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Feb 25, 2021 - 4:29:09 PM
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WyoBob

USA

222 posts since 5/16/2019

I checked in to having a luthier install some Wittner tuning pegs in my two "good" fiddles with a luthier in Denver.  They wanted $200.00/fiddle for the job and they're 7 hours away.   So, I decided to install them myself.

I have two $400.00 Chinese fiddles and I like them just fine.   I didn't want to tie up a bunch of money in these two fiddles so I decided to I installed Wittner fine tune pegs on both of the fiddles myself.   I bought a 1:30 reamer from Amazon for $18.00 and it seemed to work pretty well.   I installed a set of Wittner's on my Kennedy fiddle first and then the GEWA that I bought from the "Bluegrass Shack".   I thought I got along withthe install on both fiddles pretty well (I thought) and liked the tuners but, the first peg I installed (the A peg) on the Kennedy fiddle slipped and rotated and the fit was destroyed.   There are very fine ribs on the Wittner tuners that, when pressed into the peg holes, keep the peg from turning.   The ribs, when they slipped,  enlarged the hole to where the rotating portion of the peg ended far from where it should have been inside the peg box when I pushed them in to where they no longer turned.  I re-installed the wood peg in the hole until I could figure out how to fix the problem.   The problem was my own doing.  I was very hesitant to really press the peg into the holes to where the ribs engaged enough to prevent turning and the one peg slipped because of that.  Another way to put it, I reamed the hole too much, not allowing for the fact that the peg must be inserted with more force than I was willing to apply at first.  The turning portion of the peg needs to be in the proper location in the peg box.

I thought about the problem for a few weeks and it finally dawned on me that, a precise friction fit is not necessary as it is with conventional friction pegs.  You just need to keep the body of the Wittner from turning.   I needed a shim in both holes.  I cut some computer paper into a strip.   I put some Titebond glue in the small end hole, rolled the little piece of paper (.004") into the hole and inserted  an old wood peg I had in the "junk"  box into the hole to press the paper tightly against the wall.  I removed the peg right after pressing the paper in the hole (as I didn't want to glue the peg in the hole), assuming the paper was pretty well pressed into contact with the tapered hole, let the glue dry and cut the paper that extended out of the hole on both sides with an Exacto blade.   For the larger hole, I cut the end of a peg off so I only had to deal with the larger hole, cut a bit of paper and followed the same procedure.   When the shims were dried and trimmed, I put a dab of glue on a toothpick and swabbed the exposed paper in both holes with a thin layer of glue. 

After everything was dried, I tried inserting the Wittner peg in the hole.  Too tight.  So, I used my reamer to remove the glue on the exposed surface of the shim and a bit of paper, trial fitting the Wittner tuner as I went.  When things felt right, I really pressed the peg into position.  Something I was hesitant to do on the first install.  It turned out great.  You can't tell that there are paper shims in the hole and the peg fits tight enough that I'm sure there will be no more slipping.  None of the other pegs have slipped.  I must have felt more confident shoving the tuning peg into the wood of the peg box.  If they ever slip, I feel confident that I can fix the problem.

So, I found that, if a "tyro" fouls up, it can be fixed (at least in this case).   I also got to thinking that, if one bought the close to recommended size of Wittner tuner, and it fit with a bit of slack, one may not not need to buy a reamer.  A shim might solve any possible slipping problem.  There would be no need to order the next size larger Wittner and ream a lot of material in order to fit the larger peg.

If I owned a really nice fiddle, would I install Wittner tuners?  I'd have to give that a lot of thought.    I think I might be kind of nervous.  I'd probably try to find a pro who would do the install and guarantee their work.  But, on low cost fiddles (which I think will do just fine for me for the "duration"), I'd do it again just because it pays to be self sufficient when you live in the stickssmiley

Feb 25, 2021 - 6:07:07 PM

368 posts since 3/1/2020

Your solution was essentially a crude paper bushing. Sometimes the peg holes are just too large for the larger diameter, so the hole needs to be reduced. In that case,
I’ll put in spiral bushings, then fit the pegs.

