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.
Weight: 0.2 oz
Button: Plastic or wood
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.
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.
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.
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
|Fit and Finish||5|
Places to buy on the web:
PegHeds.net $48-$60 and he has choice of sizes and wood buttons