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Peter K-G

Why do you paint the pegbox black inside?

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Since I wrote the quoted passage, let me just say that none of the classical Cremonese makers varnished the insides of their peg-boxes. Although pure examples look pretty dry, most appear to have been sealed which makes sense. However, varnishing or blacking does not make sense, because it is susceptible to scratching from the strings and quickly begins to look ugly. Del Gesu seems always to have blacked the scroll chamfers. He also put chamfers on the top inside edge of the peg-box walls and these too were blackened. Strad did not do this. Del Gesu also blackened the ends of the ribs at the corners. Although rare, some Amati's have blackened rib corners as well, but it was not usually a feature of Strad's work. (I have seen a Strad cello with blacked ribs but this may have been added later.)  Sound-hole edges were not blacked, but they were varnished   

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Thanks Roger for chiming in.  An amazing thing to have the writer of much of such a great book communicating right here on MN.  Sorry for not attaching your name to it, but I thought since it was only a few words it would be alright to just mention the book.

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I guess I'm with Kelvin Scott on this issue. I kind of like the contrast a blackened pegbox shows although I have a preference for something a little more brown than straight up black on new instruments, but I will use black on restorations, as I usually see it black to begin with. Plus, a lot of those old peg boxes are pretty nasty to begin with so the "blackening" may work in it's favor.

However, when I think about, I don't have a strong opinion. I could be convinced of many approaches, as long as it was tasteful.

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On my last I gave the interior of the pegbox a seal with a tinge of color to tone down the brightness and left it.  I love the look.  There's something nice about seeing the relatively natural wood, sort of a light, airy feel to it. 

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Why do you paint the pegbox black inside?

Personally, I don't. But a definitive answer would be " It looks so much better than painting the outside of the pegbox black." :D

 

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Because Strad and DG didn't...

Oh come on! neither Strad or DG did take a shower very often, but I don't think nowadays luthiers need to follow that rule  :P

 

It seems you find it ugly and that's a point. I myself cleaned the balckened pegbox of my current student violin and sealed the wood with just lindseed oil afterwards, seems to look more warmer to me that way...and I play with more personal motivation  :)

 

I do not have any clear idea why it is blackened but reading the posts here seems there are many reasons why. I think that on student violins with inside pegobx roughly finished it could be a way to disguise that.

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Roger, do you color the inside of the pegbox in some way or do you leave it natural?

 

There is nothing wrong with doing your own thing with this. In the past I have done both. I stopped doing this about thirty years ago after a violin came back. The instrument looked great, but the pegbox looked really shabby. What I now do is seal the pegbox in the way I described on my bass blog. (Please don't ask me to say where this info is. I am working on a shortened version but this will take a while.) As bcncello suggests a simple finish looks warmer and is in the longer term more practical. I feel sure that historically it has not been used, simply because although it may initially look quite sharp; it quickly begins to look cheap.

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For what it's worth, I try to copy what I see in old pegboxes. I have a little bottle of crack filler varnish I got from Dick years ago, I think it's just Deft. I use it to seal the pegbox, and I mix in some pigments, a little burnt umber, and some raw umber. It still isn't paint, just enough to make the wood look old and dusty. 

 

I don't worry too much about the wood finish on the pegbox floor, in fact I like to leave my toolmarks there, and if anything, this treatment highlights them, rather than hides them.

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I seal up the pegbox with Robson's Balsamic Ground system -  no varnish. I feel that a white pegbox stands out like a sore thumb, and worse, invites changes in wood moisture content that in turn affects pegs.

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The plowden and tera ferna 1735 1736 definatly had black chamfers.....

I thought I read in hills book .... or here...somewhere. that DGU also did pin stipe on rib corners and the heal ?.

   sorry .posted early. .just read page one ...posted ..then...just saw the above ,my bad.

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I think it is possible to over think this kind of stuff. I was taught to slice off any drips of varnish that dried in the FF holes and then go back and color the inside of the FF's and the pegbox with something that made it look finished and complemented or contrasted the style of the violin. On straight instruments I usually blacken the chamfers and rib corners so on those I use the same color in the pegbox. On More antique looking instruments I use something that looks like the crud you find in old pegboxes. I haven't noticed the scratching problem Roger H. mentioned but will be looking harder at fiddles that come back for service. I just finished a cello a couple of days ago and the pegbox varnish had more black in it than I really wanted  but I haven't lost any sleep over it yet.

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