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I wanted to share my experience with anyone thinking about trying out these geared pegs. I have a set of each on a violin right now.
1. Installation. Both require some reaming. The wittner come in smaller shaft sizes so you might need to ream less. But there is little room for error in how much or little you ream. Since it's held in by friction if it's off the peg slips. The perfections have a small thread in the shaft that does not need glue if you do it right. I found the Knilling were easier to install.
2. Look. Hands down the Knilling look like traditional pegs. The wittners do not at close range.
3. Tuning. Both are leaps and bounds better than friction pegs. The wittners are so accurate (higher turn ratio). I can tune in seconds with both. I don't use a fine tuner on either violin.
4. Feel. I like the knillings better. They feel like pegs. You can even push and pull the mechanism to control their action. The wittners have a slight mechanical feel and you can feel gears clicking.
5. Overall. Both are good products. Solid construction and tuning is superior to wood pegs. Having no Fine tuners is good. If I was installing on another violin I'd get another set of knillings but the wittners are a close second.
I would actually like a set for my violin, I only hesitate because I don't have too many options for places to have them installed and I don't know if I want to have them permanently changing my violin. Personally, I'm all for anything that makes the instrument easier to use and/or play, but I still admire the traditions of it. I'm sure changing the strings isn't any more difficult than on a guitar with machine tuners. I think they'd have to be drastically out of tune for it to be really time consuming to tune it on the fly. I think if I do get them, the Knilling set.
I live in a one-horse hamlet in Northeast Ohio. I'm leery about installing them myself because if I goof, there's really no way I could afford to have it repaired at the moment. My current peg situation isn't great either. It might be due to the weather, but they stick like crazy. I believe they still have some peg compound on them, may need to reapply or think about getting them adjusted.
Depending on where you are in NE Ohio, look up Peter Horn in Brecksville. He mainly works out of a shop at his house now, and his prices are pretty reasonable.
@Dan-Hur - I don;t know if this will give you confidence or not - but here's a little story.
I got a 3/4 fiddle from ebay (intended for experimental purposes, but it turns out is it quite playable). The one major problem were the pegs. They look as if they may have been shaped using a chain-saw, and the peg-holes could have been reamed-out using a rat-tail file.... seriously, it was probably just log-term wear ( it is about 90 years old and clearly ha been played a LOT ! )
Initially, I removed the strings ( one at a time ) and worked the pegs quite vigorously in the peg hole with a LOT of Hill compound. I avoided doing things like just twisting a half-turn or so back and forward, and continually worked them in the same direction, clockwise for MANY turns, and anti-clockwise for MANY turns. A "reasonable" amount of pressure into the peg box was applied. Eventually, I guess the wood "compressed" to some extent and they actually became usable.
However - and to get to the point of fitting planetary geared pegs - the pegs themselves had other "issues" - they had wear-grooves from the actual strings, and were uneven - leading to an uncertain and uncontrolled winding of the string as they were tightened. Soooo - I looked into getting new pegs (supplied oversize) and fitting them.
For this I required two items - a peg shaver, and a 30:1 reamer (just to re-do the pegholes, although they now seemed more or less OK after having "worked the pegs" for a while as mentioned above.
You won;t need the shaver of course - but you may well need a 30:1 reamer - they are not at all expensive (well, the super-duper pro ones are, but a basic tool will be just fine).
What I'm getting at is this - it is NOT difficult. In fact, before I started on the violin peg-box I built myself a "sacrificial" peg box from some scrap wood, and experimented with the reamer just to see how deep, how rapidly, how easy, how much pressure etc etc was required to ream out the hole.
Although fairly happy to get involved in any sort of DIY/construction project, I am always cautious. The "sacrificial" peg-box was worth its weight in gold ! And once I had the "measure of the beast" by making a dummy peg-hole and just observing how LITTLE can be taken off, I went ahead, reamed the peg-holes and (in my case) shaved the oversize pegs.
^^^ my sacrificial peg-box - pretty much to size in terms of width and gap
If you ARE driven to fit geared pegs, to be honest, with just a little bit of care, and one simple tool ( and, you may not even NEED it, the pegs may fit ) I'm sure you would succeed. The one thing to perhaps be aware of is - depending on how old the violin is, it might possibly have had the peg-box reamed out in the past - if it has gone "too far" to accept the geared pegs, it will have to be bushed and re-bored and reamed - and THAT is another story.....
I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes. D'oh -
Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)
If the old style pegs are properly installed they work quite easily. All too often we buy inexpensive violins because this is all we can afford. The pegs are often not ebony and have not been properly set. If a good peg job slips it takes nothing more than slight pressure to stop then from slipping. If they stick the peg holes and pegs are more than likely not polished. I have seen so often pegs which have large flat spots where they go into the peg box and the strings have pulled themselves into the pegs. These are cheap pegs and cause too many problems. In short a well fitted peg is easy to tune without it sticking or slipping.
@damfino thanks for the tip! Actually, I think my instructor knows Peter Horn, but she didn't mention his prices, which seems important haha I had one local shop give me a hard time when I mentioned that I had bought my violin online. At the time, all I wanted was a basic setup. I could understand if it was certain Cecilio models or other economy violins, since the service would probably cost as much or more than the violin itself, but it's an intermediate level instrument. Sigh. His loss.
@BillyG thank you for the words of encouragement! I like the trial peg box idea very much, I may give it a try. It's not like I'm totally inexperienced with working with my hands, but the violin seems so delicate to me sometimes!
I bought my little old German fiddle from Pete, he's a nice guy, and loves to share his knowledge. He had done a ton of restoration work on the German fiddle to make it playable before selling it, and he sold it to me for $200. He keeps all his pricing in a little notebook. If you email him it's his wife that handles that, but when you call you usually get him. He's almost always working in his shop. When I go, I make sure I have time to kill because he loves to chat 🙂 Not a bad thing, he has some great stories to tell.
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