PegHed Tuners Full Review

14

March 20, 2012 by Tim


I knew that when I ordered my custom Boat Paddle 5-string that it had to have PegHeds (I originally wanted the old style wood pegs, but figured out pretty quickly that it would be a pain). I loved the look mostly, but also knew that in my mind, a high end ukulele had to have PegHeds to be truly perfect. I know a lot of players prefer geared tuners, and that is great, but for me it had to be PegHeds.

What makes PegHeds so unique? They have the looks of classic peg tuners, but they are actually geared. They use a planetary gear configuration, meaning that there is a center gear with a few other gears that spin around it. Since I cannot take one completely apart, I can’t truly verify how many it uses.

Here is how I imagine PegHeds came about.

I could give the history, but really it is not that exciting. John Herin created them for the violin, viola, cello, and they were adopted by uke players. Now we see them on a lot of ukuleles, both high end and lower end. But why is the real question. Are they really that awesome to command $50 – $80?

This will be a little different review since this is not a ukulele. I will use as many of the measures as I can.

Specs:
Weight: 0.2 oz
Button: Plastic or wood
Shaft: Metal
Finish: Matte
Full Specs:
http://pegheds.net

Looks

First look: (5) So many people have played my Boat Paddle and are blown away when I tell them that the tuners are geared. Upon first inspection you would think they are old fashioned peg tuners. That is the beauty of them, they look like old fashioned pegs but have the ease of geared tuners..

Fit and Finish: (5) These tuners are so simple looking and clean. There are no screws, and no collar where the post sticks out on the front of the head. the only markings you might see would be if you had the plastic buttons, you can see a little line where it was injection molded. I have ebony buttons on my uke and they are super smooth and very well crafted.

Plastic Button

Feel:

Tuning: (5) In my opinion these are the most responsive tuners on the market. With a 4:1 gear ratio they move just enough, and they stay.

Ebony Button

Comfort: (5) I went to my local post office and weighed several tuners.
Normal friction tuners: 0.30 oz
Old Banjo style: 0.60 oz
Grover geared all metal: 0.80 oz
Waverly with wood buttons: 0.67 oz
PegHeds: 0.20 oz.
Why does that matter? I have played and reviewed a ton of ukes where the head is so heavy and it makes the uke feel unbalanced or head heavy. Also the ukulele is a small instrument, lighter tuners make a big difference when it come to weight. My 5 tuners on the Boat Paddle weigh 1.0 oz, that is 1/3 the weight of an average letter. Lighter tuners can make for a lighter and more comfortable ukulele.

Smell: Mine smell minty, not sure why.

Installation: (Professional)  These are not the simplest tuners to install. Unlike your basic friction tuners where you can usually just unscrew a little screw and they come apart, and you just put new ones in, these require that the hole be reamed to a precise size. These screw into the hole. Most sets have 2 Left and 2 right tuners. Since there are no screws to install them the shafts have threads that screw into the carefully prepared hole, and the different sides are threaded so that the pull of the sting will pull it tighter, instead of possibly loosening them. A little glue is recommended to keep them from backing out from the hole also. I know that if you asked Elderly to install them they charge $120, and that is after you purchase the PegHeds for $80. Most people who are ordering a uke where they can choose tuners, and PegHeds are available, I tell them to do it then.

Final Thoughts

Would I put these on a Makala Dolphin, Hell No. I would say that a uke that is $300 and above would benefit from having these and it would justify the extra cost. I know that Bradford Donaldson makes a $350 all koa uke that he puts them on, and it is perfect since it is so small and light the Pegheds don’t weigh it down at all. As I said before, I would want these on every uke I own, or have built. I asked Chuck Moore of Moore Bettah Ukes why he uses them on a lot of his ukes, he said;

“Honestly, The primary reason I install Pegheds is because people ask for them. There must be a reason. In my mind there are a few.
The weight, (or lack of it) is a definite plus in my book and they are excellent quality and craftsmanship. I find the 4:1 geared ratio to be adequate for fine tuning although I would prefer something closer to 6:1. They hold the tuning well though once you get used to the tension adjustment. But there is also a definite advantage for the inlay artist. Pegheds are visually the most unobtrusive tuner on the market, hardly noticeable surrounded by inlay work. If I’m doing an especially nice inlay on a head stock i will always opt for the Pegheds. Personally I love the styling.”

All Rating on a scale of 1-5
Click here for an explanation of reviews

First Look 5
Fit and Finish 5
Tuning 5
Comfort 5
Smell Minty?
Installation Professional

Places to buy on the web:

PegHeds.net $48-$60 and he has choice of sizes and wood buttons

Elderly $80

Gallery:

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14 thoughts on “PegHed Tuners Full Review

  1. Jon Duncan says:

    wonderful, comprehensive review Tim, thankyou

  2. Very interesting – I have an old Harmony with the original type pegs and it can be a pain to tune at times – have to keep tightening them with a screw driver – probably need to be replaced or repaired but I’m trying to keep that uke original. I like the look of the new ones and had no idea they had pegs that were geared. Wonder how well these hold up??

    • How well do they hold up? If they are installed correctly—which is simple enough I can do it—they have a lifetime warranty to not become defective. I also have another website which was my first. I am moving things over, but http://www.thecraftedcow.weebly.com will show how easy it is to install them. They go on a lot of ukuleles that cost much less than $300.00

      It takes a 30:1 three flute or spiral tapered violin pegbox reamer, and wood of the same hardness and thickness as the instrument. That piece of wood is for practice. Very quickly one learns to test fit often even on the practice piece..

