Tuning with pegs---while bowing
This is a baffling mystery to me. Theoretically I understand how it should work and have watched tutorials, but I cannot do it!
How are you supposed to get enough leverage not just to turn the peg but push it in HARD---with only the scroll to push against? So your thumb and first finger tune, and the other two fingers somehow create the leverage to push the pin all the way in?? I can't get the pin in well enough, it slips back out. I've got the pegs with the wide side facing me so that I can get a good grip.
I am also a rock climber, so I'm pretty well sure it's not a hand strength issue. More baffling!
I asked my teacher about it and she said it doesn't matter, go ahead and tune it however you want, maybe implying that anybody who looks down on you for not tuning while playing is probably a snob. Ok true, but I *want* to hear the strings come into tune while using the bow, not pizzicato... and it's annoying to take the violin down every time, tune it plucking, try the bow, adjust again... plus I want to become less reliant on the fine tuners.
Is there a secret tip?? Are my pegs too slippery? Or, a mystery.
I usually don't bow and turn pegs, but I will do it with fine tuners. There are some pegs that are mechanical and are really easy to turn while bowing, but it just depends on your pegs.
In perfect and close to perfect condition, tuning pegs will work the way you want. Pegs get out of that perfect state due to all kinds of external influences. I have seen seasoned professionals struggle as you describe. I used such for 70 years and struggled with temperature and humidity changes and pegs going out-of-round, but starting 10 years ago I converted all my instruments to one of the following:
i second Andrew’s recommendation. I had the same problem until I installed (myself - easy if you have some skill and are starting with a decent violin) Wittner geared pegs ($65 for four). The Wittner pegs turn buttery smooth and the 9:1 ratio makes sneaking up on the correct pitch with ones left hand while bowing with the right easy.
Leslie, people are suggesting gear pegs, which are probably great, but the answer to your original question is that your pegs are either not well made, or need to be treated with peg paste. This is a compound containing both a sticky and a graphite substance mixed together so that you can turn your pegs but they will also stay fixed. You can pass by a violin dealer and they will happily fix it for you. You can also buy Hill Peg Compound yourself. Just google "hill peg compound".
where are you putting your other fingers? on the A string I hold the peg with my thumb and middle finger, and hook the first finger around the scroll on the other side. As I turn, I squeeze between the first and 2nd fingers (lateral?). For the D and G strings, I hold it between thumb and first, hook the pinky around the scroll over near the A string peg, and squeeze that way.
Leslie, the answer to your question is "yes, we generate enough pressure with the rest of our hand to drive the peg in as we turn." Partly this is a practiced skill that we've developed since childhood, so even if I didn't have powerful hands, I would know how to apply the strength I had in the right way.
I was considering fitting finetune pegs, but I already have the tools to fit wooden pegs and even 50¢ boxwood pegs can turn buttery smooth if done right. Just need to make the holes nice and round with a reamer and apply some soap to the pegs.
If the peg slips out as easily as you say, it sounds like they are not properly fitted. Well fitted pegs should give you no problems and if you add peg dope, they are very, very easy to tune.
Agree with Irene -- For friction pegs you need to push against something. So have your fourth finger on the other side when turning the D or G pegs: the first finger on the opposite side when turning the A or E pegs. OR - it's legal to use a fine tuner with the A string, unless it is gut.
If you "do it yourself" with a reamer and fifty-cent boxwood pegs, you'll be doing it again in a week's time. Soap should not be necessary for your pegs to turn well. If it is necessary then that tells you something right there about your DIY skills compared to a professional luthier using "Genuine GM Parts." The risk is that you'll mess up your peg box gadly and then you'll be paying one whole hell of a lot more than the price of gear pegs to have your violin fixed.
Yeah, ok, Paul.
No elitist here. For the last several years I've been a gear-peg user. But in my whole life I've never put graphite, wax, clay, soap, chalk, or any other treatment on ANY violin peg. When I was a kid frankly I never even knew of such things.
Any comment on pegs at all has to get the same tired old comments from the gearheads.
Lyndon. I think the responses here have been well balanced. Great advice on how to make conventional pegs work smoothly if that is what the OP wants to do and some experience of others who have gone to the dark side of geared pegs.
Lyndon wrote, " Any comment on pegs at all has to get the same tired old comments from the gearheads."
Thanks for your replies!
the harm in it is you use the wrong peg dope and your pegs won't stop slipping, or that they grip too much. There is no one size all peg dope, you need one compound to promote slipping and one to promote gripping, no one compound will do both, you have to balance out the two which is why you'd be best to go to your luthier.
Hill compound basically promotes slipping so you use it when it grips too much, otherwise it will make the pegs too slippery and they will slip.
Even with good pegs, it takes practice to do this properly. I vaguely remember struggling to do it when I started learning violin. These days, it's second nature for me. However, even with practice, I do believe that you need a certain level of dexterity to do it. My son never got over the hump of learning to do it (he's 19 now).