Wittner Geared Pegs: The future of violin? (and viola and cello)

Tell us if this sounds familiar: You're sitting in the orchestra. You're tuning your violin, and you keep making adjustments to the pegs. The string is close to being in tune, but it's not quite there yet. Your instrument might have fine-tuners on the tailpiece, but that only adds an extra step to the process. Even then, there's still a chance the peg will still slip out of place, making you start all over again.

Thankfully there's a simple solution that combines the advantages of fine-tuners while also reducing the chances of string slippage.

For years, we've installed Wittner geared pegs on many of the violins, violas, and cellos we stock. Teachers, students, and professional musicians love having them on their instruments. This article will go over what they are, how they improve your instrument, and how they make life easier for musicians.

The Problem With Wood Pegs

To understand why Wittner mechanical pegs are a big deal, we must first understand how standard wood pegs work.

Most pegs are crafted from different types of wood like ebony, boxwood, rosewood, or maple. But they all do the same thing: keeping your instrument in tune.

The shaft on a standard peg is tapered, acting as a sort of wedge. The pegs then rely on friction against the pegbox to stay in place and keep your instrument in tune.

While this has worked for hundreds of years, there are a few disadvantages:

  • Turning a standard peg can be imprecise. You can get to a close approximation of where "in-tune" is. Sometimes it's spot-on. Sometimes it's not, which is why things like fine-tuners exist to help make up the difference.

  • Wooden pegs aren't 100% fixed to a single position. This leaves them vulnerable to slipping.

  • The wood on the pegs and pegbox will eventually wear out. Wood rubbing on wood creates friction, and over time their surfaces will smooth out, leaving them even more vulnerable to slipping.

Geared pegs like Wittner's solve each of these issues and make life a little easier for musicians.

How Wittner Pegs Work

The Wittner company started in 1895 making mechanical metronomes. They brought over their expertise in mechanics when developing their fine-tune pegs. To this day all their products are made in their factory in Germany.

Every peg is made from composite alloy material. This already gives them a significant advantage over wood - wood shrinks and expands depending on external factors like weather, temperature, and humidity.

Geared pegs are installed by pressing them into the pegbox. There's no glue involved, so the finish and integrity of your violin, viola, or cello will remain the same as with wooden pegs.

Unlike wood pegs, the shaft of a Wittner peg stays in a fixed position. This means tuning is done by turning the peg head, which moves the gears inside the head and shaft while the peg itself remains stationary.

Precision Tuning Made Easy

Wittner fine-tune pegs turn at a ratio of about 8:1. This means that every turning the geared peg eight times is like rotating a standard peg once. This precision tuning makes them more predictable and means less fussing around trying to find where "in-tune" is.

Getting regular pegs to turn and stay in place also requires some amount of force from the user. Usually, it requires turning the peg and pushing it inward to stay in place. This method can be problematic for young children or people with limited strength and mobility. Wittner pegs, on the other hand, require less force to turn. It's a smooth action that's easy for anybody to use.

How Geared Pegs Protect Your Instrument

Every Wittner peg is made from a composite alloy material. This gives them two significant advantages over wooden pegs: