Fitting Knilling Perfection Pegs

February 25, 2012 at 04:40 AM · I am thinking of fitting a set of Knilling Perfection Pegs to one of my violins. There is a youtube clip of a luthier doing this and he said that he has never had to use glue even though this is what Knilling recommend. The thread on the peg seems to be enough to hold them in place. Has anybody fitted these geared pegs to their own violin and was glue used ?

NOTE : There are no luthiers in Cairns so I have to do these things myself. I have a peg hole reamer if it is required.

Replies (41)

February 25, 2012 at 04:48 AM · I had mine done, and they are glued in.

February 25, 2012 at 10:54 AM · I have done a few sets on Guitars but not Violins. Providing the hole is the correct diameter the Pegs seem to hold just fine without the Glue.

Problems might occur if the wood dries and shrinks a touch, shouldn't happen if kept in a suitable environment.

The glue (is it Titebond?)won't have great adhesive properties anyway, it is wood on plastic.

February 25, 2012 at 11:59 AM · My experience is only with PegHeds, not Knilling, but they are supposed to be similar.

I wouldn't recommend installing without glue (a flexible urethane glue is recommended). They might work fine for a while without, but there's a good chance they will loosen and cause trouble at some point. If this happens, it's bound to happen on stage during a performance, because that's just how these things turn out. LOL

February 25, 2012 at 01:41 PM · Well, I am not likely to give public performances any time soon. LOL I play for myself in the living room so there is no great drama if a peg does come loose. The correct glue seems to be a PU glue. I thought it would be necessary but that luthier on youtube said that he had never had a set come loose so I was very curious as to what others thought. I would like to avoid using glue if I can so they would be easier to remove if I don't like them

NOTE : Cairns is very hot and humid from about October to March. Things are much nicer during the cooler months. Box jellyfish are present in the warmer months and there are always crocodiles so watch where you swim ! I never go swimming anywhere in the ocean here.

February 25, 2012 at 02:37 PM · Polyurethane adhesive should work well in this application. Note that a small amount of that stuff goes a long way. I have a set of Knilling Perfection Pegs in the lesser of my two violins and I am giving them a year to see how they perform before putting them in the better one. I don't know if the luthier who put in my pegs used adhesive, but I don't think so. I'll ask him.

February 25, 2012 at 03:49 PM · I can't imagine anyone not liking them.

February 25, 2012 at 04:01 PM · I tried to have a set put on, everything went disaster. The peg got stuck in the hole and we had to break the peg to get it to come out.I do not recommend the knelling brand, plus it carves grooves in the peg hole.

In replacement of that set, I installed the Wittner version. They are much better because no glue, no screwing, they work better, and to get em in, all you have to do push.

Caution: You have to measure your peg hole and order accordingly,just as you may have to make the hole bigger accordingly. Also, once they're in, if you want to take them out, you TAP the END with a hammer, NEVER PULL!!!

February 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM · Parth : I have heard that the Wittner geared pegs are not as good as the Knilling pegs. I think the reason is that they 'click' over as you turn the peg but I am not really sure why many people do not like them.

If the Wittners do not have to be glued or screwed then I think they are worthy of consideration unless somebody has something specific to say against them.

February 25, 2012 at 09:37 PM · I have a set of each installed. the knilling peg is by far a nicer action, and there is no clunky or laggy feel as the peg is turned. Mind you, I have removed all fine tuners, and even though I feel like the wittner might not get the fine adjustment, it always does. The gear ratio of the wittner pegs is larger, so more turn at the peg head for an equivalent amount of string turn.

The luthier who installed the wittner pegs on my better violin, said he wouldn't install the knilling because of the installation concern that you have mentioned - the ridges on the knilling section that fit in the peg box are oriented perpendicular to the peg, so he was concerned about damage if removing them.

I don't see myself removing them from either instrument, there are more satisfying things to do than tune a violin.

February 26, 2012 at 02:18 AM · I don't think the Wittner pegs make much of a noise. Personally, I like to feel the gears moving so I know that the pitch is going up or down. The Wittners' do tune much better because of the larger ratio.

People suggest the Knilling over the Wittner because Knilling is the inventor of the peg, Wittner is a copier; that shouldn't make them inferior, they used the idea and made a better product. Plain and Simple.

