Martin T1K Tenor Full Review


March 15, 2014 by Tim

New format

As I said a while back I am going to change the format of the reviews. This would be the first one!!

Tenor: 20 Frets (14 fret at the body)
Tuners: Open Geared
Nut & saddle: Bone
Top: Solid Hawaiian Koa
Sides: Solid Hawaiian Koa
Back: Solid Hawaiian Koa
Neck: Select Hardwood?, Rosewood Fretboard
String Attachment: Tie on
Finish: Matte
Case: Martin soft case included
Full Specs:

All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explanation of reviews

First Look 5
Fit and Finish 4
Sound Type Bright
Intonation 5
Volume 5
Sustain 5
String Height High
Neck Radius Depth 3/4″
Frets 5
Tuning 4
Comfort 5
Sound Hole Smell Like a loverly Martin

Places to buy on the web:

Guitar Center $499
Elderly  $499

11 thoughts on “Martin T1K Tenor Full Review

  1. Jeffy Smith says:

    Great to see a new review! I am so glad the new review format still includes a “Sound hole smell” category. Good review, for the price I agree you can do much better, unless you have to have the gold Martin logo on the headstock. Thanks Tim!

  2. Tim C. says:

    Nice to see you back Tim. I agree to some degree that the price is a bit high and you certainly pay for the logo, but solid koa instuments in the $500 range are pretty rare as far as I know. For the $350 range as you mentioned you are normally talking mahagony or mango for all solid wood. And none of those will hold their resale value like a Martin.

    As to the sound hole smell 😉 I don’t believe there is any oil used. The finish is a lacquer, not an oil and they don’t oil the interiors of the instruments.

    As far as sound goes, it sure didn’t sound too bright on the recording. it sounded really good. But it is probably a different store playing it live.

    Lastly, friction tuners, good ones are great, bad ones are aweful and good ones are many times what those cheap open geared ones cost. I agree with you but with the price point of the uke, I suspect their only option is open gear.

    I think that setup was a bit inexcusable.

    • Tim C. says:

      “different story” and yes awful does not have an “e”…

    • Tim C. says:

      As an aside, lately Taylor has been tinting their koa guitars almost like a sunburst which I think is sinful but I wonder if they started doing it because they are only able to get the pale lower grade koa.. The big boys get all the good stuff but nice koa is scarce. More sustainable woods are probably a better idea but then the koa will get used for something and I would rather see a koa uke than another koa bowl or ash tray.. 🙂

  3. Baz says:

    I loved mine, though I did sell it on to someone else in the band. I think they do use oil on the finish and it does indeed have a Martin smell.

    • Scott says:

      I love my t1k and would consider another for low g tuning in future. I set my own gear up so I’m ok with the action a little high. Intonation is spot on and sustain is great.
      Mine is subtly beautiful, though I know some koa is much prettier BUT this isn’t priced as those ones I’m speaking are. Hell if looks were all that mattered, there are some fantastic wood laminate Ukes for cheaper (some Kala are beautiful) but not nearly as nice sounding…subjective.
      Martin is producing some nice instruments in their Mexico based operation. The guitars are nice as well.

  4. Good review- I too think that Koa is the grade for a lower level uke. We agree on the tuners, but like Tim C states it a price point thing- they are not building a custom. As far as a Martin… I have a vintage soprano and I wouldn’t buy a new one unless it was one made in Nazareth, PA. They definitely are nice.

  5. opal Tilton says:

    is their any place i can find a 8 string bass uke ?

  6. Mark Cole says:

    I gotta say I’m with you on the tuners issue. Nothing worse than a head heavy instrument. I was talking to a manufacturer on Kauai a bit ago and he said the trend toward geared tuners is being driven by guitar players buying ukes, which he said is by far his biggest client base. But Ukes aren’t supposed to have ears! Especially sopranos and concerts. Why on earth put a sealed geared tuner on a soprano? It looks bad (wrong) and adds a ton of weight. Hopefully there will be more (cheaper) choices for builders other than Pegheads (which I love).
    Keep up the great work!

  7. Patrick B. says:

    Great assessment and, you’re absolutely right about the quality of the Koa, it’s awful. The reason being Chuck Moore snaps up all the good stuff before it makes it to the Mainland.
    I would buy a T1K tomorrow for $300. If there was any flame at all to the Koa, I would gladly pay the $500.
    By the way Tim, I just so happen to have a Martin S0 for sale. Are you interested?

  8. Bill Morris says:

    Excellent informed review – I have bought one and am really happy with it. You are right about the sound hole Martin smell too!!! Well done!!

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