Tell us if this sounds familiar: You're tuning your instrument, 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.
Common Problems 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 is imprecise. You can get close to 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. As such, they're vulnerable to slipping out of place.
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 finetune pegs. To this day, all their products are made in their factory in Germany.
Wittner Finetune Pegs turn at a ratio of about 8:1. In other words, 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.
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
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. On the other hand, Wittner pegs, require much less effort 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:
The pegs are more resistant to physical damage
They will never shrink or expand due to external factors like weather, temperature, and humidity
Since the shaft stays in a fixed position, it doesn't create friction with the pegbox. In other words, the peg isn't slowly grinding away at the pegbox like wooden pegs are, protecting it from long-term wear and tear.
Wittner Pegs vs. Fine Tuners
No doubt you've seen fine tuners on the end of a tailpiece. You'll often find them on student-level instruments or the highest-tension strings on pro setups. While they essentially accomplish the same task as geared pegs, some players feel they negatively affect the instrument's sound.
First, they create additional tension in the strings, which can affect the tone and response of the instrument. The extra mass from fine tuners can also lead to a more stuffy, restricted sound.
On the other hand, Wittner Finetune Pegs reduce the need for extra hardware on your instrument. This lets it vibrate more freely without any restrictions.
Upgrade Your Instrument Today!
If you're in Utah and want to upgrade your violin, viola, or cello with Wittner Finetune Pegs, we can help with that!
Ask a question or schedule a visit with our skilled team of luthiers today.