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Newbie Questions
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NewFiddlerGirl
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October 7, 2013 - 11:54 pm
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I am brand new to the forum and have a few newbie questions. I'm playing an old violin so I assume that that may present a few challenges but it could be that I'm new and don't have a feel for the instrument yet.

I went to tune the violin before practicing and two of the pegs (G and D) I could move and adjust rather easily. The E peg seemed to slip and was a bit tricky to get it to stay in tune and hit a good pitch. The A peg is very tight and was very difficult to loosen and tune. Is this normal or just quirks of an old violin? And yes these are the original pegs. My luthier said that they were fine and were able to hold. Would peg compound help? Was looking at peg compound and there seems to be two kinds - one for making pegs stick and one for helping pegs move. Would either or both be helpful?

Since pegs are a friction fit, do you push them out a little bit to get to a smaller (hence less friction) section, adjust and then push in to hold the adjustment? I don't remember that being on any of the videos.

The luthier replaced the original tailpiece with a modern one as the gut used on the original was about to go and finding a fine tuner to match would be difficult. So my violin has fine tuners on all 4 strings. When do you use them to tune? Do you always tune with the pegs first and fine tuners later? A little guidance would help.

I assume like any other instrument, tuning is as needed and you check it before you play. Big duh, but how quickly does a violin go out of tune or is it depend on the instrument? I'm used to a guitar that holds a tune for days of playing so the violin is a whole different animal to me.

Any other pointers for setting up would be appreciated.

 

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free
'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
  'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

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DanielB
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October 8, 2013 - 4:15 am
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If the one peg is sticking, you might be pressing it in a bit too hard.  They don't really need pushed in super hard to hold, and it takes a bit of experimentation to figure out how much is enough, but not so much that they're hard to move again when you want them to. 

Might also be a little rough spot on the peg or in the hole.  What I'd try would be to tune the sticking peg down a bit and turn it back and forth several times before bringing it back up to pitch, to smooth any tough spots on the wood.

Especially when the strings are new or if the instrument maybe wasn't played for a while, it can take it a bit of playing and tuning before it will hold tune.  In my own experience, violins don't stay in tune quite as well as guitars, probably because they are more affected by temperature and humidity changes.  But they can be pretty close to as stable after they've been tuned up and kept in tune for a week or few.

If I was having the same problem, I'd tune the instrument every day, whether it needs it or not.  Meaning loosen each string by a half turn or so and then tune it up.  Gets some practice with the peg tuning and also gives any mechanical problems with the pegs and holes a chance to work itself out.  After a week of that, see how it is holding tune overnight and etc, before getting peg compound or sandpaper or whatever.

Peg tune to get it close, and then use the fine tuners for the last little bit.  Fine tuners are definitely optional.  When I replaced the tailpiece on my acoustic violin, I took off a tailpiece with the 4 built in fine tuners and replaced it with a plain ebony tailpiece and I haven't had a problem tuning it just from the pegs. But fine tuners are cool if you happen to have them or prefer them, and they can make little touch-ups to the tuning quicker and easier.

Don't know what to tell you about peg compound, never have used the stuff.

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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HDuaneaz
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October 8, 2013 - 2:37 pm
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The other day I took the fine tuners off of my g, d, and a.

I also notice that my bridge was out of position by about a quarter of an inch, so I adjusted it.

The tone of my violin is wonderful now. I'm not sure which had the most effect, taking the fine tuners of or adjusting the bridge, but I am very happy with it.

Duane

 

"Violin is one of the joys of my life."

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 9, 2013 - 7:53 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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Like Daniel said, experimentation is necessary to figure out how much pressure to use. Without going over the pitch, turn the peg while pushing in towards the peg box back and forth just to feel the friction. Too much friction will get the pegs stuck while too little will allow them to slip.
Peg dope, or compound, helps sticky pegs be smoother and have a uniform smooth movement to them. Peg compound is great and the most recommended remedy for bad pegs.
Peg drops are different. They keep pegs from slipping when they are very hard to keep in place. It's rare that you will need peg drops.
One can also try taking out the pegs and burnishing them with 0000 steel wool if they slip. You can also give chalk a try.
In any case, much of your problem may have to do with being new. Don't be scared to experiment but careful not to over tune unless you can afford new strings. :-)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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NewFiddlerGirl
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October 14, 2013 - 10:07 pm
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Overtune? As in "sproing" broke one......

