Geared Pegs, do they work in the long run?

December 11, 2004 at 06:24 PM · A bit of information on Perfection Pegs and Pegheds, as I understand they are two versions of planetary geared string tuning pegs. I've had a set on one of my two German shop violins now for a day and like then quite a bit. There are two web sites demonstrating these: click on the Perfection Peg insert

I have absolutly no financial interest in these pegs, except the costs I've paid for the sets installed or in process.

These really seem like a no-brainer advance in violin family technology. Managing friction pegs is such a hassel, and even an e-string tuner on the tailpiece is dead weight on the strings' suspension. These tune up quickly and quite effortlessly, with great precision. They seem to hold perfectly, though my new strings are still breaking in so I'm not certain here.

My question is why aren't these in more common use? Am I missing some dire problem with this technology?

Replies (100)

December 11, 2004 at 07:24 PM · How expensive are they? How long do they last? Is there the fear that such a delicate mechanism may suddenly fall apart at the most inopportune moment? With a conventional peg, a bit of chalk or other homemade remedy will probably work in a pinch until the help of a luthier can be found. Is somebody waiting for a famous violinist to fit a set of these pegs on his Guarneri before trying it himself? And why are all my posts in the form of questions today?

December 12, 2004 at 05:24 AM · i dont know?

seriously though, i was wondering this myself, i wonder if it's more tradition than anything, from what i've seen these pegs are vastly easier to deal with.

December 12, 2004 at 05:40 AM · I have not read a negative comment in all the forums by people who have had them installed. I would go that way, and will when my pegs stop functioning. I have the old Caspari (spelling?) pegs from 1961 and wouldn't want to be without them. They still work very well. They will eventually stop working because they are not built on as good a principle as the new generations. I grit my teeth and want to say bad things whenever I have to tune with the typical friction pegs.

December 12, 2004 at 05:47 AM · No offense, but curse those Caspari pegs! I have an old student fiddle with those, and by now they are completely afunctional. When they start slipping, there is nothing that can be done. I keep wanting to loan out the fiddle to students, but it is rendered useless by those bleepin' pegs!

December 12, 2004 at 01:41 PM · PegHeds work very well. I imagine they wear out eventually. Most things do. But it likely takes a very long time.

Caspari pegs I've fixed by roughing up the washers, or simply by cleaning out the gunk.

December 12, 2004 at 03:29 PM · It seems the violinmaking community has always been slow to try something new. In the end, I figure it's a good thing, because if something really works, it will stand the test of time. After all, there are dozens of "improvements" to the violin that have been tried over the years that were nothing more than snake oil.

I don't have Pegheds on my violin, but I know a few people who do, and they seem very happy with them. I have to agree with Laurie, though, about Caspari pegs. I hated having to deal with them both as a teacher and as a repairer. They wear out too easily, and when they need to be replaced, the holes they leave in the pegbox are so large it's dangerous.

December 13, 2004 at 02:30 PM · The Caspari pegs are not the issue. We all understand they (in general) did not last. Mine, fortunately, have lasted and still work well after all these years. The point being made was that I would (and will some day) replace them with one of the newer innovations in mechanical pegs. They make so much sense. (I hope the manufacturer is reading this and sends me a free set for the plug!)

December 14, 2004 at 02:48 AM · I don't think the issue is that there's anything wrong with the Peghed pegs---more to the issue is the question of whether they're needed. Regular pegs have worked fine for, what, oh, 400 years or so, so what's the problem? If your pegs don't work, get them adjusted. If they still don't work, find someone who knows what he's doing, instead of someone who doesn't. In the long run, that's the best advice, I think, because someone who can't make something as simple as pegs work isn't the person you want to do all of the other, more complex and important, things you need done on your violin, either.

December 14, 2004 at 03:30 AM · Michael,

I most definitely agree with the adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

However, even though standard pegs have served their purpose (and, as you rightly point out, very adequately at that!) for the past half millennium, there is always room for innovation.

The overall design of the violin itself has changed incrementally over the past three centuries, so why not something as simple and fundamental as a tuning peg --especially if milling technology has advanced sufficiently to allow improvements in that regard?

Case in point, gut strings worked quite well before the advent of steel strings; even today, some players still use gut. Does that mean we should eschew steel in favor of gut?

With regards to planetary pegs such as the abovementioned Knilling Perfection and Pegheds brands, I would certainly welcome any innovation that would save me a trip to the luthier; lessen violin maintenance; and aid in fine-tuning my strings. That way, I can concentrate more on my playing! :-)

The best solution, IMHO, is to make violinists more aware of technological advances and make these advances more accessible to players side-by-side with traditional technologies. Having more choices is always a good thing, I believe :-)

Democratic access to technologies (both new and traditional) will also answer any questions about the viability of such products in the long run: if planetary pegs don't work, they will inevitably be consigned to the dustbin of history as curiosities of our era.

December 14, 2004 at 08:43 PM · peghed style pegs work better than traditional pegs, there's no doubt about that in my mind.