      Even if you are just curious and want to ask questions, please feel free to write.

      William (Bill) Thompson
      http://www.PEGHEDS.net

      • Tim says:

        Thanks for the additional information. I always feel like I miss something. So everyone knows, Bill is the cheapest I have found online, and has the biggest selection too.

  3. Kurt Siegel says:

    When I bought my Fluke Tenor 2nd at the Magic Fluke store, it had PegHeds installed. I’d never used them before, nor had I heard of the brand. However, my old 5-string banjo has 5 Star planetary tuners, so I was familiar with a 4:1 planetary tuner.

    Given that, PegHeds were still something new to me.

    After playing that tenor for an hour or so, I bought it, and ordered a Firefly Banjo Uke – and specified Peghed tuners on the FireFly, a $69 upgrade (Plastic buttons).

    I have been using Peghed tuners now for over a year, and have no doubt that I will spec them on any custom ukulele I might be able to afford in the future – but I will defiinitely go for the ebony buttons – they look sweet!.

  4. Jim B says:

    They look (and apparently smell) good but for the price you think they’d polish out the mold line on the plastic buttons. The buttons on my $15 geared tuners don’t have a mold line.

  5. Joni says:

    Love love love these on your uke! I love the way they look more “real” and authentic than geared tuners. You know I have an issue with the aesthetics of those things. I have an old uke with peg friction tuners, and they CAN be a pain, even once you have the hang of them.
    These are a wonderful upgrade–and a nice thing for anyone who is restoring an old uke and wants to stick with a true vintage look while embracing modern technology. Great. Now I want some.

    • I can make that happen. To make sure you get the right shaft diameter, means I need to know the size of the hole as it comes out of the front side of the headstock. A fellow had bought a set from another place. They only carry one size. If the hole is 5/16ths, the 7.5mm shaft is too small to fill the hole. He sent them to me and I sent him a set of the 8mm. Kamaka needs 8mms.

  6. Sven says:

    A compliment, comment and question from a guy that has Pegheads on the Donaldson, plus frictions and geared.

    Ukeeku reviews are so wonderful, and honest, and helpful. Thank you.

    I think high quality (Grotoh Deluxe) friction tuners are super smooth, make strings changes a non-issue, and are undeniably pretty. They are my favorites. I think Pegheads work but look cheap, like something molded by Wham-O, next to the Frisbees and Superballs. I think they’d be more fetching, and justify the price better if, like quality geared tuners, they were metal. They look prone to breaking off if the uke were, for instance, to fall. I believe they have much “body” behind the fretboard and stick out significantly due to the gears inside the shaft, but it’s homely. And plastic threads through the wood are a cop out; no one uses plastic threads ever in anything wood (hence, the glue at installation, I assume).

    I wonder if string changes on them are tougher, and more fickle, because the plastic (ugh—plastic!) front-head string attachment area is quite tiny? I haven’t changed the Donaldson yet to know.

    • PEGHEDS are warranted by the maker to perform if they are properly installed. If they do not work, they may be returned for repair or replacement. There is no warranty against carelessness. If a uke isn’t in your hands, it should be in its case. You wish they were not plastic? Your wish is granted. They are not, never have been plastic. They are machined aluminum, then anodized. The Ebony-Rosewood-Boxwood grips are real wood. If you have a certain kind of wood you want made into grips, contact me, and we can make it happen. Yes, it will have an additional cost, but they will be unique. There was another distributor who polished away the mold markings on the black composite grips. He charged $20.00 for a set of four. If anyone wants that service, I will be glad
      to offer it for the same price…no cost of living increase…no
      increase for rising fuel prices factored in. What a bargain.
      bargain…2012 service at 2010 prices.

    • Rereading Sven’s comments reminded me of some points he made which I did not address. The threads are metal. The machining is now done out to the end rather than just in the middle as they had been for the past ten years. The PEGHEDS were originally for concert instruments, so the look is traditional. If one wants a longer spool for the string, and a shorter shaft out the back, then the 743AF (which was originally designed for Suzuki violins) is the proper choice. It is 51mm from tip to tip. The others are 57mm tip to tip. The 743AF is the one for Flea/Fluke ukuleles.

      There are music stores such as Music 123 and Musician’s Friend who sell a Perfection Planetary Peg. They are NOT PEGHEDS. They are Chinese copies. We offer no warranty on them as they are a patent infrigement copy.

  7. Because some heavy geared tuners, as well as some of the friction tuners with inset bushings have a large hole, a 7 or 7.5 mm unit will not fill the hole. The new (as of last week) 8.5mm will work for Kamaka ukuleles and others. They are the same length as the 7.5mm units. The buttons are flawlessly finished. They look as good as ebony. The last batch of 7543A units also have the flawless button. Because the finishing is an extra step, the price is $1.00 per button more. So there are $48.00 a set 7543 and $52.00 a set 7543 and 8543. The 743AF is available now with ebony or rosewood grips. They are $60.00 a set. The standard set is still $48.00 a set. Tim, I put a set on a Mahalo soprano. They are all right twist threads so they all turn the same way. They are on a diagonal line from the 3rd hole to the 1st hole.
    They compliment the side port Beaver (on an orange and black uke) with Aquilas strung through the body. Abalone fret and side dots are next..

  8. Barry Maz says:

    Brilliant review as always Tim. These have eluded me so far, but I’m going to have to try some soon. This has convinced me.

    Baz

    http://www.gotaukulele.com

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