Geared peg users keep fine tuner for E string???

Edited: September 9, 2023, 10:04 AM · I just left my violin off at the luthiers to have some Wittner geared pegs installed. The experience was incredible when I tried them on a violin his shop had for sale. But wondering, for those who have geared pegs, did you keep your fine tuner for the E? If so, was it because that fine tuner still is useful as opposed to using the geared peg, or because it looks more traditional or perhaps you just continue to use it out of habit?

Is there any advantage to getting rid of it for string length consistency, or tailpiece weight?

I know one poster (I'll not mention name) that will be aghast that I am converting to these pegs. However, my hand joints have said 'enough is enough'....

Appreciate any advice!


Replies (30)

September 9, 2023, 10:28 AM · I kept on my E and A string fine tuners when I switched to geared pegs for my violin. I do not see a downside. For small changes when tuning, the fine tuners are good, especially since it can be a bit awkward to use pegs on that side of the violin if you are tuning while holding the violin on your shoulder.

September 9, 2023, 11:00 AM · I have PegHeds on my violin. I kept my E fine tuner. Initially I removed it, but I just found myself, even after a month, still reaching for it, so I put it back. And it does give nice control for very small adjustments "on the fly" such as during an orchestra rehearsal.

On my viola I have Wittner pegs and no fine tuners at all.

As I have mentioned before my experience is that Wittner FineTune Pegs work the best. They are functionally magical. But they are not quite as aesthetically attractive as PegHeds or Knillings.

Edited: September 9, 2023, 11:52 AM · I struggled with friction-peg tuning from age 4+ until I finally installed Bois d'Harmonie tailpieces on my 4 violins, 2 violas and 3 cellos sometime in my 70s. These quality tailpieces have 4 light-weight fine tuners. They were a big help

Ir was only after that, approaching my 80s, that I discovered geared pegs and installed them on the same instruments. I kept the fine tuners in the tailpieces even though they could be removed. I saw no reason to remove them and they can be helpful, although sufficiently fine tuning can be done with the geared pegs. (Among the 9 instruments I have 8 Peghed and Knilling peg sets and one Wittner set.)

September 9, 2023, 11:32 AM · My viola came with geared pegs (I suspect Wittner) and a fine tuner on the A string when I got it. I'm not a geared peg fangirl by any means, that's just how the viola I now have came into my world. I don't critically need the fine tuner on the A string, but I'm too lazy to take it off, and there's no real downside to just leaving it there. My violin came with a metal tailpiece with integrated fine tuners and standard pegs. I'm happy with this setup so I'm not changing it. If I ever end up with a violin or viola with only one or two fine tuners and standard pegs, I'd be inclined to get the tailpiece exchanged for one with integrated fine tuners.
September 9, 2023, 11:48 AM · I don't see any need for the E fine tuner with the geared pegs, but I also don't see any harm in keeping it, particularly if one is accustomed to using one.
September 9, 2023, 11:52 AM · @David - Amen. Thanks for weighing in. There is no wrong choice here.
September 9, 2023, 12:17 PM · Some players want to keep the fine tuner if they have mechanical pegs installed, some are eager to take it off.

Aesthetically speaking, a fine tuner for the E is so commonplace that its absence is conspicuous. Functionally, the gear ratio on the pegs is fine enough that a fine tuner at the tailpiece is not necessary. Removing the tuner does lower weight, but if you’re using a loop-end tuner like a Hill style, the weight isn’t that significant anyway, and reducing weight is not always better for sound.

Much of it just comes down to habit and personal preference.

September 9, 2023, 2:15 PM · LOL!!!
I even with the geared pegs, I keep the fine tuner on my "E" string out
of habit I guess.

Those Wittners ae fantastic no?
For we players with arthritic hands, they're a marvel.

September 9, 2023, 4:25 PM · Geared pegs rock! I have them on my violin. I have fine tuners on my viola, and that works fine. No need for geared pegs yet.
September 9, 2023, 6:32 PM · As I indicated above, I have geared pegs on my viola because it came with them, and fine tuners on my violin. I can't say I like one over the other, but I don't think I would deliberately get geared pegs installed on anything. I acquired the viola very recently, so I have yet to replace the strings, but I heard it's a bit more work than with standard pegs.
September 10, 2023, 5:26 AM · Wish I could afford geared pegs, I manage with wooden ones but the truth is they are a pain to use, always seem to jump a fraction too much forward, then a fraction too much back.

I know if I ever got them, I would leave the e tuner on , no real point taking it off as far as I can see.