December 14, 2004 at 10:20 PM · Michael, While friction pegs work, they certainly aren't as convenient as the Peghed/Perfection pegs. Plus friction pegs are sensitive to temperature and humidity shifts. If all other things are equal, this tuning aspect of the violin is one I'd rather be as simple as possible to master and manage.

December 14, 2004 at 10:57 PM · Out of curiosity, would gut strings have produced less tension and therefore been easier to tune with the standard pegs, even while they would need to be tuned and changed more often?

December 17, 2004 at 01:22 AM · Gut strings weren't necessarily lower tension.

Pegheds or fine tuners are very nice when working quickly to mesh with other instruments on stage or in the studio. A valuable tool.

I can't see how someone could play on perlon strings and find pegheds too innovative. The string is what does the work!

December 17, 2004 at 01:37 AM · Although I haven't yet installed any of the new pegs, I have them in stock and would like to try them. As far as the Caspari pegs go, If they are properly adjusted and not damaged by someone being overly aggressive with a screwdriver, they can work fine for decades with minimal adjustments. The only real problem comes when the bushing in the pegbox comes unglued. If this is not noticed then no mater how tight the screw is it will only damage the peg and not fix the problem. I agree that when they are replaced with traditional pegs it is a problem since the holes are too big. These new geared pegs hopefuly will solve both problems, but as they say "the proof is in the pudding"

David Lashof

Violin Maker and Violinist

December 17, 2004 at 01:58 AM · As a user of entry level violins I have to say "Curse those traditional tuning pegs!". Every beginner student violin I have ever used has had lousy pegs which are a pain to get to the correct pitch, and slip and slide all over the place...even with peg paste. If I didn't have the fine tuners on the bridge, I would have probably thrown my violin out the window a long time ago out of frustration.

Geared pegs IMHO are brilliant . Although I've never used them on a violin they work great on all sorts of tensions on guitar strings ... nylon (low tension) electic guitar steel strings (Ultra high tension) etc... so there should be no problem with them working on violin strings... or so I think.

I can understand holding to traditions in violin making for sound quality. But for something like tuning pegs where the issue is between aesthetics and tradition vs practicality... I say hang tradition and give me the geared tuners.

December 17, 2004 at 03:11 AM · For the record, I know a flamenco guitarist who swears that there is a noticeable improvement in sound with pegs over gears...I don't say it's impossible, but I say it's unlikely or minimal.

December 17, 2004 at 04:13 AM · But don't all guitars have gears anyway of the externally visible kind? I know mine does. They're not very good, being hard to turn.

December 17, 2004 at 05:47 AM · Most guitars use some sort of geared system for their tuners... with the noticable exception of traditional flamenco guitars. The gypsies, I am lead to believe used the non-geared tuners because they were poorer, not because they necessarily sounded better (although Mike's friend would disagree with me).

Nevertheless geared tuners don't necessarily have to be harder to turn. Usually quality of the tuners is related to their ease of use. I've found a bit of WD-40 (lubricant) fixes most tuner related problems.

December 17, 2004 at 06:16 AM · Call me old fasioned (and I'm 19, mind you), but even if they became widely used, I don't think I'd ever switch to geared pegs... tension pegs are (in my opinion) one of those wonderful little features that sets the violin apart from other instruments. It goes along the same lines of people that see a violin up close for the first time and are surprised when they realize it doesn't have frets... I always love it when they ask "than how do you play it!?!?" -- classic. If you ask me, good tension pegs are as easy to tune as gear pegs, anyway... but this is also coming from someone who once considered taking even the e-string fine-tuner off for the possibly infintesimal sound improvement (my a, d, and g strings go directly to the tailpiece).

Than again, I've never seen a contrabass that didn't have gear pegs -- I couldn't imagine trying to tune an old-fashioned bass, but only because of the incredible tension... violins, by comparison, have very little tension on the strings.

Also, does anyone know if gear pegs make the scroll noticably heavier?

December 17, 2004 at 02:33 PM · Noticeably heavier??? No. I think it is also probably an urban "violin" myth that old friction pegs make the violin sound better. Who has even done controlled exeriments with the "same" violin switching back and forth (quite a task) between the two enough times with audience judges who do not know which is which, but choose the best sound?

December 17, 2004 at 07:24 PM · Inge, Phil is correct, traditional flamenco guitars (and renaissance and baroque lutes) use friction pegs. The old Flamencos also used different, cheaper woods and I think that tradition continues, being part of the characteristic sound.

I could be wrong, but if you weigh four pegs and compare that to the weight of caspari tuners or geared tuners I think you'd have a noticeable difference.

I have one fiddle with casparis and I wish it had "normal" pegs.

BTW, Inge, try WD40 or some other oil on your guitar tuners--they shouldn't be a pain to turn.

December 17, 2004 at 07:30 PM · you think the pegs are what sets the violin apart from other instruments? i always thought it was the versatility, the incredible virtuosity, and the wonderful voice of the instrument.

December 17, 2004 at 09:48 PM · Where would you ever get the idea I would think something like that? Wow.

I believe the issues were whether gears vs. pegs made a difference in sound or weight on a given violin. I don't know if it makes a difference in the sound (apparently some people do) and I tend to think the gears would be somewhat heavier. Sorry if I somehow gave you another impression.

December 18, 2004 at 03:18 AM · I'm still not convinced that the new pegheads on a violin would be "noticeably" heavier as you played it. I think it would be such a minor difference to the body so as to make little difference. (Perhaps if you weighed 90 lbs?)

December 19, 2004 at 03:57 AM · Inge,

Just to respond to your previous question. I'm an old enough player that when I was a young teenage student, there were no such things as synthetic strings. I think they came out in Australia when I was about 16, so for the first three years of playing I used wound gut strings.

I definitely did find them easier to actually tune with the pegs than synthetic strings. I'm certain this was because the tuning peg on a wound gut string required more rotational travel for a given pitch change than any synthetic string I have used subsequently. So it was quite easy to use the actual peg as a fine tuner.

Now that I use synthetic strings exclusively, I simply have a fine tuning tailpiece. Once the strings have settled down after changing them, I don't often need to touch the pegs, if at all when using these latest composite synthetics.

December 19, 2004 at 04:08 AM · I had not even thought about the rotational travel aspect of it, though that is indeed what I find hard about getting accustomed to using tuning pegs - you try to move them such an infinitesimal amount while holding back this huge unravelling force. My thought was more along the lines that there would be less tension in a gut string (would there be?) making tuning less of a physical effort. Of course it was pointed out to me around the time that my A string needed replacing today that if a string is wound onto the peg more precisely, it also becomes easier to tune. Is that true?

December 19, 2004 at 06:26 AM · It is easier to tune if the string (the silky part in the pegbox) is not touching the pegbox cheek. The silken end grabs the pegbox making it more difficult to tune.

Second, if there are too many winds on the peg, this can be a problem too. What happens is the windings (already compressed against the pegbox cheek) will push the peg further into the hole, making turning the peg difficult.

December 19, 2004 at 11:59 PM · Plus some people make the mistake of putting some winds on top of each other. These inevitably compress upon each other thus lowering the pitch of the string as well.

And Inga, yes you are correc tthat in general there is less tension in a gut string. But personally, I did not find the tension aspect itself an issue (ie help or hindrance). It was simply the greater peg travel making fine adjustments easier. I don't know much about physics but I'm just guessing that a lower tension string (ie wound gut string) requires more percentage tension increase for a change in pitch than does a high tension string of the same nominal pitch. I could be wrong though.

December 20, 2004 at 01:31 AM · Okay, so I didn't read all the other posts (late to the party as usual), but regarding why geared tuners haven't been widely adopted...

Could it be cause they are UGLY? :P


December 20, 2004 at 01:50 AM · No, they look just like the regular pegs.

December 20, 2004 at 06:03 AM · they look almost exactly the same, i believe. the new generation are really quite something, they look nothing like guitar pegs.

December 20, 2004 at 07:55 AM · My appologies; I was unaware of this phenomina.

The only ones I have seen were from around the turn of the century and, in my opinion, are not at all flattering to the profile of the instrument.

December 20, 2004 at 06:45 PM · Caspari pegs... ick. While you're at it, why don't you just buy a keyboard with "genuine faux- violin" sound and then you REALLY won't have to worry about the pegs.

Seriously, the caspari pegs fail too often, are aweful looking and are a pain to repair.

December 20, 2004 at 07:59 PM · The discussion isn't about them. It is about the new generation pegs...the pegheads and perfection pegs. Totally different issue. We all know the Caspari pegs did not generally hold up. Research the new ones and all the good things the owners have to say about them.

December 22, 2004 at 02:56 AM · Re: weight

I can't speak for Pegheds but the Perfections are lighter than conventional ebony pegs.

December 22, 2004 at 04:06 AM · 1. Can you get the peg-head style planet-geared pegs in ebony or rosewood if you want?

2. Do they make fancier designs -- French or Hill-style pegs?

3. Did you have to enlarge the holes or retaper [or "non-taper"] the holes for the new pegs?

Thanks in advance for this information!

December 22, 2004 at 09:23 PM · Umm, this might be too obvious, but why don't you ask them yourself?

December 22, 2004 at 11:51 PM · lol, i think sam is right.

December 23, 2004 at 07:41 PM · So, cool, they are lighter--I suspect that's good. Do they or can affect the sound, for better or worse?

December 24, 2004 at 03:34 AM · Peg weight is a factor in the resonant frequency of the violin body/neck combination. Which is a factor in tone and response. Changing mass changes resonance. Probably to the advantage of some instruments and not to the advantage of others.

Perfection = Peghed, same source.

As far as pegheads v. slotted machine heads on guitars, the weight of metal tuners on a light flamenco guitar is way too high. Balance is off and they do sound different. I'll put the peghed tuners in a peghead flamenco, if mine is ever completed.

December 25, 2004 at 12:31 PM · I've heard that Peghead pegs, for their first fitting, need to be threaded into the hole (wood) of the pegbox, causing a certain amount of damage to the wood (although the amount might be small).

Many violins that been around for a long time will need to have their peg holes rebushed because of normal wear and tear. However, I hesitate to put something on my violin that would cause such an amount of "damage" just for installation.