February 26, 2012 at 12:28 PM · Actually, John Herin of Pegheds was the inventor. Knilling produces a similar product under some kind of licensing agreement with him. The Wittners have a different design, but it wouldn't be surprising if theirs was inspired by the Pegheds.

Most of my colleagues in the trade seem to feel the Pegheds are the superior product, and they offer more options, such as a greater variety of sizes so less reaming of the peg holes is required, different colors, and the option of real wooden heads rather than plastic.

Peghed's and Knilling's recommendation to use glue (just a tiny bit) is based on many years of experience with probably thousands of installations. We'll see what happens down the road with the Wittners, once the experience level goes up. I can't imagine them being any less prone to coming loose (without glue) than the Peghed and Knilling.

The pegheds site:

February 26, 2012 at 09:00 PM · David, are the Pegheads the same ratio as the Knilling? I've got a set of Knillings in one violin but I have a much better violin that I'm considering for gear pegs too, and if the general consensus is that Pegheads are better then perhaps I should go that route. My understanding from the luthier who installed my Knillings is that the threads or surface features that are designed to lock them into the holes are relatively fine and do not cause a lot of damage, but of course if you wanted to return to wooden pegs then you'd either need to bore out for fatter pegs or put in bushings. What is your take on that?

And by the way, I know all about "peg dope" and humidification, but the fact is, on my violin that has wooden pegs, about 10% of the time I open my case to practice, I find that either the D string or G string peg has slipped and then I'm constantly having to retune during my practice. On the violin with Knilling pegs, every time I open my case the violin is nearly perfectly in tune already, they never slip like that. Simple is not always better. Technology can be a good thing.

February 26, 2012 at 09:15 PM · Paul, the threads are very fine. I'd expect that one could go back to regular pegs by doing nothing to the holes in the pegbox, or maybe just the slightest cleanup ream.

If you have some fancy wooden pegs you like, you can have those heads installed onto the mechanical part of the Pegheds, as long as they conform to some minimum dimensions.

As far as I know, the gear ratio between the Knilling and the Pegheds is the same. Herin claims to use some better materials in the gear mechanism of the Pegheds. If that's his claim, I would expect it to be true, knowing a little about him.

February 26, 2012 at 11:17 PM · David,

Thank you so much for this consultation. How are the wooden peg heads fitted to the mechanical part? Is the joint something that might be of concern in terms of mechanical failure? Wood and plastic (and wood and metal) are not particularly compatible in terms of the adhesives one can use, although polyurethane is fairly universal. I'm willing to trust the manufacturer to some extent, but I also like to know how things work.

On a more cheerful note, where might one look for cool peg heads? I think that would be kind of a fun thing to explore.

February 27, 2012 at 11:24 AM · Paul, I believe he cuts off the shaft of the wooden peg, then mills a rectangular hole into the underside of the peg head. This fits onto a protruding rectangular portion of the planetary peg mechanism, and is glued in place (probably with epoxy).

February 27, 2012 at 04:16 PM · I may well be wrong of course, but I've not come across any professionals or soloists/chamber musicians using these devices. If I'm wrong, please shoot me down!

February 27, 2012 at 04:24 PM · Here's one example -- Elizabeth Pitcairn has Wittner FineTune Pegs installed on three of her violins including the legendary "Red Violin"

February 27, 2012 at 09:29 PM · You can understand why the professionals would be cautious, if they have to consider the resale value / insurance compliance / find a willing and able luthier who will install on their 17th century never to be repeated instrument.

I predict that one day the geared peg will be so ubiquitous that older violins will have them installed rather than having their ever increasingly fragile peg boxes reamed out.

And at some time in the future, those who play the violin will stop thinking that it some how 'cheats' to used geared pegs. They don't auto tune.

February 28, 2012 at 04:01 AM · Not all professional players have super priceless violins. If they have investigated gear pegs at all they will know that the process of installing them is not all that invasive.

February 28, 2012 at 04:12 AM · If anything, geared pegs are better for professionals and the pegbox. Geared pegs don't tear the pegbox up. Its good for the people who are constantly giving concerts because they can't have a hassle with them, having these pegs makes tuning easy and holds it so there are no problems. Many soloist use them because of this advantage.

February 28, 2012 at 07:40 AM · "Geared pegs don't tear the pegbox up. Its good for the people who are constantly giving concerts because they can't have a hassle with them, having these pegs makes tuning easy and holds it so there are no problems. Many soloist use them because of this advantage."

