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View Full Version : Cheats for tuning with friction pegs?



Gement
05-20-2015, 08:10 AM
I have a standard soprano with friction pegs, and the tuning on them is so sensitive that the smallest amount I can move the A peg moves it by about half a step.

(It's actually bad enough that after 20 minutes of trying to get that string in tune even once, I developed an early case of UAS and have already gotten a second, nicer one with geared tuners. But I digress. I still want to make this first instrument work.)

I was thinking about mechanical advantage and realized that some kind of lever or giant wheel that you could clamp onto or fit over a peg to turn it would make it possible to use the same subtle movements as gears. Something like a chopstick with a Snark tuner clamp on one end. Has anyone developed something like this?

I know the tuning will never be as reliable, but I hate to give up on an entire instrument just for being too tiny to tune. It's a borrowed instrument, and even if it were mine to mod, it seems like there has to be a way people deal with this. People own friction peg instruments.

DownUpDave
05-20-2015, 09:44 AM
I own three ukes with friction pegs and although sensitive I have no problem quickly tuning them properly. Does your uke have really old worn out pegs, do they slip or loss tension all the time. If so you can tighten the screws to increase their holding ability.

Maybe it is one of those things that just takes a lot of practice to develop a certain touch. If you want to try a lever type devise just use a string winder.

Kayak Jim
05-20-2015, 09:50 AM
Rather than trying to turn the peg think about just pinching it with your finger and thumb just slightly off square to the peg (easier to do than to explain). And as Dave says it can take a bit of fiddling to get the screw tension just right. Too tight and they'll "jump" in adjustment, too loose and they'll slip.

hoosierhiver
05-20-2015, 10:16 AM
I own three ukes with friction pegs and although sensitive I have no problem quickly tuning them properly. Does your uke have really old worn out pegs, do they slip or loss tension all the time. If so you can tighten the screws to increase their holding ability.

Maybe it is one of those things that just takes a lot of practice to develop a certain touch. If you want to try a lever type devise just use a string winder.

Dave makes excellent points. You may also want to hold your bridge and tug a little on your strings, you'll be able to tell if anything is slipping and it'll help your strings to settle in.

lakesideglenn
05-20-2015, 10:46 AM
Take them off, clean and oil, put a felt or leather washer under the knob when you reinstall them. Adjust the screw as needed.

Tootler
05-20-2015, 10:58 AM
Good points made above.

I find it helps if you are close to in tune and liable to overshoot, back off a little and then bring it up again. You give yourself a little more room for movement that way. When you start tuning, again, back off a little to release the slight stickiness you get with friction tuners.

It's perfectly possible to tune accurately with friction tuners but it takes a little practice to develop the technique.

Booli
05-20-2015, 12:26 PM
it seems like there has to be a way people deal with this.

Try as I might, friction tuners all hate me. I just dont have the patience to develop the required finesse nor the manual dexterity it seems.


My solution to friction pegs is a 5 lb. sledgehammer.... HA HA!


But seriously, on my own instruments I've had to replace them with geared tuners since I want to be playing and not fussing with fiddly tuners.

The advice in the above posts seems right, but none of that has worked for me.

For those that can get the knack and enjoy them, bless you, for you are more patient than I am. :)

k0k0peli
05-20-2015, 07:48 PM
Of my current 21 string instruments, I only have to deal with five friction pegs, and one of them is on a 5-string banjo; the other four torment me from a post-WWI Varsity banjo-uke. I neglected that bugger for YEARS before I joined here and learned how to setup and tune it right. The pegs are still a pain but aren't quite intolerable. A little careful wiggling, and closely watching the Snark tuner, and I manage to get in tune and stay there. Like much else, the secret is: practice, practice, practice. And then some more.

Inksplosive AL
05-20-2015, 11:05 PM
Buy an old banjolele with wooden pegs from the 20's where the other 4 pictures you can find of similar instruments all have lost their original pegs. Start needing to read about peg drops and peg dope or the use of soap and talc or soap and pumice and then realize metal friction tuners are so much easier.

If it were an inexpensive ukulele you have options of switching to better tuners, $5 will get you decent friction tuners or cheap geared tuners on eBay from China.

kkimura
05-21-2015, 04:48 AM
Get the A string as close as you can then put away the electronic tuner and finish up by ear. After all your ears are the final judges.

k0k0peli
05-21-2015, 06:40 AM
Get the A string as close as you can then put away the electronic tuner and finish up by ear. After all your ears are the final judges. My old ears are sometimes bad judges. It's not like tuning a dulcimer to beat tones. But the electro tuner lets me see how many cents off I am when fretting a string. Then, play a chord or three. If they ain't sweet, fiddle with the pegs some more.

Tootler
05-21-2015, 12:49 PM
Get the A string as close as you can then put away the electronic tuner and finish up by ear. After all your ears are the final judges.

Since you're such a purist, why don't you just go the whole hog and use a tuning fork for the A string?

An electronic tuner has been godsend for me. I get the strings in tune with the electronic tuner then check by ear. It saves me a great deal of time. Most of the time, the strings are spot on with the electronic tuner.

I can remember my failed efforts at learning guitar and the time I wasted trying to tune it by ear with a pitch pipe.

Nickie
05-21-2015, 02:45 PM
I just remembered my old fiddle, with friction tuners, had fine tuners at the bridge, for each string. It sure made twiddling easier. Could there be something similar created for the uke?

strumsilly
05-21-2015, 03:12 PM
Take them off, clean and oil, put a felt or leather washer under the knob when you reinstall them. Adjust the screw as needed.
hmm, I wouldn't get oil near my FRICTION tuners. don't get any oil on the FRICTION parts.

Booli
05-21-2015, 03:21 PM
Of my current 21 string instruments, I only have to deal with five friction pegs..... I manage to get in tune and stay there. Like much else, the secret is: practice, practice, practice. And then some more.

I really just look for any excuse to use a sledgehammer. :)

k0k0peli
05-21-2015, 05:29 PM
I really just look for any excuse to use a sledgehammer. :)
I sense some issues here. Personal issues. Deep issues. Possibly Freudian, maybe Jungian. Do you have tuning nightmares?

kkimura
05-22-2015, 03:48 AM
My old ears are sometimes bad judges. It's not like tuning a dulcimer to beat tones. But the electro tuner lets me see how many cents off I am when fretting a string. Then, play a chord or three. If they ain't sweet, fiddle with the pegs some more.

Yeah, my old ears are pretty bad too. Honestly, as I tune the last few cents with a electronic tuner, I can't really hear the difference. So if I'm playing just for (and by) myself, does it really matter? So when I'm by myself I tune g C and E to the A string. When in a group I tune with a tuner in case someone in the group has better ears than I do.

jimavery
05-22-2015, 06:44 AM
I leave a good inch or two of spare string at each peg rather than cropping them neatly short. This tail then acts like an indicator needle allowing me actually to see precisely how much I'm turning the peg. Without that, yes feel alone is nowhere near enough.

oldpoidog
05-22-2015, 03:37 PM
Hello Everyone,

Does anyone know where to get replacement screws for the pegs. I have an older uke and the slot on the adjusting screws are deformed. I guess through the years owner(s) used wrong sized screwdrivers to turn em.

coolkayaker1
05-22-2015, 06:20 PM
So if I'm playing just for (and by) myself, does it really matter? So when I'm by myself I tune g C and E to the A string.

I agree w brother kkimura. I use a tuner, generally play alone, but if all strings are several cents off, either high or low, no cares; just so long as they are all, relative to one another, in tuneful synergy. What is the tuning tip here? Let the strings decide where they want to be, as a group.

Also, I find that few will cinch down those friction screws as tightly as I do. I make them wicked tight. They stay in tune better, and I find them less wonky to tune. With extra tightness, they are smoother to turn (more difficult, but smoother), and therefore more precise. Ymmv.

k0k0peli
05-23-2015, 05:32 AM
I leave a good inch or two of spare string at each peg rather than cropping them neatly short. This tail then acts like an indicator needle allowing me actually to see precisely how much I'm turning the peg. Without that, yes feel alone is nowhere near enough. Great idea! Visual cues!


I use a tuner, generally play alone, but if all strings are several cents off, either high or low, no cares; just so long as they are all, relative to one another, in tuneful synergy. What is the tuning tip here? Let the strings decide where they want to be, as a group. Nice thing about banjo-uke is that being a few cents off doesn't necessarily wreck anything. What, an out-of-pitch banjo? How can you tell? ;)

JonMartin
05-23-2015, 06:27 AM
Try some "peg dope" Some music stores refer to them as "peg drops" 'cause they're overly sensitive, but still. A drop or two will help the friction tunes "stick" a bit better. Violin players have used them for years. Wood on wood requires just a bit of lubrication.

Gement
05-23-2015, 10:00 AM
Thank you all for the advice! I should have time to poke at the instrument this weekend. I think I'll start with the sledgehammer plan and work from there.