Tuners on 12 fret C. F. Martin Guitars
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
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.
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 1-28.
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You can see here that one peg has been replaced by another which is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
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
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
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"
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
1923 Martin spruce top S.S. Stewart 0-17 Special
The round-ended Waverly WG-31 tuners began to appear on most Martins in
The primary structural change that appeared with these tuners is the move
away from "reverse gears", as can be identified in the photos below by
buttons to the right of the gears. This feature above all identifies
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 Martins
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
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.
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 day.
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
1941 Martin 00-18H
Some new Martins use a reproduction of a leaf design Waverly WG-31
Martin 2006 Ditson Dreadnaught 111
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