Slipping pegs

February 11, 2017 at 08:51 PM · Hello! I recently bought a violin with the intention to learn how to play. A few days ago, the bridge fell down, and I unwound the strings a bit to put it back. The bridge being now restored to a correct position, I tried to tighten the strings, but the pegs kept slipping. I'm afraid to tighten the strings too much, because the E string already snapped when I was trying to tune them back. So now the violin is quite out of tune, as the pegs keep slipping, and I don't know how to solve the problem. I haven't found a professor yet, and I'm afraid I'll ruin the violin if I try fixing it too much on my own. Any advice on how to keep the pegs from slipping would be very helpful. Thank you!

Replies (50)

February 11, 2017 at 09:01 PM · Where did you buy the violin? They should help you set it up. Problem is, with all pegs loose, your soundpost could fall and you can't fix that. If your post is still up, Hill's Peg Compound [edit: not dope] is the best for slipping pegs. Remove the peg and apply the peg compound lightly only to the shiny areas on the peg, even it out, stick the peg back in and rotate it 10 times quickly to distribute the compound. Then re-string. Kennedy violins has a good video on YouTube on restringing. (Don't buy a Dampit, when mishandled, these do more damage than good.)

If your soundpost is down, go to a luthier or your closest string shop for help.

February 11, 2017 at 09:04 PM · Try pushing the pegs in as you turn them. That'll help with the slipping. You can use some rosin to help with the peg slipage.

February 11, 2017 at 09:10 PM · Hill's Peg Compound [edit: not dope] is what should be used; it contains a balance of an abrasive and a slipping agent; both are needed. Sometimes the pegs and holes are not properly shaped, and need to be redone. Another problem may be lack of humidity; are you in a cold climate? See David Burgess's excellent article here:

February 11, 2017 at 10:12 PM · Oh, maybe I've never heard of that, but there's probably other solutions, anyway.

February 11, 2017 at 10:34 PM · Irina,

When you loosened the strings did you note the direction of the winding on the peg. A common mistake is to wind the sting towards the smaller side of the peg instead of towards the thicker side (towards the part you turn) that way as more string winds it pulls the peg tighter into the peg box. The windings should be flat and towards the part of the peg that you turn and the last turn very close to the side of the box.

I can't remember how often I've seen this problem with the young musicians (and their well-meaning parents) in our youth orchestra. They wind the strings in the wrong way and it actually pushes the peg out of the box rather than pulling it in.

February 12, 2017 at 04:20 AM · Luthier! Take it to a luthier before you start putting stuff on the pegs, they will be able to tell if it's a problem with the pegs themselves, if peg dope would solve it, or maybe you just didn't push them in while tightening.

February 12, 2017 at 08:29 AM · Thank you for all the advice! Luckily, the soundpost didn't fall down, the strings aren't that loose. I did try using rosin and pushing the pegs in while turning them, but to no avail. Also the strings are wound towards the thicker side of the peg. I think the real problem might be the lack of humidity, as my climate quite cold. I'll try using peg dope, but I'd also like to know how I can deal with the humidity until I have time to go and buy a humidifier. Thank you all again for all your help!

February 12, 2017 at 09:31 AM · Were the pegs slipping before the bridge fell down ?

February 12, 2017 at 10:01 AM · No,they weren't. The bridge fell down and the pegs started slipping 2 days after I bought the violin. When I first tuned the violin, I had to apply a tremendous force to move the pegs, but I noticed that they gradually started to move a lot easier. I thought it was something normal, and didn't give it much thought.

February 12, 2017 at 10:19 AM · Dear Irina,

A room humidifier is always the best solution, also for your own health. But as long as you don't own one, a case humidifier is at least better than nothing. As an emergency solution you can easily improvise your own with a small plastic container (push some holes into the lid) and put in a wet (not soaking wet!) piece of sponge. When the humidifier is in the case, it should always be closed, even if the violin isn't inside, and you should put the violin back as soon as you stop playing. In my experience, with a 7x7x3 cm sponge I could keep humidity inside the case around 35-40% even if outside it was down to 23%. (Now I use a Venta room humidifier PLUS a Stretto case humidifier and a Stretto hygrometer, and my violin is quite happy with that combination. There was a thread on this topic some weeks ago!) If this doesn't work well enough, use a bigger piece of sponge...

