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Jul 28, 2021 - 2:42:20 PM
329 posts since 8/17/2010

I'm trying to bring a very old banjo (tailpiece has an April 5, 1887 patent date) back to life. There are only two wooden tuning pegs with the instrument (and they don't match) so I'll have to obtain three from somewhere. I don't care if the three don't match the existing two because this is a home-made banjo that likely didn't have matching tuners to begin with.
(I figure I can "distress" new tuners to match the beat-up originals). The only wooden banjo tuners I've been able to find are from Bruce Wei and they're a bit expensive. But, I've found lots and lots of ebony violin tuners on-line at very reasonable prices. My question... Will violin tuners work on a banjo?

Jul 28, 2021 - 3:10:04 PM
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11670 posts since 10/27/2006

Short answer: Yes

Longer answer: To make them work their best, they should be fitted. Easy to do but the tools are not cheap.

EEasiest way: Buy the pegs from a fiddle shop and have them fitted to your banjo. Not cheap but it's a bread and butter job.

Most fiddle pegs have a nominal 2° taper. If you're lucky, even the cheap ones on eBay do. You'll need to do some measuring and some math to figure out which size has the best fit leaving an inch or so above the peg head while leaving at least 2" below (3"–4" is ok).

Once you figure that out, you'll ream the holes to the same 2° while getting the shafts behind the peghead about the same length. It's not unlike sawing chair legs to be level. When done, you'll drill holes for the strings, trim and finish the ends above the peghead. Now you can smooth with 1500 grit sandpaper and distress to your heart's content.

This is the least expensive 2° peghead reamer I know for fiddle pegs. The one at Stew-Mac costs $30 more.
2° Peghead reamer

If you go with un-tapered pegs, plan on getting something like this to set the 2° taper.

Peg shaper

You also want a peg dope crayon. Hill is as good as any. Chalk is not very good and Lava soap contains pumice stone—avoid.

Hill peg dope crayon

Peg dope is applied like the stripe on Charlie Brown's shirt. A Hill crayon will last many years.

Jul 28, 2021 - 8:42:27 PM

329 posts since 8/17/2010

Mike:
Thanks for the quick lesson on wooden tuning pegs! Very helpful.

Jul 29, 2021 - 6:46:07 AM
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155 posts since 7/14/2017

If you do buy yourself a reamer, it's worth practising on scrap first. Reamers cut surprisingly fast, and it only takes a moment's inattention to have one peg sticking out 1/4 inch more than the others!

Jul 29, 2021 - 2:45:02 PM

11670 posts since 10/27/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Profchris

If you do buy yourself a reamer, it's worth practising on scrap first. Reamers cut surprisingly fast, and it only takes a moment's inattention to have one peg sticking out 1/4 inch more than the others!


Amen to that!

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