Quick Guide to Martin Ukulele Styles

Martin ukuleles are probably the most sought after brand of ukulele around. It’s many ukers’ dream to come across a vintage Martin ukulele at a car boot sale for a tenner. You’ll often see the ukenoscenti throw around the names of different styles of ukulele, so I thought I’d knock together a quick and easy newbie’s guide to telling different styles of Martin apart so you can tell what’s what.

I’m certainly no expert on the subject. The values are just VERY vague guesses and meant as a loose guideline only. If you want full specs and a detailed history this site is a must read. I’d also recommend you take a look at the above video of ukulelezaza playing four different styles of Martin (0, 1, 2, 3).

martin style 0 ukuleleMartin Style 0

The style 0 Martin is the simplest ukulele they made. The only bit of decoration is the simple ring around the sound hole. The 0 was made in mahogany only. A Style 0 ukulele in top condition might be worth around $800.

Martin Style 1

Style 1’s are very similar to style 0. The quickest way to tell them apart is to look at the fretboard. A Style 1 ukulele will have a double dot at the seventh fret, while a Style 0 will have only one. Also, Style 1 Martins were produced in koa known as (Style 1K) as well as in mahogany (sometimes called 1M but usually just referred to as 1). Koa wood is much lighter than mahogany.

A mahogany style 1 will be worth a little more than the style 0, but a 1k could be worth more than $1,000 in good condition. musicguymic has one for sale at the moment for $1,200.

martin style 2 ukuleleMartin Style 2

The Style 2 is a little more fancy. You can recognise it immediately by the thick white binding around the body of the uke.

The Style 2 was available in mahogany and also in koa. A mahogany version will take you into four figures, and a 2K should see you well over $2,000 and closer to three if it’s in top notch condition.

Martin style 3Martin Style 3

Style 3 Martins were originally made for professional ukulele players and are, therefore, really fancy-schmancy. There are plenty of distinguishing features: a thick white binding around the soundhole, the distinctive design behind the bridge, the fretboard reaching up to the soundhole with a line down the middle. Value roughly $2,000 for the mahogany and $3,000 or over for an early 3K in top condition.

Martin Style 4

There is, apparently, no such thing. I have no idea why.

Martin style 5k ukuleleMartin Style 5k

If you find one of these in a junk shop, count yourself very lucky. They are the Mac-Daddy and, indeed, the Daddy-Mac of ukuleles. They have the fancy filigree on the headstock and no line down the centre of the fretboard to immediately distinguish them from the style 3. You can see a 5K in action in a number of Brian Hefferan’s videos.

The 5k is very sought after and valuable. There was one on eBay with the quite staggering asking price of $50,000. That strikes me as over-valued. If you find one, you’ll probably get five figures for it. The Antiques Roadshow recently valued one at $10,000 to $12,000. And who could disagree with David Bonsey?

Martin did briefly make a mahogany version of the Style 5. But they’re very rare.

Martin have recently started making Style 5’s again and you can find them for sale on Elderly. They have also made (in Mexico) other modern ukuleles such as the S-O and the HS-O. These tend to be not so highly regarded.

Happy hunting.

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62 Comments

  1. Woodshed November 19th, 2012 10:09 am

    blueskies: Oh, I see! Same goes for the baritone really. It’s not my thing. I don’t hate them.

  2. George Mandalou January 9th, 2013 12:47 pm

    Can someone tell me the date that Martin went from wooden peg tuners to friction tuners on their ukuleles? Thanks Geo.

  3. Woodshed January 10th, 2013 8:26 am

    George: I think 1926 was the last year wooden pegs were standard.

  4. George Mandalou January 10th, 2013 11:13 am

    Thanks Woodshed, I have a soprano Martin 2k in great condition with peg tuners. Your info will go a long way towards dating the Uke, thanks again, Geo.

  5. Woodshed January 10th, 2013 2:18 pm

    George: Hmm, they might have stopped the wooden tuners on the 2K earlier than that. I will consult the oracle on such matters. According to that the wooden pegs stopped in 1922. Which would mean you can narrow it down to 1920-1922.

  6. bb March 18th, 2013 5:14 am

    Noticed the guidelines for prices for the different styles were written in 2008. Would anyone be able to update them? Yes, I know we’re just talking vague guesses…

  7. Norm July 19th, 2014 5:26 am

    This is a great site. Just acquired a Martin S-1 at a bargain price. When I noticed it was made in Mexico I admittedly was disappointed. I know Martin has great standards so I assume they had good guidelines as this instrument plays well and has a great voice. It’s not my main instrument but i will pass this along to my granddaughter when it comes time. Thanks for being here, learning a lot.

  8. D Denney July 26th, 2016 5:21 pm

    Thanks to your website, I now know that I own a Style 0.

  9. Woodshed July 26th, 2016 7:37 pm

    D Denney: Glad you found it helpful!

  10. Joel Crockett August 30th, 2016 1:09 am

    I, too, discovered I have a Style 0 – given to me by my Dad in 1948. I saved it for my grandkids. Alas, none of them are interested. So I’m going to sell it. And now I have a good idea how much to ask. Thanks!

  11. annette September 5th, 2016 10:33 pm

    Good Day!
    I have a National Nickle Uke; probably dated around the 1960’s or earlier. I don’t see anything like this on your site. Are you familiar with it.

  12. Mark Paitich October 18th, 2016 2:09 am

    I have an old Martin Use and and it has a stamp that is kinda faded but it is made in Pennsylvania. Would this indicate a certain date. Thanks Mark.

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