Geared pegs in boxwood

December 30, 2018, 10:45 PM · Wanna try these newfangled planetary transmission stringwinders but don't want to throw out my tailpiece. Are there any available in light shades? Or are they easy to modify (eg. cutting the head off and gluing my own on)?

Replies (17)

December 30, 2018, 11:01 PM · With "pegheds" you can accomplish this. The shafts might still be black, not sure. Pegheds have a rectangular steel stud (tenon) that inserts into a corresponding mortise on the head. Anyway check out pegheds.
Edited: January 17, 2019, 11:32 AM · I have one set of violin Pegheds with boxwood "wings" and matching shafts. Actually, Chuck made me one violin set in boxwood, one in rosewood and one in ebony (3 different fiddles). My 4th violin has a Knilling set with the plastic handles - I have to get within 2 feet to see the difference - and they all work the same.

And, of course, the violin geared pegs also work on violas - if the shaft diameters are within range of the existing peg holes.

Just contact Chuck Herrin at Pegheds.com or info@pegheds.com

I have installed both Peghed/Knilling (12 sets) and Wittner (2 sets) pegs and for me installing the Wittners is easier but trickier (more chance for unexpected error). I think the Wittner pegs give a more "positive" sense of tuning strings "up" AND "down" while the Peghed/Knillings seem to need to be tuned "up" for accurate tuning. If you want to know why I have these opinion email me or post it somewhere on violinist.com . If you are aware of the potential problems you will likely avoid them.

December 31, 2018, 6:19 PM · You said in this thread that you had the tools to make 50c boxwood pegs turn buttery smooth - what changed?
December 31, 2018, 7:16 PM · Well, I do, but here's the thing: boxwood pegs shrink. You can compensate for it a little but the wood's so soft it'll compress in all sorts of ways (the e string always turns the peg shaft into a noodle, just for example). Sure, there are expensive sets of proper boxwood fittings that will withstand the wear a bit better, but I figure in that pricerange I may as well try new technology for a permanent solution.
January 1, 2019, 5:48 AM · How permanent do you need? I have boxwood fittings on my main violin and still have the original pegs. The violin is 23 years old and I haven't even had the pegs refitted a single time. I use Hill peg paste when needed and have no problem with the pegs slipping.
January 1, 2019, 7:50 AM · Maybe the advantage of more expensive boxwood fittings is that they're actually boxwood.
January 1, 2019, 10:00 AM · Paul, eventually this might be the reason.
In fact, I own several artefacts in boxwood and even worked myself with well seasoned pieces of boxwood (as well as with ebony, rosewood, ipe, juniper and several others), and to me it doesn't feel soft at all. Also I didn't experience shrinking on the boxwood fittings of my viola, while the very well fitted ebony pegs on my violin loosen with any climate change. Which isn't caused by shrinking of ebony, but of the spruce the pegbox is made from.
January 1, 2019, 10:09 AM · Yes, I suggest quality boxwood pegs, because a job well done will last you a lifetime, and thus is a "permanent" upgrade.

The above is no slight against those modern pegs and their users, however.

January 1, 2019, 12:27 PM · A QUESTION FOR THOSE IN THE KNOW:
Will a pegbox be worn less by boxwood pegs than by harder ebony pegs?
January 1, 2019, 1:48 PM · Well, maple is harder than boxwood and softer than ebony, so physics tells us that it will. But the surface is so polished it hardly makes any difference at all. Both kinds of pegs will damage it over time.
Edited: January 1, 2019, 4:00 PM · Actually...The Janka Hardness Scale measures how hard woods are. Hard Maple: 1450, Boxwood: 2840. What most peple get when they order Boxwood fittings is some light-colored wood that is passed off as Boxwood. Good Boxwood is difficult to find, really nice pegs made from Boxwood-real Boxwood-last well. Ebony has abrasive properties that causes it to wear peg boxes quicker. Rosewood has oils and is not as abrasive.

Ebony hardness varies considerably, the Janka scale rating many in the low 2,000 range, the same range as rosewood. We don't get the fine, dense, Cameroon Ebony that we used to find. I have some Viet. Ebony that has a Janka Hardness of 3,000. Beautiful but difficult to work.

Cotton, Chuck at PegHeds will put boxwood heads on his bodies for you, but you can not really do that yourself unless you have a really good lathe and know how to run it.

So, Boxwood-real Boxwood-is harder than most ebony and rosewood.

Edited: January 1, 2019, 10:27 PM · There's a new DIY challenge for you Cotton: Grow your own boxwood. When you do you'll see why the wood is hard.
January 5, 2019, 8:11 PM · I have boxwood pegs on my 1981 fiddle and they are like new. The wood is extremely hard and there is no wear or shrinkage -- I'm sure they will outlast me and probably my grandchildren. They also perform really well -- I just add peg dope at every string change.

So I'd guess the explanation is that there are vast differences in different grades of boxwood. If your pegs are shrinking, perhaps the wood was not properly aged when they were made.

There are very inexpensive Chinese fiddles with "boxwood" pegs and fittings. There's no way they're going to contain expensive rare wood at the price they sell for, so I suspect it's either very young boxwood or some other brown hardwood.

January 16, 2019, 10:44 PM · Good boxwood is reasonably hard. Certainly harder than Most dalbergias (rosewoods) except umpingo (Blackwood). There are a few ebonies that are less hard but most that are used for pegs are harder than boxwood. At least my stash is. That viet ebony is amazing.
January 17, 2019, 9:28 AM · I spoke with Wittner reps about this, because I prefer their fine-tune pegs over the Pegheds/perfection pegs (I've used both). They said they are not currently planning boxwood variants because the coloration of boxwood (and related woods) is so different batch to batch, and the expense of adding films to their pegs is quite high. They have a "rosewood" look now. You don't have to worry about matching fittings, not everyone does it.
January 17, 2019, 12:36 PM · I have Wittner pegs on my viola. Maybe they've changed their composite formulation, but mine are black... curiously they match beautifully to my Wittner composite chin rest.
January 17, 2019, 2:31 PM · They are still black, but they have rosewood models too (I think for other instruments, not sure about violin), it's the same film appliqué they use on their composite tailpieces for a rosewood "look". I read somewhere that someone painted theirs to look like boxwood, but I just left mine black, with boxwood tailpiece and chin rest.

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