A common thing I read on ukulele social media is how beginners seem to hate friction tuning pegs on ukes. I decided to look into them a little more closely. Guess what... you get what you pay for.
Personally, on smaller traditional looking instruments, particularly sopranos, I don't think you can beat the look of friction pegs. Geared tuners on small instruments can make the neck top heavy and just, kind of, stick out! But it is a worry that friction tuning pegs have gained a reputation to being difficult to use, sticky or just plain useless. This is not true across the board.
Sadly, like many things with the uke today, cheap parts flood the market and it is therefore no wonder that pegs form part of that. The friction pegs on the recent uke that I took to pieces, are some of the worst I have seen and are a nightmare to use for a beginner (I just about got them working). The vast majority of other cheaper ukes that use friction pegs (including some higher cost ones) will use pretty basic friction tuners too. I am used to them, and I can tune with them, but have been working with them for years. A beginner though will find they stick, shoot to over tuning and that they are generally hard to be precise with. A shame, but very common.
However, if you spend only a little extra money, you can find some really nice pegs with a number of parts that honestly will change your perception of friction pegs. The pegs on my Koaloha Soprano are sublime. They look pretty much the same as other friction pegs, but only when using them will you see what I mean. They hold, but turn as smooth as geared pegs, without slipping. Not all friction pegs are alike!
So whilst it may not be cost effective to add £25's worth of better pegs to a £20 ukulele, if you are playing a £100 uke and dissatisfied with the friction pegs, or fancy removing geared tuners to move to a more traditional look, retro fitting them is easy and you can get good quality.
Anyway, I put together this video to show you how they compare, and what goes in to making a higher end peg.
( DIRECT LINK )