How to tune wooden pegs

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

Next time I change the strings will see about swapping the 2 pegs. Thanks ken and everyone for help with first wooden pegs

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,859 posts

The point is to not take them all off at the same tim so that the floating bridge gets loose.  You could certainly take two off to swap pegs.

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

Yes, that is what I did today but not sure how I will be able to swap out the peg if always only one string at a time. I think if I could swap, I would put the peg from the second slot into the bass slot. For now, all holding, so good as is. 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,859 posts

With a floating bridge, you really never want to take all the strings off at one time.  Always change one, then the next.....

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

Changed out my strings today, notice one of the pegs may belong to another hole then the one it's in. It didn't fit in it's hole all the way but works as is. I wasn't ready to take more than one string off at a time, because of the floating bridge.  Maybe one day I will swap the bass string peg for the 1st string peg. While the pegs were out, I cleaned them some, and rubbed a pencil on them and a little peg dope.

Tuned up and ready to go. Thanks everyone. 


updated by @marg: 01/22/16 09:34:59PM
marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

robin,

I have been practicing tuning higher then gently pulling the strings. I do find that easier to getting the string in tune then trying to turn the peg just a slight bit. I can't seem to do slight turn with the pegs  -  I go to far in one direction than back in the other. But, if I am tuning up I can get close, a bit over and stretch the string to lower it almost just so.

I have not change the strings out yet, I need to get a few extra ones, so for now just practicing. I like the idea of winding the string toward the peg head side and looking at the way the strings are now, they look something like that. I notice the 1st string goes to the second peg & the 2nd string is going to the first peg. They look straight this way, not crossing over each other and wonder if this is ok, I may want to restring them like this. 

Someone in my group has an even smaller dulcimer and he has his tuned up, not sure what key but almost has a mandolin sound. At the moment the groundhog is tuned to DAd and I like this sound, I like more mellow sounding dulcimers and Warren May's dulcimers usually have a nice mellow sound.

Thanks for your thoughts, learning as I go. Much to learn but in the past few days this post like so many has been excellent. 

By the by, I like the groundhog very much. The action is the best of all my dulcimers, each of the others I needed to adjust the height some. The interesting part of a smaller dulcimer is, I can fret some of the cords I never could reach with my other dulcimers. I'm happy with my baby KY. dulcimer after just visiting my newest baby KY. grandson, it's truly a treasure - or will be after I master the pegs and floating bridge ;)

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
5 years ago
237 posts

Here's a couple of thoughts:

Try and get the string windings going from the middle of the peg towards the thicker peg head side.  That way the peg is pulled into the peg holes taper rather than outward.

I tune up a fraction higher than the pitch I want (just a few cents) then gently pull the string to lower the pitch a shade.

The bass string is the hardest to fine tune, so set this first and then tune the other strings to it.

Regarding your short scale groundhog - it may well sound better and be easier to tune with lighter strings tuned up to G (G,d,d) rather than heavier strings tuned down to D (D,A,A)

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

dan,

thanks, doing lots of reading and lots come up - just checking

Dan Goad
Dan Goad
@dan-goad
5 years ago
156 posts

Marg, I don't like that idea at all.  I'm not at all sure that I like the thought of the steel strings digging into the sides of the peghead around the peg holes.  As often as we 'tweak' the tuning (often caused by environments changes) I don't think this method would be of much use.

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

 

Has anyone hear of this, it's off a violin site  for keeping pegs from slipping? Would this work with the dulcimer, if needed?

As you wind the strings against the sides of the scroll box this creates an additional wedge effect. When done properly, this will make your pegs as tight as you want them. 

 

“With your hand, as you are keeping tension on the string gently pull the string over towards the peg, so you are directing the string to wind against the side of the scroll box.  As the string winds on the peg, it will begin to squeeze against the sides of the scroll box. The more you turn the peg, the more the string is squeezed. Because the string is being squeezed, it pushes against the side of the scroll box and make the peg very tight. If you gently push the peg in while you turn it, you can control the tightness of the peg in the hole. The more you push the peg in, the tighter the peg gets and it will not push back out of the hole because the squeezed string is preventing the peg from moving.” (How to Prevent Slipping Violin Pegs)

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

I read this:

(Always tune up to a note, never back off to the correct pitch. Start below, tune up and push in a bit as you turn.) 

 Why is this?

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,859 posts

marg -- I strongly suggest you read the discussioon below on cleaning and adjusting wooden pegs.  It was written by pristine2, and is the best thing I've seen written on the subject.  His extensive explanation is about half way down.

http://www.everythingdulcimer.com/discuss/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=32208

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

I was not able to log in while I was in KY but now that I am back, I did get the Warren May '81 small ground hog dulcimer. I need to put on some new strings and work on understanding the pegs but as is - it still sounds very nice and the action is the best of all my dulcimers. 

