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Gear Pegs on Violins

Gear Pegs on Violins

by Erica Garica

A type of peg that is becoming increasingly more common is the gear peg. More similar to pegs on guitars than that of other bowed string instruments, gear pegs are favored by many for their smooth turning and convenience. However, a lot of people are not quite ready to take the leap into this new world of pegs. With strong opinions on both sides, many are confused as to what to do. Moreover, there are many benefits to gear pegs that make them extremely worthwhile.

How Do Standard Pegs Function

Standard pegs are pieces of wood, snugly fitted into the pegbox. The string is wrapped around the peg, and the peg is held in place due to friction. Although this may seem very simple, pegs need to be fitted to every individual instrument, in order for them to function properly. If pegs are not fitted, the instrument will not stay in tune for long periods of time. This is the way violin pegs have functioned for hundreds of years. Due to this, many are reluctant to change. After all, it's a part of history and tradition, and if there hasn’t been an issue, why make it one?

How Do Gear Pegs Function

Gear pegs are fitted into a pegbox upon installation. When a gear peg is turned, the peg itself does not move. Instead, there are wires and gears inside each individual peg. Turning the peg causes the position of the insides of the pegs to alter, which adjusts the string that is being tuned.

Who Are They Good For

As you grow older, your hand strength depletes. Two groups that have benefited astronomically from the introduction of gear pegs are older musicians, or anyone who struggles with hand strength or other arm weaknesses. Additionally, for very young students who do not have the arm strength required to tune pegs properly, gear pegs can be extremely beneficial. However, I would tread lightly when considering gear pegs for students. Although extremely young students would benefit from the ease of tuning their instrument, it is important for those learning an instrument to learn how to properly tune it. When students grow up, they will most likely need to tune a violin with traditional pegs. Tuning an instrument is an important skill for any musician.

Installing Gear Pegs

At the Long Island Violin Shop, one of our offered services is peg installation. The installation of gear pegs is a slightly different process than the one for friction pegs. Friction pegs are fitted to the instrument, while the instrument has to be fitted to gear pegs. Due to the internal mechanism inside gear pegs, their size cannot be adjusted. This means that the holes in the pegbox may need to be adjusted in order to fit the new pegs. Although this may make you apprehensive, the change made to the peg box would be subtle. Although gear pegs are still an item of minor controversy among violinists, violists and cellists, they are a wondrous innovation for the bowed string community, and deserve your consideration.

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