Peg Bushings

This fiddle had an old set of Roth machine pegs installed. It was reamed out almost to the hilt of my reamer, around 9mm. The holes were also somewhat crooked. After glue sizing and scoring the bushings/holes, I let it set over night. I'll start carving them out and flushing them to the surface tomorrow.

 I need to buy a spiral reamer.  I got the chance to try one out the other day and it had a far more stable feel than my straight cut one. I think the flat edge of the blade against the straight grain of the new bushings tends to catch and chip. On the other hand the curved blade on the spiral reamer cuts at a slight angle avoiding this chatter. That's the theory anyway.



The neck of this instrument suffered a severe trauma. It was snapped off at a right angle. As a result the edges of of the top where the mortise flares out were snapped off with it. Luckily the neck and ribs were, for the most part, spared. After resetting the neck I cleaned out the gap to fit a new bit of edge to both sides. Here is the cleaned up gap.
And the dry fitted edge. 


Pegs, Alternatives and weights.

I think every new player, and some who have been playing for years, look at their pegs and think; "What a pain. Can't I just slap on some guitar style tuning machines?" Well, yes you can, but it will cost you. In my own quest for peg alternatives I have looked into some different options and found one consistent problem, weight. Lets run through them so you can get an idea of the pros and cons.

Double bass style tuning machines.
OK, so they look bad ass, and they may or may not be easier to use than regular friction pegs. The major draw backs are as follows.

A. Added weight, at 74 grams you will feel this. With these tucked in the peg holes of my fiddle I can't support it with just my chin, I need to lift it with my arm. 74 grams does not sound like much but think of it like this: You could hold a 1 pound weight all day right? For an exercise try to hold that same weight with your arm fully extended. Good luck! (try for 10 minutes)

B. Drilling more holes in your peg box is bad idea. Eight holes weakens it enough. Also keep in mind that you are putting metal screws in that do not expand and contract with humidity, over time this will cause small cracks. They also corrode and get stuck in the peg box when you try to remove them.

C. You most often have to bush and re-drill your existing peg holes just to get them on. Further weakening the peg box.

D. God, they weigh a ton!

Banjo/Uke Style Friction Tuners

A. At 66g these are only slightly better than the machines above. In fact they weigh the same as my entire neck.

B. You don't have to drill or bush to install these. but they rarely fit perfectly and could lead to buzzes and cracks.

C. I have found these to be less reliable than regular pegs. The problem is that they apply pressure across the gap in the peg box. This puts pressure where it was not designed to go. They were really designed to retain tension through a solid piece of wood. This tension if not closely monitored could lead to a catastrophic failure in the peg box.

D. They need to be tightened constantly,
so carry a screw driver.

Roth Tension tuners
Slightly better design and weight, these are the closest to being "acceptable" alternatives to real pegs. But there are still some serious draw backs.

A. Weight again. you can feel it. But not as acutely as the all metal pegs above. I know a great fiddler who has these and she plays just fine with them, She also kept me wondering how she could tune so much faster than me without fine tuners.

B. You have to ream out the peg holes all the way in order to fit them with small cork bushings. this weakens the peg box and makes it very hard to fit regular pegs again should you want to.

C. admittedly the design is much better they apply pressure in a similar way to traditional pegs. they also look pretty good.

Traditional Pegs
Finally traditional pegs. These are mostly here for weight comparison. Uncut they weigh less than half as much as the Roth pegs. They will weigh even less when they are cut down to size during fitting. As much as i don't like the humidity problems involved with them they are in my mind the best option.

As far as other options I have heard a lot of positive comments on Knilling Perfection pegs. I have yet to get my hands on a set of them, so I can't include a weight comparison or real review. I have heard they are close to real peg weight. Also they have a gear ratio that makes tuning quick. I will put up a review if and when I get some. Until then I will continue using regular pegs.


The Day of Reckoning

It's time for me to rebuild my violin. In keeping up with demand it has been put off to many times. Amongst it's many problems, that have been worsened by neglect, I need to remove the neck. Tricky business at best.

The Projection is wrong due to the upper block being loose from the table. That pressure started a crack on the center seam that I need to head off before it gets worse.
The neck had been fitted with a shim, to correct the projection, this did not solve the problem, as the neck continued to pull against the end grain and distort the top.

I hope I don't ruin it, I like this fiddle.
Let see... separating knife, mallet, courage..

How about some suspense music?

New toy.

I had been looking for a glue pot that was not integrated with electronics, I don't like to own tools I can't fix myself, and I found this lovely one from musicaravan.com. The thing is great! small enough that it wont monopolize your bench, big enough to retain heat in the reservoir for a good amount of time. He sells a little electric warmer that is really consistent with temp and fits the pot very well.

Here it is in all its glory.
by the way I don't work for them or anything I just genuinely like it.
here's a link if you want one for yourself.


New Location!!

The green door at the end of the hall.
Yesterday I moved into my new shop. Located in Beverly Massachusetts at the Porter Mill studio building, check them out at http://studiosatportermill.blogspot.com/ here are some pictures from my shop the first day. Shop hours will be posted soon. If anyone wants to visit or set up an appointment drop me a line at akology@gmail.com.


Smoke Damage

This top had a strange pattern in the varnish. I couldn't tell until I started cleaning it that it was from exposure to smoke. My whole shop smelled like a fireplace as I was removing the soot. Pictured below is the top with some of the mess removed. I will need to check every seem for the glue as heat will destroy its bonding strength. so far it seems ok except for the end block that needs to be replaced due to a crack caused by a poorly fitting end-pin.Below is one of the corners as I found it. The gray is all soot and has now been removed. The varnish is actually closer to a honey color. I will be posting after pictures as soon as the entire instrument is cleaned.


Fingerprint Varnish.

This fiddle has a cool fingerprinted varnish. The gradation in the finish is done by layering varnish thickly using your fingers and supplementing with brushing on and polishing off further layers. the upper bout of the back looks like leopard spots. People do some strange things.


Best fake label.

People always ask about and, for some reason, trust their violins label. The truth is they may as well all be like this. Its rare to find one that is 100% factual. and most are utter lies, or half truths. I understand the impulse to cling to a nice easy to read label written in fake latin or italian. but never trust a label. The only important thing is how the fiddle is made.
Anyway..this made me laugh, and inspired me to make my own faked labels.

Luthier jokes are terribly rare and inside.