I bought a new 0015-M recently, and I'm really enjoying it. I'm not so satisfied with the tuners tho, I suspect I've been spoiled by the 21:1 Gotohs on my R Taylor. The Martin tuners don't seem to have a uniform resistance, and are a harder to fine-tune (actually causes elbow pain). So, I'm thinking I would like to find a drop-in replacement. A perfect solution would be a vintage style open back tuner with a 21:1 ratio that would use the same screw holes..if only...   Any recommendations?


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Hi Steve.

First, given the symptoms you're describing with the stock tuners, it sounds like something is 'wrong' with them. I've played several 15 series Martins with those keys and they all felt great. 

Since you bought it new, it comes with a lifetime warranty. As a recent purchase, the tuners should be covered by the warranty if the keys are defective.

I think the best advice you can get at this time is: contact the dealer who sold you the guitar for warranty service.

Are you a repairman or builder? I ask this just to determine your skill level. There are other factors that could cause [read: is likely causing] "stiff tuning", specifically, the nut which is probably cut nowhere as precise as the one on your R.Taylor...but then again, they're two totally different classes of guitars. answer your question about potential replacements:

As far as I know, Waverly style tuners (what you have on your guitar) do not come in 21:1 ratios. 16:1 & 18:1 are the current industry norms.  There's nothing magical about a 21:1 ratio.

Below are links for potential replacements:

The Grover 18:1 set is the highest ratio set available in an open back/direct drop in machine.  They are VERY GOOD machines and are the value leader.,_solid_peghead_tuners/Gro...

The Waverly's (16:1) are THE BEST and are priced accordingly.,_solid_peghead_tuners/Wav...

The Schertler tuners are new to the US market & I have no experience with them. They are 16:1 and have no vintage appeal.,_solid_peghead_tuners/Sch...

Gotoh makes a 16:1 open back tuner.  I love Gotoh most tuners BUT that particular model has some serious reported design flaws with the nylon bearings...they crack & fall off and cannot be replaced.   No link due to that fact.

Schaller has a drop in replacement set too but I didn't include a link as they're a 12:1 ratio set.

Hope this helps get you started toward tuning key heaven(-:

Best of luck,


Thanks for the excellent advice Paul! I'm good with my hands and am very technically-oriented, so I fix stuff. But, I don't repair instruments on a regular basis. But I do know who to ask!

I don't think it's the nut that causing problems, I say that 'cause I would expect the string windings would bind  & release across the nut like on some guitars I've owned. I'll take a hard look at the Waverly's and Grovers.

Think adjusting the nut on the tuning peg, or the screw in the middle of the peg-gear would have any effect? I bought the Martin from an online dealer, and really don't want to ship it off, but I guess I could take to any authorized Martin dealer.

thanks again!

Thanks Steve.

Yessir, play with the tension on the gear screw.  That has a definite effect on the tuner's smoothness.

Adjust all of them.  Usually a "snug it up but don't kill it" approach works the best. You'll get a feel for it in about 10 seconds. 

Also, a drop of Tri-Flow lubricant on all the contact points on the machines is a prudent idea.  Keep a dry rag handy to make sure the lubricant doesn't come into contact with wood.

I have a feeling that, once properly adjusted, your stock tuners will be just fine.  If you DO want or require new tuners, and have the $$, the Waverley's are simply unbeatable.

Good luck & have a great week,


Adjusting the gear screw didn't improve the stock tuners, so I picked up a set of Waverly tuners from Stew-Mac in the relic finish and am very happy with the look and operation. Once I had the old tuners off and compared side-by-side, the stiffness and backlash were very apparent. Feels like the Waverly buttons have a bit more leverage that makes it easier to tune too. Unfortunately, I didn't read about the tip of heating the bushing with a soldering iron before tapping them out, and did suffer a little chipping of the headstock finish on the 2 lowest strings. Just adds to the character of the Martin, I'd be really bummed if I did that to my Taylor.

thanks again!


It's good to hear that you got the Waverly tuners and like them. I personally know of no other tuning machine that's as smooth and accurate as the Waverly's.

I wish I could afford them for my own instruments(:

Have a great weekend,

Paul (-:

I'm a bit late to the dance here so-to-speak and I didn't read every word of all the posts but I did read enough to see that Paul, as is usually the case, made a very good point about what you are experiencing may not be only the tuners.

So I wanted to add that in this day of big box stores and minimal service in favor of price wars.... many new guitars including Martins are not properly set-up when consumers purchase them.  From bridge and end pins that are not fitted properly to nut slot high enough for that guy who just broke the world record for free fall to jump from.... many issues with new guitars can be eliminated with a proper set-up.

Anyway I see that you went the Waverly route which is a good direction to go if you want to spend the cash on them.  They are the best that I have ever used too and nothing else compares in my humble opinion.

Also another method for getting the bushings out that does not risk bubbling the finish if they are heated too much is to simply insert a drill bit that just fits in the bushing and rotate it around and around, not spin it but side to side rotation from the end of the bit taking care to not cut yourself on the sharp edges of the bit and the bushings walk up and out in a few seconds, usually....

Just to be a little bit "parochial"...

I agree that those are SUPERB tuners Antonio.

I didn't list those, or Rodgers, as; 

A.) I couldn't find a USA distributor for the Alessi steel string tuners;

B.) they didn't fit the 'vintage look' criteria and; 

C.) I personally don't believe that a $600-$800 set of tuners, which are more of a work of art than an exceptional tuner, could be $400-$600 'better' than a set of Waverley's, Gotoh's or Grover's.

Although I agree that Alessi's & Rodgers' and others of their ilk are finely crafted precision machines, I consider them "snob appeal snake oil".  Using them on a $30,000 presentation grade instrument is understandable.  Using them on a 15 Series Martin is techno & financial overkill.

Overall, I believe & agree that some of the finest things in the world come from my grandparents (-:



Then there is Fiat too..... ;)

and my buddy's Ferrari.....

But most of all: pizza pie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I agree with you that where you buy makes a huge difference. My favorite shop is like 30 miles away ( and they have great repair shop too. I don't enjoy even going inside a guitarcenter. Buying the little bluesbox online was just easier than driving 60 miles and dealing with traffic. Turns out, one of the tuners seems to have a slightly bent worm gear shaft. Guess that explains the absence of 'uniform resistance',  could easily have happened in shipping.


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