1920s Martin “Employee” Ukulele – Hawaiian Koa


Circa. 1920. Martin “Employee” Soprano Ukulele handcrafted in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Martin employee ukuleles are amongst the rarest and most desirable ukuleles to have ever been handcrafted and only a small number are known to have been made. This one is a remarkable and historical example of a gorgeous Martin “employee” soprano ukulele.

Martin employee ukuleles were only allowed to be built under one of two circumstances; 1) retirement in which an employee was allowed to handcraft his own instrument in any style or combination of styles as a retirement gift from the company or 2) as a means of improving luthier techniques and skill levels.  Consequently, these instruments do not bear the classic decals or insignias that are typically found on C.F. Martin & Co. ukuleles and were only allowed to be fashioned by factory employees during off hours. (i.e. during a lunch break, after typical work hours, or on a day off).

The 1920 C.F. Martin & Co ’employee’ soprano ukulele can be characterized by a Hawaiian Koa wood top, back, and sides with a mahogany wood neck and matching Koa wood bridge and an Ebony wood fretboard. The instrument also boasts a double diamond shaped inlay on positions 5, 7, and 10, fretboard purfling lines down the center of the fretboard, and an inlaid purfling line at the nut. Moreover, a pendeloque inlay, often called a “whale tail” inlay, was also meticulously done at the butt of the instrument.  Detailed 10 ply concentric circle rosette and 6 ply outer purfling on the soundboard. In addition, the snow white top and back binding identify this instrument from a time period in Martin ukuleles that predate the off-white ivroid binding, which came at a later time and is utilized on models 2, 3, and 5. 12-fret joint to the body with 17 overall frets to the soundhole.

There is some minimal play wear, light finish wear in a few spots, and a couple of places with either dings Overall the instrument is in wonderful condition.

The ukulele is very well balanced and all seams and joints are cleanly connected and meticulously handcrafted. The edges of the instrument are also `soft` and easy to cradle against your chest when playing. Tonally, the instrument has incredible projection, clarity, and sustain. Surprisingly rich deep tones with a warm and inviting appeal. Absolutely amazing! #230021

Price: $5,500.00

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