View Full Version : WTT vintage barrel tuners for Martin wood pegs

04-21-2015, 06:28 PM
I acquired this set of barrel tuners for the purpose of upgrading a vintage Martin, but have decided to look for a set of original Martin wood pegs instead. Most will agree that the barrel tuners (I don't know the manufacturer) are superior tuners. I just want to be authentic, and so my obsessiveness can be your gain. If you have a set of wooden pegs like the ones pictured here (not the type with the slotted ends), and would like to trade, please drop me a note. I need 8 pegs in total, so there will be more horse-trading, if this works out. Thanks for looking!

04-21-2015, 06:29 PM
One more pic of the type of peg I'm looking for 78761

04-21-2015, 07:47 PM
Hi Ernie, I've used violin tuners in the past, the work nicely and look great. They could be worth a look if you have no luck finding originals.

04-21-2015, 08:34 PM
I have installed peg heads in the WWII vintage Martins I have. They went right in without modifications. They look like wood pegs and are much easier to use. Although a properly fitted wood peg is not that difficult to use.

04-22-2015, 03:55 AM
Camsuke & Spongeuke- Thanks, I have a David Newton cigar box uke with violin tuners and I love Pegheds, but the piece I'm having restored is such a rare bird that I really want to do it as authentically as possible. There's no hurry, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. I know a lot of players don't like the old wooden pegs, and prefer to upgrade the tuners on their old Martins, so I'm optimistic. Thanks again for the recommendations!

04-22-2015, 03:27 PM

I have a set of Martin pegs.


04-22-2015, 04:24 PM
Hi Phil- those are the ones! Woo-Hoo! Are you interested in swapping?

04-25-2015, 12:27 PM
Still looking for a set of wooden tuners, and still have the barrel tuners to trade!

04-26-2015, 04:41 AM
Are the wooden pegs you want brown or black? When doing an authentic restoration, it does not matter what looks similar, and works better (PEGHEDS), you do want the original equipment. The ones I have are of an unknown ancestry.

Pukulele Pete
04-26-2015, 05:06 AM
What is the length of the original Martin peg ? How different are they from violin pegs ?

04-27-2015, 07:48 AM
The CraftedCow- All of the one's I've seen have been brown. If you want to send a pic of the pegs you have, I can probably tell if they're from a Martin or not.
Pukulele Pete- I don't know the exact length I'm afraid, but I can find out. The only difference of consequence from violin pegs is that vintage Martin pegs are original Martin ukulele equipment, and violin pegs aren't. 8^) In many cases, I wouldn't care, but in this instance, I'm trying to be as authentic as possible.
Thanks guys!

Pukulele Pete
04-27-2015, 10:52 AM
I'm wondering how you can identify old violin pegs from old Martin pegs. Take the word of the seller ? 8^)

04-27-2015, 12:37 PM
Well, all the old Martin pegs I've seen (of the later design with holes, rather than slots, in the end) have looked the same. Most sellers would label a peg as a violin tuner before they would ever think of a ukulele, unless they had the uke, or knew of the pegs' origin. Anyway- I think if it looks like an old Martin uke peg, it probably is. I see what you mean, though!

04-27-2015, 03:25 PM
There are several different styles, and even different sizes, that were used from 1915 to about 1922. By that point it seems to settle down to the commonly known dark stained maple peg. Some of the earlier peg styles can be smaller, have a flat section on the ridge of the button, or be made from a different wood than maple. Even if you can find original pegs it is very difficult to match their size to the instrument holes. In the worst case the tuner holes are too large and need to be plugged and reamed to fit the pegs.

The earlier the instrument, the bigger challenge it will be to find the pegs. What year is your ukulele?

04-27-2015, 03:32 PM
I'm wondering how you can identify old violin pegs from old Martin pegs. Take the word of the seller ? 8^)

Size and shape. Violin pegs rarely fit, and are usually made from ebony or rosewood or boxwood. Martin pegs are typically stained maple or another type of wood called Almiqui. They have a very distinctive look and shape.

