Which era of Martin Style 0 sounds the best?

uketorik

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Besides the tuners, frets and the logos, are there other differences in the construction of the different eras of Martin Style 0 that causes them to sound different? Does the age of the instrument/wood make a difference i.e. the more vintage the instrument/wood, the better it sounds?

I’ve read that Style 0s from the 20s sound the best but likewise have also read opinions saying that those from the 40s and 50s have the best sound.

I know this is highly subjective, but would love to hear opinions from owners and other folks who are more knowledgeable in the this area.

Full disclosure: Yes, I’m thinking of acquiring a Style 0 something in the future.
 
I do not believe it is possible to give a definitive answer to this question. The only way to be sure that a ukulele will suit your requirements is to try it before you commit to buying it - hands on, that is. Listening to a recording of it will not do.
 
I do not believe it is possible to give a definitive answer to this question. The only way to be sure that a ukulele will suit your requirements is to try it before you commit to buying it - hands on, that is. Listening to a recording of it will not do.
Thanks for the message.

I wish I could try one hands on before buying, but unfortunately that’s impossible. There are no shops or sellers with vintage Martin ukes within reasonable travelling distance from where I am.

I understand it’s difficult to have a definite answer, but was hoping to hear more generalised comments and opinions about the differences in tonal quality (if any) between the different eras of Style 0, so at least I’ll have a rough basis to work from when I start to look for one.

If generally all Style 0s sound similar with negligible differences, that would be very useful information for me as well.
 
Oh man… I swear I JUST saw a video of a guy walking through different decades of Martins and you can absolutely hear a difference.

Let me trawl through my YouTube history…
 
Generally, 20s/30s are the most highly regarded as consistently great sounding, from my reading. I've played some that were total tone/volume monsters, others that were just ok, and one that was a very low volume dud. Always better to try before you buy, or at least ask a lot if questions. Otherwise, it's just an online crapshoot.
 
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I had a 1927 style 2 and foolishly sold it because I was troubled by the cracks, although they did not affect the sound whatsoever. It was the greatest-sounding soprano I ever owned. At the time, I also owned a KoAloha, Kamaka, Kanile'a, Pono Mahogany, Kiwaya Mahogany, and a Ukesa Wow. This 1927 Pono beat them all. My next favorite was the Ukesa Wow. But I sold the Martin because of the cracks in the back.

I later replaced it with a 1935-1940s style 0 soprano and the sound is also great, but not as great as the 1927. The 1930s-40s is loud and punchy but lacked some of the finesse of the 1927. So, still not satisfied, I purchased a late 1950's style O and although having a wonderful vintage Martin sound, it did not sound better than my early 1930s - 1940s.

I purchased a Ken Timms thinking that might give me the sound of the 1927 Martin but although a wonderful uke, and great build, it does not. So, for me, the answer to your question is the 1920s in my experience. Today, I own only the 1935-40s Martin, Ukesa Wow, and Timms, and prefer them is this order I just listed.IMG_3206.jpeg
 
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I think to some extent, it is about one uke vs another. I am sure there are variations and there are great ones from all vintages. It also depends on your taste. I have had instruments that I did not love and sold them to people who were thrilled with them. I have played a handful of Martins from different years that were slightly different, but all were good. If you look at videos online there are some great players using ukes from all eras. Last I knew, Ukulelezaza current uke was a late 50's style 3. He seems to manage just fine with it!
 
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