Who are these soloists using these geared pegs? A few names please.

February 28, 2012 at 08:23 AM · As far as I know, Knilling are the only violin manufacturer selling violins with the geared pegs factory fitted. I think there will have to be more violin makers offering them as a factory option before they really take off and become mainstream.

Many professionals are also a bit worried that the slight extra weight of the geared pegs might affect the sound. If the Wittners do not require glue for installation then it would be quite simple to set up a blind fold test with a good violin and compare the geared pegs with the standard pegs on the same violin. I do not know if this has been done as yet.

February 28, 2012 at 04:47 PM · It's true that the gear pegs are heavier. If lighter is better, though, when why not remove some weight from the scroll?

As to Charles's question of whether there are pros who use PegHeds, that is a perfectly fair and useful question. I am sending an email to John Herin presently to ask him this very thing. I tried to do this a couple of days ago but just realized that I misspelled PegHeds in the email address. Indeed one thing all of these companies have in common is that their websites lack professional testimonials, except for Elizabeth Pitcairn's use of the Wittner FineTune Pegs.

February 29, 2012 at 01:44 AM · Following up, Chuck Herin who invented gear pegs and is the proprietor of PegHeds, wrote back to me. I asked him specifically about the longevity of his pegs with wood grips. He claims "tens of thousands sold with wood grips." Among his satisfied customers are David Kim, concertmaster of Philadelphia Orchestra (on his Bergonzi), and cellists Wendy Warner and Lynn Harrell.

March 5, 2012 at 01:46 PM · Another bit of a follow-up. I was at a violinmakers day here in London yesterday, and I tried using the Whitner pegs that were set up on some cheapish fiddles. They semed to work very well but I was told I may have to have my violin holes reamed - or whatever the word is. I did not have my fiddle with me so could not have it checked.

I found the smooth movement and accuracy of the pegs good. I just changed the pitch up and down whilst plucking the strings, as I'd played on so many fiddles already and the fiddles the pegs were on looked like fairly cheap factory instruments.

A very good day altogether with some really nice instruments (and bows) if you checked out the best ones.

I came close to buying a set of Whitner pegs but decided to wait a bit longer and get more advice. My fiddles pegs are OK, it's just the G string I have a tiny bit of trouble tuning.

EDIT: You can buy single pegs as well, so I could just try one on the G string ...

March 5, 2012 at 04:23 PM · Gear pegs are available in many different sizes (diameters) but they are still discrete sizes. So unless your peg holes happen to be exactly the same dimensions as one of the available sizes of gear peg, then yes, they will need to be reamed out a bit to accommodate the next larger diameter and perfect roundness of the gear peg. But we're talking about very small adjustment in most cases. Likely the same would be necessary if you were having a new set of wooden pegs fitted.

March 5, 2012 at 04:47 PM · If the geared pegs are heavier, it's not noticeable and there is no effect on the sound of the instrument. One huge advantage is that by using geared pegs, you eliminate the need for fine-tuners and can thus remove mass from the tailpiece which really opens up and improves the overall sound. The after-length of the string (the distance between bridge and tailpiece) can now be properly adjusted (because there are no tuners) which is another improvement. The only disadvantage I can think of is that it takes a few minutes longer to change strings.

March 5, 2012 at 07:08 PM · I have Perfections on my 5-string from KC Strings. They fit them as standard. They are excellent.

March 5, 2012 at 10:11 PM · I can't agree that the weight of the pegs has no effect on sound. Noticing the difference depends on how picky you are. Either heavier or lighter pegs might provide improved sound, depending on the fiddle, and what sound you think is good.

March 6, 2012 at 10:30 AM · I don't know the weight difference between wooden and geared pegs but I think it would be very slight. It's been said that the peg holes would have to be reamed before installing geared pegs, thereby losing a slight bit of mass in the pegbox, which potentially could off-set the weight difference in the two kinds of pegs.

I can see where heavier or lighter pegs might affect sound on open strings (which we're told to avoid), but when we 'stop' the string, don't we effectively 'kill' any vibration going to the pegbox? Any slight detriment to sound there might be in the scroll area is greatly over-ridden by the improvement in the tailpiece area by removing fine tuners and setting the after-length properly.

March 6, 2012 at 11:41 AM · Why often avoid open strings? Take them where they work and be grateful. Most soloists do.

