In 2014 I found this amazing 1950s Martin Style 0 Ukulele at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, Tennessee. These 1950's Martin Ukes are by no means rare, but they are amazing instruments. This particular uke has a few problems with it, but it gives this instrument some major character.
At some point in the life of this uke some one stripped away the finish. So instead of the normal satin finish that this uke would have had it is kind of rough and the typical dark color of these ukes is a little bit on the brighter side.
Continuing down the path of the unique character of this instrument their is a crack that runs from the lower bout to almost the sound hole. At some point someone attempted to repair this crack with some sort of glue.
One of my favorite little touches about Martin uke's is that they have a moustache that extends from the fretboard. It really is the small touches that set the design of these ukes apart. Take a look at the wear on the fretboard. This uke has seen a lot of love over the years. I have also played the tar out of this little guy over the last few years.
Here you can see the Martin and Co logo that was used at the time on the headstock. You can also see the tuning pegs for the original tuners. If you look closely you can see that their has been some damage to the nut, but it still holds the strings pretty well.
The back of the instrument also has a major crack that runs from the lower bout to the center. It had an attempted repair with hot hide glue at some point, but it was not done well, and probably should have been cleated.
Now the amazing thing is how well this instrument plays. It has absolutely beautiful tone.
Sometimes an instrument is more than the sum of its parts. If you were to just look at this instrument on the wall at a big name music shop you would probably pass over it. Sometimes you should take an extra second and look at the beaters.
Where this Uke shines is the tone and playability. Martin had the neck profile just right on these bad boys. It is on the skinny side with just enough width. The back of the neck is a little tacky to the touch, but with a soprano size you really don't have to worry about it as much as you would on a longer scale. The fretboard is really flat, which is great for the type of playing that this uke was intended for aka strumming along and singing. The tone that comes out of this uke is really mellow and sounds like a any other Martin uke of the era except with a bit more volume that I think comes from the cracks and the lack of finish. It is also perfect for playing the blues with its slightly muffled tone and how quickly the tone diminishes.
I love getting the opportunity to document things that I love. Musical instruments have a special place in my life. This little uke just shows how a little extra love on an instrument can look really cool and sound amazing.
These are the original friction pegs. They are still in beautiful working condition. They may not be the most accurate tuners in the world but they simply work.
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