What Are Violin Pegs?

Violin strings are tuned with violin pegs. Turning the pegs clockwise tightens the strings and raises the notes, while turning the pegs counterclockwise loosens the strings and lowers the notes. Each of the four strings, G, D, E, and A, has a violin peg that fits into the peg holes in the peg box at the top of the violin. The flat round handle on one end of a violin peg is comfortably pinched between the fingers for turning and securing the peg. A tapered post on the other end of the peg allows the pegs to be pushed into the peg holes once the string is in tune.

Ebony, boxwood, and rosewood are the most common materials used to make violin pegs. Pegs are occasionally made of a composite material designed for strength, minimal slippage, and reduced humidity shrinking and swelling. Stringed instruments, including those in the violin family, typically have black pegs.

A small string hole is drilled into the wood about a third of the way up the post on all violin pegs. The string is hooked into the tailpiece and then rested on the bridge’s string notch to string an instrument. The violinist will then pull the peg slightly out of one of the peg box holes while holding the loose end of the string and thread the string through the peg’s string hole. The violinist will then gradually increase the tension on the string twisting the peg clockwise.

Slipping pegs, which causes the instrument to fall out of tune, is an ongoing issue for stringed instrument musicians. Many musicians remove the pegs, remove the strings, and rub the posts with bow rosin, chalk, pencil lead, or a specially formulated, sticky peg compound called peg dope to make them stickier. It’s also a good idea to wind the strings close to the peg box’s edge, which gives the string more support and reduces the pull on the pegs.

Violin pegs can also become extremely tight, making it difficult to tune the violin precisely. The swelling of the violin pegs in high humidity is a common cause of this. Violins should be stored in a room with a relative humidity of 30 to 50 percent to avoid peg swelling. Rub the posts of the pegs with soap to lubricate them just enough to make tuning easier while preventing slippage.

Mechanical violin pegs can be used to overcome the stickiness or slipping of violin pegs. Mechanical gears inside these pegs tighten and loosen the strings for tuning. Turning the peg handle activates the gears.