Position of the pegs
I wonder if there is a trick to make sure that the pegs are in a comfortable position after new strings have settled.
Especially the peg for the A-string happens to be turned in a way that I cannot really hold it well in order to turn it and at the same time press it towards the scroll, sometimes.
I don’t know if this was just my imagination but I had the impression that when I had loosened a new string, in order to pull it a bit farther through the peg, that it somehow lost some sound qualities, for example the pitch stability - I had to retune it, constantly, afterwards.
Is it just me having this not very important, but nonetheless annoying problem?
Perhaps there is some secret trick...
I think there are several variables that affect where the pegs end up with new strings, like which kind of strings, any changes to temperature and humidity while settling, etc. I’ve never really noticed a problem tuning after changing strings though.
If you are not happy with the peg position you can somewhat fine tune the peg position after stringing up by loosening the peg and unwinding string then pull string out of the peghole a half inch or push it in a tad more and rewind to see if if is in a more favorable position for you. I do this only to my E so that it gives me a bit more hand clearance vibrating the F note.
I'm confused -- pegs get turned as you tune. TThey are never in the same position all the time unless you have very stable strings and 4 fine-tuners. What's the problem?
You are not alone ;) It's very important for me to have the pegs at a more vertical position, rather than that awkward horizontal no man's land...
Hi, thanks for the replies. David, I think James made the problem clear, so I don’t have to explain it, further.
I know what you mean -- if you're trying to tune your A string, which is on the far side of the peg box, and your peg is not lined up in a good way, then it's harder. Think how that's going to feel when you're 70 years old. I look around in my community orchestra and that's what I see -- older violinists wrestling with their pegs with expressions of dire frustration on their faces.
It's not only 70+ violinists who have these peg turning problems. I agree with Paul's advice on geared pegs 100% and have been using geared pegs on all my instruments since I was about 70 years old. Installed them all myself; 9 sets for myself, 3 for my son and 2 for my granddaughter - mostly Knillings, some Pegheds and 2 Wittners.
In the olden days, when cellists used gut strings (which is how I started) some tuned by the peg. There were also some who used external peg gearing (a la double bass), and this was essential for the elderly or those who otherwise had physical difficulties. Then steel cored strings for the cello arrived, tailpiece tuners were promptly installed, and the game changed forever.
It's random... If it's too uncomfortable, you have to remove it and install it again. It's not that much of a problem.
Don't remove the string from the peg when you do this. Just pull it through an additional 1/4 inch or so (or whatever amount you figure you need depending on its present uncomfortable position) and rewind. If you need to trim a little from the end of the string it will not be a problem---really, I've been doing that for years (especially when inserting a previously used string).
I am 100% with Andrew and the others who like geared pegs. I have them on my violin and swear by them. I would note that I have fine tuners on my viola, and that system also works quite well for me. Any system that avoids my having to make fine adjustment with regular pegs is a g-dsend.
Here’s a very informative video:
Good video -- but notice how easily he held the string so that only about 1 mm was extending from the peg and then it wound around very easily without slipping out? That takes practice. The string tends to slip more in gear pegs, I've notices, perhaps because they're not wooden so the silk end of the string does not grip as well against the surface.
I agree the Wittner pegs are probably the best of the geared pegs, but I doubt I’d ever put one on a violin except maybe a carbon fiber one. All geared pegs are heavier than wood ones, which has to have at least a little effect on both the balance and the sound. They’re also expensive, but even more to the point, I’ve never had a problem tuning with properly fitted wood pegs on any of my instruments.
I very occasionally have had strings slipping on the pegs during tuning and afterwards. In each case it was due to a combination of pegs that have become polished with age and the peg winding on a new string. It first happened on my mid-19th cent cello when I was installing a set of Spirocore steel strings. The A and D proved impossible to tune.
I use surgical forceps--the tweezers that look like scissors--to push or pull the string through the hole to adjust peg position. You only need to loosen the string a turn or two, not fully unwind it, to gain enough slack to move the string through the peg with these handy tiny pliers.
"All geared pegs are heavier than wood ones, which has to have at least a little effect on both the balance and the sound." I frequently see that "conclusion" cheerfully trotted out by purists with nothing more than a few data points' worth of anecdotal evidence obtained, without any kind of controls for bias, in support of such an "obvious" theoretical argument (aka hypothesis).
It's not just luthiers who experiment. I know a folk fiddler who has his E string running off the A peg, and the A string running off the E peg. He is a retired engineer and his rationale for this unusual arrangement is that it makes it that much easier to install a new A, whereas installing an E string is much less frequent occurrence. Needless to say, he doesn't lend out his fiddle!
David, which issue of
David, can you give us some qualitative feedback on scroll weight. I've been tempted to put blue tack on my scroll as an experiment, to see what added weight does to it.
I think if traditional pegs are properly fitted and lubricated regularly with W.E. Hill & Sons peg compound, you don’t need to use geared pegs. My Vuillaume has its original rosewood pegs, fitted by the maker, 170 years ago and they work great! Sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best.
Dimitri, that sounds like a low-risk, and possibly enlightening experiment.
Like Nate, I prefer traditional pegs. If they're well fitted, you can tune much faster with traditional pegs than geared pegs.
A couple of days ago I fitted to my 18thc violin an ebony baroque tailpiece (with gut chord) made by a luthier in Bristol Violin Shop. The violin, which has important characteristics of a violin of the period (e.g. a low, short fingerboard) is now virtually back to its original 18thc setup with Chorda gut strings and sans SR/CR. But then I noticed that my sole gut E is on its last legs. I don't know if I can get a new one from my usual sources in town under the present COVID-19 lockdown, and I don't know what the on-line situation is, so I've decided to stick with my low tension Goldbrokat E for the time being; it works well with the Chordas anyway.
Michael makes a good point that if you want to add weight to a violin scroll you shouldn't use something soft (like "blue tack") that might have an outsized vibration-dampening effect. The experiments where lead was added are interesting.
By the way, I had an accident cutting off a small part of my fingertip, two days ago, so I won't be able to try things out, soon. Nevertheless, I will do so, and report if I find out anything useful.
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