1warren may copy.jpg
1warren may copy.jpg  •  247KB

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

 Robin,

Surfing this site, I saw where your 'Bird Rock Dulcimers' site was mention to a new member. I wish I was passing by, would love to come in and see you, your instruments and say hi. Very Nice and well done. 

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
247 posts

Marg the good news is that it takes a lot less tension to tune light gauge strings to pitch than heavy strings. The dulcimer in my avatar is 25" and tunes very easy with .010 strings. I use viola pegs on that model. Once the strings got settled in I only have to tune it once every few months!!!. Robert.

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

 Thanks dan but i'm good for now, was just thinking about later when I get older & hands would hurt. That would be a problem for many things. Maybe I will end up with a great dulcimer where the wooden pegs get set and hold beautiful  ;-)

Dan Goad
Dan Goad
@dan-goad
5 years ago
156 posts

Marg, if you suffer from a lot of hand pain or arthritis then wooden pegs are likely not for you.  One of our members who is only about 40 sold his beautiful McSpadden  vintage 3 string because of his arthritic hands.  I'm 69 and fortunately do not suffer any hand problems (counting my blessing for that for sure).  I wish this had come up earlier in this diiscussiiion.

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

Robert, 

Well hopefully I will have my one dulcimer with wood pegs next week. I am looking forward to it but still a bit unsure as to how I will get on with the tuning of them. Seems, as I get older and my hands hurt will be harder to turn and give a firm push in to set.

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
247 posts

dronestyles:
Robin Clark:I use wooden pegs on many dulcimers and enjoy the kinaesthetic process of tuning. It sort of connects me to the instrument before I start playing. I tend to tune by ear as it is easier than using a tuner. Most of the instruments I have are not in equal temperament so a tuner is not accurate anyway.
I agree that it is easier just to tune by ear.  However, a Korg OT-120 does have several historic temperaments in addition to equal temperament, plus a movable pitch.  

Electronic tuners are good to get the root note but after that its always better to tune the dulcimer to itself. Unless someone has invented a tuner that hears the suttle nuances...

Everyone should own at least one dulcimer with wood pegs. Preferably a set that's properly installed... Robert...

dronestyles
@dronestyles
5 years ago
7 posts

Robin Clark:
I use wooden pegs on many dulcimers and enjoy the kinaesthetic process of tuning. It sort of connects me to the instrument before I start playing. I tend to tune by ear as it is easier than using a tuner. Most of the instruments I have are not in equal temperament so a tuner is not accurate anyway.

I agree that it is easier just to tune by ear.  However, a Korg OT-120 does have several historic temperaments in addition to equal temperament, plus a movable pitch.  

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

Thanks patty, but I'm not worry about the dulcimer I am getting, just looking for how to info. since I have not had a dulcimer with wooden pegs before. I have gotten lots of good info from this post from when the pegs may slip or stick and what to do if they do. I have other dulcimers that have gears, this dulcimer will be my first with wooden pegs. 

 

Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
5 years ago
134 posts

Robert, it's fun solving problems like that.  Nice. :)

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
247 posts

I have a peg reamer but never could get pegs to work well because commercially made pegs were never a perfect match. So I built this simple peg shaft sander  out of scrap maple. Now pegs work much better. Look at the two pegs. One is reshaped the other raw... Robert.

Patty from Virginia
Patty from Virginia
@patty-from-virginia
5 years ago
233 posts

Marg, I was in your place a couple of years ago. I almost didn't purchase my Prichard or any replica for fear of the wood pegs. Rob showed me how to tune wood pegs and took away the fear I had. I think I was more apprehensive in my mind than what the pegs were actually doing. Keep in mind that wood pegs are wood and they'll act like wood. On humid days they'll absorb a bit more moister on dry days they lose a bit. I've never had a problem with sticking. I do have problem with slipping from time to time. When that happens I put a bit of moister on the peg near the hole...and no, I don't use spit (try not to, LOL). It works. The more you play your instrument and learn it the more you will get accustomed to tuning it. Personally, I like to leave my Prichard in DAA because that is what I typically like to play. If you go to jam sessions you may want to invest in a dulcimer with geared tuners so you can switch tuning quickly and with ease. Having said that, the group I play with stays pretty much in DAd Laugh . Just a side note, and forgive me Randy, I personally wouldn't sand my pegs. If you are not experienced in wood working you may sand too much off and the pegs will have problems seating. Once you take wood away you can't put it back at least not original. And for those of you with arthritic hands I completely understand why you need geared tuners. 

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
5 years ago
89 posts

my 2 cents....I never use peg dope/chalk/soap etc on my wooden pegs. They work good with nuthin. If they started acting up I'd try a remedy....if they were slipping I'd rough 'em up a little with sandpaper....if they were sticking I'd polish the pegs and the hole. Tried a substance 20 years or so ago and didn't like it....felt spongy.....once you use something you gotta keep using it....you never know....I'd use a substance if I had to....

There's only 2 strings to tune right? One of the three is already in tune! 

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
5 years ago
1,227 posts

When I had younger, healthier hands I enjoyed my wooden-pegged beauties. 

Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
5 years ago
134 posts

Thanks Dan and Robin; the encouragement helps. :)

Dan Goad
Dan Goad
@dan-goad
5 years ago
156 posts

I like that word "kinaesthetic", Robin.  It is very satisfying when you coax the strings into tune.  It gives one the feeling of accomplishment.

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
5 years ago
237 posts

I use wooden pegs on many dulcimers and enjoy the kinaesthetic process of tuning. It sort of connects me to the instrument before I start playing. I tend to tune by ear as it is easier than using a tuner. Most of the instruments I have are not in equal temperament so a tuner is not accurate anyway.

Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
5 years ago
134 posts

Thanks for the encouragement Jan.  Here is a pic. of my Maxwell; as well as the antler noter, custom to fit my hand, I made today. I'm determined to learn on this instrument, despite the wood peg frustration  Later I may upgrade if I learn to play decently. :)


updated by @kusani: 01/07/16 06:56:51PM
marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

no robert, I can't. Nice work.

Beautiful Maxwell dulcimers

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
5 years ago
418 posts

Kusani:
I have decided, at least for now, to keep my instrument original; partially due to sentimental reasons and also due to remaining true to the instrument maker.  As I hopefully gain more experience, I suspect I may purchase another dulcimer rather than modify my current one. May sound silly but I live in Cookeville where I met John Maxwell the day my mother purchased her dulcimer; which I now have. :)


Kusani, you're totally on the right track here....I also have a John Maxwell dulcimer that I wouldn't change--the tuning pegs are just that distinctive!  As you say, you may one day purchase another dulcimer that suits your current needs better.  Just don't get frustrated and quit before you've bought that 2nd dulcimer!



 


 


'


 




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
5 years ago
134 posts

Nice Work. :)

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
247 posts

Here is a picture of two banjo's I built. One has a $4 set of ebony fiddle pegs. The other $80 geared fiddle pegs. Can you tell the difference. ?.

We have the technology... Robert...

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

I had hear about soap but not the chalk or pencil so that is good to know

thanks again, every little bit helps and adds up

dronestyles
@dronestyles
5 years ago
7 posts

Pull out only if the peg won't turn at all.  If you have the peg properly seasoned with chalk (for stickiness) and pencil (for lubrication) it should turn and hold just fine with a little pushing.   Because both of these substances are solids throughout a wide range of temperatures, they retain their properties with the temperature changes we usually encounter.  Not so for soap and/or rosin.  I don't recommend them for that reason. 

marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

Thanks everyone, guess when I get to KY and have my little W. May will learn over time how to tune a peg. But for now still not sure, do I need to pull out a bit before turning than push in or just turn than push? 

Guy Babusek
Guy Babusek
@guy-babusek
5 years ago
96 posts

I personally can't stand wooden pegs.  They look cool, but they drive me nuts.

Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
5 years ago
134 posts

Being a newbie, just started playing, or trying, yesterday I was faced with the decision wether or not to go to geared turners. I have decided, at least for now, to keep my instrument original; partially due to sentimental reasons and also due to remaining true to the instrument maker.  As I hopefully gain more experience, I suspect I may purchase another dulcimer rather than modify my current one. May sound silly but I live in Cookeville where I met John Maxwell the day my mother purchased her dulcimer; which I now have. :)

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 years ago
247 posts

Basically you turn them while gently pressing them in. Even properly installed pegs can be a problem to tune. They work like a charm one day and stick and slip the next. They look great, and their cheap, about $4.00 a set. But most folks convert them to geared pegs at some time. A geared conversion will cost around $100.00. A common sound I hear in the night is the sound of pegs popping loose on my pegged instruments... Robert. 

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
5 years ago
413 posts

It's probably not as detailed as you'd like, but I did do a video with tuning wooden pegs at the request of a member here as an introduction to an instructional video once.  I just put it up on Youtube.  

There's only 2 things you need to get wood pegs working right: spit and chalk.  If the pegs seem tight then carefully loosen them and put some chalk where the peg meets the head.  I use billiard chalk but you can use blackboard chalk.  I use moisture to swell the peg if it's slipping a little.  You don't have to spit on them.  lol.  

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
5 years ago
1,859 posts

Stringing is the same -- over the top, through the hole and back again.  Don't bother wrapping around the peg more than twice; cut the excess off -- it's much cleaner looking than a wiry bird's nest.   It takes two hands to tune -- one to turn the peg and one to hold the dulcimer firmly.  When tuning, aim for a bit sharp, and then give a firm push to set the peg.  It will usually slip a bit as you push, bringing you close to what you want.

The 'pushing in' bit is so subtle that it probably would not show on a video.


updated by @ken-hulme: 01/07/16 08:01:34AM
marg
@marg
5 years ago
568 posts

I'm looking for a youtube or web site on how to tune wooden pegs on a dulcimer and I can't find any. Does anyone know of a video on how to string and tune with wooden pegs.

thanks