January 6, 2005 at 08:49 PM · Forgive my intrusion, but a colleague of mine has directed me to this thread. As I represent Perfection Pegs at the manufacturing and marketing level, I thought I might offer some small points of information for anyone interested. So here goes…

One of the things that compelled us to bring this design to the market was the fact that it meant the elimination of the weight of any fine tuners from the tailpiece. Perfection Pegs do weigh marginally more than some ebony pegs, but the combined weight of fine tuners and friction pegs is easily greater than that of the Perfection pegs alone. We also liked fact that getting rid of the fine tuners eliminated a potential source of buzzing, as well as the risk of gouging the top of the instrument with the sharp edges of the tuners. By the way, historically, the fine tuner was never intended as part of the instrument; they were an add-on necessitated primarily by the advent of steel strings. Removing them actually restores the setup of a violin to a more traditional state.

Something else we thought was important is that the installation of Perfection Pegs is so non-invasive. Earlier alternatives to the friction peg have tended to require over-sized peg holes, or hardware being screwed onto the instrument, essentially damaging the instrument. With the Perfection design, both the taper and diameter of the pegs are quite consistent with friction pegs, so much so that the luthier uses exactly the same reamer as he would use for friction pegs. (If your peg holes have become overly large, you will need to get them re-bushed before having Perfection pegs installed, but you would presumably have needed to do that with new friction pegs, too.) There is VERY shallow threading on the shank of the Perfection peg, which allows it to be screwed into the pegbox securely. That said, the threading is not such that it damages the instrument.

About durability, based on the quality of the metallurgy of the working part of the pegs, namely the helical gears, I would have to say that Perfection pegs are likely to outlast any instrument on which they are installed. I know that sounds fairly outrageous, but here is why I say it. The steel alloy for the internal gears is the same as is used on helicopter propeller shafts. The outer ring gear, which doubles as a portion of the shaft, is anodized aircraft aluminum. (The surface is actually aluminum oxide, which is rated second in hardness only to diamonds.) The entire mechanism is permanently sealed and lubricated so, assuming there is no user damage, no user maintenance should ever be needed once they’re installed. Conceptually, you could think of the Perfection peg as sort of a cross between an automobile transmission and the focusing mechanism on a pair of binoculars. From a total design standpoint, this is unlike anything else that has ever been presented for the violin (or voila or cello).

I think the other questions were about the appearance of Perfection pegs. We were not interested in overturning the tradition of the violin, so it was important that the Perfection peg respected the aesthetics of the violin. You would need to look closely to notice that they are not friction pegs, and your best clue is the absence of tuners on the tailpiece. For the cello, you can get wooden-headed pegs under the Pegheds brand. It’s the same mechanism, and this option means that you can match the appearance of pegs that you might already have, and get the advantages of the Perfection peg functionality. For the violin, though, this is not yet an option (and you can get any color you want as long as it’s black). Our first priority is reliability, and for technical reasons this rules out using wood, at least for now. In the future, we are interested in expanding the range of cosmetic options (different head styles, different colors), but our initial focus is on producing the basic peg mechanism with the highest degree of consistency and reliability.

I hope I’ve covered the bases. If not, I’m sure someone will let me know!

January 7, 2005 at 12:13 AM · I found your explanation very enlightening, Gary. It makes sense that technology improves over time. I'm wondering though how many people with friction pegs keep the fine tuners other than for the E string past a certain stage? Maybe the way to tell if someone's violin has geared pegs is if there is no fine tuner for ANY string.

January 7, 2005 at 01:45 AM · Gary, is it possible to purchse them seperately or one at a time? The purpose would be just to get rid of that fine tuner on the E.

January 7, 2005 at 05:44 PM · The absence of the backlash tuners have had has been a main reason for pegs, I'd guess, not just tradition.

By the way, how many cycles are your gears tested to, and how much is the allowed wear? You're just telling me they last forever and I'm laffin.


January 7, 2005 at 08:49 PM · how much are these btw?

January 8, 2005 at 01:25 AM · Perfection pegs are $130.00; Pegheds start at $100.00--apparently they come in two different prices.

January 8, 2005 at 12:52 PM · Inge, I have seen instances where a teacher has insisted that the students have fine tuners regardless of what kind of pegs, but I think it's more out of not fully checking out and understanding the Perfection pegs.

At the moment, they're offered in sets, but we could arrange for singles. For the E string that would be a P1VN44R.

Jim, about cycles, we really don't know. Because of the checkered history of earlier alternative pegs, notably the tension pegs that tended to have problems, a determination was made to somewhat over-engineer the mechanism. The original version for the cello has been in operation more than twelve years, and there is no detectable change in gear function or hold. For the violin pegs, we have about three years of history with no problems other than operator or installation error. Although the metallurgy is borrowed from heavy industrial applications, the actual work load on the gears for the violin is not very much, and the number of cycles that the gears will ever have to make is negligible compared to, for example, the transmission of an automobile. Once the instrument is basically in tune, your typical rotation is just a fraction of a cycle to tweak. Putting strings on initially is the only time you get a larger number of rotations, but even then, the gear ratio is 4:1 (four turns of the head to one turn of the shaft), which is way less than, for example, the guitar or the string bass. It's actually pretty quick, especially since the pegs don't slip and you don't feel like you need a third hand to get the string wound properly.

