Martin combines vintage design and modern materials for a great-sounding, rugged soprano ukulele.
by Teja Gerken
November 17, 2017
The renewed interest in ukuleles over the last couple of decades has brought numerous new manufacturers to the scene, but Martin Guitars has been making ukes long enough to have been part of the first ukulele craze in the 1920s. Not surprisingly, the company is now combining some of its vintage designs with the high-tech materials and manufacturing methods that have made it a leader in contemporary stringed-instrument making. We recently had a chance to check out an instrument that demonstrates this: the new 0X Uke Bamboo.
The 0X Uke Bamboo is a soprano-size ukulele based on Martin’s traditional body and peghead shape. But instead of a solid wood body, the instrument’s top, back, and sides are constructed from the High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) material that Martin uses for its X-series guitars. HPL is made from wood particles pressed together under high heat with a special resin, creating a durable, lightweight alternative to wood. The material can be given nearly any kind of appearance with a “photo finish,” and Martin chose a surface that resembles bamboo for the 0X Uke Bamboo. Besides its general ruggedness (including a much greater resistance to impact than most woods), the benefits of HPL include the ability to withstand extremes in temperature and humidity. The construction of the 0X Uke is similar to a wood instrument, with Sitka spruce braces and a bridge and fingerboard made from sipo wood. The neck is made from laminated birch, and its peghead is home to a set of banjo-style friction tuners.
The 0X Uke Bamboo was a lot of fun to play. Its bright tone has a lovely presence and good volume, and it sounds balanced in every part of the fingerboard. Playability was excellent, and the compensated saddle provides excellent intonation.
Overall, the 0X Uke Bamboo is a cool addition to Martin’s ukulele line. Whether you’re looking at an affordable way to get a genuine Martin ukulele or are looking for a sturdy instrument, this new model (which is available in a variety of colors) is definitely worth a look.
SPECS: Soprano ukulele. High Pressure Laminate top, back, and sides. Sitka spruce bracing. Birch laminate neck. Sipo fingerboard and bridge. 13.614-inch scale. 1¹³/₃₂-inch nut width. Banjo-style friction pegs. Made in Mexico. $449 (list). Martinguitar.com
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