March 6, 2012 at 12:12 PM · Just to be clear, I didn't say "often avoid", and I do play open strings for which I'm very grateful. :):)

March 6, 2012 at 12:46 PM · Hi Randy;

The scroll will vibrate even when the string is stopped, because the largest vibration of the scroll isn't conveyed to the scroll by the string. It's part of a larger bending motion which includes the entire body of the instrument.

On whether removing fine tuners from the tailpiece will improve the sound:

Some violins will sound better without any fine tuners, and some will not. If one is using four of the large clunky type tuners, then there's a good chance that the sound will improve by removing them (or removing three of them).

Things like this can be difficult to nail down, because what often happens is that people will try a change on one or two violins, and assume the result holds true for all violins. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way.

March 6, 2012 at 01:45 PM · "Things like this can be difficult to nail down, because what often happens is that people will try a change on one or two violins, and assume the result holds true for all violins. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way."

Very True!!

March 6, 2012 at 04:29 PM · Randy, also I think you might be underestimating the difference in mass upon going to gear pegs. If you are replacing pegs made from very dense wood then perhaps the difference is less. Actually this is the only misgiving that I have about gear pegs. But I've made the change on one violin already and it did not have any negative effect on the sound (nor did I see any improvement upon taking out my E-string fine tuner). That doesn't mean I won't see an effect on my other violin, but it means I'm willing to give it a shot.

March 6, 2012 at 05:27 PM · I think even if you hear no improvement, you will like gear pegs, because you can spend more time playing and less time tuning. After new strings have stabilized on your fiddle, they may require just the slightest tweaking now and then, but that's all. No more pegs that have surrendered to the 'force' and given up. :):)

April 30, 2012 at 05:18 PM · I installed my own. It called for Gorilla Glue but I tried using none at first because the threads did seem to be good enough and it was holding. All wood will expand and shrink with changes in humidity and temps which makes the threads in the wood (created by the pegs) become "slick". Then when trying to tune it would slip which made for difficult tuning. So, I put some Gorilla glue on the pegs threads (VERY LITTLE). I litterally could barely see the glue I put on it was so little (Gorilla Glue expands so you definitly don't want to use much). I used the tip of a needle to put the glue on and only put the glue on the peg in a spot about the size of a sewing pin head. I love them!!

May 15, 2013 at 11:38 AM · This is a little off topic, but I would like to add that like all violinists, I have had my issues with tuning, with many embarrassing moments where I spent five minutes tuning while my string quartet waited! However, there are now certain strings- and particularly the Evah Pirazzi Gold- that are wonderful at holding their pitch. I can go days without tuning, but every rehearsal I match the principal oboe perfectly, which is a obviously a pretty good indicator. All strings go out of pitch, but the technology is becoming increasingly better all the time, and there are some amazing strings out there. So before you change or fiddle with your pegs in any way... You might try experimenting with different strings first, and you just might be satisfied with what you have as long as you are not having to constantly try to tweak your tuning. Just a thought.

May 17, 2013 at 12:10 PM · @Ned, I think whether your instrument is holding pitch has more to do with your violin and its environment than your strings, assuming your strings are at least a week old.

May 17, 2013 at 12:29 PM · My violins hold their pitch perfectly when the weather is constant. But in the tropics that does not happen very often. Extreme fluctuations of temperature and humidity can cause the pegs to pop out which will happen no matter what brand of string you are using.

I have now fitted Wittner geared pegs to all my violins and I no longer have any problems.

May 22, 2013 at 02:49 PM · I installed perfection pegs on my Rumanian workshop violin this weekend. The installation was very straightforward. The most time consuming part was trimming to length, then dressing the peg ends.

Based on this thread, I took some time to check them with vs. without the gorilla glue. Take my word for it: you will want to use a tiny dab of gorilla glue! When I tried it without, the pegs backed out on their threads, when I tightened the strings.

You will also want to give the glue an hour to dry, for the same reason.

To answer another question: yes, you can ditch the fine-tuner for the E. When I did so, this particular instrument got a LOT louder. The poor dog (a 95 lb yellow Lab that's a real pansy) moaned when I crawled up the scales. It was in tune, but I guess the overtone volume was a bit much for him. :-)

My wife also clears out when I play it, because it's too loud for her. She normally just ignores me. :-)


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