04-27-2015, 03:39 PM
It has a kite and bow-tie inlays, so I think around 1919-1920? I don't have the Martin book at hand, unfortunately.

04-30-2015, 06:54 PM
Pukulele Pete- The Martin peg I just measured (to answer your earlier question) is 2 5/16" long.

04-30-2015, 11:28 PM
Ernie, sounds like you have a teens Martin of great value and I agree with you about wNting just the right wooden pegs. A must, actually. Do you have the Walsh and King Martin a Uke Book--were the teens wooden pegs the standard Martin pegs, or were they more "primitive" and uncommon? The book you must have checked out.

I have seen peg request threads in the past and followed them; I have not seen anyone score a complete set of original wooden pegs that they want. I think most complete sets are in the headstock of complete ukes. Lol. I had a UUer offer me $50 for a single Martin wood peg in early 2014. A sincere offer (I did not take him up on it; I still have that single, free Martin wooden peg, unused).

Many will buy a lesser Martin just for the pegs, add other tuners (or new Ping tuners) to make the lesser Martin playable again, and resell it (if the lesser Martin is still a good one, they might even resell for same price paid and thus, in essence, get the wooden pegs for free).

I hAve a Ditson (the rare standard-shaped Ditson, not the more common dreadnought Ditson) that has four wooden pegs that I'd sell to you (I have two identical Ditsons: one with wooden pegs, one with mechanical tuners like you have, Ernie; it was a tuner transition year for Martin in the early 20s--see 1M Ditsons in my signature below). You might swap the wooden pegs out for the tuners that you already own, and resell or keep the Ditson, too. Just a thought.

05-01-2015, 03:28 AM
Did Martin make their own tuners? Wouldn't it be simpler, cheaper, and just as authentic to buy violin tuners (like I'd bet Martin did back then) and modify them as needed?

05-01-2015, 03:34 PM
well i believe the original wooden pegs for the kite inlay style 3 were the sloted ones.

05-02-2015, 08:06 AM
Coolkayaker- thank you for the offer, but I'm currently not n a position to buy your Ditson. Not long ago, a forum member traded 8 of these pegs here on the forum. I sure with I'd gotten them! I've seen where many people take the wooden legs out and immediately replace them with more modem tuners. I'm hoping one of these folks will come forward.

05-02-2015, 09:13 AM
Coolkayaker- thank you for the offer, but I'm currently not n a position to buy your Ditson. Not long ago, a forum member traded 8 of these pegs here on the forum. I sure with I'd gotten them! I've seen where many people take the wooden legs out and immediately replace them with more modem tuners. I'm hoping one of these folks will come forward.

I certainly understand about the Ditson.

Again, do you have the Walsh/King Martin book? On page 126 are photos of the early wooden pegs; they are not like the pegs you have indicated that you desire from your photo below. The earliest pegs--and I think this is what jimhuang may be saying, also--were more "primitive" in design...not concave on the sides, and with a mildly tapered shaft (not a truly fluted shaft). The early pegs also had a flat top. (I took a photo of the photo in Walsh and King). I never thought of them as slot versus hole, but that is one difference, for sure.

Whether your uke originally used the earliest pegs or not, I do not know. Would you be willing to share the Style (0,1,2,3) and year of your Martins (must be two since you need 8 pegs) so that I or others might be of further help in keeping our eyes out for pegs? We can keep a lookout for you, Ernie. It's easier if we know the Style and year so that, when we see a listing for a uke from that Style and year with wooden pegs (such as a beat up one going for cheap), we can alert you; it's hard to not know the Style and year and try to study every Martin with wooden pegs when they come up on FourStringFarmhouse, eBay, FMM, craigslist, etc.

