Switching the Pegs

Howdy y'all ----- I have a question about string set up. The usual string to peg set-up is:
G string to bottom left peg
D string to top left peg
A string to top right peg
E string to bottom right peg

I was looking at a particular web site that sells fiddles, and on a few of the fiddles in the photographs, it looks as if the A string is threaded to the bottom right peg, and the E string looks like it is threaded to the top right peg. The G and D strings were threaded correctly.
Now, the apparent A and E string set-up "anomaly" could simply be the angle from which the photograph was taken, plus the lack of lighting showing every aspect of inside the peg box; and maybe all four strings were threaded correctly to their respective pegs; however, it did look a little odd when I viewed the photographs!

Now, this got me wondering: *** narrows eyes, and strokes chin*** --------Mmmm! What WOULD happen if you threaded the E string into the top right peg, and the A string into the bottom right peg --- literally switching the pegs around? Has anyone here ever done this --- either through experimentation or sheer mistake; and if you have, what did the A and E strings sound like? I am just really curious now, and may even give this a try myself to hear what it sounds like! This may even make my VSO sound like a real fiddle! LOL ! Although, I am guessing that because the E string is so thin, that it would have to be tightened TOO much to span the extra distance, and therefore may easily break under tension --- either from tightening the peg, or from the pressure of the bow when playing. And ..... what would happen if you swapped the G and D pegs around? ..... Mmmm!!! ** More narrowing of eyes***

Okay, I just heard the bell ring, and class is about to start; and here's lil' ol' me sitting in the front row (as usual) ...... all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; eagerly waiting for the physics lesson to begin! ......... BRING IT ON!

So John, please free to offer what you can to help this remarkably curious pupil! :)


"The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more." -- William Wordsworth.


  • The length of the string beyond the nut really doesn't matter. If that were the only factor, it wouldn't matter which pegs the strings matched with. However, the string should experience the least amount of bending as it crosses the nut. A bent string quickly becomes a broken string, and a sideways bend will wear a groove in the nut and put strange tensions on the string. Also, the strings should never touch each other.

    As you look at the front of the peg box, you will see that it tapers slightly towards the scroll. This is the factor that dictates which string will go to which peg, because the traditional positions require the least amount of bending. If the peg box did not taper, then you could switch the E and A or the D and G with no consequences.

    Another important factor is the placement of the hole that is drilled in the peg. Ideally, you want it to be directly above the place where the string crosses the nut. So, even if your string is on the correct peg, it can still bend too much if the hole is drilled in the wrong location. (See my drawing below).

    <img src="https://bluegrassdaddy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/headstock-s.jpg" alt="peg box of a violin" />

    Peg o' my heart. what is the best way to string you? Maybe these guys know... But I doubt it!

  • Thank you for explaining that to me John! You are a very good artist! It looks like a Michelangelo drawing. I must say that when I saw your first drawing (labled "Bad"), I thought it resembled what my spine looks like these days! LOL.

    OK, here is my question: Why don't they simply make fiddles with peg boxes that don't taper, and make it easier on everyone! I know ---- many will say they don't do it because of "tradition"; but let's face the facts: the wheel worked well for a long time but was made so much better when they added the pneumatic tire to it! So why not simply make a non-tapering peg box but drill the holes in the pegs at appropriate distances to accommodate the new design of the peg box --- and where the strings don't touch each other? Or is breaking tradition a big no -- no when it comes to fine instruments like the fiddle?

    When I saw the small screenshot of the video you enclosed, I initially thought it was the purple Wiggle guest-starring with the Osmonds. I didn't realize it was dear little Andy. WOW! Those boys sure did have nice big teeth! They must have good dentists in Utah!

    Thanks for going to the trouble to explain the peg thingy to me!

  • It is tradition -- but it probably became tradition because it seems more aesthetically pleasing to have the box taper to the scroll. I don't know if that it makes it more structurally sound than a peg box with parallel sides.

    I'm glad you liked my sketch! Actually I thought it more of a Da Vinci than a Michelangelo. I guess I was just being modest! :)

    I wonder if Michelangelo and his brothers ever tried to form a boy band like the Osmonds? "Heloooooo Florence! Please welcome tonight's opening act! From right here in your hometown, meet Lionardo, Michelangelo, Buonarroto, Giovansimone, and Gismondo -- The Simoni Brothers!!!!" (CROWD GOES WILD)
  • I love it! :) :) :) Eurovision would never be the same after the Simoni Brothers performed! I wonder what song they would have performed? --- "A Hundred Pounds of Clay", perhaps? (replace the word clay with marble!) Or would they do a rap version of "Che Gelida Manina" (Your Tiny Hand is Frozen) or "Torna a Sorrento (Come Back to Sorrento)? ... Yo! Daddy! I just wonder if the performing Simoni Brothers had a sister called Maria, who changed her name to Marie and went solo and became famous.

    No need to be modest, John! I actually did mean to say your drawing looked like one of Leonardo's ---- not Leonardo Dicaprio, but the other more artistic one who dabbled in cadavers!

    I am really loving this forum more and MORE! :)
  • I think that one of the earliest Simoni hits (later covered by the Osmonds) was "He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother," which inspired the young Michelangelo to create his famous Piet
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