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free
'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
  'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

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Robyn.fnq
Queensland, Australia
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October 15, 2013 - 2:55 am
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LOL ... yep ... sproing about describes it beautifully!  Been there, done that!

I had a lot of trouble with pegs when I first started, but I had a new and very cheap violin.  You have an old one, so the pegs should be well and truly worn to the correct shape, so it may be a matter of getting used to how much pressure to use to keep them in place without being too tightly fit.  Fine tuners are good for fiddly little tuning for new players.  Experienced players never need them.

I've never used peg compound, I'd be guided by Pierre on this one.

An old violin, properly cared for, should not go too far out of tune, unless the strings are deteriorating, and you'll have to replace them when they do.

I hope you get much enjoyment from your violin, and from this forum.

Cheers

coffee

If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right.

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NewFiddlerGirl
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October 15, 2013 - 9:59 pm
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I have been playing "Ezra" for a week and a half now and the pegs seem to have settled in. The two lower strings G and D seem to stretch a bit and need to be tuned the next night but the A and E strings seem to hold for a few playing sessions.

I am getting used to the violin now and am less afraid of handling it when tuning. And yes I did name the fiddle after great-grandpa that made him. We seem to have a special relationship going and I am surprised at how well I'm doing. Maybe it's like the movie "The Red Shoes" where the soul of the dancer that wore them in the past transfers to the new wearer?

 

 

 

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free
'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
  'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
October 15, 2013 - 10:31 pm
Member Since: September 26, 2010
Forum Posts: 11717

Nice to hear that it's all getting easier. :-)
Congratulations.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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RosinedUp
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October 16, 2013 - 2:39 pm
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HDuaneaz said
The other day I took the fine tuners off of my g, d, and a.

I also notice that my bridge was out of position by about a quarter of an inch, so I adjusted it.

The tone of my violin is wonderful now. I'm not sure which had the most effect, taking the fine tuners of or adjusting the bridge, but I am very happy with it.

I'm guessing that the improvement is mainly from changing the position of the bridge relative to the position of the sound post.

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DanielB
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October 16, 2013 - 3:56 pm
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I'd agree with RU.  Moving the bridge a quarter inch, especially if it wasn't in the right place to begin with, would drastically change the sound.  Probably for the better.

 

With leaving off fine tuners, the differences I notice are more in the amount of sustain and "ring"/resonance.  That is a considerably more subtle difference.  

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Crazymotive
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October 23, 2013 - 5:39 am
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Personally , I like fine tuners. They make small subtle adjustments quick and easy. They are also good for beginners as the pegs can be tricky for a newbie and often can end up pulling the string too tight and snapping it. I wiould say if you have them take advantage of them.  I am currently using a composite Wittner tailpiece with 4 fine tuners and I like it.  Some  violinists frown on it and prefer to see me tuning just with the pegs. But still, I like my fine tuners.  I am thinking of experimenting with an ebony or rosewood tail piece and only 1 tuner on  the E string just to see if I notice any difference in tone or overall sound quality. I can tune pretty well with just the pegs if I have to.  But if I don't hear any real difference I am going back to my 4 tuner tailpiece. 

