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banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs

Jack Campin 31 May 10 - 06:42 AM
s&r 31 May 10 - 07:08 AM
Jack Campin 31 May 10 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,Auldtimer 31 May 10 - 10:24 AM
fretless 31 May 10 - 11:10 AM
dick greenhaus 31 May 10 - 11:25 AM
Mavis Enderby 31 May 10 - 02:57 PM
Jack Campin 31 May 10 - 04:08 PM
Mavis Enderby 31 May 10 - 04:11 PM
The Fooles Troupe 01 Jun 10 - 12:20 AM
Chris Partington 01 Jun 10 - 04:32 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jun 10 - 04:49 PM
JohnInKansas 02 Jun 10 - 03:38 AM
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Subject: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 May 10 - 06:42 AM

I have a Romanian cobza which has been giving me endless grief with tuning instability.

It uses wooden pegs like a violin, but the strings (4 double courses) are the normal ones for a 12-string guitar, Ee Aa Dd Gg.

The pegs don't cope. The high A string in particular drifts out of tune so fast as to make the instrument unusable.

Hungarian players sometimes use ordinary guitar machines instead. I was wondering about the tuners from a 5-string banjo, which look neater and may be a bit stronger and lighter.

How do they compare with wormscrew machines for stability? How much better than wooden pegs would they be?

(With unlimited money I'd use Peghed planetary-gear tuners, but they'd cost more than I paid for the cobza itself).


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: s&r
Date: 31 May 10 - 07:08 AM

For interest Jack part way down this page are some links to a modified instrument using guitar tuners.

Not what you asked, but they look quite neat.

Stu


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 May 10 - 07:12 AM

That's my page with my photos!

Banjo tuners look neater because they don't involve drilling holes in the peghead for the retaining screws.


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 31 May 10 - 10:24 AM

Guitar tuners will do quite nicely, but you may well have to drill out the headstock and ckeck if you have room for the fixing screws. I have done this succesfully with quite fiew ukulele banjos. The difference is like chalk and cheese when the strings settle down.


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: fretless
Date: 31 May 10 - 11:10 AM

I've got the same issue with a dulcimer made from a kit back in the 70s. The friction pegs have never held adequately, and I've toyed on and off with shifting to banjo tuners. Haven't done it because I'm less than fully confident of success and because the instrument is beautiful as is. Success stories with this sort of thing would be welcome.


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 31 May 10 - 11:25 AM

The planetary-geared ones work jes' fine.Only real objection (aside from cost and tradition) is that they're a bit heavier, which is probably of greater consequence in a fiddle than most other instruments.

And if for some reason you want to take 'em off, the instrument remains undamaged.


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 31 May 10 - 02:57 PM

Jack,

is it worth having the hole re-reamed and a new wooden peg fitted? I'm thinking new wooden pegs, well fitted, would probably work as well as or better than banjo friction pegs.

Having said that, I use a Grover Champion 5th string peg on one of my banjos which offers smooth tuning and doesn't slip, up to an A at any rate...

Pete.


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 May 10 - 04:08 PM

I've already had the most troublesome peghole re-reamed. It helped but not enough.

Grover Champions were what I was thinking of.


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 31 May 10 - 04:11 PM

Fair enough. Champions do seem to be good pegs at a good price...


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 12:20 AM

Violin makers have a secret gunk that adds friction to the pegs, when a little is smeared into the hole. I couldn't tell you what it is, no I won't have to kill you, cause I don't know.

I acquired a couple of ukuleles a while ago - the plastic pegs in the plastic rings type - some of the pegs are missing. I was offered a selection od geared tuners but they all needed holes drilled. Since I paid only a few dollars for the pair, it seems false economy to invest too much - but I am concerned that there would be little room for the screws, especially as the 4 holes are already there. One of the two gives a good result from the 'tap test', so seems worth it. Any Aussie suggestions?


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: Chris Partington
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:32 PM

Hi Jack.

Being a fiddler I was attracted to this page 'coz I thought it said

"banjo tuners vs. wooden stakes" :-)

However, I'd second the above suggestion to use violin methods first. That presumably works in the wild.
But don't use homespun remedies like chalk or resin, as that is too fierce, indeed the pegs may 'freeze' in and you may end up with a split pegbox.
The peg compound is available for a very few quid.


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:49 PM

I've tried peg compound. Doesn't work.

The problem is that using 12-string guitar strings on the cobza is a relatively recent idea, and while the instrument is plenty robust enough to take them, the Romanian makers at Hora Instruments haven't modified the mechanism to match. They have also probably cut a few corners to pump up mechanized production - very old cobzas don't seem to need the machine-tuner hack that the younger Hungarian players use for their Romanian factory instruments.


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Subject: RE: banjo tuners vs. wooden pegs
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 03:38 AM

Many people seem not to fully understand the "theory" of tapered pegs.

Since the peg and hole tapers are matched, lifting the peg even slightly out of the hole gives a loose fit that turns easily. Peg dope can make the loosened peg turn more smoothly, but doesn't really do a lot for the holding. You don't need friction between peg and hole while you're tuning.

When the peg is turned to the right pitch, it needs to be rather forcefully (relative to the string forces and structure of the instrument) "jammed" down into the taper to make it hold the position.

If you turn the peg even a few times while it's jammed fairly solidly into the hole, either the pin or the hole - or both - will quickly be reamed out to the point where they don't match, either in roundness or taper or both, and no amount of pushin' and pullin' will make it hold a position.

If either the peg or the hole is "out of round" it won't hold, since any slight motion shifts the peg to where has the most "wiggle" available, or to the position where "all the slack" is taken out, neither of which is likely to be right where you want it.

If both peg and hole are out of round, the peg will have "preferred positions" most likely NOT where you want them, and you'll find it difficult to get the pitch you want, much less hold it.

Tapered (optimally wooden?) pegs can work quite nicely, even for relatively high string tensions; but only if the peg and hole are "perfectly round" and have "exactly matching taper." ("perfectly" and "exactly" being relative terms, of course.)

If you don't learn the "lift - turn - jab" procedure for tuning with tapered pegs, the necessary conditions for tuning to pitch and holding the pitch will disappear with amazing rapidity - especially for strings with higher tension.

The accuracy (tolerances) required for successful peg tuning are probably below what most people can accurately "see;" but visible "score circles" around the peg may indicate a misfit that is sufficient to require some machine work to get to good performance. With peg dope, light "grease tracks" shouldn't necessarily be a concern.

Failure to hold pitch after a reasonably firm endwise push is applied to the peg is an almost certain indication that the reamer and shaver are needed (and or new-fitted pegs).

Personally, I do prefer geared banjo tuners since I'm old and infirm and lazy with poor coordination and a bad ear; but the price differential is substantial unless you include the cost of the occasional "refitting" you probably will need with pegs.

John


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