Do you find tuning without fine tuners to be a chore?
Seems like tuning without fine tuners is a royal pita. Ye olden instruments didn't have them, I gather that better modern instruments only have one or two.
I've done it without using the fine tuners just to try it - mine has them on all four strings - but find it to be really tedious. I have the most success by de-tuning flat and bringing it up to pitch from below. I have extremely strong hands and digital strength and have peg compound on them but still find it to be a chore. Can't imagine what someone with much weaker hands must go through. Of course I'm doing it on a sub-$500 instrument, I've never even held a pro-grade instrument. Maybe it's less of a labor on better instruments?
It's a breeze. But I have a decent instrument and gear pegs. On a cheap instrument I think I would at least have one of those tailpieces that has fine-tuners built-in for all four strings.
Scott, It's not you nor your instrument. It's the fit of your pegs. There is peg dope to make them turn more easily, but there is also a good change that the pegs are not perfectly round. Some climates are not conducive to consistent peg turning - especially with strong temperature and humidity changes.
If you have well-fitted pegs, it's fast. Many cheap student instruments do not have well-fitted pegs.
It's fine, I actually prefer pegs for D and G, A is ok. You only need a fine tuner for the E string. Buy a gold loop one, it's cheap and will give you the best sound from your violin.
On low level student instruments, the tuning is really terrible. I'd start shopping craigslist and facebook marketplace. There's a big difference between a $200 violin and a nice Chinese violin someone bought for $!500 and is selling for $500. If the strings are good and you stick to fine tuners your current violin can probably take you another year or two. What is it you're playing on now?
I "hear" all this, but I recall 70 years ago when my father had as much trouble tuning the pegs on his S. Scarampella as I was having on my instruments in the damp summers of central Maryland.
I will say that the pegs on my "new" 1870'sh violin are far better than on my prior 2014 student workshop instrument- of course. I still have my original fine tuner tailpiece dur to my arthritis. The difference is significant and much appreciated. I will likely replace my tailpiece with a better one in the future that might be better suited to my violin but it works.
In 70 years of playing, never could endure fine tuners. Pegs are faster. I apply compound or soap when they get sticky. E-sring of course, always a fine tuner.
I just noticed from a picture taken when I was 9 that I had a tailpiece with fine tuners on all strings. Must have been using all steel strings back then.
Yeah, if you have steel-core strings (more common on student instruments) then tuning with wooden pegs is super-painful. Stretchy composite core or gut gives you a lot more travel per pitch change.
A possible cause for a "sticking" peg is that the string is not square in the notch at the end of the fingerboard, therefore causing friction between the two and mimicking a sticking peg. This could be because the course of the string through the pegbox from peg to notch is not in exact alignment with the course of the string from the notch to the bridge, so this needs to be checked out.
Not at all. If you have well fitted pegs and maintain them with Hill peg compound regularly (especially in the summer months) they should work just fine.
Don and Parker make a good point. Sub-$500 instruments are almost always sold with steel strings, which don't stretch like synthetic or gut strings. With strel strings, fine tuners are a practical requirement.
Per J. Seitz:
How about this one, emailed to me a few days ago?
Trevor - thanks for the link. I'm fascinated by the Nyckelharpa and hadn't seen that particular video before. I wouldn't mind checking one out in person just to see what they are like/feel like but that's easier said than done in the US. Probably a good thing because then I would probably want one...and my violin takes enough time as it is!
I've heard from several people that Cecilio has a reputation for bad pegs, even compared to other student violins in the same price range.
Fine tuners on all 4 is a bad idea on a good instrument as it affects sound; probably not so much on a cheaper one. I have a good instrument with well fitted pegs, and even then, the right tuning always seems to be a very slight notch above or below, it's an acquired skill that's for sure.
Peg fit makes a big difference, and humidity and time of year has a big effect. So does the way you wind the string on the peg.
I find in a gigging situation, where the guitarist's nylon strings have suddenly changed tuning due to temperature and you have to tune on the fly, that fine tuners are faster to make small adjustments. The fine tuners built into tailpieces don't inhibit the tone so much. Also, having fine tuners does not make you less of an artist!
Scott, I had that same violin. It was a 1/4 a number of years back that I got off of Amazon warehouse for $50. It had decent strings and could sound okay but the pegs are just really hard to do. I don't think there's an easy way to improve them. It may also be worth shaving the bridge down some if the strings are too high.
