You know the feeling. It’s been a while since you last played so when you pick up your guitar, the first thing you do is reach for the tuning pegs.
And they don’t move.
You twist them and turn them but they just won’t budge, and you quickly begin to worry that if you try to force them, they’ll snap, leaving the screw permanently embedded in the guitar.
You’re facing a real dilemma. Do you keep trying to tune your guitar and risk seriously damaging your instrument or take it to a repair shop and ask a professional to take a look at what appears to be a small problem?
In fact, stuck guitar pegs may be a sign of a pretty severe problem but it is one that you can fix yourself.
The most likely cause of a stuck guitar peg is high humidity. You’ll have left your guitar unprotected from changes in humidity levels so as the amount of moisture in the air increased, the guitar absorbed more of it into the wood. That caused the wood to swell, gripping the tuning pegs tighter than usual.
Take it to a repair shop and the first thing they’ll do is to restore the guitar to its optimal humidity level of around 50 percent.
You can do the same thing yourself. If high humidity has flooded your wood, lower humidity should release the moisture and free those tuning pegs. But before you buy a dehumidifier and leave it in the room with your guitar, remember that too low humidity will also damage the wood. It can cause it to dry and crack, break the joins and shrink the fingerboard. You’ll notice that the strings buzz in high registers — and you’ll miss that old problem you had of tight tuning pegs.
You will need that dehumidifier but you’ll also need a hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels and make sure that you don’t overdo it.
And once you’ve fixed the problem, you should thank your tuning pegs for the warning.
You Can Ignore The Fingerboard, But Not The Tuning Pegs
Variations in humidity can cause serious problems to your guitar — and if it makes you feel any better, it’s not just guitarists who face this risk; owners of violins, cellos, pianos and just about any wood, stringed instrument have the same problem. Stuck pegs are relatively easy to solve. The other problems are not and if the pegs are the only issue, you’ve received a valuable warning. You might be able to ignore changes in the height of the fingerboard until it’s too late but you can’t ignore frozen tuning pegs.
Don’t just wait for your tuning pegs to stick again and then unstick them. Keep your guitar safe by keeping your instrument at the right humidity levels. It’s not difficult. It’s not expensive. And it will save you a trip to the repair shop that could require a lot more than unsticking your pegs.