From Sean Child
Posted March 3, 2008 at 02:59 AM
There are many and varied reasons why certain violins don't have fine tuners. Some players feel that it's adding a mechanical aspect to the violin and can increase rattles. Others feel that when you press on one fine tuner, it adjusts the others, so you can never get a settled pitch.
In the end, it's what works for you and for your instrument. On my instrument, my pegs are probably in need of re-setting, so the fine tuners work fine for me. However, were I to buy a violin where there wasn't fine tuners, I would more than likely just get used to using the pegs.
i have seen fine tuners (wish i know the name of the type) that stay around the endpiece hole, instead of sticking out toward the bridge, so that the afterlength won't change. i am surprised i don't see more of that.
and i also marvel at the number of violins whose varnish is scratched by the underarm of the tuners :(
Ahh, I see some imprecise language here.
In fact, all strings regardless of material are equally sensitive to tension. They all follow the same rule: The pitch (frequency) is a function of the square root of the tension. If you double the tension, your pitch goes up about one tritone :)
The difference in sensitivity is to *Elongation*: For a given change in tension, you have to stretch a steel string far less distance than a gut, or plastic etc string. The fine tuners can move smaller *distances* not smaller changes in tension.
For adults, I greatly dislike tailpieces with built in tuners, and metal tuners (they impact sound quality - shrill ringing - more so with built in tuners).
As for 'master' violins: Even with perfectly fitted pegs, sometimes it's hard to delicately slide and lock into an E strings sweet spot. The G,D, and A pegs are usually more forgiving (larger peg rotation) than E (which requires very small tweaks). I have enough patience to deal with standard pegs, but others like the ease of turning a fine tuner and calling it quits.
It's important to always use pegs for gross adjustments, and not be too dependent on fine tuners.
All that being said, do professional level artists use these planetary pegs? I had not heard of any real feedback through my research on these. I've been using them since I purchased this instrument, about a year. For me they have performed very well.
There are two other reasons to abandon fine tuners as soon as possible: one is the possibility of vibrating parts, and the other is that the string length is shortened compared to that of a regular tailpiece. This may affect the sound and prevent some resonance--there should be a 1-to-6 ratio of string length to distance behind the bridge. Adding a fine tuner changes this. That's also why I have my students get Hill-style tuners, where the string connects behind the tailpiece fret instead of in front.
Using a well-adjusted peg is not that hard and really should be mastered. Professionals don't go for planetary gears or other silly contraptions. Sara Chang is the only soloist I've seen with a fine tuner on her A string.
More seriously, I suppose the main reason fine tuners aren't use on violins is most at this point consider it a way of categorizing skill. "Oh, that guy has 4 fine tuners...must just be a beginner on a student violin..."
Where as, "Oh, my, he only has an E fine tuner. What a stud. I want to make sweet violin love to him..." *
*: Based upon clinical trials and sound scientific evidence that may have been conducted on air violins with air people, due to forgetting to take my medication.
That's actually a snobbish misconception. While it is true that among classical players it is rare to see more than the e, it is common among top fiddle players in other genres.
But yes, I suppose most professional classical violinists wouldn't be caught dead with fine tuners (cellos are different). It's like using fingerboard tapes past a certain playing level.
I've seen a few professional that use a steel A&E combo with double-prong tuner on both. If you choose to use a A&E string combo with fine tuners don't, PLEASE don't, use a hill-tuner and a double-prong tuner on the A. I beg you it looks really tack, and very misplaced. Ofcourse that's also the reason I won't reason why I won't use a Berber chinrest all especcial considering the mad raves I've heard about the product. (ewww I used alot of run-ons)
They tend to use steel strings. I guess it comes with the territory of playing almost constantly for more than 40+ hours a week. :)
Looks so far like it's only you and me willing to admit having Knilling tuning pegs on our violins. I've had no problems with mine, and I take it you're happy with yours. As for them being 'silly contraptions,' where's it written that there's one and only one right way of doing things, whether it's making violins or anything else. Yes, there are centuries of violin-making experience that builders rely on, but does that mean all questions of design, materials, etcetera, have been answered? Of course not. Have you heard of the balsa wood violins made by (can't remember while I'm typing but someone out there will pop up with the name)? They aren't anything to look at, but the sound is amazing. What about the L&C carbon fiber instruments? Both show there is more than one way to skin a cat (apologies to all felines, and we have four).
I have built several harpsichords and guitars, and have repaired many guitars, mandolins, and banjos. Glue is common to all, and in researching and general reading on the subject of hide glue, I came across the statement that hide glue was used because it was the best available (maybe the only). The author stated that we now have glues that far surpass the performance of hide glue, and he asked, if the old makers had had access to, say, Gorilla glue, which do you think they'd have used - hide glue or Gorilla? His answer was the best available. My answer - maybe, maybe not. Tradition can have tremendous weight, not just in instrument making, but in all fields of endeavor. My point is, if violin makers and players a hundred years ago had had access to the geared pegs available today, would they have used them? I think some would have adopted them immediately, and some would have stuck with tradition, pretty much as it is today. Those of use who use the geared pegs are convinced they are superior to the fiddly bits on the tail piece, and those who don't think they are above using such things.
Actually in the old days there were quite a few other glues:
and a number of others I've forgotten.
I agree that hide must have been the best available at the time,but what made it best?
In modern times, there remain three or four features of hide glue that keep it in "best" category for a number of applications:
1. It is very creep-resistant. So is epoxy, but modern "wood glues" are not. Under long-term loading, hide glue stays put. It doesn't run away from the load.
2. Hide glue gels (tacks) fast and does not require extreme clamping pressure, though it does require close fits. It is not gap-filling, but the fast setting allows for simple clamping devices--in some cases just your hands! (Gorilla Glue foams up and requires clamping pressure: not as much as resorcinol, but more than epoxy, or even hide glue).
3. Hide glue is invisible to varnish and does not stain wood. It can be applied over or under varnish without reactions. This makes regluing a seam almost trivial.
4. Hide glue is water-sensitive. This last point is really key in making musical instruments. You can repair an instrument without having to destroy it! Try that with Gorilla Glue, epoxy, Titebond II or III, etc.
In any one category, hide glue may be inferior to some other, newer adhesive. But taking all the requirements of wooden musical instrument construction, hide glue is still best. (Repairability, creep resistance, finish compatibility, ease of assembly).
Elmer's Glue isn't bad for repairability (moisture sensitive). Where it falls down is creep.
Epoxy, Gorilla Glue, any non-reversible adhesive is unrepairable. In fact superglue can at least be dissolved with acetone (along with the finish).
Acetone is in fact what I used to remove the superglue from the broken guitar neck that I was asked to repair. The superglue hadn't quite done the trick, so there were also three four-inch nails to remove. And of course the finish was toast.
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