One of our most recent devotees, Richard Greene, has a set on his fiddle, and he thinks they're great because of his cross-tuning. I think he told me he has some 22 different tunings he uses, and before these pegs he had to have two fiddles on stage. Now it's just one, and it's just so easy to go from one tuning to the next.

January 12, 2005 at 04:33 AM · I would love to hear Richard Greene. I've been a fan of his since the early 70's.

January 12, 2005 at 04:23 PM · Yes, he's an amazing player who, IMO, is underappreciated. I like to hear him work with Peter Rowan, regardless of who else is along for the ride.

January 12, 2005 at 05:17 PM · How about the possibility of human error wearing out the pegs? I'm thinking that the parts inside however strong must be very fine. It is meant for tuning to be done through simple rotation of course which would cause no stress on the mechanism. But what if you have a heavy handed individual who inadvertently puts sideways or downward pressure or some other inappropriate manoeuvre for which the peg is not designed. People can do some pretty stupid things. Is that factored into the design?

January 13, 2005 at 02:50 AM · I guess I'd have to admit that the Perfection pegs are not designed to cover every contingency of abuse or mishandling. A whack with a hammer will probably harm the pegs, and enough "inappropriate" sideways or downward pressure will likely snap off the head. I don't think the gears themselves would be likely to sustain damage as they are the strongest component of the pegs. They are small in diameter, but the steel alloy is quite tough. All that aside, assuming a peg does sustain damage, it is easy to remove if desired, and easy to replace. In that sense, "stupid things" are indeed factored into the design!

A small additional point to consider is that every rotation of a friction peg creates wear in the pegbox, eventually necessitating rebushing, and sometimes risking peg box cracks. One of the side benefits of these pegs is that, once installed, that source of wear and potential cracks is eliminated.

January 13, 2005 at 05:58 AM · I thought this would be a good place to provide an update with my experience with Perfrction Pegs which is pretty good sofar. Only one violin has been converted, the other needed wooden shim inserts in the old peg box that are due to be complete and fitted in a couple days.

The instrument I've been playing with for the last few weeks - with perfection pegs is a joy to tune. I replaced its strings last week, with little difficulty. I've found keeping in tune easy - except the D string peg is a bit internally loose and needs to be snugged in (like a traditional friction peg) to maintain the static brake function of the peg. If this stays as it is I can live with it, if it loosens further, I'll return and request a replacement. For now it is a very minor irritation.

Since I'm learning and really concerned about getting my intonation sharp, being able to keep my tuning precise is critical, and these pegs have really taken the pain out of adjustment.

Most of the problems I've encountered I think come from the shop I'm using not having a lot of experience with these pegs. They didn't realize the pegs are differentiated A E vs D G, and I'm suspicious this was the first set installed by this luthier/technician, but everyone needs to learn. The leading edge of technology is occasionally a bleading edge. But so far so good. I'm really looking forward to getting my favorite fiddle back in a couple of days, hope its perfect(ion).

January 13, 2005 at 12:38 PM · Aside from the need to have the pegs installed on the proper side (treble pegs on the treble side, bass pegs on the bass side), the only other thing that is not immediately obvious to the new user is that pressing inward, towards the peg box as you rotate the head, will result in more stiffness of the mechanism. This will probably eliminate the looseness you describe in the D peg. Likewise, pulling away from the pegbox as you turn reduces the gear contact. Once they try this, most users feel the difference immediately, and know what to do. So, push inward as you turn, and let's see what happens. Assuming the pegs are on the correct side and seated properly in the pegbox, that should do it.

January 24, 2005 at 03:58 AM · Just to follow-up my experience on this. I got my second violin retrofitted with perfrction pegs this week, and the job appears to have been done perfectly. The peg shims appear perfect, the pegs seem set and working perfectly. No need for fine tuners, easy adjustment, makes practicing somewhat less a burden. Seems a joy.

January 25, 2005 at 12:06 AM · I install perfection pegs on every new cello that I set up. They take all the stress out of tuning.

February 9, 2005 at 02:33 AM · Gary B,

I think the question about cycles had to do with TUNING cycles, not cycles of rotation. Well, anyway, that's what I want to know.

Actually, an answer in "cents" would be more helpful.

What is the minimum increment possible on the E strings? On the G string?

Do you guarantee this accuracy for a certain period of time?

February 9, 2005 at 10:30 AM · I'm not any kind of a rep for these pegs, I just now have two violins fit with them (for a month or so. They allow very precise adjustment, and I use electronic tuners (too much) - I figure learning intonation is hard enough, let alone if your instrument's tuning isn't stable.

As far as durability, so far great, but 1-2 months ain't much. If anything one set of pegs is working better after I changed strings (nothing to do with the strings, but with the exercise of the pegs I think). The fact that no one who has these pegs has posted a traumatic failure experience to the Web also helps.

