Cracking Hill style pegs

November 14, 2018, 11:29 PM · Hello violin friends,

before 10 months, luthier changed pegs and tailpiece on my violin. I have a Hill style. They are beautifully heart-shaped carved. At the beginning of usage, I felt the springy feeling under my fingers at the moment when the peg is a little bit stuck. You know that first moment until it is free to move, you don't need much force but the little is necessary.

But now at the moment when my peg was stuck a little bit more, the side of pegs broke. I told myself to be stupid and decide to go to the luthier to change for the new. But after a while, another one broke, on both sides with so little pressure, sometimes necessary for every instrument. My pegs are working pretty well, a little bit harder, because I played now just at home and on A, E are fine tuners, I did not touch them for week or two, but just a little.

Am I doing wrong something? Have you same experience? Maybe my instrument needs classic style pegs. I felt that torque is not leading inside the middle of the peg properly.

I am working with different instruments whole life (24 years at least) so I am used to be careful and work with patience.

What do you think?

Replies (20)

November 15, 2018, 12:50 AM · Faulty pegs. Not luthier's fault but manufacturing defect/bad wood. I've had pegs break on be before while I was shaving it (fitting my own pegs). It's unfortunate, but you'll have to buy new pegs and have them redone. Most commercial pegs seem to be "Made In India" and the major stores seem to all buy from the same place, ultimately. Do what you can. Find higher quality pegs. Pegs are like, $8, while having them fitted is $125 or so.
November 15, 2018, 3:19 AM · This was set of the pegs with tailpiece around 80usd from the luthier, fitting price excluded. I hoped for better quality, two of them are now broken, and springy feeling I have on each of them. Construction seems for me fragile, so I asked, I see them on many violins. Do you think that more expensive will be much stiffer?

It is in the part that the heart is cutting into material (I don't know how to describe it), the thinnest part of peg. I will ask luthier if he has better ones.

November 15, 2018, 3:23 AM · https://ibb.co/kc9naL

in that part and I feel springiness on both of the wings

Edited: November 15, 2018, 3:43 AM · While we're on the subject of pegs, are ebony really best? I suspect my nicest ones are resin.
November 15, 2018, 4:52 AM · Martin, many "boxwood" pegs are not real boxwood (buxus sempervirens), but a weaker and softer wood. Another possibility is they were made too thin when the heart area was cut. Or it might be a combination of both. The genuine boxwood pegs can be quite strong.

Andrew, ebony accessories are what I use as the standard setup on my new instruments these days, because they have proven to be much more reliable and trouble free than the other commonly used woods, over the years.

Some other wood can also work very well, such as mountain mahogany, but they may be difficult to find and very expensive. Pernambuco can also work well, but I avoid it due to potential border crossing issues.

November 15, 2018, 6:49 AM · Next time you get new pegs ask for the ones made by Wittner. They don't break. And your violin stays in tune.
November 15, 2018, 7:12 AM · David, sorry for bad image, was the first with the shape I found, there were not from boxwood but (probably) ebony, they are black.

Paul, thanks for the tip, I will ask for them, or ask my luthier if I can bring my own to be placed into. Have you tried this more fragile cut, or classic (french or german)?

November 15, 2018, 7:35 AM · Wittner pegs only come in black and slightly-less-black red. Sure, form over function, but some people like having pegs that match the aesthetics of the instrument.
Edited: November 15, 2018, 7:56 AM · FWIW, the StringZone seem to think that rosewood responds best to things like temperature fluctuations.

I'm not sure what the state of play is with ebony nowadays. It used to be the case that the wood comes in various colours, but only black was desired, but until the tree was chopped down, there was no way of knowing what colour the wood was. So loads of trees were chopped down and left to rot if they were the wrong colour. There is a movement now for things like brown oboes and so on.

Unless I'm confusing it with some other species of "blackwood".

November 15, 2018, 9:17 AM · If aesthetics are important then PegHeds will allow you to install your own peg heads onto a rectangular stud that projects from the geared shaft. Best to have Chuck Herin do that for you though. He probably has a very precise, custom mortising jig for that purpose.
November 15, 2018, 9:21 AM · I'm trying to visually where these pegs cracked. Were the heads glued on instead of one piece? I've never had a peg break, although the little decorative spheres on the tips can come unglued and rattle.

Bottom line: Cheap Asian crap.

