Tuners on 12 fret C. F. Martin
Martin guitars produced from 1833 to 1929, with necks built
with 12 frets clear of the body, generally have one of three
styles of tuners: enclosed tuners on a Stauffer style
headstock, ebony or ivory pegs on a solid headstock, or geared
machines designed to fit a slotted style headstock.
Stauffer Style Gears
The earliest guitars built by C. F. Martin had a
headstock in the style of the guitars built by his mentor,
Johann Stauffer, which utilised gears enclosed by a
metal plate, with six tuning pegs in a row on one side of the
headstock, a feature which was later borrowed by the Fender
Company. Martin imported these gears, which were a major
expense, comprising a significant portion of the cost of thse
c. 1820's Guitar attributed to Johann Stauffer
Martin & Coupa Koa
Martin & Coupa Spanish
1840's Ivory Fingerboard Spanish Martin
Martin soon developed a flat headstock which is similar in shape
to the headstock seen on Martins to this day. These early
headstocks sported ebony or ivory pegs. The ivory pegs
would remain an option into the early 20th century.
Ebony and Ivory Pegs
1840's Martin "Spanish Style" Guitar
Ivory pegs vary in shape, with earlier buttons that are round
and later buttons that are oval, and later 19th Century pegs
that are not quite symmetrically round or oval but tapering
slightly toward the peg inserted into the headstock.
This photo is actual size on a 1920x1200 display.
1840 "Renaissance" Martin, 1840's 1-21 zig-zag Martin, 1867
Martin 0-34, 1870's Martin 2 1/2 - 26, 1880's Martin 1-21, 1888
Martin 2-24, 1894 Martin 0-42, 1896 Martin 2-42, 1899 Martin
Earlier pegs were more consistent in thickness, with later pegs
tapering to a thin edge at the top of the button.
Most, but not all ivory pegs, have a small decorative element on
the top of the button, which varies from one to the other in
size and shape, usually carved from the ivory, but some in
black, or abalone, as on this 1840's "Renaissance" Martin.
1840's Martin "Renaissance" Guitar
This Martin & Coupa has
unusual ebony tuner buttons with pearl on the end of the post
that shows from the front of the headstock.
Martin & Coupa
1894 Martin 0-42
1870's Martin 2 1/2 - 26
c. 1867 Martin 0-34
1896 Martin 2 1/2 - 42
You can see here that one peg has been replaced by another
which is rounder, with a larger decorative element on the top.
1899 Martin 1-28
This set of ivory pegs has three with small white decorative
elements on the buttons, and three with flush black
dots. It is quite possible that this set is all original
to the guitar, with Martin having used
pegs from two different batches, as the size and shape of the
buttons are quite similar.
12 Fret Gears
By the 1850's, most Martins used geared tuning machines, the
first of which bore the name "Jerome".
Martin 1860 2-24 with Jerome tuners
While Jerome tuners with bone buttons appear on the earliest
Martins, these rare large bone rollers appear on only the
earliest Jerome tuners.
1840's Spanish Style Alternate X Brace Martin Guitar
The very earliest Jerome tuners
also have what I call "barrel" gears, with a flat round top,
in addition to the bone rollers.
On finer early Martins, Jerome tuners are
sometimes also seen with fancier, ornate carved pearl buttons.
The 19th Century Tuners, also with thick, heavy gears,
made after the Jeromes are said to have been made by Seidel
Martin 1870's 1-26
Martin 1870's 1-28
Martin 1870's 0-40
This tuner, generally seen only on the uncommon Style 40, is
perhaps the most exquisite tuner seen on a Martin, featuring
silver "Teddy Bear" style plates, and pearl buttons. It is
not known who made these beautiful tuners.
Martin 1870's 2-27
I can't say who made these unusual tuners that appear on some of
the Style 2-27. These are reminiscent of the shape of a
beautiful silver tuner that appeared on the early Style 40.
This is another uncommon tuner style that shows ups here on an
unusual 1874 Martin with pearl buttons.
1874 Martin 1-28
These three on a plate 12 fret tuners show that Martin used the
Seidel style tuners with concentric circles on the corners at
least through 1897.
Martin 1897 1-21
This 1902 Style 00-42 prototype for the Style 45, with pearl
buttons, shows that the Seidel Style tuners with imprinted corners
and those with concentric circles were used contemporaneously
through the years.
These three on a plate 12 fret tuners with saw tooth ends and
rounded "Mickey Mouse" corners, beveled gears, and an early
engraved design were made by Waverly.
A number of high end guitars and mandolins, seen often through the
teens, were shipped with Waverly tuners with beautiful fancy
buttons produced by Handel.
These tuners show that the Waverly tuners replaced the Seidels
between 1902 and 1905, and were seen on most Martins until 1924.
These three on a plate 12 fret tuners with saw tooth ends and
rounded "Mickey Mouse" corners made by Waverly have
the common "Irish Rose" floral design.