To be in the safe side, you might remove this construct before you take your violin on a trip, but as long as you're at home and your violin case is allowed to lay flat nothing evil should happen.

Congrats to your decision and welcome to our community. Have fun!

February 12, 2017 at 01:13 PM · Make sure you are winding your strings properly. They should be wound so that they touch (or almost touch) the scorll wall, to keep pressure on your peg naturally.

Look here

February 12, 2017 at 05:11 PM · Cheap violins often have badly fitted pegs. Did you buy this instrument from a proper violin shop or a general music shop ie. guitars and amps in the window ?

February 12, 2017 at 07:30 PM · What do you mean "proper violin shop." Are you talking orchestral string specific shops, or general music stores that sell everything? Salvage stores don't count.

February 12, 2017 at 08:38 PM · If you go to a "proper violin shop" be sure you ask also about gear pegs. They eliminate this problem entirely.

February 13, 2017 at 02:07 AM · Correction; Hill's peg compound increases slipping, it is used for sticking pegs not slipping pegs, if your pegs are slipping traditionally people use chalk, I have had good results with jewelers rouge instead of chalk, I've even heard of people using rosin powder, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Hill compound is for when your pegs are too hard to turn, gripping too much, Hill compound decreases friction in the pegholes and allows the pegs to turn more easily and smoothly which can increase the chance of slipping.

You can get pretty similar results to Hill compound with plain soap, for years that's what luthiers used.

February 13, 2017 at 02:15 AM · Lyndon, my dear, Peg dope is/was not recommended for slipping. Hill's peg COMPOUND contains a lubricant and an abrasive to treat both slipping and sticking.

February 13, 2017 at 03:03 AM · I'm talking about Hill peg compound, not peg dope whatever that is, Ive never used it.

February 13, 2017 at 03:14 AM · What the hell are you talking about, peg dope or Hill compound, which increase slipperiness whether you think so or not.

February 13, 2017 at 03:49 AM · Lyndon, I believe "peg dope" is a generic term for various compositions that people have applied on their pegs, which would tend to include "Hill Peg Compound."

More than likely the OP has purchased a VSO with completely non-functional pegs, or she has not been shown how to tune her violin.

February 13, 2017 at 04:22 AM · This is why I asked where she bought the violin from. If it was purchased from a violin shop then I am sure they will be happy to have a look and show her how to use the pegs correctly. If they are really slipping then they should be able to remedy that for her too.

If the violin was purchased from a guitar/keyboard/amp type of music shop then it is unlikely that anybody will know what to do....but you can always ask !

I think we should leave the geared pegs idea aside for now : supply and fitting of geared pegs may cost more than the instrument is worth !

February 13, 2017 at 04:27 AM · Well, I agree with Brian on the gear pegs thing. If you can tune your violin easily and quickly with regular pegs with or without fine tuners, what's the point?

February 13, 2017 at 04:27 AM · Erin, You obviously don't know what you are talking about because there is no such thing as Hill peg dope, only Hill peg compound, there is something on the market called peg dope but its not made by Hill and I've never used it, where are you getting your information, you're giving very bad advice, exactly the opposite of what the customer should be doing.

February 13, 2017 at 11:22 AM · The violin pegs are functional, and I know how to tune the strings. I think the problem is the lack of humidity, as I live in a continental climate, with cold and dry winters. I have tried using chalk, until I can buy a humidifier, and now the pegs have stopped slipping. Thank you for all the advice!

February 13, 2017 at 02:19 PM · Lyndon my dear I understood you to be using the term peg dope to refer to any fluid peg stuff; I do not recommend any fluid peg stuff. I think we are having a misunderstanding of terminology. I recommend only Hill's peg compound, which looks like brown lipstick.

Irina, glad to hear you are back in business!