September 10, 2023, 8:49 AM · Ella - I recommend using a winder for changing strings with geared pegs. It makes string changes almost as fast as regular pegs
September 10, 2023, 9:01 AM · Each set of Wittner Pegs comes with a winding crank that fits nicely onto the head of the peg. Otherwise, just change your strings while you're watching something on TV and the time will pass quickly.
September 10, 2023, 11:49 AM · I gotta say that I don't find mechanical pegs to be as accurate as fine tuners. I use electronic tuners (accurate to .1 cent) and cannot replicate the accuracy of fine tuners with Wittners.

They have too much mechanical slop and have a tendency to slip too sharp, too flat like out of round friction pegs.

September 10, 2023, 12:00 PM · Thanks guys for the tips on replacing strings. I will consider those once it is time to do so. Since the geared pegs on my viola came with the instrument when I got it, I didn't get a special winder for the pegs, but I may get one if needed. Ron, your quibbles about standard pegs is precisely why I really love my fine tuners and wouldn't want to give them up unless I happen to have geared pegs. I have found that for me it is still sometimes faster to be dead on accurate with fine tuners, as geared pegs still jump a little more than fine tuners, but it's no big deal. Having to live in both worlds means I can make pretty direct comparisons.
Edited: September 10, 2023, 1:30 PM · Guitarists use string winders too, so it's possible the local music shop might have one. Just take your violin with you to make sure their gadget fits on your pegs. Wittner pegs have chubby heads (because the gears are inside the head of the peg with the Wittner design, I believe), so a guitar winder might not fit over that. Obviously, Wittner's winder fits their pegs nicely.

I have never had a problem with Wittner pegs slipping, not even the slightest amount. PegHeds and Knilling Perfection pegs work a little differently and there is a little bit of a learning curve for those.

When you learned to tune with friction pegs, you were often taught to loosen the peg (tune down) and then approach the correct pitch from the bottom. This is the correct way with gear pegs too. The static friction that you're releasing is at the nut. This is why if you make a tiny adjustment with a gear peg, sometimes nothing happens to the pitch, because the nut is still holding the string at the same tension and you've only changed the tension of the string inside the peg box. Lubricating the nut grooves with graphite can help but may not eliminate this effect entirely. Tuning down first to release that differential tension across the nut will ensure accurate and stable tuning. With Knillings and PegHeds, as you tune up in pitch, you're supposed to press in slightly -- the same motion as friction pegs but with much less applied pressure and, obviously, better pitch control. That is something that you have to get used to also. Wittner pegs do not require any pushing in, you just turn them. Wittner's design is functionally superior. If you follow the manufacturers instructions you'll master all of the small idiosyncrasies of your gear pegs within a few days. And you will enjoy immediate benefit.

September 10, 2023, 1:32 PM · Thanks for all the responses. So I believe I'll leave the fine tuner on as well. Haven't gotten the fiddle back yet as my luthier is doing some other maintenance work on it, but I'm anxious to experience less tuning frustration. Paul mentioned trouble getting the Wittners exact....hope I'm not too disappointed trying for a fine tuner-like experience. To address Ella's comments, my luthier did suggest cutting about 1.5 inches off of string to make string install easier (singe ends lightly), but that tool that was mentioned may be better option. Anyway, won't get my fiddle back for a little over a week, but I can hardly wait....

Thanks again everyone.

September 10, 2023, 1:43 PM · Paul Deck, thanks for that tip I just saw regarding tuning with Wittners....makes sense regarding adjustment isolation in the pegbox.
Hope they don't look too chubby! My luthier had them on two violins hanging with about eight others and from about 5 feet away, I couldn't tell the difference between the friction and the Wittner pegs. Only when I actually got up close and handled them could I tell. I believe I need the smaller of the two sizes, so maybe that will be an advantage visually. Frankly, I was thinking about getting some nice boxwood pegs and boxwood tailpiece with integrated tuners, but instead decided on the Wittner geared peg path. Got my fingers crossed my experience will be as good as all the comments.


September 10, 2023, 2:11 PM · I kept my E fine tuner on. I found I kept reaching for it when it was off for a while, it doesn't seem to make a difference sound-wise, and for me it is marginally more comfortable making small adjustments at the tailpiece than with the peg on the opposite side with the arm outstretched.

But, I confess, another big reason for putting it back on was people noticing its absence and asking how I deal without it.

September 10, 2023, 3:10 PM · Janet, Wittner pegs look good enough. You'll be happy with them. They are only slightly chubby. They're not obese. :)
September 10, 2023, 6:21 PM · They had to put the gears somewhere inside!
September 10, 2023, 8:07 PM · Paul and Andrew, I'll be glad to live with 'slightly chubby' (like that phrase) to save my hand joints. Maybe less wear and tear will make opening jars easier. Too bad they don't make geared pickle jar lids.
September 10, 2023, 8:14 PM · I have this for the pickle jar lids, and worry I'll rip the glass with it if I'm not careful.

