1920’s Vintage Martin Ukelele

We now travel back in time to the 1920’s.

This is a 1920’s vintage Martin Style 0 Ukelele, given to me as a young lad of nine years old, by an uncle of my Mother.

I did some web searching, and found the site: www.Frets.com had a wonderful page about Martin Ukelele’s.

Source: http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/History/Martin/MartinUkes/martinukes.html

“In the early 1920s an even simpler mahogany model without any binding, the Style 0, was offered for a mere $10. This model allowed Martin to compete more effectively with the cheaper mail-order ukes offered by companies like Sears and Montgomery Ward. Of all the Martin instruments that turn up in the corner of an attic or the top shelf of Grandma’s closet, an overwhelming majority are Style 0 ukes”.

From the photos you can see that time and poor handling have damaged this little gem severely. The back has extensive long cracks running from the neck side to the back side. The front has one long crack down the bottom edge.

All of these cracks have been repaired with “Scotch-Brand” tape! It will be difficult to remove this tape during restoration should I choose to have it restored. The adhesive would certainly remove grain from the mahogany, but may reveal a different color finish under the tape’s years of sealing.

From the photos you cannot tell anything about the vintage other than a few small clues. The little scrolled nib at the top of the fretboard, where the fretboard meets the body is one clue. Also the purfling detail around the soundhole is Martin’s own from this period.

I shined a flashlight into the soundhole, looking for a serial number stamped into the wood at the neck / body joint like later Martin Guitars have, but I could not locate any information inside the body at all. The Martin Headstock decal as shown in the Frets.com photos has long since been worn away or removed by previous owner(s).

The name Jay B. is scratched into the surface of the finish, on the back of the headstock, and my name ‘Nick’ has been scratched horizontally in the same location at the vertical end of the headstock, between the top two tuners.

No doubt the addition of my name to the instrument would have been done at the tender age of nine, when I would have had no clue as to the damage being done. I have no idea of the current value from it’s original sale price of $10.00, but I imagine not much as there may be thousands of these in people’s attics or closet’s. In any event this one still plays well, despite the fragile condition.

More to come, please leave a comment if you liked this review!

Respectfully, Nicholas

For a great guitar instruction program: http://nickmidi1.jamorama.hop.clickbank.net/

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