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bungling_amateur

Unusually steep peg taper, ideas?

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We have an old violin in the family (guessing 18th century). No label, quite worn and beaten up, probably no monetary value but huge sentimental value, and different members of the family are musicians and instrument-makers. An amateur violin-making relative has done some minimal repairs, glueing open joints, etc, and got it working again. I set it up with all plain Aquila gut strings. We are very pleased with the sound, and it is in lovely "original" untouched condition.

The main disincentive to playing it at the moment is difficulty tuning it. The old pegs do fit in their holes, and I can tune it fine, but the original owner is struggling due to weak fingers (basically they can't tune it at all and have to get someone else to, which is a big disincentive for them to take it out and use it).

It doesn't have fine tuners on it.

I thought, why not try the Wittner geared pegs? So I ordered one, and then discovered that the pegs are much steeper taper than any I have seen before. This is the "medium 4/4" Wittner violin peg alongside one of the originals.

What would you suggest I do next? If I get the "slim" Wittner peg, the thin end should fit the small hole, and I can bush the big hole? Should I order a Cello peg, or will the head etc. just be far too big (and this taper seems to be more like 1/20 to me?)

Are there other brands of geared violin pegs that have different tapers?

Any other suggestions? Apart from put it back away and forget about it again for another generation or two? I'm nervous to start thinking about having the pegbox bushed and re-drilled with a normal modern taper, but at the end of the day is that the best plan?

pegs crop.JPG

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It looks to me to be a 1:25 taper on the original peg. There are still violin reamers around with that taper, though hard to find. I've been looking for one myself for quite some time. There is nothing wrong with reaming the holes with a 1:30 reamer and putting bushings in, re-drilling and reaming. There are no consequences as to the value,  and you'll have a violin that is much easier to tune, and will stay in tune, given the job is done right. (A 1:20 taper was used from the 1500's to sometime in the late 1700's(?), when the norm became 1:25.) Going that route would be the best bet. If there are any mechanical pegs around with a 1:25 taper, they are still going to be fitted to the holes, meaning bushed and reamed. The mechanical tuners are very easy to tune with. The cheapest way to go would be finding a luthier who has a 1:25 reamer, and have new pegs fitted. 

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Peg tapers can be all over the place, even on relatively modern instruments. 1:20 is not at all uncommon (some contemporary  makers prefer it esp. for boxwood), some are even a bit steeper. The holes need reaming out to 1:30 if you want to fit fine tuning pegs. Knilling pegs are available in slightly larger diameters than Wittner, which might help, if the existing pegs are quite thick. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, bungling_amateur said:

 

pegs crop.JPG

The old peg you show (on the left) looks very nice, and you should consider if it is original to an eighteenth century violin. It seems sacrilegious to replace them with grotty plastic ones. I have a box of old reamers with all sorts of tapers that I inherited. I would carefully turn the pegs round, and if necessary do a shaving bushing (or whatever a Spanausbuchser is called in English)

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Thanks Jacob. The 4 pegs are not identical but they all look old and are very nice. Hence my hesitation reluctance to do anything irreversible. And also why I asked here.

(I often read here but rarely have anything to say)

Your suggestion of properly fitting the pegs is a tempting idea, though they do work in their current worn state. Trouble is, the owner of the fiddle can't really use friction pegs because of hand problems. That's why we thought geared pegs might be something to try.

Do you think it is worth trying fine tuners on the tailpiece instead? I was thinking there was too much stretch in plain gut strings for them to work well.

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21 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

do a shaving bushing (or whatever a Spanausbuchser is called in English)

I guess they call it "spiral bushing".B)

image.png.97eaeecfc4201d57e62599b5b0c7fcc6.png

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Thank you again Jacob for impressing the need to be cautious and not do irreversible things.

In case anyone is interested, I got a Wittner Ultra tailpiece and "modded" it to have a longer throw (by drilling new pivot holes). It doesn't look too offensive on the old fiddle, it gives a decent range of adjustment for the plain gut strings, but most importantly it is completely non-invasive into the old pegs and fiddle.

 

 

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Herdim still makes 1:20 peg tools. Howard Core carries them. Whatever you do, there will be some extent of work that will not be "irreversible".  Fitting new pegs, spiral bushing, full bushings, mechanical pegs, all require that the peg holes be at least skimmed with a reamer to get them round, or expose fresh wood for gluing.

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4 hours ago, FiddleDoug said:

Herdim still makes 1:20 peg tools. Howard Core carries them. Whatever you do, there will be some extent of work that will not be "irreversible".  Fitting new pegs, spiral bushing, full bushings, mechanical pegs, all require that the peg holes be at least skimmed with a reamer to get them round, or expose fresh wood for gluing.

Well the old pegs do work well, so I'm in no hurry to shave them and bush the holes. I think this tailpiece will solve the problems that we were having.

4 hours ago, BowBow said:

Do you have any pictures of the instrument itself? Just curious. 

 

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I posted pictures on here years ago when I was young and naïve, and there was some discussion about its possibly early 19th century age, and Scottish or Saxon origins... the thread is called "old Scottish violin"

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1 hour ago, bungling_amateur said:

Well the old pegs do work well, so I'm in no hurry to shave them and bush the holes. I think this tailpiece will solve the problems that we were having.

 

P1120197.jpg

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The painted maple  (?) fingerboard would be most typical of the Salzkammergut. Is it possible to find a spot on the scroll where one might be able to see through the filth if the scroll is made of beech or not? That would also be typical of there. I'm a bit surprised that it's purfeled.

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17 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

The painted maple  (?) fingerboard would be most typical of the Salzkammergut. Is it possible to find a spot on the scroll where one might be able to see through the filth if the scroll is made of beech or not? That would also be typical of there. I'm a bit surprised that it's purfeled.

The filth is pretty thick all over the scroll...

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21 minutes ago, bungling_amateur said:

The filth is pretty thick all over the scroll...

Yes it certainly is. I would still like to ask colleagues here, if it looks like beech to them too

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35 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Yes it certainly is. I would still like to ask colleagues here, if it looks like beech to them too

Certainly  the  bit of wood  exposed  at the nut looks like beech. The general colour of the neck and the worn edges of the head too.

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On 2/24/2020 at 7:46 PM, jacobsaunders said:

 

P1120193.jpg

 

The grain at the nut looks definitely like beech.

Also I agree that it seems to be from the Salzkammergut. I have an unpurfled Salzkammergut featuring exactly the same model.

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3 minutes ago, Blank face said:

The grain at the nut looks definitely like beech.

Also I agree that it seems to be from the Salzkammergut. I have an unpurfled Salzkammergut featuring exactly the same model.

Agree. I said in my last post that I was surprised that it was purfeled, and still think that that must have happened later

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3 hours ago, jacobsaunders said:

Agree. I said in my last post that I was surprised that it was purfeled, and still think that that must have happened later

The bottom has an inked purfling only IMO. It's fading out at the shoulder position.

Really hard to tell if the purfling at the belly is later; it appears to be covered with original varnish.

I forgot to mention the saddle; it looks glued on the surface of the rib, not inserted. That's a feature I'm only aware of Salzkammergut, never have seen it at a Vogtland.

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Sorry for the delay. The only exposed wood I can see on the neck is where it's rubbed.

The purfling is not inked, either on belly or back. Two photos showing purfling damage.

And the saddle - an oblique shot to hopefully show how it is attached.

 

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Thanks, this seems to clarify that the purfling is there for a very long time, probably from the start judged by the amount of shrinkage. Photos can be deceiving.

Can you tell if the saddle is glued on the surface of the rib only or inserted into the rib and endblock a few millimeters?

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