Edited: September 10, 2023, 9:32 PM · The strap wrench is a great tool but then you still have to be able to hold the jar firmly, and that requires a bigger and stronger hand than many folks have. When nobody else is around to team up with me, I take the jar downstairs to my shop and secure the lid in a vice or I fix the jar into a furniture clamp and work the lid with a large pipe wrench. So far I have never cracked a jar that way but you do have to work cautiously. Striking the bottom of the jar against your heel can send a shockwave through the jar that loosens the lid (this is surprisingly effective and seems to work best when the medium inside the jar is watery, not a viscous material that would absorb that impact). Turning the jar over and placing the (metal!) lid into very hot water for a few seconds is another trick. This works because the linear coefficient of thermal expansion is higher for most metals (metal lids are typically steel) compared to glass. If you have trouble with mason jars, Ball makes plastic lids that fit on those after they're opened. They work great and they don't leak.
September 10, 2023, 10:23 PM · I've had PegHeds on my main violin for about 4 years now and kept the Hill style E string tuner. My experience mirrors most of the posters above. I can accurately tune the E with the PegHeds but find the fine tuner a comforting habit. Like almost everything you get used to what you have. For me the biggest advantage with the geared pegs is the time savings.
September 11, 2023, 5:39 PM · Although I am inexperienced in geared pegs, I am somewhat trained at difficult jars in general. One grabs a manual can opener (heavy weight model....mine's Kichen Aid) and gives a good bang on the top edge (90 degree angle) of the lid. From there repeat around the lid so you slightly dent about 4-5 times around. The wrist action is quite important here.. think sautielle ...but just one quick stroke. Many times there may be a slight pop indicating a pressure change....much like an e string breaking. Once completed even someone requiring geared pegs, such as myself, can then open the jar. Of course, if it is a ball jar and you intend to reuse, seek another method. In spite of the above, I still yearn for geared technology on jars. We now have pop tops on tuna perhaps someday. I may have digressed here.....oh yes, looking forward to next week to try those new pegs. Thanks everyone for great comments.
Edited: September 13, 2023, 10:07 AM ·
I think that synthetic strings, a battery powered tuner, an E-string tuner, and a peg "tuneup" can alleviate the need for geared pegs. I really like Peter Infeld Pi strings on my violin. Even after two or three days of not playing, I often find that the "A" string will still be in tune.

A D'Addario tuner stays resident on my violin at all times. In fact, it's a needed accessory for my aging hearing.

So, even if the "A" is a bit off, it's easy to bring it quietly into line. I tune the "D" and "G" to the "A", and at one point, my "D" peg was a bit sticky. I dropped my violin off with my luthier for a couple of days, and he easily corrected this problem. I use a Hill style "E" string tuner to tune that string.

Note that, when I install a new string, I'm careful to make sure that the peg is angled for its maximum leverage.

I can understand their convenience. But for me, geared pegs are an unneeded alteration to my venerable violin.

September 13, 2023, 11:07 AM · I have the E string fine tuner on both my violins still that have geared pegs installed and I plan to do it for my gig violin. On my viola that has them I have no fine tuners.

Changing strings is a bit of a pain but I have the Wittner peg winder. One thing that does give me trouble is changing the G and E strings since they are under the D and A strings. Does anyone have a trick for this? Right now I’m just loosening the D/A string pegs just enough so I can move it out of the way a bit so I can string the G/E strings neatly and then I put them back. I do it one side at a time though and so far I haven’t had a mishap with the sound post, but if there’s a better way I will happily change my tactics.

Edited: September 13, 2023, 11:45 AM · Christian, what I do for inserting the E string while keeping the A in place is to just pull/push the tip of the E under the A and then pull it up enough with a small-nose tool("surgical clamp") untill I can poke it through the hole in the E-peg and get winding started.

I might do the same thing for G insertion (blocked by the D) but the lower strings are somewhat too thick and stiff to do that comfortably so I have been doing just what you do.

Since the first time I "dropped" a soundpost loosening all the strings at the same time, about 60 years ago, I have experimented and found it reasonably safe to loosen 2 strings at the same time (i.e., A & E and later D & G). But when I had a fairly loose soundpost I would move it to a tighter spot when doing that and then replace it to its original position after all string changing was finished.

September 13, 2023, 11:44 AM · Christian I think the issue you describe will be quite individual to the way the pegbox is cut. I have few tiny screwdrivers and a very good pair of fine foreceps that I use to guide the string into the right configuration on the peg before I start tightening it in earnest. I do agree that it's hard to get my peg windings just the way I want them with the slow tightening of the gear peg.

I'm waiting for Wittner to design a "two-speed" peg. I wouldn't be surprised if someone already holds a patent on it. The world is full of clever people.

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