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Dec 7, 2023 - 2:10:35 PM
2859 posts since 8/30/2012
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Following a previous thread on the Sterling, I ended up getting it and am doing some restoration work now.

It currently has violin-style friction pegs, and I'd like to switch them over to more modern tuners. Either friction tuners or planetary. Yes I understand they won't be period correct, but this instrument isn't a collector item and I just want it to be easy to tune.

Problem is, the peghead holes are only about 7mm. There's not a lot of meat on the peghead so I'd like to avoid enlarging the holes if possible.

Does anyone know of a tuner that fits a 7mm hole? Everything I can find requires 3/8", 9mm or larger.

Dec 7, 2023 - 2:13:45 PM



2859 posts since 8/30/2012
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Here's a picture of the peghead. The pegs seem to be pretty shot, they've been wrapped tightly with metal strings creating deep ridges on the side, and the string slot doesn't look big enough to hold nylon strings. So even if I stick with violin-style tuners I think they'll need to be replaced. 

I'm going to borrow a caliper to get an exact measurement tomorrow, but my tape measure says they're about 7mm holes. The holes don't appear to be tapered, and the tuning pegs are tapered, so the fit isn't great. 


Edited by - KCJones on 12/07/2023 14:16:30

Dec 7, 2023 - 2:38:23 PM

1365 posts since 1/26/2011

Dec 7, 2023 - 3:55:54 PM
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5516 posts since 5/29/2011

Check with Bob Smakula. He has some old sets of friction style banjo pegs that would probably work.

Dec 7, 2023 - 4:05:37 PM
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2339 posts since 2/9/2007

Patent pegs of several types were certainly available when that banjo was made, so period-correctness isn't that much of an issue. You can probably get a set of geared Pegheds that would fit with a minimum of reaming, and maintain the look, but cost more than I'd want to spend on that banjo. Modern planetary tuners would look goofy and be too heavy IMO, regardless of shaft size.

For nylon or gut strings, correctly fitted (and doped) tapered wood pegs work at least as well as most ungeared patent pegs.

Whatever you do, you will most likely have to ream out the holes a little.

Looking at the earlier thread, I'd say that banjo needs shorter tension hooks at least as much as new pegs. ouch!

Dec 8, 2023 - 6:24:59 AM



2859 posts since 8/30/2012
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Thanks everyone. Good to know that the friction/patent tuners aren't technically "inappropriate" for this era of banjo. I am trying to stay as low-cost as possible, which is why I thought about patent tuners because they're only about $30 for a set of 4. I'm also a bit worried about using tapered violin tuners, because I'm always afraid that they'll wedge in and split the old peghead. I'm not sure if that's a real concern, but I'm paranoid about it anyway.

Dan Gellert I agree the tension hooks are quite long. My plan is to wrap them in a bit of leather, I've got another banjo with this same issue and it works well and actually looks pretty cool too. And it's free, new hooks would exceed the value of the banjo.

Edited by - KCJones on 12/08/2023 06:25:18

Dec 8, 2023 - 3:57:15 PM

13007 posts since 10/27/2006

If you want to use fiddle pegs, find an established violin repair shop. They will have a wide variety of pegs and somewhere between fractional violins and viola they will have a set of boxwood or ebony pegs that will fit. Boxwood describes a number of brown woods used to make fiddle pegs for the last couple centuries. Such a shop will also have the correct 2° reamers and peg shavers to fit them to your banjo properly.

7mm is a bit over 1/4" and a lot of mechanical pegs will fit or can be made to do so. People were retrofitting banjos 125 years ago so this is not a new practice.

Although new pegs exist of the old designs, there are enough of us with vintage sets in our parts drawers who would be glad to help you out. I have vintage Waverly and Champion sets, for example. The one thing everyone will want to know if you go that route is how thick the headstock is—measure the thickness at each hole. If too thin, you will want ukulele pegs. Some headstocks take uke pegs at 2 & 3 and banjo pegs at 1 & 4. Fortunately, a hundred years ago there were plenty of pegs that came both ways.

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