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Janito

Why do professionally fitted pegs turn so poorly?

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I have 3 violins with professionally fitted pegs and 3 that I fitted myself.

The professional jobs always give me trouble with excessive 'sticking' during periods of higher humidity, but my fittings turn efortlessly and never slip.

What's up with the pros?

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I have 3 violins with professionally fitted pegs and 3 that I fitted myself.

The professional jobs always give me trouble with excessive 'sticking' during periods of higher humidity, but my fittings turn efortlessly and never slip.

What's up with the pros?

Hello, John here. Hope the trip home was uneventful. I find that no matter how well a shaper is set, usually a slight touchup of the peg is needed with another hole in the shaper. (Usually the first hole is very slightly a smaller angle taper than I eventually want, by a few percent perhaps)

Did you do that? Your pro may have been in a hurry. Before any peg compound is on, you can feel a fit to both holes or perhaps a slight burnishing of the peg by the holes. If it turns out that your shaper is accidentaly precisely the same taper as the reamer (knife set well) then keep this thing in mind if you ever remove the knife to sharpen it.

I think you just got a shop that figured that with a little bedding in with peg dope, close enough was good enough. Or perhaps after a couple of bad sharpenings, their shaper knife is not straight.. or is not set exactly right in the shaper block. Or they left out the extra step.

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I am not sure that lumping all the "pros" into the same boat is a fair assessment. Were all three peg fittings done by the same professional?

I think there are variables that can attribute to the success, or lack of it, for this type of work. If the peg hole diameter was already too large, fitting pegs, even perfectly is not going to yield the best results. What type of strings being used is also makes a difference. (Helicores come to mind)

If the professional had "first crack" at the pegbox, that would make a difference in my thinking, but not necessarily towards professionals, just that particular professional.

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All the above posts make good points.

Nevertheless, I think 67% of the problem lies in the goop that is being used to dress the pegs to stop them slipping.

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OK, I use Hill peg dope, lots of it, every time I change strings. No problems. I'm ready to hear other suggestions but not the chalk or soap that some people used to use.

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If the pegs are fitted in a locale with different relative humidity, the holes will generally go out of round from wood expansion or contraction. Ebony and rosewood pegs are more stable against humidity variances due to the oil in the wood, boxwood tends to go out of round more so with humidity variances.

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OK, I use Hill peg dope, lots of it, every time I change strings. No problems. I'm ready to hear other suggestions but not the chalk or soap that some people used to use.

Used to use? I never use chalk as a rule, however I use a combination of lumber chalk (not actually chalk, that's just the name) and sunrise soap on violins. The phylosophy here is simple.. the lumber chalk clogs the wood and creates a smooth surface, but without soap there's too much friction. the soap makes the peg turn easily, but if applied too liberally will make it slip. In this climate I think this combination works extremely well, and although I do use hills paste on other pegs, I won't use it on my own. On Cellos I go the other way around.. If you put the soap on last the strings won't go up to pitch. I've found that even with hills paste.

In all honesty, Janito, I couldn't suggest why the pros pegs are sticking without knowing what they've put on them. It could be that whatever it is is absorbing into the wood, or the wood is expanding beyond the compound. May I ask what you're using?

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I have used Hill peg compound as a player for 40 years and as a 'maker' for 20yrs, with no problems when humidity or temperature changes.

A search in MN for "peg dope" as keywords will reveal many options, but little information on whether the underlined criteria above have been met using post-fitting feedback.

In other words, I wonder how many professional fitters have done due diligence on post-fitting acceptability using the goop/dope recipes they use.

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I have 3 violins with professionally fitted pegs and 3 that I fitted myself.

The professional jobs always give me trouble with excessive 'sticking' during periods of higher humidity, but my fittings turn efortlessly and never slip.

What's up with the pros?

++++++++++++++++++

(Why?) Not paid enough.

Ps. Seriously, you should install the modern day's pegs (geared). Perfection pegs or equivalent

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Hill's peg dope is probably the best. I have also used pencil lead (graphite) very sparingly so not as to over lubricate, it works quite well also. I believe that you can formulate your own by adding tripoli powder to melted bees wax or just plain candle wax. We are assuming that the pegs fit properly of course. I always check the friction marks where the peg contacts the peg box on both sides.

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I think we had a discussion about this a while back... ??? At the time, I believe one aspect of fitting concerned the taper of the peg vs the taper of the hole... It seems to me that many pegs that work poorly are a bit tight at small end of the shaft. I believe Melvin mentioned he knew of a lute maker who purposely left the smaller end loose to prevent binding.

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talcum powder and bee's wax. bee's wax is sticky while paraffin or candle wax isn't. I put the talcum in a 35mm film canister and dip the pegs into it, shake off excess.

