World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Tuning peg

Article Id: WHEBN0003284916
Reproduction Date:

Title: Tuning peg  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Violin construction and mechanics, Double bass, Violin, Violin making and maintenance, Kemençe of the Black Sea
Collection: Guitar Parts and Accessories, String Instrument Construction
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Tuning peg

Violin pegbox, retouched image

A tuning peg is used to hold a string in the pegbox of a stringed instrument. It may be made of ebony, rosewood, boxwood or other material. Some tuning pegs are ornamented with shell, metal, or plastic inlays, beads (pips) or rings.

Turning the peg tightens or loosens the string, changing the pitch produced when the string is played and thereby tuning it.


  • Pegbox 1
  • Friction pegs 2
    • Peg dope 2.1
  • Geared pegs 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


A pegbox is the part of certain stringed musical instruments (violin, viola, cello, double bass, lute) that houses the tuning pegs.

Friction pegs

Friction pegs are most often used on violin family instruments (not on the double bass, which typically uses geared tuning machines.) They are also used on older instruments, such as the Bulgarian gadulka and the hurdy-gurdy, as well as on flamenco guitars.

A properly working peg will turn easily and hold reliably, that is, it will neither stick nor slip. Modern pegs for violin and viola have conical shafts, turned to a 1:30 taper, changing in diameter by 1 mm over a distance of 30 mm. (Modern cello pegs have a slightly more aggressive 1:25 taper. 19th century and earlier pegs, for use with gut strings, typically had an even steeper taper of 1:20.)

The taper allows the peg to turn more easily when pulled out slightly, and to hold firmly when pushed in while being turned. Since the typical wear pattern on a peg shaft interferes with this action, pegs occasionally require refitting, a specialized job which amounts to reshaping both pegs and holes to a smooth circular conical taper.

Peg dope

Two types of compound – bearing surfaces of peg are visible as shiny bands

"Peg dope" (also peg paste, peg stick, peg compound) is a substance used to coat the bearing surfaces[1] of the tuning pegs of string instruments (mainly violins, violas, cellos, viols and lutes ). Manufactured varieties are generally sold in either a small stick (resembling lipstick), a block, or as a liquid in a bottle. A commonly used home expedient treatment involves soap and chalk, in varying proportion depending on whether the peg tends to slip or stick.

Peg dope serves two different (and almost conflicting) purposes. It both lubricates the peg shaft so it turns easily in the pegbox and provides friction to keep the pegs from slipping with the force of string tension. Tuning pegs that are well fitted and properly doped will both turn smoothly throughout an entire rotation and hold firmly wherever the player wishes.

Without the proper amount of friction to hold the peg in place, a tuning peg will tend to "slip", making a tuning setting virtually impossible to maintain. String instruments with pegs that are slipping can be tuned briefly, but will be out of tune within minutes as soon as the peg slips again. With too much friction, adjusting the tuning at all is impossible. If the pegs or their holes are not perfectly round, or if the bearing surfaces of the pegs are indented from wear, peg dope will not remedy the resulting problems.

Geared pegs

Pegs for double bass and guitar family instruments are usually geared, and are called tuning machines or machine heads. Geared pegs for violin family instruments also exist, although they have not gained wide use, which has to do with the extensive and irreversible physical modification that must be made to the peg box in order to mount them, which is often viewed as ruining the aesthetics of the instrument, combined with a bad reputation they acquired due to poorly designed early models that were prone to failure, often with catastrophically damaging results. The most recently marketed pegs of this sort use planetary gears designed to fit inside a case shaped like a friction peg, and have seen some adoption as they require no more modification of the instrument than a new set of friction pegs and obviate the need for fine tuners.

See also


  1. ^ Paul Hostetter. "String Instrument Care". Retrieved 8 September 2010. Pegs are tapered, and must contact the insides of the holes on both sides of the pegbox. The fit is very important, of course, as is the nature of the contacting surfaces there. Raw wood on raw wood never works well, so a preparation is usually applied to facilitate a smooth turning of the peg. 

External links

  • Peg shapers and pegbox reamers in various tapers
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.