No fine tuner on the E string

Edited: January 13, 2019, 9:40 AM · Having installed geared pegs, I took off the E string tuner. The E string now rings more and I find the response of my violin to be better.

I'd like to ask you if the E string strung this way is more susceptible to breaking at the winding just before the ball. I guess one could slide the small tube cover you get with the E string there but I'm not sure if that's needed.

e: a word

Replies (20)

January 13, 2019, 9:22 AM · Same situation on the one fiddle I have with Pegheads geared tuners. I have not had any issues with the E string in the two years the pegs have been on.
January 13, 2019, 9:39 AM · Glad to hear that, Michael!
January 13, 2019, 2:19 PM · Geared pegs with no fine tuner on the E string for over a year with no string break.
January 13, 2019, 2:35 PM · I will eventually put on a set of geared pegs. Just busy right now with other stuff. But yeah, they eliminate the need for tuners which dampen the sound (especially those horrible two-prong levers—seeing violins with crusty pegs and four of those on makes me want to cry).
January 13, 2019, 9:54 PM · I left my fine-tuner on just for the heck of it but I'll take it off next time I change E strings and see if it makes a difference. Certainly I don't need it, but as a creature of habit I do find myself reaching back for the fine tuner when I tune my E string!

What kind of pegs did you get, JI? I have PegHeds on my violin (and Wittner Finetune on my viola and Knilling Perfection Pegs on my daughter's violin).

January 13, 2019, 10:38 PM · Paul, I got the Wittner's. The ratio (?) could be a bit smaller, but they are a joy to tune with.

I still need to trim off the excess peg, because initially I wasn't sure I was going to leave them on this violin. I recall another thread in which the total weight of the scroll was discussed regarding tone and I'd like to find out for my violin.

Edited: January 14, 2019, 12:05 PM · If your pegs are in good shape (literally!) you shouldn't need a fine tuner for the E string; you should be able to tune it from a normal E-peg on its own. I currently have this setup on my old #1 violin, restrung a few months ago with a Walchar Amber set. No problems in bringing the steel E up to pitch with the peg - and it stays there. As JI said, without an add-on fine tuner south of the bridge, the tone rings better, as it does with a gut E.

I must confess that I have been using an all-gut setup on #1 violin for quite a while, so I am well used to tuning a gut E from the peg. I find a gut E and a gut A are the most stable in an all-gut setup. I am now in the slightly unusual situation of having a gut E sitting in a compartment of my violin case as a backup replacement for a steel E!

Why should removing an add-on E tuner from the tailpiece enhance the tone? I can think of two reasons: better vibration of the E's after-length, and (possibly slightly more important for an E string) the reduction in weight of the tailpiece assembly.

January 15, 2019, 8:41 AM · Neat! I'm actually going to have geared pegs installed on my instrument after a chat with my luthier. (See my panicked thread a couple weeks ago about the slipping pegs.) Nice to know I can remove that fine tuner so I can hear what the E string really sounds like!
January 15, 2019, 8:54 AM · another one bites the dust!!!
January 15, 2019, 9:14 AM · Pamela, These pegs don't slip at all, my wooden pegs performed very well too, but I found I had to keep up on them more (and I'm lazy!).

Taking away the fine tuner seems to put more tension on the E string when tuning up to pitch but it is also more evenly distributed (tension under fingers is a tiny bit more). This is very likely partly an incorrect conjecture and just placebo, I'm sure the good folk of V.com can work out the math behind it.

January 15, 2019, 10:00 AM · The only way the e string would have more tension is if you tuned it to a higher pitch, sorry, not buying that one.
Edited: January 15, 2019, 10:41 AM · @JI, without going into the math (which I don't think you need here), if the following are true for the open E:
1) it's the same string,
2) the tuning pitch is constant (e.g. 660 Hz for a concert E),
3) the distance between the bridge and nut is constant,
then the tension of the string between the bridge and nut will also be constant, irrespective of what is going on in the string beyond the bridge and in the pegbox.

