Well I decided to go ahead and put some planetary pegs on my Goldtone. So I looked around the net to see what planetary pegs go for. Here is what I found.
|Brand||Approximate Cost for 4|
|5 Star Nickel||$80|
The prices are as of March 2005 and will vary depending on time and vendor.
The Schaller pegs have a reputation for spotty quality. The 5 Star pegs are regarded as high quality pegs. The Keith pegs are considered the best quality. I have not heard anything about the Goldtone pegs either way.
I decided to go with the Goldtone pegs for the following reasons:
Goldtone banjo parts tend to be less expensive than other brands, but my experience with them has been good. The guitar tuners that came with the banjo kit have been very good and have the feel of high quality tuners. Taking a chance that their planetary pegs would be equally good, I ordered a set from janetdavismusic.com. The pegs arrived in less than a week. Good service. Here is a photo of the little beauties.
It is a nice, added advantage that their buttons match the button on the 5th peg, as you can see here.
So let's get busy and put these pegs on the banjo!
First, speaking of being cheap, do you know how cheap I really am? I am so cheap, that I not only bought the cheapest pegs, but I also decided not to change the strings for this. I just put those new strings on last week, and I would feel terrible if I just threw them into the trash a week later. I decided to try changing the pegs while keeping the same strings. I have never attempted to do this before, but what is the worst that can happen? I mess it up and have to throw them out! I was going to do that anyway.
Undoing all of the strings at once would make a real mess out of things, so to keep tension on the strings I changed one peg at a time. I started on the 4th string since I figured that, being wound, it would be the easiest one to reattach.
To keep the string from flailing around I put my Kaiser capo on the neck. Like this:
I loosened the string completely, and then here is what I had at the post:
Oh my! I will somehow have to reattach that string when I am done. Oh well, that is for later.
The guitar tuners have a little screw that goes through them to keep them from twisting in the hole under string tension. The planetary pegs have a pin on the underside of the gearbox instead. Here is a photo of the pin on the peg:
You can just make out the pin sticking out above the brass shaft.
I unscrewed the screw from the guitar tuner:
Then I unscrewed the nut from the top of the tuner and pulled the tuner out. Putting the new peg in was just a matter of putting it into the hole and securing it with the washer and nut that came with it. Well.... not totally that simple.
It looked as though the pin on the peg was a bit long to just smash it into the maple head. On a softer wood like walnut or mahogany I would have done that, but I was afraid of splitting the head if I tried to use brute force on the maple. So I drilled a pilot hole with a 1/16 inch drill. The 1/16 inch drill is the smallest drill bit I have, but as I was drilling the hole, I realized that it was way too big for a tight fit with the pin. So I made a very shallow hole so that the pin could still cut into the wood part of the way itself, but it did not have to go quite so far. This seemed to work pretty well, but it could be that the pilot hole is just not necessary. I will never know.
I put the peg in the hole with the pin in the pilot hole and tightened it down with the nut. The shaft of the peg was a loose fit in the hole, so the peg went in easily. But once I had it cinched down it felt pretty solid. Here is the first peg installed on the peghead:
There is a tiny hole in the back of the peghead where the screw that held the guitar tuner went in. I did not fill it in with anything because it is almost invisible, and who knows, we may have to put the other tuners back on in the future. So I just left it. Notice the tangled shred of wire bobbing close by the new peg to taunt me. I have to hook that back up somehow.
I will not repeat what I said as I reattached the string to the peg, this being a family oriented web site and all, but I did finally manage to get it hooked up again. As you can see in the next photo, this is not my finest hour in luthiery.
A nasty enough knot fer sure! My favorite part is the wisp of wrapping wire left dangling as I tormented that poor string back onto the post. If you look closely at the larger photo (click on the image), you can see it hanging over the top of the post. I hope it will hold a tuning.
The rest of the project went about the same as this first peg, the most challenging aspect of it being the reattachment of the truncated strings to the posts. I don't think that I will cheap out on the strings again, but I got it done. Here is a photo of the banjo with its new pegs.
For a better look, here is closeup of the front and back of the peghead. Try to spot the little screw holes in the back. You can see them in the full sized photo that I took this one from, but they are really hard to see in this smaller version.
Finally, here are some photos of the completed banjo, front and back.
Well, that's it for this project. I am pleased with the looks of the new pegs. It makes my banjo look like it has had its ears pinned back, and it is a bit less comical. Click here for a comparison.
I like the more direct action of the planetary pegs versus the guitar tuners. They have a 4 to 1 ratio between the button and the shaft, whereas the guitar tuners have a 12 to 1 ratio. I like the rapid response of the string to the tuner with the lower ratio.
The setup of this banjo is pretty good now. The Moon bridge makes it play better in tune, the action is set nice and low on the fingerboard, and my new pegs look great. I think this may be the last upgrade I do to the Maple Classic. I have been pushing my luck with it lately.
........ of course, it could use some railroad spikes at the 7th and 9th frets. Hmmmmmm....