They sure make tuning easier.

February 9, 2005 at 03:23 PM · Mark, I think you'll be hard-pressed to find someone else who has those pegs...that's not a criticism, just what I suspect to be true. I have to say I'm quite used to seeing gears on guitars, but on violins? Such an elegant form is destroyed by the presence of gears IMHO.

February 9, 2005 at 03:27 PM · I installed a set of Pegheds on my EH Roth violin. The Pegheds cost $160. They are faux ebony, but look good. I removed the old ebony pegs and opened the peg holes to where I could screw in the Pegheds. The G and D are right hand threaded while the A and E are left hand threaded. This means that the string tension will keep the Pegheds screwed in tight.

Their action is beautiful. It’s like having fine tuners on all four strings. I often get questions from people asking where is my E fine tuner.

The Pegheds hold their tension and do not slip once new strings settle in. Their construction is solid. I imagine they will outlast me.

I contacted recently and they have a new “Platinum” set. I have no details on them other than they cost $200.

My only regret is that they cost so much. Nevertheless, once you use them you cannot go back.

I would like to look at other brands for another violin.

February 10, 2005 at 01:41 AM · Michael, The Perfection Pegs I have are made by the Pegheds fplk as I understand it. The design is similar.

I agree they are a great technology.

February 10, 2005 at 03:06 AM · Mark, Unless you have X Ray vision, you won't see the gears. These pegs look just like pegs. I've put in a number of sets. Never a problem and they work extremely well. They just cost a good deal. They add to the elegance of the design by allowing all fine tuners on the tailpiece to be removed, rather than destroy that elegance.

As far as damage to the pegbox mentioned above, the damage done in the long run by friction pegs is substantial, requiring periodic bushing of the holes and fitting new pegs. The slight thread marks in the key side of the peg are hardly "damage" in my world.

February 10, 2005 at 05:01 AM · Many of the points that have been raised are already addressed. A couple of items though...

I think the Pegheds version that is referenced incorporates some titanium. The working portions of the Perfection vioin pegs and the Pegheds versions are essentially identical. The difference is that in the Perfection peg certain parts are aircraft aluminum while in the other those parts are titanium. The former is lighter in weight, and the sun and planet gears are exactly the same in both.

On the question of tuning precision, I can't detect any advantage of tailpiece-mounted string adjusters over these pegs. Initially, I know that there were some users who were concerned enough to retain the E tuner for a time. Ultimately, it does get regarded as fully redundant, so most users tune all four strings with the Perfection pegs alone, no problem.

On the matter of damage to the peg box, not only is the periodic need for rebushing eliminated, so too is the risk of peg box cracks that can occur with friction pegs. I had that experience myself a number of years ago. Quite expensive to fix.

About longevity, it might be helpful to think about these in the context of geared mechanisms already in use on other instruments such as guitars and upright basses. There was a point in time some generations ago when the transition was made from friction pegs to a geared mechanism in both instances. If there had been Internet discussion boards at the time, I imagine there would have been similar concerns expressed. : )

Finally, I very much agree with Mark, that tuning presents enough challenge, especially for someone trying to learn. The struggle with friction pegs may discourage some who would otherwise really enjoy the instrument. I also know of a lot of older players and string educators who have developed career-threatening injuries due to chronic tuning struggles with the friction pegs. This development is particularly important for them, I think.

February 11, 2005 at 02:40 PM · Are there any luthiers in the Baltimore-DC region who have experience fitting these pegs?

February 13, 2005 at 01:58 AM · In ther Baltimore-DC region you could, for example, contact either Gailes Violin Shop or Potters Violin Shop.

February 13, 2005 at 08:50 AM · Gary,

you wrote, "On the question of tuning precision, I can't detect any advantage of tailpiece-mounted string adjusters over these pegs. Initially, I know that there were some users who were concerned enough to retain the E tuner for a time. Ultimately, it does get regarded as fully redundant, so most users tune all four strings with the Perfection pegs alone, no problem."

OK, but that's not exactly an answer. I asked for a specific number of cents. Some players may simply not be as picky as I. I would like to know what I'm getting before it's too late.

Can you provide some actual numbers?

February 13, 2005 at 04:24 PM · Sara, I can HIGHLY recommend Gailes violin shop in College Park to install the mechanical pegs. Mr. Gailes has a lot of experience in installing these pegs on all string instruments.

I am a violin/viola/chamber music professor in the Washington-Baltimore area and was introduced to these pegs some months ago. Like many strings players that hold on to tradition, I was somewhat nervous about installing the pegs on my viola, especially since my instruments are high quality instruments. When I talked things over with Mr. Gailes, not only did he clearly explain what he would do to install them and answer all my questions, but also said that if I didn't think they worked, he could reverse the process and put my old pegs back in.

I have had the pegs in my viola now for 3 months. I have travelled through various extremes of temperatures and not once was the tuning of my viola effected. I am still amazed at how easily these pegs can fine tune without any pressure exerted from the left hand while tuning. I am not knowledgeable about the "science" of these pegs, but can hear the instrument is more resonant than before.

