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I just bought a 12 string oud/lute from Egypt, and I'm having some problems with its tuning.

Sometimes when I twist the tuning peg to get in tuning, it releases suddenly and drops the tuning all the way back, so I have to twist and press the peg against the hole everytime. When I'm playing, sometimes it releases itself and rolls the tuning back to the start.

I just want to know if it's normal for an oud being rustic this much, or if my oud came with a problem. If so, I need to exchange for a new one quickly.

  • A question you may find interesting. music.stackexchange.com/questions/37983/… – Neil Meyer Jul 8 '16 at 13:58
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    Where did you buy the oud? Do you know the maker? Many ouds in Egypt are souvenir ouds and are quite difficult (if not impossible) to tune/play unless you buy from a reputable maker. Other than that, there are some good clues on the answers provided by other members. – Alejandro García Iglesias Aug 27 at 16:53
  • @AlejandroGarcíaIglesias I'm quite sure it's a souvenir oud, now that you've said that. Thanks for the heads up! – ViniciusPires Sep 16 at 13:46
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I had a similar problem. with a renaissance lute, and fixed the problem with some stuff called "peg dope". This should be obtainable from a shop which sells violins, as they can exhibit the same problem.

If that doesn't solve the problem, then I suspect that you will need to visit a luthier to get the pegs fitted better into the holes in the peg-box.

There is a website for theorbo players (a theorbo is basically a lute with a very long neck, more strings, and even more tuning problems than a normal lute) which has quite a lot of information:

Linda Sayce's Theorbo site

On her site, she has a pdf document all about the problems lutenists have with pegs:

Peg Problems

P.S. I don't want to discourage you, but a famous renaissance lutenist is supposed to have said something along the lines of: "anyone who has played the lute for 40 years has surely spent 30 years tuning it".

  • Thanks, John! I realized that I already knew this problem with violins, but I didn't think that this could be the same problem with lutes. Thanks a lot for the insight :) – ViniciusPires Jul 7 '16 at 22:03
  • Make sure you have the strings going to the right pegs (it's not quite "obvious" on an oud!) , and that the strings are not wound round the pegs carelessly so they are at angle that is trying to pull the pegs sideways out of the holes in the peg box. Looking at a couple of oud websites, there also seem to be two different sets of string gauges and tunings for the Turkish and Arabic traditions. Maybe lighter strings will work better on your instrument. – user19146 Jul 8 '16 at 3:08
  • " I don't want to discourage you..." I love the (in)famous instruction on "how to tune your lute" in one of the 16th century English tutors: "First tune the top string as high as it will go without breaking it". Er, right .... remind me again how many spare strings you said we should buy before we start? ;) – user19146 Jul 8 '16 at 3:11
  • @user19146 I guess in the 16th century any such advice was valuable in the lack of any sort of tuners. – Alejandro García Iglesias Oct 10 at 2:27

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