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Planetary geared pegs


Keith Graves
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I've been asked to fit a set of cello fine tune pegs. I have fitted Wittner violin pegs on occasions , work fine but they protrude (pegbox to collar)  more than the standard distance  As they are very pricey does anyone have any experience of how well they last or which makes are best? Wittner, Knilling and Peghead seem to be the only makes around.

Any comments gratefully received!

Keith

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I have one (1) Wittner cello peg you can  have free.  That should bring the cost down.

I use Wittner pegs on all my violins and violas and like them a lot.  However some good players (Nathan Giem, one of the VSA tone judges for example) don't like them because their pitch adjustment movement is too fine.  

It's amusing to see players reach for the tailpiece string adjusters and not find them.

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I’ve fitted well over a hundred sets of Wittner pegs, mostly on cellos, some on violins.

So far we haven’t had any issues with failure, or the length the pegs protrude. Indeed I see a lot of instruments with wooden pegs, which stick out miles like aeroplane wings.

Providing the scroll doesn’t need bushed, Wittners can be pretty quick to install, so despite costing more to purchase, they save workshop time, which costs a lot too.

 I have only fitted two sets of Knilling, and I would never ever use them again. The way they fit is pretty horrific. The adjustable tension seems a neat idea, but in practice people found this hard to get used to. I believe they can still slip at the lowest tension.

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My experience has been much the same with the Knilling. They slip if the peg head isn't pushed in firmly, which I think puts undue stress on the peg box while trying to tune. Additionally, the gear reduction is too low a ratio making it difficult to tune the E and A accurately, so don't get rid of those fine tuners.

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14 hours ago, Keith Graves said:

I've been asked to fit a set of cello fine tune pegs. I have fitted Wittner violin pegs on occasions , work fine but they protrude (pegbox to collar)  more than the standard distance  As they are very pricey does anyone have any experience of how well they last or which makes are best? Wittner, Knilling and Peghead seem to be the only makes around.

Any comments gratefully received!

Keith

When you say they protrude more, are you using them without cutting them down? They should be fitted like regular pegs and cut down so they are an appropriate length. 

As for the different types of planetary pegs, Wittners are my favorite so far. I really don’t like gluing pegs in as you have to with the Knilling and Pegheds. I do like that the other types allow you to adjust the speed of turning, but the ease of removal when necessary makes the Wittners more atttactive to me. I want it to be easy to swap out a peg if it gets damaged. 

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9 hours ago, Felefar said:

Interesting. They say there are 24 different ways to tune a Hardanger fiddle, but the most common is «out-of-tune». Nice to know there is an alternative.

A bit like the lute, of which it is said that players spend half their time tuning and half playing out of tune.

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2 hours ago, Salve Håkedal said:

(By the way, the picture above is a Viola d'amore, not a hardangerfiddle)

I know - but I couldn't remember any quotes about Violas d'amore (except generic viola jokes).

And I discovered there are said to be 40 ways to tune a Hardingfele, which doesn't really help.

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  • 2 years later...

I'm about to put Perfection pegs on an especially weird instrument.  (Wittners just won't fit).  The owner is concerned about weight.  Is there any of you out there that have Perfection pegs with the plastic heads?  How much do they weigh?

And I can tell you:  The Perfection pegs with the Ebony (Swiss style) heads weigh 7.5 grams each.  That's out of the box, not cut to length.

Thanks

Dave Golber

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I have installed internally geared pegs (Pegheds, Knillings and 2 sets of Wittner) on 14 instruments for myself and family members (2 violas, 3 cellos and 9 violins, including one 5-string). They all work great I noticed no change in tone on any of them. I have no trouble tuning all my strings to within 1 Hz of the target frequency with the Knillings and Pegheds. I have not tested the Wittnersby meter, but by ear they seem fine too.

You need to be fully aware of all installation steps before starting to install ("measure twice and cut once").

Mechanically the Pegheds and Knillings are the same. I notice that tuning with these pegs works best if I tune from below. I have always used superglue to anchor the pegs. These two brands both only seat on the "handle" end of the peg, the other end "floats."