I have many professional collegues that are now interested in these pegs, not only for their own instruments, but for the potential for string group classes. I would encourage everyone to learn more about these pegs from Knilling Music and to experience their full benefits on their instruments and for their students.

February 13, 2005 at 06:36 PM · Thank you, Hegedu and Gary! My wooden pegs don't fit well, so money has to be spent anyway to fix the problem--and I would love to get rid of the fine tuners!

February 15, 2005 at 02:09 AM · Allan, yours is an interesting question, and one I would like to address in the following way. As some readers here may not have known, “cent” may be translated as 1/100 (the hundredth root) of an equal-temperament semitone. We have not defined the resolution or stability of Perfection pegs in terms of cents. Our focus has been on hands-on performance parameters, rather than specific technical ones. Except perhaps under certain extraordinary controlled circumstances, I think one could not realistically guarantee performance according to such standards because of the potential effect of variables such as instrument or string expansion and contraction (due to humidity or moisture changes), string stretching, string winding catches at the nut or bridge, and probably other factors as well (such as the effect on the E string when the G string is tweaked). One could suppose that this is why no commercially available tuning device for the violin carries a claim or promise regarding minimum possible increments or guaranteed accuracy over time, in cents or other terms. Too many other factors can interfere.

February 15, 2005 at 04:24 AM · Yeah, ok.

If I had a violin here with geared tuners, I could give YOU the answer to my question in about thirty seconds.

I'll stick with wooden pegs until I have a chance to actually see someone elses violin with geared pegs first.

(Momma ddn't raise no fool...)

February 15, 2005 at 01:24 PM · Actually, that is the best way to guage them. It's always fun to watch someone trying these for the first time; no one expects them to be as smooth and precise as they are, and almost everyone exclaims "They don't slip!" If any of you are attending the upcoming ASTA/NSOA convention in Reno, Feb. 24-26, this will be an excellent opportunity to see and try the Perfection pegs firsthand. We will have a number of instruments available for that purpose, both at our booth and in several of the sessions. They are likewise available to try at a number of other state and regional music educator conventions this year, and at a growing number of music stores and shops nationwide. Anyone needing assistance or information regarding local availability is welcome to contact me directly via email. We'll do the best we can to get you connected.

February 15, 2005 at 01:21 PM · Allan,

How continouously adjustable are your wooden peds? All I can say is my perfection pegs are able to tune within the smallest increment of my CP2 tuner for my e-string (or others). Once my strings broke-in the tuning seems to hold through practicing.

February 15, 2005 at 07:20 PM · Hello everyone. I just joined and came across this discussion about precision pegs. I just had my first set installed (made by Knilling) and LOVE them! I'm on the road a lot, constantly changing climates, and they make it so easy to tune right in the midst of playing. My luthier had no problem installing them. best wishes, Julie Lyonn Lieberman

February 15, 2005 at 09:56 PM · Gary,

I "thanked you in advance," on December 21, 2004 at 9:06 PM (MST)

and I'm thanking you again for the helpful information!


February 16, 2005 at 04:43 AM · David, my pleasure, thank you.

February 16, 2005 at 10:25 PM · Allan,

the pegs are as infinetely tunable as friction pegs.

March 12, 2005 at 10:29 PM · Gailes Violin Shop in College Park, Maryland just put geared pegs on my viola. I am very pleased, both with the shop and the pegs.

However, at first the pegs were slipping-causing a bit of consternation before orchestra rehearsal--until I had a chance to re-read this thread and learn to push the peg in as I turned it.

Thanks for this thread! And a particular thank you to Hegedu Lany and Gary Byers!

March 15, 2005 at 01:34 AM · Geared pegs have been adopted on virtually all string instruments execept violin, viola and cello. They just plain work better. Period. Until now there has been ONE good reason not to use them on v, v, & c and that single reason was esthetics. This is no longer an issue with the internal gearing, so the only remaining reason I see for all this skepticism is fear. Y'all are just a bunch of yella-bellied chickens.

I'm getting perfections installed on mine real soon. I'll let you know how they work out.

March 15, 2005 at 07:10 AM · Having heard about the geared pegs, I asked a violinist what he thought of them. His response? "I don't know, isn't that kind of like training wheels?"

I'll back that up with a short anecdote. A few years ago I attended CSM, a summer music camp. One violinist was struggling to tune her instrument during a studio class, and the exasperated teacher walked over and tuned it for her. Call it experience, strength, or even luck, but he turned each peg straight to the correct pitch. In his hands, I doubt geared pegs would be worth the trouble.

March 15, 2005 at 01:38 PM · If you have never tried them, you don't know what you are missing and should not pass judgement - unless, of course, you are a Luddite.

March 15, 2005 at 10:53 PM · i really agree, they are way way easier. its not a matter of whether or not you can or cant tune traditional pegs, its just plain easier and takes less time. besides we all hate to be the last orchestra player tuning right?

March 17, 2005 at 06:54 PM · Would love to try these pegs out. Thanks for the informative post!

March 19, 2005 at 05:40 AM · @#%#$!! I have the pegs in my hand right now and no one to install them for me! #$%@#! and double @%$@$#!!

