Martin Ukulele

Martin ukuleles are some of the most sought after ukuleles around. There are many avid collectors of Martin ukuleles around and people who refuse to play anything but Martins.

Martin started producing ukuleles in 1916 and were the largest producer of ukes

There are a number of different styles (from style 0 to style 5 - but there's no 4). Generally speaking, the higher the number, the higher the price.

More knowledgeable sellers will indicate which style the Martin is. However, less well informed sellers, such as on eBay or in junk shops, will often not know what style the uke is. In this case, it's worth being able to identify which type of ukulele it is and how much it might be worth so you can tell if you're getting a bargain.

Martin stopped making ukuleles for many years. But with the new boom they're back on the bandwagon. To begin with they started by releasing new models. They were not all that well received. So they've reintroduced the old models. Which is definitely a good marketing move. Whether the new ones match up to the quality of the old ones is an area of dispute.

On Video


This video, by ukulelezaza, has three different styles of Martin ukulele. From the beginning: Style 0, 1960s Style 1, 1920s Style 2, 1940s Style 3

On eBay

Dating Martin Ukuleles

Again, there you can go into minute, recondite information in this area, but their are two easy to spot features that will help you work out or confirm the Martin's age:

Peghead: The earliest Martin ukuleles (before '33) have a stamp on the back of the peghead. After this, they had a decal on the front (there was a slight overlap in these).

Soundhole: Inside the soundhole you'll see a stamp. If you can see the words "Made in USA" the ukulele was produced after 1966.

Martin Made Ukuleles

As well as making their own ukuleles, Martin also made ukes for other manufacturers such as Oliver Ditson. These ukuleles are identical to the standard Martin ukuleles apart from the maker stamps and decals.

eBay Ruses

Because Martins are so sought after, some sellers on eBay resort to shady tactics to get their ukes in front of buyers. One way you'll see regularly is people advertising the uke "w/ Martin strings" in the title. You see ukuleles refered to as 'Martin style' - even when they clearly aren't (Kiwaya are an exception to this). Another is people speculating that the ukulele is a Martin - it rarely is. Martin's are almost always stamped. Personally, I wouldn't buy anything from a seller that uses such desperate tactics.

12 Comments

  1. Joel T. Perdue March 6th, 2010 3:17 pm

    Greetings My Friend and Thank You,
    I became so excited that I wet my pants…Well, not really, but still, it was that good and very much appreciated by me. Can’t wait to share it.
    Virtually, as good as it gets, literally.
    Thanx So Much, Joe, Cotton Eyed Joe

  2. Larry Perlman September 14th, 2011 11:32 pm

    I own a Martin soprano from the early 60′s and a baritone Martin I purchased for $1,200 which I felt was a good buy. I also own a Collins koa tenor which I love to play.

  3. John January 17th, 2012 5:40 pm

    Anybody know where I can find a case for a Martin O style soprano Uke? I just aquired one which I date somewhere between late 1940′s and early 1960′s Also if anyoen has any tips on cleaning the finish or what is the best way to care for a vintage uke. Thanks!!

  4. Jamie January 23rd, 2012 7:26 pm

    I have a Martin style 3,diamond shaped inlays the works, original case. was told by the gentelman that gave it to me it was a copy of Ukele Ikes’. I acquired it from an older gentelman in the early 60′s. He said it had been in his closet for years. Prbably has only been played a matter of hours.excellent condition. Is anyone interested?

  5. Amelia June 2nd, 2012 3:46 pm

    Are Martin ukuleles the same as Martin Smith ukuleles found on the UK Amazon site here:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/MARTIN-SMITH-BLUE-UKULELE-BEGINNERS/dp/B007RHDOP2/ref=sr_1_6?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1338648235&sr

  6. Woodshed June 2nd, 2012 4:27 pm

    Amelia: God, no!

  7. Arlo James Barnes July 22nd, 2012 9:17 am

    I am assuming ‘Made in Mexico’ are modern-day? I have a style 1 (number 2020).

    By the way, the seams are amazing – were it not for the grain, it would look to be carved from a single block of wood. Minimalistic & sturdy design.

  8. Troy October 16th, 2012 11:52 pm

    Hello! I have a Martin style 0 Uke in nearly mint condo.

    It DOES has-
    -the overlap on the front decal
    -round pegs and T frets.
    -Martin stamp inside body

    It DOSENT have-
    -A stamp on the back of the head
    -The MADE IN USA stamp inside it

    What year would you guess this one would be?

    Thanks!

  9. paolo petrozziello January 16th, 2013 12:35 pm

    I am the happy owner of two Martin ukes ! I first bought an OXK, on which, at the beginning, I had many doubts, but then, reading all the positive reviews about, I decided to buy it and I am very happy of this purchase. After some time, I felt I had to buy an original Martin US made one, so, I found a nice opportunity and got a 3cherry ! My mexican Martin had to have his… US “brother” !!! Beautiful instrument, really ! Amazing look and playabilty. I am very happy with both of them and would like to add here, that the OXK can stand up perfectly in front of his more precious “brother” ! Just a different sound, a bit more brilliant, than the cherry one, which has a milder, sweeter voice, but, sincerely I can simply state that they are BOTH very good, as all “Martin made” instruments !!!

  10. Dan June 2nd, 2013 10:21 pm

    Curious Headstock number stanping:

    I have a Martin style-1 Sporano in mahogany w/ rosewood fretboard that my dad bought new circa 1932. No stamp on back of headstock, decal on front, stamp above interior center back-brace (Nazareth PA), ebony patent tuners, ebony nut & bridge-insert, and what looks like tortoise shell top banding (with bk/wh inbound of that), bk/wh/bk/wh/bk around soundhole. I think ALL of those are normal S1M features for 1932 but I have two questions:

    1) was tortoise shell banding standard in the early 30s?
    2) looking at the TOP edge of the headstock there is stamped into the wood a large serial or production number of some sort: “19G 4140″ yet I haven’t seen ANY of the Martin-related uke sites mention anything about a number there. What’s up with that number?

    Appreciate any insight you can offer.

    Thanks so much!
    Dan

  11. JBS from Apollo June 26th, 2013 7:58 pm

    The recent S-O, S-1 and new Koa 1K are all made in Mexico and start at $399. The 2 thru 5 are made in USA and start at about $1K.

  12. Jackson October 19th, 2013 7:55 pm

    I bought a Martin OXK to stuff into the saddlebag of a Motorcycle. Honestly, it’s a great Uke. The playability and intonation are excellent. Although it isn’t as loud as a Martin S1, it is an incredibly durable ukulele with great sound for what it is.

    I would definitely recommend this uke to anyone who travels a lot, or enjoys sitting by an outdoor campfire. Great uke for a beginner too.

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