February 13, 2017 at 03:25 PM · As I said, Hill peg compound makes the pegs turn more easily and smoother, it is absolutely the wrong thing to use for sticking pegs unless it is combined with a gripping compound like chalk or rouge.

February 13, 2017 at 03:49 PM · Correct, my dear Lyndon, a "gripping compound" is needed for slipping pegs. Hill's Peg Compound does contain a "gripping compound," i.e. an abrasive. That is why it works on slipping pegs. But it does more harm than good if applied liberally, which is the mistake most neophytes make! P.S. I am not implying you are a neophyte :) Thank you for pointing out I mistakenly used the word dope in my original reference to Hill's; that was pretty dopey. I should have written Hill's Peg Compound. (post corrected now)

February 14, 2017 at 05:23 AM · Wrong, who are you anyway, a violin player that has doped a few pegs, I do this all the time, its my business, I damn well think I know what I'm talking about, Hill compound is not used to improve gripping, thats what chalk or rouge is for, Hill compound is too decrease friction in the peghole and make pegs turn easier, not make them harder to turn, which is what a gripping compound does.

February 14, 2017 at 12:50 PM · A technical question for the experts here - does Hill's Peg Compound, or similar, have thixotropic properties, natural or designed in? It occurs to me that thixotropy could be advantageous in that the friction would decrease only when you start turning the peg, and increase when the turning stops.

February 14, 2017 at 01:37 PM · I mostly use something which might be loosely considered thixotropic, a combination of Ivory bar soap and powdered rosin (soap for more slip, rosin for more stick). The rosin component works much the way it does during the bow slip-stick action on the string. It also contains no abrasives, so it doesn't cause accelerated wear on the pegs and pegholes like abrasives can.

February 15, 2017 at 12:05 AM · "As an emergency solution you can easily improvise your own with a small plastic container (push some holes into the lid) and put in a wet (not soaking wet!) piece of sponge."

How often do you re-wet the sponge?

And is this only as a last choice for a humidifier, or it's fine to begin with?

February 16, 2017 at 06:39 AM · Big discussion on peg "compound" over here:

They all foolishly refer to it as "dope" ;-)

February 16, 2017 at 03:44 PM · That old thread is great... hysterically funny towards the end. And, the ingredients of Hill's Compound are revealed:

QUOTE: "Hill Composition for pegĀ  - on new labels there are: graphite powder, petroleum jelly, china clay, talc, red iron oxide."

Lyndon, jeweler's rouge also contains finely ground iron oxide, so you are recommending the same thing as is contained in Hill's. (And likewise, I am recommending the same thing as you; how about that).

February 17, 2017 at 01:16 AM · Erin, you're talking nonsense again, Hill compound is not pure jeweler's rouge so obviously it is totally different. Just give it a rest, you've given more that enough bad advice in this thread.

February 17, 2017 at 03:02 AM · I haven't found much to fault in Erin's posts in this thread.

February 17, 2017 at 06:07 AM · Well I have found fault in your's David, you actually would recommend Hill compound on its own for slipping pegs, it shows you'll say anything to disagree with me IMHO.

February 17, 2017 at 04:08 PM · Readers will note that I never said Hill's Compound is pure jeweler's rouge.

February 17, 2017 at 07:53 PM · You said it was essentially the same as pure Jewelers rouge because it contained Jewelers rouge.

February 17, 2017 at 08:52 PM · It seems my eyesight isn't quite what it was, because I am having some difficulty in identifying the post telling us that it is "essentially the same as pure Jewelers rouge because it contained Jewelers rouge". That seems to be like saying that a cake is the same as sugar because it contains sugar.

In other words, you can only say that a substance A, which contains another substance B, is the same as B if and only if B is the sole constituent of A.

February 17, 2017 at 09:04 PM · Yes I found it ironic that LT pointed out that jeweler's rouge was needed for slipping pegs when Hill's Compound contains the same gripper, iron oxide, as jeweler's rouge. I think LT had a bad experience with Hill's a while back. While I'm here, again, I want to say to LT that I admire his instruments, clavichords, immensely, and I know he knows his stuff.

