The “art” of winding pegs.
(So your instrument is easy to tune.)

Did you ever wonder why some musicians struggle tuning their instruments, while others accomplish it almost effortlessly? The first part of the secret is having truly round holes and pegs (only trust a reputable repair shop to shave pegs and ream holes) so they turn evenly and hold their position. The second part of the secret is to wind the string around the pegs properly and have the pegs rotated to the proper angle.

Photo #1

Photo #2

The “secret” is to wind strings consistently, then clip a small length off the end of the string to make the angle come out right. (Did you ever wonder why they make the windings of strings so long?)

What most musicians consider “the perfect angles” for the G and D strings.

After putting on a new set of strings, sometimes you get lucky (notice the G peg), and sometimes you don't (notice that the D needs rotated clockwise about 20-30 degrees).

Note: If your strings are barely long enough, shortening them is obviously not an option. Buy longer strings next time. (Almost all manufactureres make strings for non-standard instruments.)

Consistentancy tip #1
Insert the string all the way through the peg and flush with the other side.
(Peg has been removed from the instrument for demonstration purposes only.)

Consistency tip #2
Wind two winds away from pegbox. (Use judgement: if pegbox is extra narrow, once is enough; if strings are extra long three times is ok; simply be consistent!)

Consistency tip #3
Cross over the previous two winds, then wind as close to the pegbox wall as possible without touching it.

To go from the angle in Photo#2 to the one desired in Photo #1, trim off a small length of the string and rewind the string the exact same way. Fingernail clippers work on soft strings, otherwise use wire cutters.

To help properly judge the amount of string you'll need to cut off, wrap the string around the peg the number of degrees desired. If still in doubt, make two or three small cuts until you get the hang of it.

Photo #3

Ref: Photo #3
While most musicians agree upon the angle of the A peg, the E peg can vary to almost straight up depending upon how the musician holds their hand while playing in half-position. (The goal is to keep the side of the hand from hitting the peg, even when playing wide vibrato.)

The process is the same from side to side.

Extra peg tips

After strings have been wound once, it's always more difficult to put them on and rewind them a second time because the string becomes curled. Either use tweezers, or straighten out the end the best you can. Some strings become very flimsy or even begin unwinding, making it almost impossible to get in the hole or hold their position. For these “difficult” strings, apply a small drop of superglue to the end 1/4” (6 mm), wipe it off with a small piece of paper (not your fingers) and “warm” it over a Bic lighter. Make sure the glue is completely dry, yet be careful not to burn the string!

In emergency situations (on student grade instruments that cost less than $250), if the pegs are out of round and won't stay put, it's possible to wind the string tightly against the pegbox and make it stay. (Not suggested on fine instruments because it will scratch the pegbox, yet it's always better than pushing the peg in too hard and breaking the scroll!.)

Something to watch out for: Sometimes pegs will slip (or never even tighten) because the hole drilled through them is too close to the pegbox wall. Sometimes another hole can be drilled further up the shank (usually at 90 degrees to keep the peg from cracking) other times, it must be replaced. Ask you local violin shop.

Return to “What Every Violinist Should Know” / Return to Home

Copyright 2005 Kevin Lee Luthier