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Troublesome pegs


Musical Chairs

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Hi,

I've recently purchased a violin made in 1922, which I just love.

The only problem is that the pegs are difficult to handle when I'm

tuning. I get the tone just where I want it, but it takes superman

strength to get the peg to stay in place. Sometimes if I

accidentally touch one I've just tuned while tuning the neighboring

peg, it slips out. I haven't encountered this problem before. I'm

trying to bring it a violin shop. (11/2 hours away). I suspect the

holes will have to be re-drilled.

Thank you.

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The pegs may well have a fit problem. But a first course of action might be to push the string windings closer to the pegbox wall (on the tuning side of the peg). Also, you can pull the pegs out about a 1/4" and rub some lava soap (which contains a trace amount of pumice) around the peg. Good luck.

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Musical Chairs,

I suggest using Hill Peg Compound, I had

the same problem when I had my cello in at my luthiers hetold me to

use that and it has worked since. Of course the real problem

is probably that your pegs are not fitted perfectly, but I think

that unless they are really bad the Hill compound will give you the

bit of grip that you need.

Hope this helps.

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Two  last warnings with your peg problem.

1) I am not trying to be scary here, but it is possible that you

have a cracked pegbox which causes the pegs to slip. This is

particularly common on the A string. These cracks can be subtle

when not entirely formed-you must examine the peg holes very

carefully, perhaps with a magnifier to see a hairline crack

extending from the hole. These will grow in time, esp. with

"aggressive" tuning making the damage worse. They can be checked

and (usually easily ) repaired by a luthier but should they exist

they need immediate attention. Pegs should be immediately

 removed from a cracked peghole.

2) Per your comment "but it takes superman strength to get the peg

to stay in place". This is a big problem-the peg is

basically a very shallow  wedge and exerts enormous

pressure on the peg holes. Forcing the pegs into the holes is very

likely to cause a pegbox crack in time, esp. when coupled with

humidity changes.

Hopefully you are headed to your luthier but if you absolutely

cannot book an appointment at this time you may consider putting

those little fine tuners on ALL the strings and use these to help

tune up.

Regards

Fritz

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I teach and have some 30 students and do not have access to a luthier. This problem surfaces now and again.

I have a small bottle (250 mls) of metholated spirits with a pea sized piece of resin desolved in it. When fronted with this problem I pull the peg out until I can reach the bearing surfaces and give them a wipe with a cotton bud and the solution. BE CAREFUL OF VARNISH!!

This works fine for me as a quick fix. I would certainly avoid anything with pumice in it for reasons already mentioned.

You are fortunate in being so close to a luthier! Good Luck.

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  • 4 years later...

Would rosin work to keep the pegs in the proper position? My pegs seem to be slipping as well. I tune, then play one song, and they slip out. I suppose I could use lava soap. It seems a bit abbrasive though. Not sure if they still make it either. Maybe they do, just haven't seen it around for awhile.

Also, I have not thought to look for hairline cracks before. If I do find them, how are these fixed? With hide glue? (Just curious, I would bring my instrument to a luthier, ... I like to make, but haven't studied up on repair work quite yet... On the long, scrolling, to-do list.)

Thanks,

FW

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I wonder if this is an old Mirecourt violin - they very commonly had rosewood pegs fitted at quite a severe taper, and after 80 years of use they just don't grip well and are failing to make contact over the whole area where they meet the pegbox..

If so, it's generally possible to fix the problem by working carefully on the shaft of the peg - basically you turn the peg in the hole, find out where the shiny bits are, then scrape and sand these down gently until all contact areas are shiny. Then use Hill Peg soap ....!

Incidentally. glue alone won't work on pegbox cracks - the force exerted on the crack by the peg will always overcome the glue joint.

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I had the same problem and tried chalk and so on but basically the rosewood pegs were knackered. A local luthier just replaced the pegs with some new ones that were slightly thicker and reamed the holes slightly. It cost very little and made life a whole lot better.

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Soap? Argh. I would worry that it could soak into the wood.

Use chalk. You can use it for years without fear if you have to, although it's MUCH better just to get the pegs fixed. If you use rosin, that works too, but you can just powder a little bit of it. Do NOT just jam the pegs in harder. You DON't want to crack the peg box. You could try Hill peg compound. It probably won't work, but it can use it to keep the pegs smooth, AFTER you get the pegs fixed.

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M.C.,

Going back to what Rich said, I want to elaborate. Many people don't understand the principle of the peg and they put the string in any old way and expect the peg to work. The string should be wrapped toward the wall facing the handle. Bring the string very close to the wall. This way, the string is pulling the peg inward. If the string is coming off the peg in the middle or to the opposite side, it is going to be literally pulling the peg out of the holes.

If the string-hole in the peg is way off to the far wall because the peg has worn inward too far, you have to manipulate the string so that you still get the string all the way over to the correct side. There's plenty of string to allow for that. And you could have new holes put in easily enough.

Pegs are wonderfully ancient and primitive, and we have to work with them a little bit. When the weather is dry we have to essentially push the peg in and bring the string very close to the wall. When humid, we have to bring the peg out a little and sometimes back the string away from the pegbox wall. With a little bit of practice a violinist can keep his pegs working nicely year-round for years. But it isn't automatic, like some might think, or might like.

This doesn't mean there isn't something else that should be done, but I'd start there.

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Forget chalk, forget drill new holes, forget new pegs.

Once you know what the " perfection pegs " can do, you do not need any more advice about pegs. Be aware that " Perfect peg " has many names.

People are talking the same thing. The gears are inside the pegs. It looks like ordinary pegs.

I feel sorry for the people who do not know what "perfection peg" is.

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they just don't grip well and are failing to make contact over the whole area where they meet the pegbox..

If so, it's generally possible to fix the problem by working carefully on the shaft of the peg - basically you turn the peg in the hole, find out where the shiny bits are, then scrape and sand these down gently until all contact areas are shiny. Then use Hill Peg soap ....!

Thank you very much for this Martin: I thought I would need to buy tools to get slippy pegs to stick on my URV, but following your suggestion has fixed the problem.

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