Some peg designs

Original lutes seem most often to have pegs made of fruitwoods, commonly plum, and often stained black. However this does not mean that these were just cheapo versions of ebony, because ebony is actually a very unsuitable wood for pegs. It expands and contracts a lot with changes in humidity as well as being very hard and unresilient, thus pegs made of ebony move from being too tight to being too loose very quickly, causing frequent slippages. The softer fruitwoods, with the exception of pearwood, are less hygroscopic, more resilient and therefore cope with changes in humidity better.

Original lute pegs do not have a standard taper on the shank but vary widely from about 1 in 14 to about 1 in 40. Modern makers have tended to standardise on the normal violin taper of 1 in 30, partly because the reamers are readily available for this taper, and are very expensive to have made specially. However this is not always the best taper for the job, as lutes have much wider pegboxes than violins and so pegs with this taper can end up rather thick at the head end.

In general the softer the wood of the peg the steeper the taper and so the 1 in 30 taper does quite nicely for plumwood pegs, but for my favourite wood, cocobolo, I use a shallower engineering taper of 1 in 48 and I find this gives a very reliable, smooth-running peg.

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Some more peg designs

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