String instrument tuning pegs that are properly fit shouldn’t cause many problems. But lubricating your pegs as needed and correctly winding your strings on the pegs are two things you can do yourself to help keep your instrument easy to tune.
Fixing Pegs That Stick
If your violin is hard to tune and the pegs stick and jump back and forth past the note as you tune, first try applying peg compound (“peg dope”), which can be purchased at any violin shop. Simply remove one string and the associated peg, apply a small amount of the compound to the shiny rings on the peg where it fits into the pegbox, replace the peg and give it a few spins. Restring and tune that string, then loosen another and work on its peg, until you’ve done all four.
After you’ve lubricated, sometimes the peg will slip a bit for a day or so, but then will usually stiffen up to normal as the compound soaks in. It shouldn’t be necessary to press the pegs hard into their holes to make them stick; too much pressure can damage the pegbox. If pegs are too slippery, some chalk, applied the same as the peg dope, will help them stick. There’s a perfect point between the slip of the peg dope and the stick of the chalk where everything works just right, and that’s the point you want to find.
Winding Your Strings
The proper way to wind strings onto their pegs is something many violinists don’t stop to think about. First, feed the string through the hole in the peg with just a couple of millimeters hanging out the back. Then, wind the peg one or two turns in the “wrong” direction—towards the tip of the peg. Finally, cross the string back over itself to hold the loose end in place, and wind the remaining turns towards the head of the peg until the string almost touches the pegbox wall. The illustration for this post shows a correctly wound string.