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I recently changed my wooden pegs for those new pegs that have tiny built-in gears. They look just like regular pegs, but you can tune smootlhly, with little effort, like tuning a guitar. The microtuner(s) are replaced by a plain tailpiece.[

I bought new Dominant medium strings and a Larson A at the same time. Been using that combo since I began viola four years ago.

The sound was very steely at first, and I thought I had become too accustomed to playing on worn strings. Once the strings settled in I expected the steely sound to go away, but I found instead my viola has an entirely new sound.

My deep, woody tone has been replaced by a brighter, metallic sound, which, at least, is consistent over the four strings.  The new sound is much more resonant, and reminds me of a very expensive (20,000dollar) instrument I have played .

I should be pleased; but I miss that more mellow sound, even though it was hard to get a consistent tone from the lower to the higher strings. I dislike the metallic vibe, too.

I am thinking of taking the viola back to have the operation reversed; but it would be interesting to hear beforehand if other players have had experiences with these tuners...

(My viola is a 16" Czech instrument made probably in the 1920's.)


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Replies to This Discussion

You know, funny you should bring this up now.  I just had those pegs put on my 5 string instrument, and I absolutely LOVE them!!  I didn't notice a huge change in tone, but I have heard that the fine tuners can change your tone.  Personally, because it's so expensive to put them on (and I imagine to take them out again), I'd try different strings before switching back.  I really like the Vision Solo for my viola, except I don't like the A.  I recently tried a Zyex A, and I like that a little more.  But I still have a fine tuner on my A, since I don't have those nice planetary pegs for my viola yet.  But I definitely plan to get them for all my instruments eventually!!
I don't play viola, but I do have Knilling Planetary pegs on both my violins.  I love them.  And I don't feel that they themselves changed the tone at all, though I can see how fine tuners (with or without) might make some difference.  I too like a darker warmer tone.  As for strings, I don't care for Dominants on my main instrument (2008 Capri Maestro).  They had a metallic sound when they were new that just never really went away.  I'm currently using Zyex strings which is what it came with and I like them, though I'm going to try a set of Pirastro Aricore.  The geared pegs however are staying in.  I would never go back to the old pegs.  So, yeah, try a different set of strings, maybe a soundpost or tailpiece adjustment, before switching back.  Good luck!

Thanks for your suggestions, Ashley and Kevin. My new setup is so much better, and the geared pegs so convenient, that it is definitely worth working on other factors to get a rich sound. Incidentally, the fine tuners are gone, replaced with a plain tailpiece.

Everybody I have spoken to loves the new pegs, and the shop that put them on for me says they are doing several jobs a week, especially for cellists. 

Another learning experience for me, to open mind and ears



It may be the absence of your tailpiece-end fine tuners that are doing it.  If they aren't the lightweight built-ins that you'd get on a Wittner or a Thomastik tailpiece, they can dampen the sound since they can be somewhat heavy.  Maybe swapping to a heavier tailpiece might get some of that darkness back.

Footnotes to my original post:

Since the bridge and all strings had to come off to install the pegs, the soundpost probably had to be readjusted following the operation. This may account for a lot of the brightness and the better tonal balance. 

I replaced the Dominant strings since I found the G string sounded pretty terrible no matter what I did. I put on Obligatos, with the Larsen A. The Obligatos sounded better immediately, and I am still using them. I still have the option mentioned by Fire&Air, of changing the tailpiece, but now, seven months later, I am completely accustomed to it and have learned how to get a bigger, warmer sound, and with less effort, thanks to some good instruction.

I am adding a note here in case another neophyte like myself is is thinking of having these tuners installed, and is put off by my post.

The forum members were correct in saying the tuners do not affect the sound. The change in sound in my viola was not caused by the geared tuners. The soundpost slipped during the installation, and the repairman didn't catch it.

I should have taken it back immediately, instead of moaning and groaning.  My luthier set it right in a few minutes.

However, it did get me to try some different strings, which was a good thing.  And my learning to adapt to the different sound was a good experience.

Now I have my original rich sound back, and I am very happy.





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