Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hollowing out the pegbox

Once the scroll is in decent shape, the next task is to dig out the pegbox. This is one part of the violin that I find unsatisfying. The scroll, the f-holes, the bouts--all have a nice balance of aesthetic and functional. Even the pegs can be pretty. But the pegbox is about as beautiful as the word sounds. None of the curves or clean lines of the rest of the instrument, just a cramped and harshly rectilinear box with a tangle of pegs and string ends.

From the player’s point of view, the pegbox is annoyingly small. It’s tricky to get a fresh string into one of the pegs and have it stay in while it gets wound up. I often use a hemostat because my fingers are just too clumsy. As a player, I’d love a much bigger area there to work with.

The pegbox was also annoying to me as a maker. It’s not too problematic to chisel out most of the cavity, but getting a nice clean cut near the scroll is a pain.

Knowing that I’ll be putting strings in there, I tried to make it nice and roomy—I was advised by one source to leave at least 4 mm around each peg. Another jokingly said to make the back of the pegbox so thin that it was transparent. These ended up being about the same, an end I reached pretty much by accident.

I did not enjoy seeing that!


  1. Hmmm. I think it would be like a car I once rode in that had structural Bondo. I think for this fiddle I'm going to go with some bits of zen imperfection.