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Effects of climate change on violin pegs


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To get the obvious out of the way; despite well adjusted pegs...

Sometimes I open a case that has been stored away for a while and the pegs may have all popped lose, or the opposite, they are seized to a point where I can barely break them free (and I suppose this is one way you get peg box cracks).

Many of you may never have experienced this as I suspect it takes quite a swing from one extreme to another; but unfortunately where I live I get huge differences weather and building standards are tent-like, so it isn't always easy to control conditions.

The question is within the permutations of climate conditions (warm, cool, humid, dry), going from which combination to which combination may result in either lose or seized pegs?

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The why:

The peg diameter depends on the wood tangential and crossgrain expansion, which is the most affected by humidity.  The pegbox hole relies on longitudinal and crossgrain, which is less affected by humidity.  The difference is that the pegs expand and contract more than the hole.  As Brad says, the peg gets loose in dry, tight in humid.   This is (among other things) is why I think torrefied pegs are a good idea.

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My house rarely varies more than about ten percent relative humidity, and yet I  have 100+ year old violins sitting out in my office (with old, worn out pegs) that let go over night. It doesn't take extreme changes in humidity. My house generally stays between 40 and 50% RH, day in and day out, but when the outdoor temperature drops 50 deg F from afternoon to early morning, that puts a bit of strain on the system. Newly set up violins seem to be holding fine.

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My shop and instrument storage space never varies more that 20% in relative humidity, and pegs still get tight, and loose enough to spin down and release string tension. I think Don explained it rather well.

On the relationship between pegs and "climate change"? If global warming continues, we are in danger of no longer being able to make pegs from polar bears. ;)

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Thanks everyone. Perfect.

I really need to do something about humidity control, i.e. at least get a humidifier. My relative humidity can drop into the twenties and go up into the eighties.

Bow hair length is the other pita with that.

And I always hope it isn’t too dry on a day when someone is coming to look at instruments, as they generally sound much worse in very dry conditions.

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1 hour ago, Guido said:

instruments…generally sound much worse in very dry conditions.

This does not seem to be a general rule.  My wife and I find that our violins sound better in dry conditions.  On the other hand, my sister (in Oregon) prefers hers when it’s humid.

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