that up, but that link, which was a geocities page is gone.

    Does anyone have access to or can confirm that information?
    Just Play

    Sopranos: 1st uke, Lanikai soprano LU-11 - Aquilas | 30's Martin style 0 - Martins
    Concerts: Kanile'a K-2 CP - Living Water | Islander AC-4 - Living Water | Waverly Street banjolele - Worth Browns
    Tenor: Martin Iz - Living Water low G
    UBass: Kala FS2 (fretless) - Pahoehoe

  2. #2
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    The book in question, The Martin Ukulele by Tom Walsh & John King, was exhaustively researched by the authors with full access to the Martin records archive at the factory. It can, without a doubt, be considered the most authoritative source of accurate information with regard to vintage Martin ukuleles.

    The book very consistently shows that Martin made the switch from bar frets to T frets on their ukuleles in 1947. There is absolutely no mention of goinging back and forth between the two.

    It’s an extremely well researched and written book that I highly recommend for anyone interested in the history of the Martin ukulele. FWIW, one of the authors, Tom Walsh is actually a member of the FB group you mentioned (if it’s the same group I belong to). Try tagging him in your question and see if he responds.

    Hope this helps,

    Scooter
    Martin Konter Uke Style 1K soprano
    Late 40's Martin Style 1 soprano
    Soprano Martin Backpacker Ukulele
    Soprano Uke Can Change The World Flea
    Soprano Firefly (wood fretboard)
    iUke Bound Natural Pineapple piccolo mini
    Concert Tie-Dye Flea (wood fretboard)
    Concert Eddy Finn moon and Stars
    Concert Oscar Schmidt Mousekulele
    Tenor Koa Fluke (wood fretboard)
    Tenor Mainland Mahogany slothead

    "The way I see it as soon as a baby is born, he should be issued a Ukulele."
    ~Linus Van Pelt~

  3. #3
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    Default

    I suppose it is possible that 1947 might mean that is when they permanently stopped using them. I have also heard that conflicting info that you mention. It would be interesting to find out more.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDW View Post
    I suppose it is possible that 1947 might mean that is when they permanently stopped using them. I have also heard that conflicting info that you mention. It would be interesting to find out more.
    As I said above, get the book. The authors literally held Martin’s production records in their hands and studied them for a couple of years while researching. You simply can’t find a more accurate and authoritative source of information than John and Tom’s book.

    Scooter
    Martin Konter Uke Style 1K soprano
    Late 40's Martin Style 1 soprano
    Soprano Martin Backpacker Ukulele
    Soprano Uke Can Change The World Flea
    Soprano Firefly (wood fretboard)
    iUke Bound Natural Pineapple piccolo mini
    Concert Tie-Dye Flea (wood fretboard)
    Concert Eddy Finn moon and Stars
    Concert Oscar Schmidt Mousekulele
    Tenor Koa Fluke (wood fretboard)
    Tenor Mainland Mahogany slothead

    "The way I see it as soon as a baby is born, he should be issued a Ukulele."
    ~Linus Van Pelt~

  5. #5
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    Jan 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScooterD35 View Post
    As I said above, get the book. The authors literally held Martin’s production records in their hands and studied them for a couple of years while researching. You simply can’t find a more accurate and authoritative source of information than John and Tom’s book.
    Scooter
    I have it. I am just saying that there may be more details

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDW View Post
    I have it. I am just saying that there may be more details
    I don’t understand how there could possibly be “details” about Martin’s production that they would be unaware of. Their records archive is large and incredibly detailed.


    Scooter
    Martin Konter Uke Style 1K soprano
    Late 40's Martin Style 1 soprano
    Soprano Martin Backpacker Ukulele
    Soprano Uke Can Change The World Flea
    Soprano Firefly (wood fretboard)
    iUke Bound Natural Pineapple piccolo mini
    Concert Tie-Dye Flea (wood fretboard)
    Concert Eddy Finn moon and Stars
    Concert Oscar Schmidt Mousekulele
    Tenor Koa Fluke (wood fretboard)
    Tenor Mainland Mahogany slothead

    "The way I see it as soon as a baby is born, he should be issued a Ukulele."
    ~Linus Van Pelt~

  7. #7
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    Tacoma, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScooterD35 View Post
    I don’t understand how there could possibly be “details” about Martin’s production that they would be unaware of. Their records archive is large and incredibly detailed.


    Scooter
    History is socially constructed, and not fact. The poster is seeking alternative perspectives--I think that should be honored, IMHO.
    Brad Donaldson mahogany Martin 0 style soprano
    Pohaku Concert 10 (small concert), Bearclaw spruce top/maple body and neck
    Weymann 1920 Model 10 soprano
    Japanese no name soprano, 1950s Burch sunburst
    Japanese no name soprano, 1940s mahogany Laminate
    Japanese no name soprano, 1950s mahogany
    Anuenue Flame Maple Soprano 2012

  8. #8
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    May 2018
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    Kekaha, Kauai
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    I have the book and a vintage Martin style O soprano with the decal and bar frets, so I have scoured the book thoroughly for any clues I can find to accurately date my uke. As far as the factory records are concerned, the authors repeatedly state that the records are very incomplete. And they also stated that the manufacturing process at Martin could be haphazard and the workers would often grab whatever parts that came to hand and would fit the bill. So, the only absolute conclusion I can come to is my uke was made between 1932 and 1947. That said, from the condition of the finish when I received it, I believe it was made in the 30’s, but that is a guess.
    Brad
    Bradford Donaldson
    Kekaha, HI and Cannon Beach OR
    bradfordj48@outlook.com

  9. #9
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    Wont the tuners give you a good idea of the date ?
    Post a pic of the tuners .
    Oh , maybe you have wood tuners ?
    Last edited by Pukulele Pete; 04-16-2021 at 04:17 AM. Reason: not telling
    " Anything larger than a soprano is cheating "
    " I'm no luthier but ,........"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pukulele Pete View Post
    Wont the tuners give you a good idea of the date ?
    Post a pic of the tuners .
    Gladly...and, as Buzz said, mine looks like it's from the 30's...
    headstock.jpg tuners.jpg
    Just Play

    Sopranos: 1st uke, Lanikai soprano LU-11 - Aquilas | 30's Martin style 0 - Martins
    Concerts: Kanile'a K-2 CP - Living Water | Islander AC-4 - Living Water | Waverly Street banjolele - Worth Browns
    Tenor: Martin Iz - Living Water low G
    UBass: Kala FS2 (fretless) - Pahoehoe

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