View Full Version : Violin style friction tuners

09-14-2014, 12:26 AM
Before I start ..I don't want this thread to end up talking about "Peg Heds" .... Anyway I have just set up 5 new soprano ukes with 1/4 size ebony violin type tuning pegs..I went to great expense and bought the proper taper reaming tool for the job ...took a lot of care reaming and fitting the pegs..at first they were too tight and made creaking sounds when trying to adjust..I looked on the interet and found that dried soap was the thing to lubricate them...I tried this and it worked great..I tuned all the ukes up and left them for a week for the strings to settle in..Now i've just tuned them again and it is a right PITA to get them spot on with this type of tuner, compared to the usual metal friction tuners I normaly fit on the Martin copies ...Does anyone else struggle with these or is it just me?.
http://i219.photobucket.com/albums/cc143/shiregreenbod/IMG_2137_zpsb79a5d91.jpg (http://s219.photobucket.com/user/shiregreenbod/media/IMG_2137_zpsb79a5d91.jpg.html)

09-14-2014, 12:57 AM
I have rosewood pegs on my soprano, they were slipping quite a bit at first and I did struggle to get it bang in tune. I was advised to get some peg paste or peg dope from Amazon. I put a bit on around a week ago and it has certainly stopped them slipping as much. Once in tune it seems to stay in tune for quite a while. I agree tho, compared to normal friction tuners they are a pain.


09-14-2014, 02:03 AM
Proper fitting is the secret to smooth tuning with wood friction fit pegs. Proper peg paste smoothes use a bit, but they should work easily when newly fitted without it.

The reamer is only half of the solution for fitting, as wood pegs will be ever so slightly out of round when new. They take on a very slight oval shape due to drying after machining and should be shaped prior to use. It's usually only a tiny amount of oval, not enough to see with the naked eye, but it's usually enough to cause them to be a bit iffy when used. A peg shaper / shaver is designed to true the pegs to a true round taper before use. Here's a shot of a home-brew I use on occasion because I'm too cheap to spring for the commercial version.


Accompanying text for photo:

"One of several steps in creating a temporary peg shaver located in my Boucher building guide, you can probably figure this one out for yourself. If you duplicate this one, do note that the top is cut and sanded to a slight angle so the "slot" that opens up for the plane iron is a uniform width. If you screw it up just drill a new hole, ream, and start over. The uniform width slot ensures the plane iron will cut perfectly to the desired taper. Adjust for a very light cut by bringing the blade edge closer or farther toward the centerline of the exposed slot."

Wood pegs will never be quite as easy to use as mechanical pegs, that's why mechanicals were invented. Properly fitted wood pegs will work fine, though. Viol family players have been satisfied for a long while now. Getting used to how they work goes a long way towards being happy with them. Combining wood pegs with strings that stretch makes their use even more problematic. I've also found it best to do a string lock for the first wrap, pulling the slack out before winding. If they accumulate too many wraps it will make tuning even more difficult, and if the string wraps eventually contact the peg head face it will pull the peg in tighter, making it more difficult still.

09-14-2014, 04:40 AM
Wood pegs are my favorite tuners for soprano ukulele. When perfectly fitted they turn easily and surprisingly precise. And they are instantly adjustable with no tools. You simply pull to loosen or push them in the headstock to tighten. And yes, you must keep the string windings away from the faceplate so they don't bind. I don't like to add lubricant, well fitting pegs do not require it.

Rudy's right, the reamer is only half the solution to fitting pegs. I have an expensive shaver that I paid about $70 for, but I believe a shop made one would do just as well. There are a number of pics of different ideas for shop built shavers in a Google search. Careful and slow effort is required when fitting pegs but the results are rewarding.

One non-traditional technique I've used a few times is to saturate the tapered hole with thin CA glue and let it dry, then super-lightly ream it again. The CA hardens the fibers, and when the peg is turned a few times, there's a slight powder formed from the hardened CA, this seems to facilitate turning.

I wish pegs didn't have the bad rap that they do, but indeed it does take some experience to fit them well. But when they do fit well, they are an elegant, simple solution.

09-14-2014, 05:06 AM
I personally don't like the wooden pegs at all. But, I have them on a very old instrument and struggled mightily with them. I moaned about it to my luthier and he used something he called "peg-dope" on them. I still don't like wooden peg tuners, but mine work much more smoothly, since.

09-14-2014, 05:41 AM
Happy to see you trying wood pegs. To me nothing beats the look of wood pegs on a soprano uke. I have them on my 20's Martin, they are smooth and work well. To me nothing beats the look of wood pegs on a soprano uke. Best of luck.

09-14-2014, 06:37 AM
I've got these pegs on my old Skylark ... cheap and cheerful and a bit of a pig to tune initially, but now I've got it in tune and settled they're little more problem than conventional friction tuners. I'm guessing the pegs have bedded themselves into the headstock over the years, rather than having been made to ultra-close tolerances initially, but I may be wrong, perhaps the Skylark was built to higher standards than I'm giving it credit for ;)

I do agree with HBolte, they look nice :)

Michael N.
09-14-2014, 11:16 AM
Unfortunately Ebony isn't the best wood to use for friction Pegs, mainly because how it reacts to humidity. Having said that make sure you have a shiny band all around the Peg where it contacts the reamed hole. Use peg dope if it is sticking and chalk if they are slipping.
There is a technique to tuning with friction pegs. I tend to tune up to the note. If I overshoot I'll let it go some way below and tune up again. It's friction pegs that helped me enormously in learning to tune harmonically, sounding two open strings together. I'm convinced that they force you to listen more intently, partly because you have to play the note and then stop it to adjust it. You have to rely on your memory of the note you have just sounded. With geared pegs you can allow the note to ring, you can adjust them with one hand. That's not really possible with the Ukulele ( although it is with the Violin). Trust me, the more you tune by ear the easier it becomes to tune with friction Pegs. After a while it becomes second nature, easy. Just remember that in your typical Symphony orchestra there are 40 or so players tuning to the exact same notes using friction pegs. They do it with one hand and what is more they don't have the slightest problem.

09-16-2014, 08:53 AM
I've been wanting to try mesquite for friction pegs... nice and hard, and next to nothing on humidity expansion.

There's also the headstock itself, though. The holes go out of round when the seasons change, which makes tuning a little more difficult. My guitar with quartersawn Spanish cedar neck and rosewood pegs seems to work well, although the strings usually come loose during the fall to winter transition, and pegs can become stuck in the spring. I torture my guitars with humidity, though. And I haven't had any that I couldn't get loose after a bit of struggle, unlike my cello with ebony pegs, which was unplayable for one summer due to an immovable peg... I need to get some Pegheds for that thing :rofl: