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
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You can see here that one peg has been replaced by another which is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
Martin 1870's 2-27
I can't say who made these unusual brass tuners that sometimes appear on
the Style 2-27. With the "Teddy Bear" shape, they are reminiscent of
the silver tuner that appeared on the early Style 40. The brass
plates are sometimes the only feature besides body size that separates the
Style 27 from the Style 30, with it's Silver tuners.
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.
To See Robert Corwin's Classic Photography of Folk and
Roots Musicians, visit:
For Information on
entire site copyright ©1998 through
2010 Robert Corwin/Photo-Arts. All rights reserved.
Exhibition, Publication, CD's,
Promotion, Web Pages, Tour Books,
to Purchase Photographic
If You Have Questions or
Suggestions About This Web Site or Vintage Martin Guitars: