By Greg Olwell

Martin is celebrating the ukulele in 2017, the centennial of the vaunted guitar-maker cataloging the ukulele. Though the company had built ukes since 1906, steam really picked up once the company began placing them in the catalog as the wave fascination washed over the Mainland thanks to the mega-popular Hawaiian exhibit at the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco.

Dick Boak, the director of Martin’s extensive archives and history museum, gave us a close-up look of two special models for 2017, the Martin Style 3 Centennial and the Martin Style 1 Centennial. Both are sopranos and have a mix of features that makes them them modern interpretations of two of the company’s most important ukuleles. 100 of each Centennial model will be produced, making them limited editions.

Martin also showed off a “natural” color to its 0X Bamboo line.

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Martin Style 3 Centennial Uke

Body Genuine mahogany with Sitka spruce bracing, ivoroid binding front and back, multi-stripe rosette, and ivoroid decoration

Neck Mahogany with ebony fingerboard, inlaid with abalone square and diamond inlays and multi-stripe center strip, kite-shaped inlay on the mahogany faceplate

Other features Bone saddle and nut, hardshell case

Price $2,999 (MSRP)

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Martin Style 1 Centennial Uke

Body Mahogany body with Sitka spruce bracing

Neck Sipo with a morado fingerboard

Other features Tusq nut and compensated saddle, padded gigbag

Price $599 (MSRP)

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Martin 0X Bamboo Soprano

Body HPL (a high-pressure laminate) with a bamboo pattern

Neck Multi-laminate birch with fingerboard

Price $449 (MSRP)

How San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Expo of 1915 Sparked the First Uke Craze

 

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