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Thread: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

  1. #1

    Question Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-K?

    Hi,

    New to forum so first I just want to say howdy!

    I have a 1926 Martin mandolin that I believe to be an A-K, but all the pictures I've found of K's the wood seems much lighter and there I didn't seen any with the flame/quilting similar to mine mine.

    I'm not sure if that's because the ones I've found on ebay are incorrectly listed or if there's just that much variation, or if I'm just wrong?

    It's got the inset pickguard but no top cracking, which I understand is pretty common. I'm also missing some screws for the gears in the tuners, so if anyone knows a good source for replacement, I'd be obliged.

    I'm looking for some confirmation, any ideas as to value or other details anyone can provide, or even some direction on where to go to do more research. Pics below. Thanks in advance.

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    Last edited by Pickplucker; Mar-31-2021 at 3:59pm. Reason: typos

  2. #2
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Looks like an A-K to me; koa can exhibit a variety of colors and "flame" graining. They were made 1920-1937 or so. What's the serial number?
    Allen Hopkins
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Yes, it is an A-K, and appears to be a very nice one.

    Koa varies from highly figured to no figure at all. The majority of koa used by Martin tended to be quite plain. We don't see many with as much figure as is present in your mandolin.

    These are kind of hard to price because we don't see too many of them. Perhaps somewhere around $1500 for a nice one, although they "should" be more.

    Go to your local Ace Hardware, and check the bins for machine screws. I'm not sure, but I believe the thread is 4-40. You may have to buy a longer screw than it will take and shorten the shaft, but try and find something before you lose the gears. Or, if you have an older music store in your area, they might have some old tuner parts lying around and have something that will fit.

    If you still can't find anything, pm me. I have some 4-40 x 3/16" flat head screws which might or might now work, but I don't mind dropping a few in an envelope.

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  5. #4
    Full Grown and Cussin' brunello97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Fair play to you.

    That is a very nice looking Martin. Perhaps the nicest AK model I have seen.

    Salud!

    Mick
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  7. #5

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Looks like an A-K to me; koa can exhibit a variety of colors and "flame" graining. They were made 1920-1937 or so. What's the serial number?
    Hi Allen. Thanks for the response. Serial number is 13100.

  8. #6

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Thanks rcc. It was the figuring that threw me. I just don't know enough about Koa to know if it was a just highly figured specimen.


    Re: Screws: My guitar builder, (without seeing the instrument), had said that he thought they were an odd thread. Unf. hardware stores are not currently an option for me. My thought was a place with vintage tuners as well, and I also emailed Martin on the off chance they might have exact spec. If nothing else turns up, I'll happily take you up on your generous offer.

  9. #7
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pickplucker View Post
    Hi Allen. Thanks for the response. Serial number is 13100.
    According to Longworth's book, that makes it 1926. They made 150 A-K's that year, out of 1,278 total C F Martin made.
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
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    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pickplucker View Post
    ... I also emailed Martin on the off chance they might have exact spec.
    I'm picturing a Martin employee with a flashlight walking down a long, dark aisle in a storage warehouse where all the 1926 screws are stored.......

  12. #9

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    LOL...not sure they even made that much effort. To be fair it is 95 years old. But they didn't even have the specs. No real help at all.

    I did confirm elsewhere that they are 4-40 threads so I'm making progress.

  13. #10

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    To be frank, those screws came in the units from Waverly to be screwed on to Martin mandolins. It is just possible that Martin had a few spare screws when your mandolin was made but there is really no reason why the company would need them as it is unlikely Waverly ever supplied tuners with the screws missing. Obviously, the screws that went through the tuner plates into the headstock were probably bought in the thousands but they may not have been supplied by Waverly and came from elsewhere. On an allied matter, I needed to dismantle two sets of early 1920s Waverly tuner units and even after removing the screws, the gears would not come off and I had to use a punch and a hammer to get the gears off the posts. I'm not sure that is the case with other makers or different times but I was surprised- and that may be the case where the screws have gone missing with your tuners- the gears may fall off but they may be very tightly fitted on the post.

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  15. #11

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Hi Nick, Thanks for the tip about Waverly. Every little piece of the puzzle helps.

    And I was being a little facetious about Martin. In all fairness, finding a 95 year old screw would logistically be the virtual needle in the haystack so I was really just eliminating possibilities by asking. I did think maybe they might know the thread size, but luckily I confirmed what rrc had speculated by getting a 4-40 nut and seeing if it fit.

    As to the gears, I don't even know how long the 4 screws had been missing and the gears are on tight. I was surprised as well. Although I didn't try to remove them, they seem to be firmly attached.

    Then I remembered a cheap 1970's Czech bowlback that I have had as a wallhanger for years due to needing a new nut and not being worth it to pay someone to cut one. It's been sitting around waiting for me to use is to try my hand at nut cutting. I thought maybe those open gear tuners might be cannabalized for parts. But those don't even have screws! It looks like they were slid over posts which then had the ends peened to hold them on.

    So the hunt continues!...

  16. #12

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Yes, peened tuner gears prevents this particular problem. I bought on eBay a 1936 Gibson made A50 variant- the Wards Model 1642- and it was missing one tuner post- as presumably, the screw had got lost and the gear and then the post went missing. I have seen subsequently another mid-30s Gibson on eBay with exactly the same missing gear and post, so I assume that maybe at that particular time the gears and posts did not fit so tightly!
    I have often wondered why the domed tuner posts on my Gibson A2 had a flat spot on the top and now know this was because the posts were hammered into the gears when made by Waverly. You might try to find a cheap set of Waverly tuners on eBay for spares. From time to time, wrecked examples come up fairly cheaply. There are none on eBay at present that have a sensible price but two sold items were reasonably priced. See below:

    Here is a more modern set of Waverly tuners from the 1950s- sold:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Man...YAAOSwuzFgMxqz

    And another from the early 1920s- also sold: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Wav...p2047675.l2557

    You should be able to find a set of cheap Waverly tuners with oblong plates from the 1920s to use for donor screws.

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  18. #13

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    That's a great idea. Knowing the manufacturer should assist in the search immensely. Thanks.

  19. #14
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    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Coincidentally I just started a thread about locating the cog mounting screws for these old Waverly and Handel tuners. They DO NOT use the common 4-40 thread size. It is a #4 screw but has a special machine thread. The tuners on your Martin currently have oval head machine screws, the ones I have are flat head but should work. Remove one of your screws and measure from the sharp side of the head to the end of the screw and send me the length in a PM. I don’t have a source for oval headed cog screws and was very fortunate to find new old stock flat head screws.

    Here is the other thread:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...Found-a-source!

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    Mark
    Mark Lynch

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  21. #15

    Default Re: Looking for details on this 1926 Martin A-KI?

    Mark,

    I PM'd the into but couldn't find a way to attach a pic there so I'll try it here. Sorry..a bit unfamiliar with this software.
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