There is a UU member, Rick, who goes by rfrogner on UU, and he specializes in wooden-pegged Martin ukuleles, generally mid- to late-teens. That is specifically what he collects: Martins with wooden pegs. Well worth your PMing him, Ernie. He would know. Here he is in a video.

05-03-2015, 08:07 AM
Hi coolkayaker- Thank you for the information, and the link to Rick's video! My uke is a 3k taropatch (hence the need for 8 pegs). You might be right about needing the earlier wooden pegs. I've seen a bowtie/kite 3K with the later wooden pegs, but who knows if they were original to that uke or not? I've also seen one with barrel tuners, but I'm sure they were later additions. I purchased 4 of the later pegs from a member here, but haven't seen them yet, and so haven't been able to try them out in the holes. I need to dig out my Walsh/King book, and look it over. In the end, if the pegs I have don't fit, I may just put 8 barrel tuners on the uke (which needs extensive restoration, and won't be playable for quite some time). It appears in Rick's vid that his early style 3's have the same tuners that I've been seeking.
Thanks again for all the information, and for your thoughtful posts!

05-03-2015, 01:42 PM
You're very welcome, Ernie.

Wow, a Style 3 taropatch...how awesome is that! You sure have a winner there; well worth a thoughtful vintage restoration. I see your point. And Koa, holy heck! Oh my, I'm fainting now.

Okay, I'm upright again. Sure, if the less-primitive wooden pegs fit, and you get eight, that's pretty cool. I will say, if they don't fit, please use caution with barrel tuners as those sure can mark up both the front and back of the headstock with unsightly "wheel" indentations that would be hard to get rid of (i.e. require a refinishing of the headstock).

Rick would know the wooden tuners your uke needs, Ernie. He's exceptionally nice and willing to share his knowledge.

Walsh King page 151 has a 1917 hog taro w slotted tuners; cannot see the knobs. And, I assume you've seen the tally on page 208 to see how many total 3k taros were ever made. Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!

One good thing about the earlier, primitive wooden pegs is they are easier to reproduce for a woodworker than the newer fluted and concave wooden pegs. I think, but am not sure, that luthier David Newton, from Texas, who builds Martin replicas, might be able to create faux pegs. Rick would know; he has bought a uke from David. David Newton has a website if you search it.

You may already know about Four String Farmhouse in the Martin Forums, but if not, Google those words. Those guys are worldwide experts on Martin ukes, and they will help you so much with what types of pegs and where to get them, Ernie. Sign up is free...many UUers on there.

I'll keep my eyes peeled. Steve.

05-03-2015, 08:06 PM
Hi Steve,
Yes, I'm very excited about this acquisition, as you can imagine. I have bought from David Newton, and have talked with him about doing some work on this taro. He's top notch, for sure. It's funny- I just looked at the Walsh/King book, and the comparable 3K taro in the book has four slotted tuners, and four of the hole-through tuners! Just goes to show how rare these puppies are with all original equipment. If I did resort to the barrel tuners. I would use felt washers to avoid any imprinting on the headstock. Still- not my first or second resort. I don't mind using violin pegs while continuing the search for more authentic ukulele pegs, provided there's no alteration to the holes needed. As I said though- there's a lot of work to be done on this instrument before it will be ready to string up, so there's no big hurry. I will get in touch with Rick. I am a member of the UU forum as well, and chat off-board with some very learned fellows over there. Thanks again for all the input! I sure do enjoy this stuff!

05-04-2015, 10:16 AM
I share your enjoyment of these rare vintage ukes, Ernie. Agree about violin pegs if no hole alterations necessary--great idea. Then, even if you find them one-by-one over time, you can swap them out and in, like, fifty years, you'd have a complete, original set. Lol.

Please do start a thread and post photos as you rare uke becomes beautiful again. 😀

05-07-2015, 07:10 PM
Please do start a thread and post photos as you rare uke becomes beautiful again.
Steve- I certainly will! Thanks!