Martin Employee Tenor: Ukulele Window Shopping

Martin, being a very generous company, allowed employees near retirement to come in on their days off and build an instrument of their own choosing. While it was a bit stingy not to let them do it in their work-hours, it has produced a healthy number of collectable ukuleles. This week there’s this 1947 Spruce-top Martin Tenor. It’s being sold by Ukulelefriend so the description is well worth a read (just don’t look at the price).

With all the hype surrounding Eddie Vedder’s uke album, I hope some will spillover onto his luthier of choice: Eric DeVine. Who makes handsome ukuleles like this.

I think this ukulele is too camp to have been made in ‘late 1800’s to early 1900’s’.

8-string pineapple from Kapono

The solid-body Kala UBasses are around and I’m quite taken by the Skyline Red model.

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13 Comments

  1. Jim T. May 27th, 2011 6:35 pm

    Al:

    You’re right. This “late 1800s to early 1900s” uke with mandolin styling is a 20th century product, likely American made. There’s nothing remotely Madeiran/Portuguese about it.

  2. Skwidspawn May 27th, 2011 7:32 pm

    You can listen to the whole Eddie Vedder album right now on NPR’s first listen site. It’s quite enjoyable.

  3. Craig Robertson May 27th, 2011 7:47 pm

    Am I missing something here? Are these ukuleles made of solid fucking gold? They’re obviously not meant to be used for making music, because no serious musician could afford one. (Sorry, Eddie).

    There are actually a couple good cuts on his “ukulele” CD. Too bad he only plays a tenor.

  4. Hello Jodi May 27th, 2011 8:16 pm

    What Craig said. Seriously, it’s a uku-fuckin-lele!

    Also I’m really a little in love with Vedder’s record. More than a little.

  5. L.bo Marie May 28th, 2011 5:20 am

    a uke shouldn’t cost twice what I paid for my car.
    pretty funny really- that someone might pay.

    and TOTALLY agree with Hello Jodi, I listened to the album ready to hate it, but have quite the crush on the whole thing.

  6. Ron Hale May 28th, 2011 6:36 am

    Another nice uke bass can be seen in the video:

    Stevens Bass Ukulele
    Stevensuke

    Never heard any Eddie Vedder music other than in a couple of uke videos. And they were perfectly OK by me. Nothing special though, and certainly nothing meriting fawning over the guy like he’s some sort of ukulele savior who’s appearance on the uke scene finally will tilt the serious/novelty debate once and for all time to the serious side.

    The album wil come, the album will go. People will enjoy it or not. People will cover the songs. And then that will be that. Chances are that will be that for Eddie and the ukulele, too.
    Haven’t seen any Kaki King uke videos for a while.
    Too bad…

    Unless you’re Jake or James, at such a high level of musicianship you’re going to find more musical meat with the guitar than you are with the uke. Sorry, but it’s true. You’ll have more fun with the ukulele, however, which is why I lean heavily toward the fun/novelty side of the debate these days. Go easy on the kazoos, though.
    Haven’t seen a kazoo in any of your videos, Al.

  7. Woodshed May 28th, 2011 8:11 am

    Jim: Thanks very much for the info.

    Skwidspawn: Thanks.

    Craig: There’s a reason these are titled ‘window shopping’.

    Jodi: Me too, it’s an excellent record.

    L.bo: I don’t have a car so can I spend what I saved there on ukuleles?

    Ron: No, I don’t own a kazoo. But I do have a nose flute.

  8. Rob NY May 28th, 2011 1:39 pm

    Uke related supply and demand.

  9. L.bo Marie May 29th, 2011 8:55 pm

    or perhaps I should be selling my car to free up some uke cash? If only my town had a half useful transit system.

  10. Jake Wildwood May 30th, 2011 2:42 pm

    Heh heh…

    There’s not much else to say about the cost of those instruments. :)

    From time to time I meet a fellow who’s dropped $10k+ on a fancy archtop guitar and a little bit of pain shoots down my spine.

    From the point of view of a seller of vintage instruments… there comes a point when you realize that you have to put a premium on instruments that are extremely rare and desirable, especially since they don’t walk through one’s door 24/7.

    Still, I find a $16k uke pretty harsh!

  11. Tony Boland May 31st, 2011 4:07 pm

    Eddie’s album is …d-vine but, but, $5,850 for his ukulele…..Sweet Lamplightin’ Jehovah!!!!!!

  12. Peter May 31st, 2011 8:25 pm

    “Unless you’re Jake or James, at such a high level of musicianship you’re going to find more musical meat with the guitar than you are with the uke. Sorry, but it’s true.”

    ‘Musical meat?’ So more notes = better than? Man, those guitarists had better drop their guitars for pianos, what were they thinking! Nobody sane disagrees that a guitar has more range, objectively, but if you seriously think that you need a virtuoso-level amount of talent to be creative and expressive on the ukulele you are going about this the wrong way.

  13. Woodshed June 2nd, 2011 11:09 am

    Jake: You’re definitely right about rare and desirable instruments. And they can be a good investment. Anyone who built a Martin ukulele collection 10/20 years ago is going to be happy about now.

    Tony: It’s a nice uke though.

    Peter: While you don’t need technical wizardry to be creative and expressive, I think you do need skills to get the most out of a top-end ukulele.

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