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MarchHare

Tuning problems. Stiff pegs & breaking strings :(

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Hi

Tuning problems!

I'm very very inexperienced, took about ten lessons but couldn't afford to continue, so trying to teach myself. I also have a comparatively cheap violin - think it cost about £100.

I use the fine tuners as much as I can, but inevitably I have to use the pegs. The pegs don't turn smoothly however - they're really stiff and 'jumpy'. I have to exert quite a lot of pressure to get them to turn, then they turn suddenly and I've a broken string on my hands. Or I get it tuned, but then the pegs just slip and unwind again. I've watched dozens of videos on YouTube about tuning, but everyone's pegs seem to turn easily and then stay put. Tried all sorts of methods, pushing/twisting simultaneously, pulling out slightly, turning, then pushing back in - no avail!

This has cost me quite a bit in repairs as I am too inexperienced to attempt it myself - would probably do more harm than good.

What am I doing wrong!? Any help much appreciated!

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Hill Peg Dope and Ivory soap can help when administered responsibly. 

You probably just have ill-fitting pegs that may need to be re fit. 

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If you enjoy this violin enough to keep playing it, consider investing another £100 or so and get Wittner geared pegs put on it.  No more problems, and no more fine tuners to mess with either.  :)

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You may also have the problem of the grooves for the strings on the upper nut not being shaped properly.  If the strings are breaking between the nut and the peg, this is likely the case.  A mouse tail file can be used to make the radius of the grooves larger than that of the strings, not to mention shaping it so there is a nice gradual curve in the nut along the path of the string so that there are no kinks etc.
Good Luck!

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I can't remember any pegs that felt like they would stay put which would also turn as smoothly as I would like.  That's why you have to go up and down with the pitch a half dozen times instead of just tuning straight to the pitch.  And why steel strings have to have tuners.

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I've been reluctant to reply to this because what I'll say will be painfully obvious to many people on the forum. I cannot stress enough how important good set up is for a beginner's instrument. Not just well fit pegs, though that is the primary issue here, but everything else that goes into making an instrument play correctly. Not a week goes by that we don't see something that's been bought cheaply on line that just doesn't work. Some of them will never work well, but many will. When we get an instrument, new or used, we refit or replace the pegs as needed, adjust the nut, plane the fingerboard, replace the soundpost, replace the bridge, fit new decent quality strings. And that's the short version. The difference between pegs that work and ones that don't is dramatic. The problem for some people is that the work described can cost significantly more that the instrument did in the first place. But that's what's needed to turn a wood thing into a musical instrument. So the answer is: Find a decent shop that can set it up correctly, and be prepared to pay a bit. It will be worth it in the long run.

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