February 17, 2017 at 10:24 PM · There you go again confirming your opinion that because Hill compound contains Jewelers rouge it should have the same effect, stopping pegs from slipping, which it doesn't, for the one hundredth time.

February 18, 2017 at 12:01 AM · Lyndon, the tone of your comments is completely inappropriate - this is not the place for being personal ; pm someone if you have to.

Your comments, especially for a new member and beginner, are incredibly abrasive. This gives them a negative impression of this site and more specifically gives all of us a negative impression of your business.

I could expand on implications of the latter but I've already pointed out that public forums are not the place for personal insults.

February 18, 2017 at 03:38 AM · Cry me a river. I guess getting the correct information doesn't matter to you!! i will continue to point out false information given on this forum given by anyone, and if you find that abrasive, have fun using the false information, your pegs will be continually slipping in this case.

February 18, 2017 at 01:40 PM · A short while ago I raised the question of thixotropy, to which David Burgess made a useful reply.

We now know, from the Hill Composition label, that Hill's contains, amongst other things, graphite powder and red iron oxide. Graphite powder is a well-known lubricant - note the advice frequently given here to lubricate notches and grooves, through which a string passes, with a soft graphite-containing pencil. Red iron oxide will provide friction. The graphite powder and red iron oxide are therefore the major active ingredients. The other ingredients are apparently carriers and fillers.

If the Hill's ingredients are in the correct proportions (which are probably critical) the Composition will, as I understand, exhibit thixotropic (or perhaps quasi-thixotropic) properties in that the graphite will assist smooth peg movement, and, when the movement stops, the iron oxide will provide the friction to hold the peg until further force is applied by the user to get the peg moving again.

David's peg mixture of Ivory bar soap and powdered rosin - the proportions of which and the size of the rosin particles presumably being closely guarded secrets ;) - would appear to work in very much the same way as the Hill Composition.

February 18, 2017 at 04:29 PM · Trevor, I don't think the initial size of the rosin particles matters. The idea is that with a few quick turns of the peg, it will melt and combine with the soap into a new and non-abrasive mixture.

It's a bit like the way rosined bow hair works on strings. When the difference in speed between the string and the bow is low or zero, the rosin acts as an adhesive. Once the string has been deflected so far that the adhesion is overcome and the string breaks loose from the bow hair, the rosin acts as a lubricant on the string's return trip.

I acknowledge that this description of string/bow interaction is a little oversimplified. (There are other things going on, like a kink traveling up and down the string at the note frequency, which helps break the string loose from the bow at exactly the right time)

It's also interesting to note that the rosin on the bow produces virtually no wear on the string, despite all the sawing back and forth.

February 19, 2017 at 02:58 AM · Excellent discussion. Thanks Trevor & David!

February 19, 2017 at 03:45 AM · You can talk theory all you like about how Hill compound is supposed to work based on its ingredients, but when push comes to shove in the real world, its what it actually does to pegs you're working on that matters. On almost all the antiques I work on, Hill compound alone will make the pegs too slippery to hold without adding a gripping compound like chalk, rouge, or as David recommends, powdered rosin.

February 19, 2017 at 06:51 AM · The same goes for when I fit new pegs as well.

February 19, 2017 at 12:44 PM · In my experience Hill peg compound made my slipping pegs worse after a light application of it. I bought a tube a long time ago as thought it would be more convenient to use than rosin or chalk. It does work nicely to make sticking pegs turn smoothly. I have read that some people use pencil graphite and found that it made my legs turn smoothly but had to add some rosin to stop the slipping.

February 19, 2017 at 01:48 PM · Thank you, that's exactly what I am talking about.

February 19, 2017 at 04:27 PM · Many years ago I put a new set of steel strings on my cello (cellists are allowed to do this), only to find that the A and D kept slipping on their pegs, which were old and very smooth, even though I had used the standard cross-over method when fitting. The remedy that worked was to unwind those strings and rub my rosined bow over the windings.

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