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  • #15640 Reply


    I watched Michael’s brief vid about “Why Is There Only One Fine Tuner on Violins?” and thought I should respond.

    My fiddle is about 50 years old, bought at a German pawnshop for maybe $50 back then – it was a present, so I wasn’t there. 🙂 But it’s not a special instrument – it has no maker mark, the ribs were cut too long and bulge past the margin of the plates near the end pin, and it has a very hard time sounding in the upper registers across the bass bar – I’m guessing the top plate is too thick. It’s main advantage is that it’s paid for, and I know how to play it, that is, how to deal with its foibles. After fifty years (interrupted by a period were I wasn’t playing at all) it actually seems to have acquired a very nice sound, even though it’s a pretty badly built piece of junk. Unless I come into some money I’ll probably play it for the rest of my life.

    One its foibles is that the pegs are sticky, which makes tuning laborious. Since I’m fairly deaf (a family trait), tuning is not something I do easily – for orchestra rehearsal I tune up at home and check when I get to rehearsal. The violin does stay in tune really well, even given I live in Utah where temps can change by forty degrees F during the course of a day. I use synth core AL wound Dominants, because I like their mellow timbre.

    So I was hoping to make tuning less of a chore, especially for those times where my fiddle has gone off by a semi-tone, and messing with the pegs is as likely to make it worse as anything. I read up on the tuner thing. The problem is “after-weight” – the amount of inertial resistance to letting the strings swing on the tail side of the bridge. Pro performers have complicated formulas to get that just right – after the bridge is in the right spot, the tail gut is adjusted to make sure the after length is right. At that point the overtones provided by those short bits of string is just what the violinist wants, and they don’t want it dampened by a lot of tailpiece weight. Fine tuners are massive chunks of metal compared to the wedge of ebony or maple that they are attached to, and they can ruin that overtone.

    But we don’t have to go with that, anymore. I found a tailpiece that has all four strings set up with a built-in fine tuner. It’s made of a light weight metal alloy, and actually weighs less than the wooden tailpiece with one fine tuner. It’s meant that I can have the nice overtones (insofar my fiddle is capable of them) as well as the ease of tuning the violin that comes with fine tuners. New strings settle in quickly, and after they settle the fine tuners are pretty much the only tuning that is needed. (There are various makers, you should expect to pay about $45 for a violin tailpiece. The cheaper ones might not be engineered well – I have a Chinese made fiddle I bought for $10, which has a tailpiece where the screws keep slipping off the lever arms. Not fun.)

    #15666 Reply


    Why don’t you give the hill peg compound a try? It made my pegs usable.

    #15669 Reply

    Dianne Adkins

    I have played professionally for 30 years and had never heard about “after-weight”. I’ll have to research that. I’m glad you found a tailpiece that will work for you. I’m sure you know about using graphite (pencil lead) to get those pegs not to be sticky. You can buy a special bottle made for sticky pegs, but if you want to take the time to loosen each peg one at a time and draw with pencil lead all around the part of the peg that inserts into the fitted hole, you’ll find it helps the pegs not be so sticky. Works like a charm. Alternatively, chalk will help in getting a slipping peg to stick better.

    #15762 Reply


    About after-length. Here’s violinist Giora Schmidt talking about how his violin:

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