What does change when you remove an add-on tuner is that the angle between the nut-bridge length and the after-length increases (the simple geometry of the system) and there will be a corresponding increase in the downward force of the string on the bridge. This increase in force will affect the transmission of vibrations through the bridge to the top plate, having an effect on the tone production of the violin, beneficially we hope! I leave further details of this to those here who know far more than I do about the physics of what goes on in a violin.

I'll make this further personal observation. When my #1 violin still had its add-on E tuner the violin's tone was generally quite good until I went into the second octave on the G-string, and then all sorts of not quite acceptable sounds came from certain notes, not necessarily wolves but getting on that way. Removing the E tuner (and thereby increasing the downward force on the bridge) has now made that second octave on the G a lot smoother and a pleasure to play. Taking the violin overall, the sound is improved, including the highest notes on the E-string.

Effectively, removing tuners from the tailpiece takes the violin a step closer to what the maker intended.

Edited: January 15, 2019, 10:45 AM · I sincerely doubt any historical makers intended you to have mechanical tuners!!!
January 15, 2019, 10:55 AM · Lyndon I think that's what Trevor was saying. I'm going to change my E string tonight anyway and I'll remove my fine tuner. Let's see what happens. I'm also changing the A string on my viola because Dalton Potter recommended I try a Larsen A. (Actually he gave me the string because I bought a cello and a case that day too, not exactly a huge sacrifice on his part, but still it was a nice gesture.)
January 15, 2019, 11:05 AM · Lyndon and Trevor, I figured after posting that the total tension would be the same but it's been a long day, that's my excuse anyway!

I've also noticed an improvement on the G string, also all the natural/artificial harmonics seem more vibrant, for lack of a better word. Especially those high harmonics on E string respond wonderfully.

Useful when playing them with glissando, like Hadelich does here in the Cadenza for Mendelssohn Concerto

January 15, 2019, 11:11 AM · You might be noticing more tension with the peg for the E string because the tuner was offsetting said "tension" when tuning by pulling the string down into the tailpiece, whereas now the string is being pulled up into the pegbox. So it is not really more tension, just that you are noticing how the string moves into the pegbox now that there is no fine tuner.

Looking forward to trying these pegs out - I really do not want a fine tuner tailpiece, and this is the best solution.

January 15, 2019, 12:47 PM · I believe the Wittner pegs have an 8:1 ratio, which means fine tuning using only the pegs is trivial and very quick. Putting on new strings does require a lot of peg turning but this is just a minor annoyance.

The other brands that I have tried have a 4:1 ratio. Adding a new string is quicker, but tuning G thru A is no different than the 8:1 pegs. The E string on the 4:1 pegs require a finer turn of the peg so as not to overshoot the desired tuning but soon becomes a trivial habit to perform.

The 4:1 pegs usually have adjustable resistance to backlashing (the string un turning the peg slightly and flattening the tone. You place a slight pushing force onto the peg. I've found the need to do this only when tuning the E string.

January 15, 2019, 1:31 PM · Thank you for the information, Carmen! 4:1 sounds better for me, I could transfer these pegs to my second, practice fiddle, which doesn't get as many string changes anyway. It's not a huge issue, but why compromise.
January 15, 2019, 3:48 PM · That's the main reason that, so far, I've kept my fine tuner on my E string-- because I have PegHeds, not Wittners, and the ratio is lower. I've tried tuning with just the peg, and probably I could get used to it, but it does require a little patience.
January 15, 2019, 9:26 PM · However, Pegheds and Perfection are not available in Hong Kong. There is also no luthier providing fitting service for them... the only geared peg available here is Wittner (in ebony-colored plastic) and it doesn't really match with the rest of my fittings.

My luthier said you need to squeeze the Wittner peg into the peghole and it will leave a "cross mark" in the interior lining of the holes? I was discouraged from using it...


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