Martin Ukulele: Collectible & Classic Ukulele

The Martin Ukulele represents one of the first incarnations of a mass-produced ukulele that was, and is, very much taken seriously as a viable instrument. The popularity of these instruments began to blossom in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The ukulele was being brought into popular usage by servicemen who returned from duty in Hawaii. The Martin Company, however, had already been producing high-quality examples of these instruments for years prior to its burgeoning popularity; as far back as the early 1900’s. Their reputation for quality still remains very much in effect today.

Design Evolution

Martin designs have evolved over the years. In their initial years of manufacture, they were quite guitar-like, featuring the heavy bracing characteristic of those instruments rather than the light construction characteristic of ukuleles. They evolved over time into what are widely considered to be some of the best examples of ukuleles on the market. The hardware is of the highest quality, the resonance is excellent and they are available in the full range of voices, from soprano to baritone. Many of these instruments, however, are by no means beginner or introductory models.


Chris Martin on Martin Ukes


Expensive Martin Ukulele Vintages

Martin ukuleles can be very expensive, ranging above $1,000. This rather serves to cement their reputation as a serious instrument for serious players. This price is not based on them being a name-brand instrument. These instruments rival hand-made versions in the clarity of their tone, the detail of their construction and in their durability. Like any good instrument, they tend to improve in tone with age as the wood is resonated more and more. These instruments are one of the most popular choices with performing ukulele players and with those who use the instruments for professional applications such as recording. There are several different styles available. There are some lower-priced models, as well.

Backpacker Model

Part of the popularity of a ukulele is based on its ability to be transported easily. After all, aside from perhaps a flute, there are few smaller instruments in current usage. To that end, Martin does manufacture a “Backpacker” model that is not of the same rigid construction standards as its very high-end models but which offers a good sound and easy playability. Of course, should one take a nasty spill during their backpacking excursion, they needn’t fret quite as much as they would have had a $1,000 instrument been on their back at the time!

Newer Cheaper Models

The less expensive Martin Ukulele models represent a good second instrument for those who have learned the basics and who are ready to take on a more developed instrument. The very high-end models are some of the best choices for those whose profession, at least in part, is that of an instrumentalist. Those who are fortunate enough to own a vintage Martin will oftentimes find that their instrument can fetch a very high price. These instruments represent one of the few mass-produced lines of ukuleles which are almost universally designed for those individuals who use their ukulele as a serious and professional instrument.

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