Feb 25, 2021 - 11:19:47 PM

doryman

USA

140 posts since 2/10/2020

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

Your solution was essentially a crude paper bushing. Sometimes the peg holes are just too large for the larger diameter, so the hole needs to be reduced. In that case,
I’ll put in spiral bushings, then fit the pegs.


I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions on geared tuners in general.  

Feb 26, 2021 - 5:59:09 AM

RobBob

USA

2719 posts since 6/26/2007

I've got one fiddle with Wittner tuners and after getting used to it, I like it. This fiddle is usually tuned in some form of cross tuning and going from one to another is quite easy. You can hone in on a pitch pretty well. The ultra light tailpiece on that fiddle has fine tunes built in and that helps as well.

Feb 26, 2021 - 8:28:18 AM
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RichJ

USA

432 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by doryman
quote:

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions on geared tuners in general.  


As far as I'm concerned geared tuners are one of the greatest inventions since the fiddle itself! Have these on a couple of my best players and would not hesitate installing them on any other I might happen to acquire and enjoy playing. I did all the installations myself so the cost per set was only around $60-70 (I think mine are Perfection pegs). A side benefits of geared tuners I also really like - those dang fine tuners are no longer necessary. A set of those shiny things on a tail piece remind me of a kid with a mouth full of braces.  

Feb 26, 2021 - 8:34:38 AM

125 posts since 4/2/2019

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ
quote:
A side benefits of geared tuners I also really like - those dang fine tuners are no longer necessary. A set of those shiny things on a tail piece remind me of a kid with a mouth full of braces.  

Lol. Funny image!

Feb 26, 2021 - 9:08:26 AM
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RichJ

USA

432 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by DougBrock
quote:
Originally posted by RichJ
quote:
A side benefits of geared tuners I also really like - those dang fine tuners are no longer necessary. A set of those shiny things on a tail piece remind me of a kid with a mouth full of braces.  

Lol. Funny image!


Yeah, especially when you hear some folks say they won't use geared tuners because they're not "Traditional".

Feb 26, 2021 - 10:07:57 AM
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1 posts since 1/11/2021

Hi, I'm a fiddle and a luthier in Portland OR, this is my first post on FHO!
I've installed quite a few sets of Knilling and Whittner pegs, I think they are great, particularly for Fiddles with compromised pegsboxes that don't warrant cheek patches etc.
However it's recently occurred to me that a potential downside is the pegs can't 'pop' when faced quite increased pressure (say from a dry house in winter, think of all of those maintains and guitars). So I'd say keep this in mind if you hang your fiddle out or don't use it for long periods.

Feb 26, 2021 - 11:00:11 AM

DougD

USA

10034 posts since 12/2/2007

Rich probably has higher standards, but your solution doesn't seem "crude" to me, Bob. Sounds like something the Wright brothers might have done!

Feb 26, 2021 - 12:12:32 PM

309 posts since 1/5/2009

You can make your own spiral shavings from a block of maple and a low angle plane. The Paper will not last as long due to humidity. So when it starts slipping again try the above.

Feb 26, 2021 - 1:19:02 PM

Snafu

USA

89 posts since 2/2/2014

Bob, I also did a self install of Wittner’s on my Kennedy fiddle. One of the geared pegs did not quite seat right and I felt it was too far into the peg box. There is a sweet spot on the Wittner’s where the twisting portion of the peg is free to turn and the fixed outer and inner parts with the ribs stay fixed in place. Get it off center and you will have problems getting the Wittner’s to work properly.

My solution came from my experience making my own fishing rods. I took some of the thread used to wrap the guides onto a fresh water fly rod and wrapped a single coarse on the inner and outer parts, no glue used, I tucked the loose end under the wrapping like done while attaching guides to a fly rod. Anyway, this leaves a secure but pliable (and removable) surface that filled the gap and centered the Wittner peg in the peg box. It’s been two plus years and four string changes and it hasn’t slipped.

Feb 26, 2021 - 2:23:34 PM

RichJ

USA

432 posts since 8/6/2013

Does everyone realize there are tiny, R hand and L hand threads cut into the thick part of the taper of these geared pegs? At least I know the Perfection pegs have these. I believe the R hand threaded pegs are made to go into the bass side of the peg box and the L hand thread in to the treble side. The threads are meant to prevent the outer portion of the peg from loosening by keeping the threads turned tight into the corresponding peg hole.

