Using Friction Tuning Pegs


This article explains how to use and maintain friction pegs that are properly fitted. If the pegs on your guitar have been jammed into the headstock and protrude 1/2” (13mm) or more, they are most likely in need of replacement. A competent guitar or violin repair person will ream out the peg holes and replace the pegs with a slightly larger diameter shaft and taper to fit the newly reamed holes. The pegs, when properly fitted will protrude about 3/8” (10MM) above the head.

Please note how the pegs feel on your new Lester DeVoe Guitar. There should be little or no sound as the pegs smoothly turn.

When pegs are properly doped and waxed, about 80% of the time, you should be able to tune with your left hand only, while your right hand is plucking the strings. There should be a slight pressure toward the peg head as you twist the peg to tune.

When a peg kicks back and slips, bring your right hand up, holding the guitar peg head for support, as you gently twist with enough pressure to make the peg stay.

If a peg won’t stay or makes much noise when turning, it is time to rub on a few strokes of peg compound and a little birthday candle wax. Sabicas always had a birthday candle in his guitar case! Generally, wax makes the pegs turn smoother and peg compound makes it stay. A combination of both seems necessary to fix most problems. Two or three strokes of compound and one or two strokes of wax is usually all that is needed. The compound and wax is applied to the portion of the peg shaft that is inside the peg head, so first, take off the string and remove the peg. The compound I use is called W.E. HILL, A composition for pegs which have ceased to run smoothly. It comes in a lipstick like tube.

Note how the strings are wound on each peg: outside on pegs 1 and 6; inside on pegs 2,3,4,5. This will line the strings up with the nut slots and keep the strings from touching each other.

When changing strings try to maintain a balance of tension on the neck. Change one string at a time or slack the strings little by little 6,1,5,2,4,3…6,1,5,2,4,3…etc., until they are all slack.

When putting on a new string, pull the string through the hole in the end of the peg, pulling out all the slack and lock the string under itself as the first winding comes on.

*IMPORTANT* ~ STRINGS ARE WOUND DOWN FROM THE HOLE IN THE PEG BUT NEVER ALLOWED TO THOUCH THE PEG HEAD! If you have too much slack in the string and too many windings on the peg, the string will touch the peg head and then act like the threads of a screw pulling the peg into the hole, jamming it and ruin the tapered hole! It takes a lot of words to describe something that is really easy and makes sense when you understand what is going on. I hope your alert observations will get you through this learning process and you will appreciate the simplicity and beauty of using friction pegs.