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Tonal effect of Wittner Geared Pegs

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48 minutes ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

You are wrong!  A lighter instrument produces a better sound.

A lighter instrument allows the player to practice longer without fatigue.  More practice improves the sound.

:D

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50 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

:D

Now that is probably the biggest improvement on tone for sure!   When I stopped making guitar amps and just practiced, my guitar tone got much better!

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Along the lines of getting students to practice more...I've just spent the last few months giving nearly 30 Skype lessons a week, among them more than a few youngsters with rental violins, not always from the good shops I recommend. I dreaded hearing the words "the (adjuster) screw is all the way in, I can't turn it anymore..." I can confirm that a lot of tuning time would have been saved if those kids had Wittner pegs, and they would have been able to tune their own violins more easily between lessons. 

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7 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

You are wrong!  A lighter instrument produces a better sound.

A lighter instrument allows the player to practice longer without fatigue.  More practice improves the sound.

Great statement!! I will add it to my list of pros in favor of light violins, indeed a better player it is probably the most important factor to improve the sound of a violin.:)

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10 hours ago, Michael Appleman said:

Along the lines of getting students to practice more...I've just spent the last few months giving nearly 30 Skype lessons a week, among them more than a few youngsters with rental violins, not always from the good shops I recommend. I dreaded hearing the words "the (adjuster) screw is all the way in, I can't turn it anymore..." I can confirm that a lot of tuning time would have been saved if those kids had Wittner pegs, and they would have been able to tune their own violins more easily between lessons. 

Having watched teachers tune an endless stream of fractional instruments at recitals and such, and from my limited experience with the two fractionals I bought (because they're so cute! :wub:), I think that's an ideal place for mechanical pegs. 

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I like mechanical pegs except that they can look like cheap plastic and downright ugly. I recall that Pegheds could be customized with real wood knobs which helps. But again, I still don’t like the way they flare out from the pegbox looking like a medieval orthopedic contraption. 

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Wittners do feel better than other geared pegs. There was a time when some where wearing out due to the lack of lubrication. They are not attractive.

Most instruments are likely to be sonically immune to the added weight. But there must be some change to some frequency-ranges. I can not imagine that high frequencies would have a noticeable tonal change. But  I did noticed with two intermediate early 20th century trade instruments that the lower strings sounded more secure and the tone more solid. The pegs were installed after completing a set up so I had invested several hours of playing prior to installing the pegs. So though the impressions were subjective, I felt the installs were good for the owners. On both instruments the pegs were not fitting well and the pegbox appeared to be a bit frail and both owners had mentioned the Wittners. Tuning often required the lowering of the instrument from playing position and required both hands to tune. 

The strings were the same old ones ( not replaced  but taken on and off several times ) and the e-string tuner remained. To be more specific, the mid, upper d- and g- strings sounded less fuzzy on these two instruments. It could also be that the set up was gradually changing the overall tonal quality. Generally, for my playing, it improved the clarity to my ears as the player and do not think that it was the set up. Curious to see if any players experienced this?    

Certainly the integrity of the pegbox felt more steady when handling the scroll area and the install was well worth it for the ease of tuning. 

Because I hear the difference in the fittings used on my other instruments, this lack of change in tonality did bother me. if I were to attribute this lack of change to the quality of the tonal range or signature of the particular instruments that had Wittner pegs installed, perhaps they were more midrange-y and easy to play - more in the intermediate -level of instrument.

 

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On 6/24/2020 at 5:56 PM, Michael Szyper said:

Is there another reason for installing wittners besides sloppy fitted pegs?

Arthritis.

Older cellists seem to like them.

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54 minutes ago, FoxMitchell said:

Arthritis.

Older cellists seem to like them.

Cellists, in particular. Conventional tapered cello pegs tend to be much more difficult to turn and use, than those on violins.

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My feeling is that while they may be appropriate for certain musicians (ergonomics, ease of use, etc), I vastly prefer regular pegs, as the geared varieties do have a (negative, IMHO) effect on sound. It just seems to damp everything up, and I don't feel the vibrational feedback I rely on as much.

Another thing: on stage, a smoothly doped peg is much quicker to tune! Hear me out :) 

I always tune from below the pitch, where the pitch drops about a whole tone under, and then smoothly tunes up to the desired pitch. If I did the opposite (something a lot of my students do initially - before their inaugural lecture on tuning!), the greater tension on the string nut side would seek out an equilibrium in the speaking length of the string. In my experience, if one tunes too close to the interval at hand, static tension cannot be easily overcome and a lot of energy is expended fighting over the smallest movement. Which is a bit of a coin toss anyways! It's better to aim a little lower, and "control the landing". If the pitch slips too much (it happens), that will mean at least 10-20 minutes of volatile open string intonation, so it's wise to avoid going too far. 

Thing is, that slight half pitch to whole pitch drop in pitch seems to be important for "resetting" the tension of the speaking length, and guaranteeing stable intonation for a longer time. If I use geared pegs, it takes a lot of time (and several turns, IIRC) to gradually tune down to the desired pitch and then back up again. I can do it with a standard peg in a microsecond.

Different strokes for different folks?

Cheers,

Scoiattola

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4 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Hi David,

A set of 4 small 1/2 size violin Wittner pegs weighed 29.0g.

Thanks Marty for reporting, this weight is way better than the 40 g of the smaller 4/4 size pegs (7,8 mm shaft).

Perhaps Wittner could consider introducing this 7.2mm shaft diameter and gear dimension like 1/2 size pegs also with 4/4 size heads, to encourage the use by a greater number of luthiers who would like to install them from the beginning on their new violins.

Even an aesthetic improvement would be welcome:), perhaps taking into consideration synthetic materials more similar to ebony, perhaps such as those used for synthetic fingerboards. But it's easy to say and I have no idea what problems they should solve for this, I think it would require research with consequent investments of money. I don't know if it could be economically viable for them given the narrow market.

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2 hours ago, Scoiattola said:

My feeling is that while they may be appropriate for certain musicians (ergonomics, ease of use, etc), I vastly prefer regular pegs, as the geared varieties do have a (negative, IMHO) effect on sound. It just seems to damp everything up, and I don't feel the vibrational feedback I rely on as much.

Another thing: on stage, a smoothly doped peg is much quicker to tune! Hear me out :) 

I always tune from below the pitch, where the pitch drops about a whole tone under, and then smoothly tunes up to the desired pitch. If I did the opposite (something a lot of my students do initially - before their inaugural lecture on tuning!), the greater tension on the string nut side would seek out an equilibrium in the speaking length of the string. In my experience, if one tunes too close to the interval at hand, static tension cannot be easily overcome and a lot of energy is expended fighting over the smallest movement. Which is a bit of a coin toss anyways! It's better to aim a little lower, and "control the landing". If the pitch slips too much (it happens), that will mean at least 10-20 minutes of volatile open string intonation, so it's wise to avoid going too far. 

Thing is, that slight half pitch to whole pitch drop in pitch seems to be important for "resetting" the tension of the speaking length, and guaranteeing stable intonation for a longer time. If I use geared pegs, it takes a lot of time (and several turns, IIRC) to gradually tune down to the desired pitch and then back up again. I can do it with a standard peg in a microsecond.

Different strokes for different folks?

Cheers,

Scoiattola

I would add that if you start learning the violin with the geared pegs you will never learn to tune with the traditional pegs and you will always have problems with the latter that require more skills to be used properly, and the majority of violins have traditional pegs. However, this may be too traditional a position : even if I don't think so, someone could easily object that traditional pegs will completely disappear replaced by the more stable geared pegs in the future, who knows...

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Using well fitted real pegs on a violin is just such a treat. I agree that on fractionals, geared pegs would save the teacher, student, parent, everyone much pain, suffering, heartache, and time.

For me, and this is totally a personal problem, if I was looking at nice violins to buy, I'd almost instantly dismiss anything with geared pegs. If it's not worth someone taking the time to properly fit pegs, it's probably not even worth trying. If it was the greatest violin I've ever heard, for $500, I'd maybe consider it, but probably not.

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7 minutes ago, Porteroso said:

For me, and this is totally a personal problem, if I was looking at nice violins to buy, I'd almost instantly dismiss anything with geared pegs. If it's not worth someone taking the time to properly fit pegs, it's probably not even worth trying. If it was the greatest violin I've ever heard, for $500, I'd maybe consider it, but probably not.

I think you are not the only one to have this attitude, and I think it is one of the main reasons why violin makers (me included) tend to stick to traditional pegs (apart from aesthetics:)). Better not to risk,  they can always be replaced if the customer requests it and does not worry about possible sound changes subtleties.

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Speaking from only a tonal point of view (not a fan of geared pegs functionality) I have tangential experience.

I use a clip on tuner which weighs 45g and I definitely notice a difference in tone. The bass tends to fatten up and have more solidity to it but the trebles suffer and the fiddle tends to lose a lot of its airiness. Response might be a little faster? I notice the same effect on my electric and my acoustic violins.

Granted this is a lot more weight added than geared pegs but if there is an effect with 45g it might scale down to a smaller weight increase.

Fender makes a "Fat Finger Sustain Enhancer" for guitars:

spacer.png

I tried it on my electric mandolin and found all of the same issues with the tuner on my fiddles. I lent it to some guitar and bass (electric) playing friends and none of them liked it. I think it may only help a crappy instrument.

https://shop.fender.com/en-US/accessories/miscellaneous/fatfinger-guitar/0992180100.html

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1 hour ago, Salve Håkedal said:

If you make hardangerfiddles, you'll appreciate geared pegs, I tell you! :D

 

Holy crap are those a pain in the ass to tune...so sweet once you are there but damn...

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21 hours ago, Davide Sora said:

I would add that if you start learning the violin with the geared pegs you will never learn to tune with the traditional pegs and you will always have problems with the latter that require more skills to be used properly, and the majority of violins have traditional pegs. However, this may be too traditional a position : even if I don't think so, someone could easily object that traditional pegs will completely disappear replaced by the more stable geared pegs in the future, who knows...

I think there is a whole art to tuning! It's far more important than many students think initially. It's basically one's calling card on stage; it is also the first thing the audience hears (and also that we hear ourselves play). We "practice" it every day, perhaps more than any etude that will cross our music stands. It pays to make it a functional part of one's concert performance toolkit. It helps with initial coordination of left and right arms, and helps us to get accustomed to acoustics as an accepted part of the pre-concert ritual. Whenever I've sat on audition committees, I notice that the people who tune well, generally play well too!

Not to mention replacing strings that break in concert!!

 

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