Could peg compound sometimes not be enough?

January 9, 2020, 4:10 PM · I recently replaced my strings, and lubed each peg with Hill compound. One by one, I applied the compound, inserted the peg, turned it to distribute and installed the string. When I tried tuning, I found that although the peg turned smoothly, it failed to hold. I had to push in each peg more than I expected. This now left the pegs difficult to turn.

Should I use more compound? Would bar soap or graphite help?

Replies (15)

Edited: January 9, 2020, 4:46 PM · Sometimes there's no alternative but to have your luthier refit the pegs. If they're low quality pegs to begin with, the only alternative might be to replace them.
January 9, 2020, 4:49 PM · hill compound will make pegs slip, you need a gripping compound like chalk.
Edited: January 9, 2020, 4:52 PM · Among the unstated things.
1. Were the pegs turning smoothly before?
2. Were the pegs holding before?

What is needed is for pegs to turn smoothly (with little resistance) is a low value of sliding friction and perfectly round pegs.
What is needed for pegs to not slip is a higher value of static friction.
This is a touchy situation, the ideal situation is to have a very close relationship (but not overlapping) of static and sliding friction. Also the pegs need to be perfectly round.

Peg compound will not cure pegs that are not round.

First thing I would do is wipe off the peg compound you added as much as possible, and see if the situation is improved.

If things remain messed up your choices are between
1. getting an expert to fix your pegs OR
2. have your pegs replaced with Wittner or Knilling/Peghed internally geared pegs

The cost of both repair options is about the same (or has no reason not to be - give or take $50).

While I was writing this there were two other replies. When I was growing up we used chalk on the pegs to avoid slipping.

Edited: January 9, 2020, 5:02 PM · You've probably over-done the application of the Hill lube. I travelled that particular road many years ago!

Solution. I suggest taking each peg out one at a time, clean off the lube with a clean cotton cloth; then clean out any residual lube that may be lurking in the two peg holes in the scroll. Reinsert the peg, fit the string and tune to pitch. It may well work (although nothing can be guaranteed in this world). If the peg then sticks too much then apply a minute portion of the lube and see if that works. If you can't stop the peg from slipping when you've removed the lube - which would surprise me a little - then try applying a smidgin of blackboard chalk to the peg. I found that worked fine in my cello days.

If nothing works then a trip to the luthier is indicated.

PS this reply was written before I saw the previous replies.

January 9, 2020, 5:23 PM · Thanks to all who replied. I will try cleaning the pegs and peg holes. As to Andrew’s questions: the pegs had turned smoothly and held until a short while ago, thus the presumed need for compound at this time.
Edited: January 9, 2020, 9:57 PM · https://fiddlershop.com/products/wittner-finetune-pegs-violin-viola

Having said that, I agree with Lyndon that you need grip, not slip. Pegs are always about both grip and slip. A lube like Hill compound is primarily for slip. An insoluble solid powder will give you grip, and for this purpose it is hard to beat chalk, but there are other things like gypsum. Gypsum might be more corrosive.

January 10, 2020, 10:41 AM · Maestronet discussion of peg compound (very long):
https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/315354-composition-of-peg-compound/
Edited: January 10, 2020, 6:26 PM · Jerry, there is a relevant question that seems to have been overlooked. Do you use strings that need tuning from the pegs - such as gut or low-tension synthetics? If so, then serious attention to the pegs is required. If, on the other hand, all the strings are steel or high tension synthetics then all the tuning is done using the microtuners, the pegs are in tight and rarely need to be turned except when strings are replaced. This would seem to be an obvious solution for pegs at the lower end of the price scale.
January 10, 2020, 1:59 PM · Would not the ideal peg lubricant have thixotropic properties? Specifically, does the Hill compound have those properties which only manifest when it is applied in a particular manner and not to excess?
January 10, 2020, 2:04 PM · An amateur cellist friend told me to buy peg compound as it has "stiction". My teacher said, "no, just use graphite". My understanding is that you jam the pegs in and graphite lubricates them.
January 10, 2020, 2:11 PM · The main danger of ill-fitting pegs is that you are tempted to force them in too hard, which can break the wall of the peg-box, an expensive repair. The proper tools for that are a matched pair of reamer and peg shaver that looks like a big pencil sharpener. That's a a job for a real Luthier.
January 10, 2020, 4:01 PM · Trevor, I am using my first set of Eudoxas. They have been on my violin for only about 2 weeks and I have contended with the tuning they require. They have become more stable, but I must use the pegs.

Cleaning the pegs and holes seems to have cured my issue.

January 10, 2020, 4:39 PM · Welcome to the wonderful world of gut string playing! Off course you must use the pegs to tune - with gut strings you should get rid of the fine tuners.
Back on topic - I find that applying a small amount of Hill peg paste at every string change keeps the pegs turning smoothly without slipping.
January 10, 2020, 6:36 PM · On one of my violins, I use Oliv G,D,and A (I use goldbrokat E string). The peg compound certainly helps a lot when tuning. I love the sound complexity of the strings, but they do require constant tuning more than your average synthetic strings.
Edited: January 10, 2020, 7:00 PM · I overdid the graphite- just pencil lead- a few weeks ago with a new violin, although it worked just fine on the main squeeze before that when the pegs were frozen- don't get to it much over the summer, the strings needed changing badly I found out when comparing with new ones, so don't be shy. Maybe there's a case against 4 fine tuners here- the pegs aren't getting turned much at all sometimes.

Anyway, I should have known, as I've had violins and violas that tended to slip when new- it was probably too much.

And sure enough the pegs weren't holding tune, and the A peg even got even with the far side and protruding just a shade. Wiping it back off did mostly cure it, and I did the wetted q-tip thing on the A hole, letting it dry overnight, and the slightly expanded wood indeed backed the peg back out even with the others - it's holding tune now with lots of hole life left.


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