liquid peg dope?

December 14, 2022, 3:07 PM · I have always used the lipstick-type waxy sticks for my standard wood friction pegs but they are hard to use and necessitate removal of the peg from the instrument. I just found (and bought - at $22) a liquid product, 'Ardsley peg drops', on the hope that it would be much easier to apply.

Does this work? Is it safe? Its a nice instrument...


Replies (24)

December 14, 2022, 3:38 PM · I was was advised early in my career as a violinmaker/repair person not to use it. My experience is people use to much and when it dries out it can make the peg extremely hard to turn. Also be careful not to get it on the varnish.
I would find a repair person and find out why the pegs aren't working properly. When the pegs work properly you should only need a little peg compound with each string change.
Edited: December 14, 2022, 3:44 PM · peg drops always makes the pegs go click click instead of turn smoothly, powdered black line chalk from Irwin works the best for making pegs grip for me, in either case you have to remove the pegs to apply it, there is nothing you can use that applies without removing the pegs that I am aware of
Edited: December 14, 2022, 4:49 PM · Thanks guys. I guess this goes from the shop to the trash!

Richard - its hard to get the stuff off the waxy stick onto the peg itself, seems to just slide over it. Perhaps I should warm it first?

Lyndon - is that chalk something you get at a violin shop or just a drawing supplies store...

December 14, 2022, 5:13 PM · Coming from a violin maker, please don't. The drops won't help and they will just make a mess of things.

If you use soft chalk, please get the stuff without fillers or wax. Not blackboard chalk.

December 14, 2022, 5:35 PM · Elise, I ordered it online from Amazon, it was about $20, hardware stores sell it but not the black. Modern chalk is a different formula from the old days and I've never found any stick chalk that works
Edited: December 15, 2022, 6:14 AM · I use Hill lipstick. It could be more manipulable.
There's a Nicola Benedetti video where she says she uses graphite if the pegs stick and French chalk if they slip.
December 15, 2022, 6:17 AM · Hill lipstick just like soap, makes the pegs turn smoothly and yes, slip, almost always slip, that's where the chalk comes in to stop the slipping and make the pegs grip while still turning smoothly but with more friction. It really is something that is better handled by a professional, as DIY can easily lead to pegs that don't work at all.
December 15, 2022, 6:44 AM · A question that has to be answered is, how far in do you push the pegs?
Edited: December 15, 2022, 8:05 AM · The chalk makes it so you don't have to push in more than lightly, in fact I sometimes find myself pulling the pegs out a bit so that they turn with less friction, a peg that has sufficient friction from the compounds used on it does not rely on being pushed in far to stop slipping
December 15, 2022, 9:08 AM · I have no experience with the liquid stuff but would be hesitant to use it. I apply a little Hill peg paste (the "lipstick" Lyndon refers to above) every time I change strings. I have no problems with my pegs slipping or sticking. On my main violin the pegs have not needed shaving since the violin was built in 1994. I have not felt a need to add chalk to the Hill paste.
December 15, 2022, 9:43 PM · "On my main violin the pegs have not needed shaving since the violin was built in 1994"

the maker must have used a good quality pegs.

December 16, 2022, 1:47 AM · Pegs need shaving? - never happened to me in almost 50 years of playing two violins, probably more than 15,000 hours. Hardly ever needed peg paste either. Recent experience makes me wonder if boxwood pegs may be more inclined to stickiness than ebony but I wouldn't swear to it.
December 16, 2022, 2:17 AM · Hill peg compound is good if used sparingly. Chalk works well too if you need a little more grip when the pegs are slipping. Peg drops, however, are not a good product for the violin. The reason for this is that they contain oils. If oil gets into the wood of the peg holes, it contaminates it and weakens it. If there are any cracks, it does even more harm. A wax compound or powder coats the surface of the wood but doesn’t penetrate. Whenever there’s too much in a hole, it’s fairly easy to remove.
December 16, 2022, 2:50 AM · Thanks Rich, that makes sense.
December 17, 2022, 12:06 PM · Hill lipstick-style peg compound can work quite well if used sparingly, and if the pegs fit well. Apply it like lipstick on a w**re, and things will not go so well. ;-)

Many "boxwood" pegs on the market are not true boxwood (buxus sempivirens) but softer and less durable varieties which resemble boxwood in appearance.

December 18, 2022, 6:21 PM ·

This worked wonders for me :)

December 18, 2022, 6:57 PM · Didn't Laurie recommend a mixture of soap powder and talcum powder somewhere on this website?
Edited: December 19, 2022, 6:40 AM · Anita - first he says that you should not keep pushing the peg in for fear of damaging the peg box - and then he demonstrates a technique that forces the peg in. It does not make sense to me.
Edited: December 19, 2022, 12:37 AM · Please don’t wind strings so they are forced against the pegbox wall—that is something that will destroy strings and may cause damage to the pegbox! If doing this is the way you get pegs to stay, they don’t actually fit. Yes, the tapered shape of the peg is made so that it fits by friction. That doesn’t mean the pegs need to be loaded with extra forces to work. Whenever you tune a peg, it’s a good habit to pull it out a bit so that it’s looser before bringing it to pitch and pushing in enough to make it hold. This avoids some of the wear on the pegbox that too much pressure can cause.


December 19, 2022, 3:50 AM · A lot of experts disagree with you on this, Rich
December 19, 2022, 4:30 AM · With well fitting pegs lubricated with a small amount of Hill peg compound I feel no need to pull out the pegs when tuning or pushing them in after tuning. I also don't wind the strings against the inside of the pegbox.
December 19, 2022, 4:33 AM · I agree with Rich about not winding the strings in a way that they are forced up against the pegbox wall.
Edited: December 19, 2022, 9:26 PM · I have gear pegs and I still can't bear to wind my strings against the wall of the pegbox. It just seems wrong.
December 20, 2022, 9:15 AM · Putting stress on the pegbox in that manner can cause cracks. I saw someone crack a pegbox on a fine cello trying to tune when a string was unintentionally wedged just like that.

If the peg fits, there really shouldn’t be room to wedge a string in between the peg and the hole, unless the peg is being put in too loosely and the string is just jammed in, which prevents a proper fit and loads all the pressure on one side of the pegbox.

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