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Michael H

To remove machine heads or not to remove?

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I have an old German factory cello I am getting into playable shape and I am wondering what the general consensus is with machine head pegs? I think they are clunky and unattractive and would like to replace with regular pegs. Thoughts?

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36 minutes ago, rudall said:

So what’s stopping you?

The question as to what most people would prefer. I only have my own opinion. It will be a bit obvious with the screw holes filled, bushed pegs, etc.  

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Are you restoring it to sell it? Or to play it yourself?

The cost benefit of replacing the pegs many be 0 or less if your customer prefers them for easier tuning and does not care about the appearance. If you do replace them, I'd suggest replacing with geared pegs that have the look of traditional pegs but still make tuning easier than regular friction pegs.

 

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I don't play cello, but if I did I'd want 2 well fitted friction pegs on the left side and 1 (or 2) posture pegs on the right side, depending on the size of the cello.

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5 hours ago, Michael H said:

I have an old German factory cello I am getting into playable shape and I am wondering what the general consensus is with machine head pegs? I think they are clunky and unattractive and would like to replace with regular pegs. Thoughts?

To be honest, there isn’t much consensus. There are plenty of people that detest machine pegs and plenty that swear by them.

I have noticed that dislike for machine pegs is often tied to the age of the player; young players and elderly ones tend to love them, and those in the middle are often less likely to want them. The technology has really come a long way, and the options available today are so much better than things like the old Caspari pegs that only worked well for a few months and then failed miserably. A lot of teachers got burned by the bad technology and have sworn off machine pegs ever since.

A well-fitted set of pegs is a joy to use. If the work is done properly, there shouldn’t really be any difficulty in tuning. Many of the frustrations people have with regular pegs come from improper fit. If you put in a good set of ebony pegs and get them working nicely, you won’t go wrong. 

If you do decide to put in a set of machine pegs, my vote is for Wittners. I’ve put lots of sets in and have yet to see anyone come back with a problem. I really don’t like anything that has to be screwed or glued into the pegbox. Everything you do should be reversible. Perfection pegs have an excessively wide diameter, so you have to start by reaming a shocking amount of wood away from the pegbox. 

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5 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

The cost benefit of replacing the pegs many be 0 or less if your customer prefers them for easier tuning and does not care about the appearance. If you do replace them, I'd suggest replacing with geared pegs that have the look of traditional pegs but still make tuning easier than regular friction pegs.

 

Assuming these are the externally geared bass-style tuner assemblies, I have seen several 3/4 and 4/4 cellos where the integrity of the pegbox would be compromised if the plates were taken off. They likely were student instruments for most of their lives. The wood on the sides of the pegbox appeared to be reduced. Not much figure to appreciate nor was the scroll very attractive.

These are not issues. i am guessing. Wittners might require bushing. Perfections fit better?

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Personally, I've always found them charming, but I've never had the opportunity to try them. 

I'd leave them on the cello, offering the prospective buyer the possibility of replacing them. 

Over the last two years or so, a lot of cellists i know have switched to ultra light weight (30 grams) tail pieces for acoustic reasons . They are often not fitted with fine tuners, and mechanical pegs would go well with such a tail piece. 

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It sounds like the varying opinions are exactly what led me to the question. The main reason I enjoy working on old nameless factory celli is that their tones are pretty unexpected until setup is complete (true for any instrument, I suppose). Some end up sounding like a cannon, while others do not make it passed the front row. Generally, I place a value on the final tone. Not that their value ever exceeds that of an intermediate cello, with some staying in the student range. I do like the idea of geared pegs to couple with one of many tailpieces without fine tuners I have lying around (usually get tossed into a box). The scroll is made of unattractive maple, but curiously well-carved, in my opinion. I will upload a picture when I’m back in my workspace.

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6 minutes ago, Michael H said:

It sounds like the varying opinions are exactly what led me to the question. The main reason I enjoy working on old nameless factory celli is that their tones are pretty unexpected until setup is complete (true for any instrument, I suppose). Some end up sounding like a cannon, while others do not make it passed the front row. Generally, I place a value on the final tone. Not that their value ever exceeds that of an intermediate cello, with some staying in the student range. I do like the idea of geared pegs to couple with one of many tailpieces without fine tuners I have lying around (usually get tossed into a box). The scroll is made of unattractive maple, but curiously well-carved, in my opinion. I will upload a picture when I’m back in my workspace.

