How to make Violin Pegs Turn Smoother

June 12, 2012 at 12:29 AM · How does one make pegs turn smoother. We use a reamer, and shaver, but those alone do not seem to do the trick.

Replies (19)

June 12, 2012 at 12:54 AM · There is special "peg dope" you can get to put onto the pegs. You should only let a luthier adjust the wood of the peg. My old teacher used to apply chalk, but I just go for the Hill peg compound.

June 12, 2012 at 02:16 AM · Peg paste comes in what looks like a toothpaste tube. Remove on peg at a time and apply a little to the peg. I know Luthers who swear by applying instead a little dry cake soap. Chalk is for pegs that slip. Make sure your strings are wound on correctly.

Cheers Carlo

June 13, 2012 at 12:48 AM · Very occasionally in a lifetime of playing the cello, and now the violin for the last 11 years, I've had the irritation of a new string persistently slipping on the peg. I used to wonder at first if the peg was slipping, but it wasn't. I now regularly solve the problem by applying a small amount of rosin (very little is needed) from my bow to the last inch or so of the string where it goes into the peg.

June 13, 2012 at 03:44 AM · @Trevor, nice trick with the rosin. I still use "Lava" soap on the pegs when changing strings. Just a dab will do.

June 13, 2012 at 08:18 AM · Trevor, that is a good tip. Usually when strings slip out of the peg hole the hole itself is too large. The hole may have been made for thicker gut strings in the past. Modern synthetic strings tend to be thinner. I let the strings cross once in the pegbox and this too holds the string in place.

Cheers Carlo

June 13, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Kevin, a few of us on the repair end of the business are trying to move people away from using abrasives, such as chalk and pumice, on pegs. Lava soap contains pumice.

Some of the commercial peg compounds probably contain abrasives too, so this is a work in progress. In the meantime, one might try to avoid the known abrasives.

June 13, 2012 at 01:09 PM · I noticed that nobody mentioned the graphite pencil,

is the best lubricant for parts of the violin that has friction, as a peg, top nut and bridge.

good luck !

June 13, 2012 at 03:22 PM · If, as you say, you have a reamer, I would suggest you seriously consider purchasing and installing Pegheds (or Knilling Planetary Pegs) and your question will vanish. You could lose the fine tuners, even the E tuner, with the geared pegs.


June 13, 2012 at 05:24 PM · @Lyndon, I think it's always a question whether to take one's violin to a repairman. There are a few things that fall into the category of non-invasive violin maintenance that we do ourselves as players, and doping one's pegs seems to fall into that category for many players, as does changing your E string when it breaks. Reaming your pegbox, that's a different story; that's invasive.

I'm curious to learn David's rationale for the prohibition on fine abrasives. Is the concern that the peg socket wear away slowly?

June 13, 2012 at 06:54 PM · Both socket and peg wear. Pegs might be considered disposable, but when they wear, shoulders form, so the wear in the socket is no longer a uniform taper, and the holes require reaming to bring them back to the correct shape. So in addition to the abrasive wear on the socket, you have more reaming required to reshape the socket.

It’s not a big deal, just one of many little things which can help keep things working better longer, lower repair costs, and keep things closer to original. On a cheap fiddle, don’t worry about it.

June 13, 2012 at 08:16 PM · @David, thank you kindly for that advice. At the next string purchase I'll see what is available at Brobst violins.

June 14, 2012 at 05:08 PM · David, I had not considered the possibility of shoulders forming on the peg, that seems pretty extreme but you've got the experience to know whether this is happening to your repair customers. My personal feeling is that if you need to dope your pegs more than a few times a year then something is wrong. It might be more of an issue for people who travel with their violins or who perform a lot.

June 21, 2012 at 05:52 PM · I tune every day, and I always start by tuning the string flat by turning the peg toward me. Then tune up to the proper pitch. While I tune flat, I am lightly pulling the peg out of the peg box slightly so I can gauge how sticky it it is, then when I tune up, I lightly push in, but only just enough that I know the peg won't slip. But everyday, I get to feel how the pegs are sticking in the peg box, so when the weather changes I notice pegs that are looser or tighter than I left them. I don't see the need for dope or soap or chalk with this method, wood naturally lubricates, doesn't it? But I defer to the repair guys to correct me if they see this as a bad practice.

June 21, 2012 at 06:14 PM · Is it true that rosewood pegs are naturally oily and hence cause less problems than ebony or boxwood ? This natural oil supposedly acts as a lubricant and makes for smoother turning of the pegs.

June 21, 2012 at 08:33 PM · I wouldn;t call it oily. There is a resin in the wood that some people think makes them superior for tuning purposes. Bad mouthing someones favorite wood is like booing someones favorite team. You will raise some hackels most certainly. As a wood turner and former guitar maker I've worked a lot of rosewood. Not only do the samples of rosewood vary immensely but it's much softer as a peg wood than many think, which just might nullify the resin thing.

June 22, 2012 at 08:06 PM · Knilling Perfection Pegs, you will never turn back

June 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM · the densest rosewood is supposed to match ebony, i cant speak for the lightest rosewood but its still a whole heck of a lot denser than boxwood. isnt it?? [Flag?]

If you are talking about African Blackwood which is a dalbergia, yes it is as hard as ebony. All of the other woods that are commonly called rosewood that are used for pegs are not that hard and in my estimation and aren't as dense as real buxux buxus boxwood.

April 16, 2013 at 12:06 AM · Thank You, this has helped a lot!

April 16, 2013 at 05:11 AM · Fit Wittner geared pegs. They have an 8.5:1 gear ratio and never slip.

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