Man handling dude that I am, I managed to break one of the tuning pegs on my violin the other day. Violin, you say? Yeah. I have one. It’s a cheapo I bought a few years ago thinking that I should push myself to learn something new. Sure, I could have read more books or learned another language or jogged or something but I felt that this would be not only challenging but somewhat comical at the same time. Am I good at it? Hell no. I can manage to scrape a few notes together and almost make it sound like something once in a while but I am sticking with it…
So, there’s this broken peg. I figure it is not really a huge deal and I have the internet to guide me in finding parts and making repairs. The web will tell you everything. Everything right and everything wrong. For example, one source told me that I could “unstick” pegs using Dove soap. It also mentioned not to use Lava soap due to the pumice. Of course, the very next source told me that I should use Lava soap to help set sloppy pegs. This is all for pegs that can actually come out so you can treat them. In my case, I had broken it off and there was nothing left to grab to try to twist it out.
The web suggested that I could tap it out using a punch and a hammer. This did work but it also knocked my sound post out of place. A sound post is a little dowel stuck in a strategic position inside the violin. Fuck.
Okay, not freaking out. There are pegs available online and maybe I can stick that stick back in place. There are also pegs available in the town two towns over. There is a music store there. Not a big box type of thing, more of a Mom and Pop deal which handles stringed instruments. Since we had to attend a cookout in that town, why not swing by the music store place and see if they have new pegs.
Since there was a huge fireworks presentation scheduled for Saturday evening, the city had re-routed traffic all over town. It took a considerable amount of time to get to this store and once we did find the place, we discovered that there was a lot of road construction right in front of the place. We parked on a side street and walked to the store, through the construction. This was not a big deal as we have also walked in Greece.
We walked in the door and were greeted by a giant dog. The dog seemed pretty friendly. The inside of the place was filled with stringed instruments on the walls and in cases. There was a counter and behind the counter was a man working on some instrument. A lady came towards us. We said hello and I asked if they had tuning pegs for a full-sized violin. She said she did. But then she kind of suggested that a simpleton like myself would not be able to complete such a task. She told me that they would have to be shaved to fit. Ok.
Could I at least take a look at the pegs? Maybe they were going to be scary looking or something and I would flee the building upon seeing them. She reached behind the counter and produced a package of pegs. Hmm, not so scary looking. I bought them. I also kind of looked around at the other violins for sale. After purchasing the pegs, we said thanks and kind of headed for the door. On the way, I asked if they had any deals on violins going on. No response from the lady. Ok, thanks and sorry to bother you.
I felt pretty judged. It was like I was a teen asking for condoms. (back in the old days you had to ask for stuff like that… female hygiene products as well) Good thing I did not mention I had knocked my sound post out of place, she probably would have killed me right there and fed me to that big dog.
Researching how to shave down a peg I discovered that there were all kinds of special tools to do such a thing. Costs ranged from 30 – 40 bucks to over 200. And then, you needed a special tool to set the sound post correctly. Shit. Ok, still not freaking out. Figuring that I am about half smart sometimes and that I have things like tools in the shop, I could tackle this. Beyond all of that, this was a cheapo violin and I was not too concerned about having to replace it if I totally screwed up.
Taking a look at the pegs, I determined that they were indeed over sized and would need some reduction. Since there is a distinct taper on the pegs, I needed to match that. The web showed me a trick where a guy used a block of wood with the correct taper inside… he used sandpaper and turned the peg to shape. This seemed reasonable. Not having a taper tool, I figured I would make a mold of one of the existing pegs. This was created using J.B.Weld…
While I was waiting for the mold to harden, I considered another way to do this. The pegs are ebony and it takes a while to shape them down, but this home-made tool worked…
Using the drill, I used a variety of sandpapers to shape the peg down.
It worked. Next, I have to figure out how to set the sound post. Since I did not have a specific tool to do this, I made one.
This also worked.
Now, I can rock my ass off once again playing to groups of people as large as, well, just me. I’m back, baby.