~OK

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I probably bring this up every time someone suggests the use of abrasives, but I'd rather not see them used. They work fine, but cause wear to the peg and the holes, and eventually cause ridges on the pegs.

I use Ivory soap and rosin on my own instruments, because I know it doesn't contain abrasives. It takes some dinking around with the proportions to get the pegs working right, so it probably is too time consuming for shops working on a large volume of stuff for pay. There are probably commercial peg compounds which don't contain any abrasives too.

Janito, if we could see the instruments, it would be easier to figure out what's going on. It's remotely possible that a better fit is more susceptible to problems from moisture variations, because it would provide less "give" as dimensions change. Or maybe the shop didn't get it right. Hard to say.

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Often times I think peg dope is applied to bandage up a poor peg fit situation. If the pegs are not initially fit properly, or if distortion occurs later from humidity, or lack of, people reach for peg dope as a quick fix without looking to see what the real problem is.

No amount of peg dope will cure an out of round or worn peg / hole, or make up for pegs poorly fitted to begin with.

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Janito, if we could see the instruments, it would be easier to figure out what's going on. It's remotely possible that a better fit is more susceptible to problems from moisture variations, because it would provide less "give" as dimensions change.

Two of the Pro fitted sets I cured by very carefully cleaning out the peg holes and the pegs and using Hill compound.

The third set, on a very good American violin, proved too recalcitrant to this solution, and I ended up replacing all the pegs myself.

As I am not a professional fitter I can afford to spend a considerable time getting the fit right.

I also spent ~3h tuning my brass peg shaper and blades. Empirically, I found that a very small bevel on the reverse side prevents the blade digging into the wood and produces fine shavings. If the reverse bevel to too large or the wrong angle, the blade will ride over the wood and not cut at all. It took some time to establish the optimal ratio of bevels, but it was worth the effort.

-------------------

Later

Incidentally, I have 2 brass peg shapers bought from different suppliers years ago. It is interesting to see that the blade edges have different angles of incidence relative to the peg shaft. For difficult wood, especially, I think the blade edges need to customised to prevent a poor shaft finish.

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++++++++++++++++++

(Why?) Not paid enough.

Ps. Seriously, you should install the modern day's pegs (geared). Perfection pegs or something equivalent.

I know old fashion peg will work only if everything is done correctly but the window of correctness is narrow.

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Two of the Pro fitted sets I cured by very carefully cleaning out the peg holes and the pegs and using Hill compound.

The third set, on a very good American violin, proved too recalcitrant to this solution, and I ended up replacing all the pegs myself.

As I am not a professional fitter I can afford to spend a considerable time getting the fit right.

I also spent ~3h tuning my brass peg shaper and blades. Empirically, I found that a very small bevel on the reverse side prevents the blade digging into the wood and produces fine shavings. If the reverse bevel to too large or the wrong angle, the blade will ride over the wood and not cut at all. It took some time to establish the optimal ratio of bevels, but it was worth the effort.

Well then, it sounds like you just did a better job than the pros. Sometimes they're in a position of trying to charge a competitive price for a certain job description, and still make money. Other times, workers get a percentage of their gross. Fortunately, I've never been in either situation, so I don't want to be critical of those who are.

Another factor is that a lot of people have no idea how to set up a peg shaper. You've given some good tips.

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David B.

What is your opinion on Lava soap? It should (i haven't actually looked at the ingredients) produce the same results with less effort.

Jesse

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David B.

What is your opinion on Lava soap? It should (i haven't actually looked at the ingredients) produce the same results with less effort.

Jesse

Lava soap is a bit too abrasive and will in time wear the peg holes. It contains Pumice.

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David B.

What is your opinion on Lava soap? It should (i haven't actually looked at the ingredients) produce the same results with less effort.

Jesse

I agree with IBK. The shop I started out in used it, and it gave fantastic short-term results! The longer I'm in the business though, the more I think about long-term consequences associated with all procedures.

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I agree with IBK. The shop I started out in used it, and it gave fantastic short-term results! The longer I'm in the business though, the more I think about long-term consequences associated with all procedures.

I've been using it for thirty some years with no apparent problems.

Has anyone actually seen it do damage over time?

If so, what product performs this function properly without an abrasive?

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I use Ivory soap and rosin on my own instruments, because I know it doesn't contain abrasives. It takes some dinking around with the proportions to get the pegs working right, so it probably is too time consuming for shops working on a large volume of stuff for pay. There are probably commercial peg compounds which don't contain any abrasives too.

Oops sorry - nuff said.

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I use Ivory soap and rosin on my own instruments, because I know it doesn't contain abrasives.

Hello David,

I can probably figure out the Ivory Soap part on my own :) , but please say something more about the rosin...

Do you start with powdered rosin? And what sort of proportion do you find best?

Many thanks,

A.C.

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