I found the Wittner pegs trickier to install. They do not need to be glued but you need to fully seat them in the pegbox before removing them to mark and cut the ends to length - and that involves being sure that you have indented the side of the pegbox with the protrusion on each peg. That is the tricky part. The Wittner pegs fit on both sides of the pegbox.

Standoff of collar from pegbox is 19mm for Knilling cello pegs, 13-14mm for Knilling/Wittner violin and viola.

The advantage of such collar standoff distance for old-fashioned wooden pegs is to delay rebushing of the pegbox as long as possible. I had to have my 1877 Mitenwald cello rebushed and repegged when it was 123 years old (expensive) but one peg collar had finally got to ZERO standoff.

It is a good idea to make the original wooden peg shafts as thin as is survivable -

1. reduced friction makes them easier to tune

2.  smaller peg hole can have a 2nd live before rebushing

That consideration vanishes with internally-geared pegs.

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On 1/14/2019 at 6:10 AM, Keith Graves said:

I've been asked to fit a set of cello fine tune pegs. I have fitted Wittner violin pegs on occasions , work fine but they protrude (pegbox to collar)  more than the standard distance  As they are very pricey does anyone have any experience of how well they last or which makes are best? Wittner, Knilling and Peghead seem to be the only makes around.

Any comments gratefully received!

Keith

You’re supposed to ream the peg holes to get the proper protrusion, and then trim and finish the peg end. That’s standard for any peg!

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I've had most of my Pegheds/Knillings installed for at least 10 years and they still all work fine. I think 2 of those pegs once each I installed slipped because the superglue failed - but that was fast and easy to fix. But just to be secure I carry a tiny tube of superglue in the cases. My cello Knillings and Pegheds have never slipped.

The Wittner pegs (by design) cannot slip if properly installed - but the violin Wittner is 1,000 miles away with my son (his preferred violin)  and I don't play my Wittner viola but rather my Knilling viola because I prefer the sound of that instrument.

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2 hours ago, FiddleDoug said:

You’re supposed to ream the peg holes to get the proper protrusion, and then trim and finish the peg end. That’s standard for any peg!

Rubbish, you're supposed to shave the peg to fit the hole not vice a versa, of course you can't do that with geared pegs, that's why they're rubbish.

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6 hours ago, Strad O Various Jr. said:

Rubbish, you're supposed to shave the peg to fit the hole not vice a versa, of course you can't do that with geared pegs, that's why they're rubbish.

Older violins that don't have a modern 1:30 taper are often minimally reamed to obtain a modern taper when replacing the old pegs with traditional pegs. Violins requiring bushings are also reamed. 

But geared pegs also come in different diameters to minimize any reaming, and also to avoid bushings if the holes are large. Avoiding the expense of bushings can be a very good reason to go to geared pegs.

One thing that is important in fitting Wittner pegs is to be sure to compress the hole by turning the reamer backward as you get toward the end, otherwise, it is easy to over-ream, and the hole will be too big to hold the peg in place with adequate compression. It is surprising how much a peg hole will compress!

 

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There sure are some firmly held opinions out there.

For fitting pegs to an existing valuable instrument for a tradition-oriented owner, of course you'd first go for fitting the (wooden) peg to the hole... unless the hole is too big and would need to be bushed.  If the latter is the case, there would be no damge done to fit a geared peg, either enlarging the peghole slightly or bushing and fitting a smaller diameter geared peg.

For a new instrument, I find the PegHeds or Perfection peg shafts are larger than I like, and require a relatively large peg hole.  Not reversible in a pleasant way.  Wittners can be had in smaller diameters, where reverting to wood isn't so traumatic.  So if I'm going to put on PegHeds, I want to be sure that's the way it's going to stay.  I will also admit to turning wooden pegs on a lathe, and carefully reaming pegholes to fit on new work... it's just easier for me that way, even if you're not "supposed to" do it that way.  I don't see how it could possibly matter.

While the aesthetics and weight of geared pegs are drawbacks, the stability and ease of tuning are definitely attractive.  Each player/owner has to decide what matters most to them, and neither option can be categorically classified as rubbish.

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