Edited: November 15, 2018, 9:47 AM · I've always been leery of pegs like this with (as a structural engineer might say) "a built in stress riser." When Chuck Herin first started to transfer wooden peg grips to the Pegheds he makes, he refused to do it with peg heads of that general shape. These particular pegs are not at all graceful like their Hill ancestors.

Also I have a prejudice against pegs with that little teat on top because of the way it can interfere with my tuning by touching my hand in a meaningless way.

I have had beautiful Hill-style boxwood pegs on at least one instrument (teat and all), and it was a bit heart-wrenching to give them up for my first set of Pegheds - but definitely worth it.

Just saying.

Edited: November 15, 2018, 12:20 PM · Scott Cole: nope, it is normal peg, I made You photos, also I posted an image before with line,

https://ibb.co/mbgXAL
https://ibb.co/inYZPf

Edit:
and really it was not hard pressure, I used little force, but just force of thumb (one joint strength) as usual when the peg is little bit stuck. And these are springy around central axis which is in the middle all length, I do not know how to describe better

November 17, 2018, 6:32 PM · That "line" you refer to is nothing. The tool used to cut pegs leave that line naturally. The tool is essentially a pencil shaver. the razor blade attached to it leaves that line.

For the peg head to break off, that's faulty pegs for sure. Dry, brittle wood will break. I'd buy a new set of pegs and ask that luthier to remake it for you. Show him the split pegs he sold you.

$80 for a set of pegs is quite a hefty markup.

Ebony is supposed to be stronger, but the 2 pegs I've had split on me were both ebony. Boxwood is too soft for the G-string. I can feel the pegs bend as I tighten the G-string every time. Rosewood or pernambuco make pretty pegs.

There's a seller on eBay selling pernambuco pegs for $20. Located in Granbury, Texas. I'd go for that. I bought a set from China and it wasn't bad, but it takes a month to arrive. I bought a set of pernambuco fittings from Dov Music and I think I paid around $400 for them all. Not any different from the China version.

November 18, 2018, 12:05 AM · From the photos, I'd say either bad wood or it was cracked during the manufacture. Undercutting the heart is not super-simple, and structurally it's a poor design. Simple Swiss style is pretty bullet-proof, except for defective wood.
November 18, 2018, 11:43 AM · Tom Supakorndej: yes I know how pegs are fitted, I did not think that line, but red one I made on the first image (comments before) because I was at job and I couldn't make the real photo of my violin so it was the line of the break.

Two of them are holding good, I was thinking about bad wood too. I will try a consultation with my luthier because the replacement is necessary, but I also hope that another set of these will work well.

Don Noon:
thanks for the opinion (same as mine) to make me surer. I chose these because I loved them, I understand complexity of this shape and it is hard. I am thinking to choose simple design, but I don't know yet :)

Edited: November 18, 2018, 12:00 PM · It seems the luthier used defective pegs, and that should be under warranty IMHO

By the way that peg looks like a really cheap one, the level of finish is not up to good Indian peg standards.

November 18, 2018, 2:54 PM · From here, I'm unable to accurately diagnose why those pegs failed. The "Hill-style" undercut doesn't seem to have left the throat too thin. There are probably thousands of pegs of that style and of those dimensions which have never failed, and also feel very firm when being twisted.

My best guesses at this point would be unusually poor quality wood, or a "hook tool" (used to make the undercut on the Hill-style pegs), which had gotten dull enough to put too much stress on the wood during the lathe cutting, producing the beginnings of cracks before you ever got the pegs.

Either way, I agree with Lyndon that this should be a warranty issue. I would replace them for free if I had installed them, and would consider it a valuable learning experience in deciding which accessory suppliers to do business with.

November 19, 2018, 12:26 AM · Lyndon: thanks for the opinion and hardening mine (if it is possible to tell that way in English or it is a strict translation from my language :)). It was set with tailpiece and nut from the workshop of the luthier, I am unfortunately not an expert.

David: I think it seems to be buggy wood, because springing or twisting on G,D string is not so strong, I don't know, but yeah I will tell my luthier and we will see what to do, at least is good to inform him for his own knowledge that may be poor quality pieces in products which he is using, I think he did not know. He is kind guy, very smart and fascinated by his job, I like him. I will visit him and we will see what he can find.

Thanks all

November 21, 2018, 12:40 PM · I have talked to my luthier. He told me to go into his shop, he will replace the pegs for free and he will check what went bad. These days are problematic supplies more often he told me, so it is a new experience with these but unfortunately not new experience at all. He is a cool guy, he is very kind and I like him :) (not just for this)


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