Tailgut shootout and Pegheds followup

Edited: July 24, 2018, 9:12 AM · In prior posts, I discussed some changes I was trying as an amateur string technician (far from calling myself a luthier.)
My final results after I got the soundpost set in a very good place using Gary Rickman’s novel techniques:
I am thrilled with how much better my backup instrument, a 1964 EH Roth student level viola, sounds and plays with the new Pegheds pegs (replacing heavy Caspari), simple ebony harp tailpiece( without tuners now that I have Pegheds), & Stradpet kevlar/titanium tailgut (darker than Bois du Harmonie kevlar.)
I had tried various tailpieces with fine tuners because I often use this instrument outdoors or in places with poor or no air conditioning. I had noticed a negative difference in resonance with all of them when compared to any tailpiece without tuners. Additionally, harp tailpieces allowed me to play in higher positions on low strings with much less of a choked nasal quality.
The Caspari pegs were very heavy and having read Traeger’s theories on resonance, I wanted a lighter alternative. I would have to remove much more wood from the cylindrical holes to bush properly, weakening the pegbox. Chuck at Pegheds was able to fit the existing cylindrical holes perfectly without further compromising the pegbox and with the benefit of fine tuning. They work very well and are solid.
I also compared nylon, steel, titanium, Stradpet, and kevlar. I had settled on Kevlar for resonance and playability several years ago, but found it a little shrill at times. The new Stradpet has a richer fundamental while retaining a fairly rich overtone series along with comparable playability.
Many little changes can add up to a much improved instrument that eases your ability to play musically.

Replies (14)

July 26, 2018, 7:53 PM · Chuck Herin is an exceptional craftsman. You were right to have him to the work in your special circumstance.
Edited: July 27, 2018, 1:16 PM · Thanks for this. It's always helpful to hear from people willing to try new materials. I'm going to try the titanium tailgut and maybe the titanium button. In theory anything that makes the fiddle a little quicker to respond can make a difference playing passagework.
July 27, 2018, 1:30 PM · No question at all about Chuck Herrin as an inventor, craftsman and super-hero person!!!

My first several geared pegs were Pegheds from Chuck Herrin. But as I got into it and realized I was going to end up installing geared pegs in 4 violins, 3 cellos and 2 violas that I have now and at least 5 other violins for family members, I decided to try the cheaper Knilling "Planetary" pegs, which (at the time) had plastic "handles" instead of the wood option the Herrin sells. I also installed 2 Wittner pegs to see how they would do.

I must say that they all do the job.

But perhaps one of the most special things was when I installed Knilling pegs in a cheap 5-string violin I had bought. I asked Chuck Herrin to sell me a single peg (for that 5th string). He sent me 2 pegs (each with a different plastic "handle" so that one would match the other 4 from the set I had bought elsewhere).

I have since found there are now ebay sellers who will sell you a single geared peg (in case you mess up!.

July 27, 2018, 2:44 PM · How many violins have you ruined???
July 27, 2018, 3:02 PM · NONE! All good!

I've been fiddling with my fiddles, etc. for 70 years, playing for 80!

July 27, 2018, 8:01 PM · I would consider them ruined!!
Edited: July 27, 2018, 8:20 PM · That suggest to me, Lyndon, that you may be a violin appraiser, a violin restorer, and a violin dealer .... but not a violin player. Many of us who tune our violins every day and want to do so without straining our hands and wrists value this advance in technology. Of course there are those who still prefer friction pegs, and whose friction pegs work very well. And that's their prerogative. But it is also my prerogative and Andrew's prerogative to use gear pegs. Why? Because these are our violins, paid for with our money. Many gear pegs can be installed without reaming and without adhesive. And they put less physical stress on the peg box. That doesn't sound like wreckage to me. It sounds like evolution. If eventually I sell my Topa and it sells at a discount because it has PegHeds, I will surely let you know.
July 27, 2018, 8:20 PM ·
Edited: July 28, 2018, 7:11 AM · I found this on line by googling "Mendelssohn Red Violin Wittner" because I knew what it should yield (since the owner of the violin has advertised for Wittner). And what is in quotes below is part of what came up - exactly!

Elizabeth "Pitcairn always found tuning to be a difficult and precarious task and brought this concern to her luthier, Robert Cauer. Robert suggested the Wittner Finetune pegs. Since then, Elizabeth has had them installed on three instruments; the "Red Mendelssohn Stradivari Violin, her Pressenda violin, and her practice violin. Upon having them installed on her violin, she wrote a letter to Wittner expressing her delight."

I missed out on a chance to see Ms. Pitcairn perform about 2 miles from my home a decade or so ago because I forgot about it.

But along those same lines, a violinist friend of mine with whom I played piano trios weekly for about 20 years had Pegheds installed in his Enrico Rocca violin by Roland Feller (major go-to violin luthier for SF Symphony players) of San Francisco about a decade ago.

July 27, 2018, 9:50 PM · There will always be people willing to vandalize violins!!
July 27, 2018, 11:33 PM · Violin "vandalism" has a long and honorable tradition. One such vandal was Louis Spohr, who "vandalized" his fiddle by attaching a chin rest. During the 19th century almost all already existing instruments were "vandalized" by changing the neck to get a longer and differently angled fingerboard, then inserted a taller bridge.

Do you posthumously object to these developments, Lyndon? Would you prefer to play without a chin rest?

July 28, 2018, 3:23 AM · yes, I specialize in original baroque set up violins.
July 28, 2018, 4:39 AM · Installing geared pegs is hardly a vandalism compared to changing fingerboards, resetting necks, thinning front plates on many Strads.
Edited: July 28, 2018, 4:20 PM · Agreed, Kevin.

Also, Mr. Taylor, one post of your point of view is enough. Don’t like geared pegs, great. You don’t need to troll everyone.

I like my Wittners, I got them based on Andy Victor’s comments.

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