March 19, 2005 at 05:59 AM · You need to find an open minded Luthier. Their is a right side left side difference for these, and I believe Perfection (Knilling) has (sells) a DVD with instructions. Give the folks who sold you the pegs an e-ring to get their suggestions.

Chance favors the well informed. Bon chance!

March 21, 2005 at 03:28 AM · No, what i meant was my man Hans is in Germany for the next month and a half, so all I can do with the pegs is look at them.

March 22, 2005 at 01:29 AM · Sam, Hans, and anyone else preparing to install them, I am happy to send a set of pdf instructions as requested, most easily through the Knilling website.

March 22, 2005 at 07:46 PM · I have them. They work just fine. They work great actually. Last a long time. No problems.

The reason they arent used more is, first of all, cost (some people can tune it well enough normally they dont feel the extra cost is justified for the improvement). The second is some elitists that have been playing for a long time (I wont name names) create a taboo around new things. Tradition this and that ya know?

March 23, 2005 at 05:09 AM · Gary, I'd love to receive your instructions. I'm guessing that the thread goes in the direction of the tension?

Dan, when you consider the cost of either the Perfection or Pegheds as a portion of the entire cost of the instrument, it becomes small to infinitesimal. Therefore, cost is really not a valid argument. People are just plain afraid to try them. Period. They're all chicken s!$#.

March 22, 2005 at 10:54 PM · you dont have to try it on your instrument, someone showed me theirs and since then i've wanted them.

March 23, 2005 at 02:31 AM · Yes, the threading is in the direction of the tension of the strings, clockwise on the bass side, counter-clockwise on the treble side. This way the pull of the strings always tends to reinforce the seating of the Perfection Peg in the peg box. This design is also a handy way to indicate to the installer which two are treble side pegs and which two are for the bass side.

March 24, 2005 at 01:04 PM · David Lashoff - I believe that the saying is "The proof of the pudding is in the eating"...

March 26, 2005 at 03:03 AM · No its "in the 'E' ding", which is an old English term for open e-string pizz. ;)

March 26, 2005 at 04:57 AM · I'm getting some installed on one of my violins, they seem like a great use of technology.


April 13, 2005 at 10:44 PM · Corey Wqgner.

Although technically you are correct about the phrase, the shortened version has become a common version of the whole, being used by professionals in all works of life, from Enviromental experts to editors and beyond. The big question that I have to ask, is not about that but do you not have anything to add about the thread of the conversation about which I made the comment.

I on the other hand would like to add, that I have now setup two instruments with the planetary pegs and find them to be outstanding. The first violin sold in about an hour and the teacher who bought it is going to have his students retro fit their instruments. Although I like the pegs, I am not as happy with the installation system as I wish I could be. It would be nice if the manufacturer would have an installation guide on line. As a professional luthier I am a little hesitant in the procesure that I have figured out.

David Lashof

Lashof Violins

April 13, 2005 at 11:09 PM · My only concern would be the fact that you have to bore out the peg holes slightly for the geared pegs (of almost every style that I'm aware of). Would/could this hurt the resale value of the instrument if it was being sent to a player who preferred "normal" pegs? I realize that you could use bushings, but that would bring up other questions/problems concerning sound, looks, etc. Any thoughts?

April 14, 2005 at 02:21 PM · If you want to revert to the primitive friction pegs, all you do is cut new pegs to fit the peg holes. However, once you try Pegheds you would never want to go back to friction pegs. BTW, I installed a set on a violin with no trouble.

July 20, 2005 at 03:58 AM · Dear Angelo and others,

When I initially had the Planetary pegs installed back in Nov 2004, it was the first question I asked Mr. Gailes of Gailes Violin Shop in College Park, MD. I asked "if I didn't like them, could I revert?", and "would there be any devaluation on my instrument?" He assured me that if I didn't like them, it was an easy process to revert, and that there would be no value lost on the instrument itself.

So I can tell you from now having used them for 9 months now, I will never revert back! I've travelled all over the world and in different climates and still have yet to make any real adjustments in tuning to the instrument. If I do have to tune, it's so fine that it literally takes a second, and with no effort from my left hand to do so. It's one less thing to think about when performing in different venues!

July 20, 2005 at 09:32 PM · I agree, I would never go back to friction pegs. I don't know why anyone wouldn't want planetary pegs.

July 21, 2005 at 07:00 PM · I tried gearead pegs and loved them, but I really prefer the feel of wooden pegs. There is a definate seam where the peg was assembled and that drives me crazy. I guss I'm also old fashoned for a teen...

July 21, 2005 at 09:32 PM · For anyone whose planetary peg set has prominent parting seams such as what Joseph describes, they can be easily smoothed away with a fine sand paper, then steel wool. It takes a few moments, and I think most luthiers are doing that where needed in the course of installation.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Protect your instrument this winter

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Starling-DeLay Symposium
Starling-DeLay Symposium

Los Angeles Philharmonic
LA Phil

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

ARIA International Summer Academy

Study with the Elizabeth Faidley Studio

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine