1918 Martin 3K Ukelele

1918 Martin 3K Ukelele

One of the first Martin 3K Ukeleles ever made.

This is possibly a prototype, one of the first, all hand-made Martin 3K Ukeleles, made probably before the official introduction of the model by Martin in 1919-1920.

It has many signs that it was the one of the first ones:

  • Ebony fretboard is hand-cut
  • Fretboard inlays are hand-cut
  • There is an “A” on the back of headstock… could be a marking by the Martin craftsmen in-house to indicate a prototype.

So it dates from about 1918– when Martin first developed the style “3K” before its launch in 1920.

The “K” of course, stands for Koa (wood).

It has:

  • Several cracks on back (repaired)
  • Two cracks on top (repaired)
  • There is one missing brace, a back brace, inside. Since ukeleles are so small, that brace has no real structural importance, so we decided not to replace it
  • The sound hole was at some point enlarged slightly, either at the factory, or later. Probably later– so we’ll call it the Tony Rice model… this modification does add loudness
  • The finish is all original.
  • Original striped nut
  • 3 lines inlaid down center of fingerboard.
  • 7 ply side binding
  • Celluloid ornament on top, behind bridge (known as the “parend”).
  • Small pearl paired-diamond inlays at fret 5, 7, 9– hand-cut. With the “bowtie” at the 7th fret
  • Kite-shaped celluloid ornament on front of headstock
  • Original friction pegs
  • Ebony fretboard
  • C.F. Martin & Co. stamp on back of headstock.

The tone is absolutely superb– loud, clear, bright glassy tone that only Koa gives– and this one is as light as a feather… the best tone we’ve heard from any ukelele.

With original case.