Speaking of tuners, does anybody have a satisfactory method to lubricate Hill style fine tuners on violin E-strings? I've tried graphite from a soft pencil, I've tried lithium grease, a tiny drop of machine oil, and I've even experimented with candle wax. Eventually, they just seem to jam up and become very hard to turn. Graphite and wax seem to worsen the situation. I clean the screws with alcohol between different lubricants so there isn't a compound problem. The brass plated tuners seem less prone to jamming than the black coated ones.
Parker, I was about to ask the same thing. My e string tuner has been testing the limits of my grip strength for months now.
I go over every Hill tuner with a file to keep the hook smooth and to take the sharp corners off the bottom. I have a machinist’s wax lubricant for the screw. I haven’t had any issues with fine tuners seizing after this. I have found that the end of the screw can be a problem in some cheap tuners. Reshaping the point can help.
I have tailpieces with fine tuners built in on all my fiddles and *much* prefer them to pegs. I have decent fiddles worked on by good luthiers and still don't find pegs as accurate or as easy, even when working as intended.
Paul Carlson's suggestion to use soft (3B or softer) pencil on the grooves through which the strings run is an important one; you may sometimes discover that the peg itself is not at fault.
Lydia you might want to get the opinions of some luthiers who have fitted gear pegs in expensive antiques. David Kim has them in his violin, and there are a few Strads with gear pegs (Nathan Cole's "ex Jack Benny" and Elizabeth Pitcairn's "Red Mendelssohn", for example). If you go through the process of "delicately RE-balancing" your violin with gear pegs, its next owner will likely be very grateful. I know I would. I can also appreciate that this is not something one jumps into with an antique.
Anyone fitting geared pegs on a Stradivari is a criminal vandal, they should be locked up, seriously.
Putting anachronistic plastic geared pegs on a priceless antique instrument should not, in my opinion, be done. Properly fitted, well made and maintained pegs are a breeze to use. I never even considered putting plastic pegs on my Amati when the pegs needed changing,
My 1877 cello fell victim to pegbox rebushing about 20 years ago when the original pegs were finally up to their "ears" at the pegbox surface and could no longer provide the friction necessary to maintain string tension. Ten years later I installed Pegheds (if I'd only known about them earlier!)
It is my experience that if you can tune a gut A easily from the peg then you should be able to tune a light gauge steel E equally easily from its peg, which is what I do. I have a low tension plain steel Goldbrokat E. The other strings are Chorda plain gut. The low tension E is a better match tone-wise with the gut strings imo than the medium and high tension Es (which admittedly may need a fine tuner).
There is a practical advantage of gear pegs for the antique violin -- they put less daily stress on the peg box. In terms of aesthetics, I have to agree that Wittner Finetune pegs are easy to spot from, say, 10 feet away, by their characteristically chubby heads. Pegheds are the most attractive -- especially since you can get any wooden heads you want. A mortise is cut into them to accept the rectangular steel shaft. If you want that service then you should get your violin to Columbia SC so that Chuck Herin's crew can do it for you because they already have the correct mortising jigs. But I believe the Wittner Finetune pegs are the most mechanically sound and the easiest to use, which is why you see those chosen for the high-end antiques.
"I don't understand the prejudice against fine tuners by a lot of players."
Hi,regarding Hill-style,E-string fine tuners,I have found that
Malcolm, if the Hill-style fine tuner you mentioned is the one illustrated here,
I had a Hill E string fine-tuner on my tailpiece for years. I switched it for a titanium one and noticed an improvement in tone. I then removed that, and again noticed a further improvement. Now I tune the E string with just the peg. Tricky? No, but I have a new set of rosewood Hansell pegs, with a narrow diameter, set into the bushed holes in the scroll. I tune flat and bring the E up to pitch, taking care not to go sharp, so as not to break the steel string. This is at least as quick as using the fine-tuners. As the Amati is smaller than a “normal” full-size instrument it has a 1/2 size tailpiece!
I personally think that the only reason Stradivari didn’t use geared pegs was because he didn’t have them. They are a great innovation, and Stradivari was an innovator, I would love to have them on my violin but can’t afford them, I do find tuning a pain, slightest pressure one way equals sharp, slightest pressure other way equals flat, I worry I may snap the pegs, just the tiniest of touches. It may well be because of my inexperience and maybe I will get better with the pegs I dont know. I have thought perhaps I put too much pressure on them but who knows? My violin was 1250 quid, for me at that price it was a major investment, though to others it may seem cheap, it only has one fine tuner by the way, but turning the pegs is like trying to turn a paint covered screw in a door hinge.
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