Feb 26, 2021 - 2:54:01 PM

WyoBob

USA

222 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by DougD

Rich probably has higher standards, but your solution doesn't seem "crude" to me, Bob. Sounds like something the Wright brothers might have done!


Instead of "crude", I'd probably have use the word "simple" and mentioned  no shipping cost or hassle,  the job is done in two days and I give my work the "Wyoming Guarantee".  "If it breaks in half, I own both halves."      It's hard for some people to believe we don't have luthiers on every other block.  It's 387 miles to the one fiddle luthier that was recommended to me in Denver.   But, I love living in "fly over country".

Anyway, I was prepared to accept the responsibility if I ruined the fiddle.  I like to tinker and get great satisfaction in fixing and repairing things around the house, working on my banjos (and to a lesser extent fiddles).   I've heard that there are actually some people who hire expert "electricians"  to change light bulb's because they don't know how or are afraid of electricity .   Growing up in animal agriculture as I did, if you have a breakdown in a feeding operation, you better have a plan A, B ---C.  IOW, you better be able to fix it or have an employee that can.   10,000 head standing in front of empty feed bunks isn't fair to the cattle.   Everyone at our feedlot was cross trained to do most every job and we had lots of redundancy.  In the 14 years I was involved in the cattle feeding business, even without electricity, we got feed to the cattle.   

Wright brothers!  Wow, that reminds me, I spent 5 1/2 years of my spare time (non-grazing season) and built the low wing RV6 in my avatar.   A two place, side by side, flush riveted aluminum skinned (around 14,000 rivets) sport plane that cruised at 180 mph using a Lycoming 0-320 engine that I overhauled.   I flew it 475 hours and all it needed was oil and filter changes, new tires and cleaned, gapped and rotated spark plugs.   (I did do the annual condition inspection as required, of course.)  Never found a problem.  As an aside,  each drilled hole on the exterior skins was de-burred on both sides with a deburring tool and then dimple countersunk using male/female "dimple dies" and a "C" arbor set up and hammer to create the dimple where the flush rivets were set.   The interior parts the skins were riveted also to had to be dimpled.   I had a pneumatic rivet squeezer that made quick work of that on ribs and spars.  When I sold the plane (as I had another one going together in my shop), there wasn't one crack in the engine baffling.  I'd bet 90% of the small planes flying today have at least one crack in the baffling that's been "stop drilled".  If you're careful and polish every bend radius on the baffles (and there's lots of them), you probably won't have a cracking problem.

Of course, an airplane isn't a violinwink

Feb 26, 2021 - 2:56:47 PM

WyoBob

USA

222 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Fiddlemaker5224

You can make your own spiral shavings from a block of maple and a low angle plane. The Paper will not last as long due to humidity. So when it starts slipping again try the above.


Good idea.   I don't own a plane (but I have maple that I use to make banjo bridges). 

In the high desert of Wyoming, I'm not too worried about humidity problems.  But, if it slips, I can fix it again (hopefully).

Thanks.

Feb 26, 2021 - 3:15:29 PM

WyoBob

USA

222 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by Snafu

Bob, I also did a self install of Wittner’s on my Kennedy fiddle. One of the geared pegs did not quite seat right and I felt it was too far into the peg box. There is a sweet spot on the Wittner’s where the twisting portion of the peg is free to turn and the fixed outer and inner parts with the ribs stay fixed in place. Get it off center and you will have problems getting the Wittner’s to work properly.

My solution came from my experience making my own fishing rods. I took some of the thread used to wrap the guides onto a fresh water fly rod and wrapped a single coarse on the inner and outer parts, no glue used, I tucked the loose end under the wrapping like done while attaching guides to a fly rod. Anyway, this leaves a secure but pliable (and removable) surface that filled the gap and centered the Wittner peg in the peg box. It’s been two plus years and four string changes and it hasn’t slipped.


I've never built fly rods but I've tied a bunch of flies.   I haven't fly fished since I shattered my left wrist in 2011.  Too afraid of slipping and breaking something.   The surgeon said I'd probably lose the use of my left hand if I shattered  my left wrist again.  I only do safe things now.  Play the banjo or fiddle sitting down!   What could go wrong?

What you said about the sweet spot on positioning is correct.  I underestimated the pressure needed to seat the peg so the very small ribs on the tuning peg would press into the wood to prevent turning.   Perhaps those ribs should be a bit larger?

I started with the Kennedy fiddle because it was my least favorite.  The remaining pegs installed fine on the fiddle I bought from the "BluegrassShack".   The setup on the Kennedy wasn't very good. The action at the nut was twice as high as it should have been, the "relief" in the scoop was way more than specs called for, the bridge was pretty high and I re-contoured that.   I made a new nut that was lower with wider string spacing, sanded the neck so the relief was per specs.   Oh, and the friction pegs didn't seem to well fit, certainly not as good as on the "BluegrassShack"  fiddle.  

"Setup" has a lot of different meanings it seems to me.   Chris at the "BluegrassShack" did a wonderful job.   Kennedy Violins, not so much.

Thanks for your response.       Bob

Feb 26, 2021 - 3:29:29 PM

WyoBob

USA

222 posts since 5/16/2019

quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

Does everyone realize there are tiny, R hand and L hand threads cut into the thick part of the taper of these geared pegs? At least I know the Perfection pegs have these. I believe the R hand threaded pegs are made to go into the bass side of the peg box and the L hand thread in to the treble side. The threads are meant to prevent the outer portion of the peg from loosening by keeping the threads turned tight into the corresponding peg hole.


That is the case with "Perfection Pegs", not so on the Wittner's.

Feb 27, 2021 - 3:26:41 AM

RichJ

USA

432 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by WyoBob
quote:
Originally posted by RichJ

Does everyone realize there are tiny, R hand and L hand threads cut into the thick part of the taper of these geared pegs? At least I know the Perfection pegs have these. I believe the R hand threaded pegs are made to go into the bass side of the peg box and the L hand thread in to the treble side. The threads are meant to prevent the outer portion of the peg from loosening by keeping the threads turned tight into the corresponding peg hole.


That is the case with "Perfection Pegs", not so on the Wittner's.


Thanks for the clarification. I have only used the Perfection pegs and wasn't sure  about the Wittners. Seems like a good idea and works pretty well on the ones I have installed.  

Feb 27, 2021 - 5:11:25 PM
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368 posts since 3/1/2020

quote:
Originally posted by doryman
quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

Your solution was essentially a crude paper bushing. Sometimes the peg holes are just too large for the larger diameter, so the hole needs to be reduced. In that case,
I’ll put in spiral bushings, then fit the pegs.


I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions on geared tuners in general.  


I have put a lot of sets in. Wittner, Perfection, and Pegheds are all well-made products, but I prefer the Wittner pegs by far. The main reason is that the latter fit like normal pegs and don't require any glue, which makes them easy to remove and replace, should that ever be necessary. 
 

It was a rea eye-opener for me when an elderly player brought her fine old English violin in to sell because she was struggling with arthritis. She had played that excellent violin for decades and loved it, and the decision to retire from playing and teaching was very difficult for her emotionally. Rather than taking her violin, we asked if she would be willing to try a set of Wittners to see if that alleviated her problems. The result was that she found that she could return to playing and teaching  again. She was so thrilled she was in tears and she kept playing the instrument for the remainder of her life.

I will say that a really well-fitted set of traditional pegs will work just as well. However, they require some upkeep and are somewhat sensitive to atmosphere changes. Wittners are more stable across a variety of temperatures and humidities.

I offer them as an option for severely damaged peg boxes (as opposed to carbon fiber reinforcements) because they don't put additional stress on the pegbox after being fitted. I also think they make a lot of sense for players who retune frequently. I don't have them on my own instruments and I wouldn't put them on an expensive instrument without being asked, but I do like them. 

Edited by - The Violin Beautiful on 02/27/2021 17:14:43

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