January 13, 2011 by Tim
So last NAMM (Summer NAMM 2010 in Nashville) I was told that Martin was working on a new ukulele to possibly replace the not so popular S-O. In my opinion I thought the S-O was not worth $300. I could go and get an awesome uke from Mainland for less than that. Well I think Martin listened to everyone and actually made a real uke that is worth the Martin name, and it is under $300.
I would think that the high end daisy and the 3K would be awesome but really they did not have a good uke for the masses, but now they do. Read my basic impressions below. I will break it down like my reviews.
Please keep in mind that I will be doing a real review in a month or two, but I will bring it everywhere I go if you want to play it.
Body: Solid Mahogany
Saddle : Bone
Nut : Bone
String : Martin
Peg : Peg
String attachment: Knot in a slot
First look: To me it looks like a S-O, but I am not a Martin expert. It might be bigger, but not sure. Nice semi-gloss finish. From a far you know it is a Martin ukulele. Nothing too fancy, but it looks nice.
Fit and Finish: This is a Martin instrument, I could stop there, but I won’t. It is light and seems really tight. I would say the finish looks rustic, not super clean but just classic like an old uke that was sent from the past. One thing I noticed that I have not seen on other ukes is how the heel is rounded into the body; it gives it a carved look. I found no issues…yet.
Sound Type: I think Martin has been playing the old Martins and decided that is what they want to capture, and I think they did it. The S-O always sounded dead to me, the S1 is very much alive and kicking. Sound sample below
Intonation: Dead on. The setup is perfect; I think it makes me sound better than I am.
Volume: Not super loud, but….It can be punchy. You feel the whole thing vibrate when you play. Has great lows and not to twangy highs.
String Height: (Low) Nice to play. With the really low nut it makes it a dream to play
Frets: One of the few ukes I play that the fret board is not bound and you can’t feel the frets. The frets themselves seem bigger than a normal soprano. Also the neck feels super wide, which I like since I have large hands
Tuning: So far pretty easy and nice.
Comfort: This thing is like an old-time uke, super light and nice edges. A little sharp but it is not that bad since it is light.
Smell: If I could bottle the Martin smell I would. It smells like wood and awesome.
Please keep in mind that this is not a full review, I received the uke a day before I left for NAMM, but so far I think Martin has a winner. It plays like a Martin Ukulele should. I hope this is the direction that they keep going, and I really hope they do a C1 (Concert size)
HD Sound Sample