 

P.S. If you are using synthetic core strings bear in mind that they usually take a few days to fully "break in". So for the fiirst few days they will go out of tune a lot and you'll be adjusting them often. That is one reason why I avoid putting on new strings right before a concert or rehearsal.  But once they break in I find that they stay in tune remarkably well. Quite different than the gut core strings I used as a child which changed their tune with the weather. :)

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NewFiddlerGirl
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October 23, 2013 - 10:08 pm
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Thanks Crazymotive. Since my fiddle is somewhere between 100 and 110 years old and recently resurrected from the dead, I think the whole fiddle was getting warmed up. The poor thing was unloved for many years - no strings, no bridge, no nut, broken tail pin and probably stored in every "bad" place for a violin like attics and garages. The more I play the better it gets. And I'm sure the strings have settled in too. It seems that I barely have to tune each day. The first few days the swings in what needed tuning was a bit scary for a beginner. And I had some hesitation about playing an old family heirloom. 

As I keep going, even the sound gets better and the pegs don't seem to stick and slip as much. I'm not sure if that is due to the instrument being cared for, being played or if a good instrument comes back to life with loving care. Whatever it is, I'm not complaining.

When I had the fiddle repaired, I saved the old tail piece that only had the E-tuner and put on a modern one with fine tuners on all 4 strings. I find it much easier to make a very small adjustment with them as opposed to the pegs. That may change as I get better. I have retained the original tail piece, and chin rest and at some time in the future may put them back on.  

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free
'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
  'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

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Crazymotive
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October 25, 2013 - 7:48 pm
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NewFiddlerGirl said
Thanks Crazymotive. Since my fiddle is somewhere between 100 and 110 years old and recently resurrected from the dead, I think the whole fiddle was getting warmed up. The poor thing was unloved for many years - no strings, no bridge, no nut, broken tail pin and probably stored in every "bad" place for a violin like attics and garages. The more I play the better it gets. And I'm sure the strings have settled in too. It seems that I barely have to tune each day. The first few days the swings in what needed tuning was a bit scary for a beginner. And I had some hesitation about playing an old family heirloom. 

As I keep going, even the sound gets better and the pegs don't seem to stick and slip as much. I'm not sure if that is due to the instrument being cared for, being played or if a good instrument comes back to life with loving care. Whatever it is, I'm not complaining.

When I had the fiddle repaired, I saved the old tail piece that only had the E-tuner and put on a modern one with fine tuners on all 4 strings. I find it much easier to make a very small adjustment with them as opposed to the pegs. That may change as I get better. I have retained the original tail piece, and chin rest and at some time in the future may put them back on.  

Sounds great. I am glad to hear you resurrected that old violin. It's amazing how timeless a musical instrument can be. Whether it is an old violin or a brand new one both serve their intended purpose just as well, to learn and to make nice music.Treat it well and I am sure it will serve you well.  You seem to have a good attitude and a good approach to learning. Stick with it and above all be patient. Some violin techniques come quickly and others take time. And it's different for every player. The important part is, stick with it and never give up;.

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NewFiddlerGirl
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October 29, 2013 - 10:39 pm
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Fiddlerman saves the day. Two nights ago, I was tuning Ezra and...  I don't know what I did wrong but when I was tuning the G string, the peg let go (I let go of the peg?) and the string rapidly unwound and the peg landed on the floor. My heart sunk. Uh oh I broked it... I re-watched the video on stringing a violin and got my G string back and was playing in no time. 

 

Thank you!!!

You're  1st-place

 

'Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free
'Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
  'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

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Luv2Learn
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November 3, 2013 - 7:18 pm
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Good topic.

I just got my violin yesterday and while it was mostly in tune already, I found that when I tried to use the pegs to tune it perfectly, just the slightest tweak or bump would send the tuning past where I wanted it.  Fine tuners to the rescue!  It has them on all four strings, so I get the tuning as close as possible with the pegs and then finish with the fine tuners.  At this point, I like them.

 

Diane

Fave CD right now:  Notorious "Road to Damascus"

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Fiddlerman
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November 5, 2013 - 8:48 am
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You're welcome NewFiddlerGirl,

Luv2Learn, that is why beginner violins are set up often with steel core strings and fine tuners. Synthetic core strings are harder to tune with fine tuners because they don't change pitch as quickly since they stretch as you tune them. You would be able to tune a violin much easier, more precisely at the pegs with synthetic (perlon) core.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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