Tune Up

Tuners for 14 Fret Martin Guitars

Over the years Martin has installed tuners made by Grover, Kluson and Waverly on their 14 fret guitars.

Thick "Double Line" Grover "Geared Peg" Banjo Tuners


Grover "planetary" banjo style tuners were the first tuners used on a 14 fret Martin, before suitable tuners were specifically designed for a modern, solid headstock.

Early 1930 Martin OM-28


This OM-28 has a mix of two slightly different versions of the planetary banjo style tuners.  While it might seem logical that one of these was a later repacement, it's not at all unusual to find slightly mismatched original tuners on Martin guitars from any period in time.

Thin Grover "Geared Peg" Banjo Tuners

A smaller, less expensive version was used on the OM-18 and on the early fourteen fret neck
tenor guitars.

1931 Martin 0-18T

"Clipped-end" Grover G-98 Tuners

These "clipped end" 6:1 ratio, beveled edge Grovers with seamed, scalloped buttons were the first tuners specifically designed for the new 14 fret guitars with a solid headstock.

"Clipped-end" plates

Beveled plate edges

6:1 Ratio

Thin seamed buttons

1931 to 1934

Thick no-seamed buttons

1934 to 1935

1933 Martin OM-18

"Clipped-End" Waverly Tuners

A similar loooking, but cheaper "clipped end" 6:1 ratio tuner with a non-beveled edge, most likely
produced by Waverly, but without a name on the front or back of the tuner plate, appears on some of the less expensive Martins.

These can be easy to confuse with the Grovers, but note the oval buttons, Waverly gears with inset screw and sharp bevel to the edge, wider ends, with more plate area around small screws, and deeper indent on the sides, with somewhat broader and squarer

Marin 1933 0-17

"Pointed-end" Grover G-93 and G-98 "Sta-Tite" Tuners

   These round button G-93 Grovers with a 6:1 ratio were the first of a pointed plate, beveled edge design that was used in the 1930's, were also common in the 1950's, 1960's, and have been revived in recent years.  Later pointed plate Grovers had scalloped edged buttons.  Also notice the gears with a wide, flat top surface, while 1950's and 1960's pointed plate Grovers have a bevel to the top edge of the gear.

Pointed plates

Beveled plate edges

6:1 Ratio

Thick no-seamed buttons, oval on G-93
1936 to 1937

Non-beveled plate edges

12:1 Ratio

Thick no-seamed buttons
, oval on G-93 

1938 to 1941

1936 Martin 0-17

Closed Grover G-111 Tuners

These wonderful enclosed Grover G-111 tuners were used on the D-28 from 1939 to 1942.  A gold plated version are seen on D-45's, including the one in the Martin Museum.

Enclosed gears

12:1 ratio

Thick, no seamed buttons

1939 to 1942

1939 Martin D-28

Waverly 12:1 Wartime Tuners

By the 1940s, most tuners had adopted a 12:1 gear ratio.  These Waverly 12:1 ratio tuners are seen on Martins from 1940 through 1946.

1940 Martin 000-18

Kluson 12:1 Open Wartime Tuners

These 12:1 ratio Kluson tuners are a grey non-plated version of a thin geared, flat plate tuner that was used due to wartime metal restrictions in 1943 and early 1944.

1943 Martin 00-18 

The wartime Style 17 used a less expensive three on a strip version of the Kluson rivited, flat plate tuners.


From 1944 to 1946, the 12:1 ratio Kluson flat plate tuners once again had thicker gears, which can be identified by the bevel on the top edge of the gear.  

Here you can see the thin gears used in 1943, which may be referred to as "pancake" gears...

...as compared to the thicker gears used in 1944:

Even the expensive D-28 Martins used tuners with plastic buttons during the war years.

1944 D-18


Wartime tuners through most if not all of 1945 also had no bushings around the string post to save metal.

This 1939 D-28 is an example of a pre-war Martin with hex bushings.

This 1944 D-18 is an example of a wartime Martin with no bushings.

This 1946 000-18 is an example of an early post-war Martin with round bushings.

Waverly 12:1 Wartime "Teddy Bear" Tuners

These Waverly 12:1 tuners were also used during the war years, from 1942 until 1947.  

While they appear to be cheaply made, they do have thicker gears than the "pancake" gear wartime Klusons.

1946 Martin 000-18


Kluson Post-war Hexagonal Tuners

These 12:1 Klusons with rolled edges on wider plates were widely used by Martin in the early 1950's.

1952 000-18

Waverly "Round-end" Post-war Tuners

These Waverly 12:1 ratio tuners were common on Martins, and also seen on many Gretsch guitars throughout the 1950's.

Martin 1953 0-18

Grover Post-War Pointed-End G-98
"Sta-Tite" Tuners

This version of Grover G-98 pointed plate, beveled edge Sta-tite tuners can be identified as "post-war" by their thin, seamed, scalloped buttons and tapered gears with screws inset into another taper on the top of the gear.  

Pre-war versions have thicker scalloped buttons, or thin scalloped buttons combined with clipped end plates.  

These 12:1 ratio tuners were later copied by Waverly, Grover and others.

1962 Martin 000-18

Grover "Rotomatics"

The Grover Rotomatic "Pat. Pend. USA"stamped tuners were introduced in late 1957 and common on D-28's and D-35's through the 1960's.

1965 Martin D-35

This 1966 D-35 shows hex bushings with washers.  Smaller washers were used in the first few years.



Many of the old plastic tuner buttons hold up quite well over the years, but some crack and shrink.  My friend Willi Henkes in Germany makes perfect and inexpensive replacement plastic tuner buttons in cream and white under the name Antique Acoustics, which are available from Elderly Instruments by mail.

Antique Acoustics CREAM tuner buttons from Elderly

Antique Acoustics BLACK tuner buttons from Elderly

Here's a short tutorial Willi made to show how to replace the cracked and shrunken buttons easily.

Willi's Tuner replacement tutorial.



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