I don’t have much experience with factory violins and cellos, but you can’t expect much of an asking price with factory instruments, right? I wouldn’t imagine a factory violin going for more than $500 with most much cheaper. But cellos might be different 

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Well, ofcourse you could fit any traditional wooden tail piece without fine Tuners, t would be "authentic". I was referring to tail pieces like These:

c'dix

http://www.cag-tools.com/tailpieces.html

http://www.tonaltailpiece.com/

and personally, I'm using this Right now and a in awe of what it did to a prevously mediocre (if professional Quality) Cello: https://www.concarbo.com/ (also, it is affordable)

 

It is said that some Cellos work better with heavier tail pieces, and some with lighter ones, but I yet have to meet the Cellist who cannot confirm that switching from a regular tail piece (75 grams or higher) to Ultra light (= below 40 grams total weight) has improved their Instrument.

 

You can ofcourse get a traditional old tail piece down to close to a 40 grams by gauging and scraping away a lot of wood, which may just be enough. would look nicer, but dunno About structural Integrity if you do that.

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You know what?  Those are interesting enough in their own right.  Leave them be as long as they're working.  They look nicely antique...

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3 hours ago, baroquecello said:

Well, ofcourse you could fit any traditional wooden tail piece without fine Tuners, t would be "authentic". I was referring to tail pieces like These:

c'dix

http://www.cag-tools.com/tailpieces.html

http://www.tonaltailpiece.com/

and personally, I'm using this Right now and a in awe of what it did to a prevously mediocre (if professional Quality) Cello: https://www.concarbo.com/ (also, it is affordable)

 

It is said that some Cellos work better with heavier tail pieces, and some with lighter ones, but I yet have to meet the Cellist who cannot confirm that switching from a regular tail piece (75 grams or higher) to Ultra light (= below 40 grams total weight) has improved their Instrument.

 

You can ofcourse get a traditional old tail piece down to close to a 40 grams by gauging and scraping away a lot of wood, which may just be enough. would look nicer, but dunno About structural Integrity if you do that.

I am interested in Kenneth’s tailpieces, but probably save that idea for a nice cello.  It doesn’t seem cost-effective on an old beater.

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3 hours ago, Michael H said:

I am interested in Kenneth’s tailpieces, but probably save that idea for a nice cello.  It doesn’t seem cost-effective on an old beater.

No, it's not, from a purely monetary perspective. But I thought you were interested in sound, and I'm pretty sure the effects will be there even on an old beater. Maybe even more so. (and the Kuo tailpieces are prohibitively expensive, which is why I use Concarbo) 

Btw I recently talked to a cellist friend who said he prefers these to modern geared pegs. Because any piece of technology can fail and usually does so at a bad time. His geared pegs got stuck at a concert once and then there's nothing you can do. He's a professional and has since removed the geared pegs. Lower tech solutions like this always leave more room for quick repairs. 

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The trouble with removing mechanical pegs, is the dogs dinner you are left with once you have removed them. Particularly when the plates are let into the peg box (cant quite tell from the pics). The scroll seems to be of beech, so that you will have to look hard for any replacement wood in any typical violin workshop

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6 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

The trouble with removing mechanical pegs, is the dogs dinner you are left with once you have removed them. Particularly when the plates are let into the peg box (cant quite tell from the pics). The scroll seems to be of beech, so that you will have to look hard for any replacement wood in any typical violin workshop

Great info, thank you.  I have the neck removed, fingerboard/nut removed and the top plate removed, but have not done anything with the pegs yet. In the scenario that they are let in, I will most likely just polish them and call it a day. 

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Now that I’ve seen the pictures, I would definitely recommend getting rid of the pegs. They are really awful and add a lot of unnecessary weight to the scroll.

Removal will require bushings and plugs for the screw holes, but that’s just part of the routine for old cellos like yours. It takes extra time but it’s not very difficult.

 

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13 minutes ago, The Violin Beautiful said:

Now that I’ve seen the pictures, I would definitely recommend getting rid of the pegs. They are really awful and add a lot of unnecessary weight to the scroll.

Removal will require bushings and plugs for the screw holes, but that’s just part of the routine for old cellos like yours. It takes extra time but it’s not very difficult.

 

Yes, should not be an issue.  As Jacob pointed out, the scroll is beech.  Any reservations in using maple plugs?

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2 hours ago, violguy said:

Remove them, but save those screws!

I typically never throw out old accessories, just toss them in a box. But is there something interesting about these specific screws?

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