Martin 1907 1-28
These Waverlys combine the fleur-de lis pattern with one version
of the double hatched lines that would be seen often on Waverlys
for many years.
Martin "Nunes" 1917 Style 1400
Martin 1917 0-30
A plainer brass version of the Waverly tuner, with simple hatched
lines, was used on less expensive Martins.
1916 Ditson Style 22
1913 Martin Foden Special Style E
These tuners, most likely made by Waverly, are seen on some Style
18 guitars in the mid 1920's.
This basic design was also seen contemporaneously on the Lloyd
Loar era Gibsons.
1923 Martin spruce top S.S. Stewart 0-17 Special
The round-ended Waverly WG-31 tuners began to appear on most
Martins in 1925.
The primary structural change that appeared with these tuners is
the move away from "reverse gears".
These "modern" tuners can be identified in the photos below by
buttons above, or in this case, to the right of the gears.
These Waverly WG-31 tuners with an engraved "Irish Rose" floral
design were common on rosewood Martins in the 1920's.
1926 Martin 0-28
Martin 1926 00-28
The mid 1920's Style 45 had a more refined version of the Waverly
WG-31 with the engraved Irish Rose in Silver
Martin 1925 2-45
The plain brass Waverly WG-31 tuners with an engraved outline were
common on mahogany Martins in the 1920's.
Martin 1927 0-18K
This is one of the less common tuner styles seen on mid 1920's
Martin 1927 000-18
These Waverly WG-31 tuners with an engraved leaf design were
also used on better Martins in the 1920's, and were also seen on
Gibsons such as the Nick Lucas Model.
Inexpensive square end machines were used on many guitars built by
many makers, and were used by Martin on their less expensive
guitars in the 1930's.
Many, if not all of these, are clearly made by Waverly, with the
same cogs and screws as on other Waverly tuners of the 20's.
Note that these tuners have "reverse gears".
Martin 1930 2-17
The "Clipped End" Grover tuners of the mid 1930's were most often
seen in the form used with Martin's first solid headstocks with
machines, but were occassionally seen on 12 fret Martins of the
Martin 1934 00-40H
Interestingly, while the old style Waverly tuners seen in the
early years of the 20th Century were generally phased out in 1925,
they still appeared on some 12 fret Martins, including the 00-18H
and some Style 42, until the 1940's. Since very few 12 frets
were made in these years, it seems the Martin may have used
"leftovers", but you will note that these tuners are not of the
reverse gear type, as can be determined by the pegs above the
1941 Martin 00-18H
These Grover "open book" tuners are otherwise seen on Gibson
guitars, not Martins, but appear on 00-18H from 1937...
Martin continued to use the "bell end" Waverly WG-31 tuners into
the 1960's on their 12 fret "New York" guitars. These can be
distinguished from the earlier WG-31 tuners commonly used in the
1920's by a larger end piece holding the end of the tuner button
shaft that broadens at the base.
Some new Martins use a reproduction of a leaf design Waverly WG-31
Martin 2006 Ditson Dreadnaught 111
TUNING MACHINES FROM PHOTOS
my pursuit of the ridiculous, and my never ending quest
to discover distractions to keep me from doing the
important things I need to do, I’ve discovered some
obscure clues to help identify Martin guitars,
especially the earlier ones which are frustratingly
similar from decade to decade, and did not have serial
original tuners can sometimes help us identify the age of
an early Martin when the guitar is not in hand and we have
Martin used Jerome tuners on all of their pre-1867 guitars
with machines and slotted heads, and Seidel tuners on all
of their post-1867 19th Century guitars with machines.
Ivory pegs on solid heads were a no-cost option.
most people photograph the top and back of the headstock,
but don't photograph the side of the headstock to give a
clearer view of the tuners. Fortunately, with a sharp eye,
we can also identify the tuners by the size and shape of
the end piece that the tuner shaft is peened into, as well
as the relative size of the peen.
Until about 1902, all Jerome, Seidel, and the earliest
Waverly tuning machines also had a peen attaching the
tuner button to the shaft, which we don’t find on these
later, more modern tuners.
Jerome tuners, the end piece has a round top, with the
peen covering most of the area.
9/32” w x 1/4” h
tuners - similar to
a Jerome, but
slightly narrower in the rounded portion.
9/32” w x 9/32”
Waverly tuners, from
the earliest ones common in the teens, to the "bell-end"
ones from the 1920's - square with a
slightly rounded top
Early - 9/32” w x 5/16”
Bell-end - 1/4” w x 3/16” h
The similar "Bell-end"
Waverly tuners from the 1960’s can be distinguished by the end
piece which has a large round top and widens near the
base. The peen is small.
7/16” w x 5/16” h
tuners have a similar large, round top end piece with a
noticeable notch on the side, and a large peen.
5/8” w x 3/8” h
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