How To Tune a Violin

This is an essential activity before playing anything. Bear in mind that your violin is basically constructed from materials that can react to changes in temperature, humidity etc (it is wood), and is built with some flexibility in its structure. Add to this the variables of the strings – new or old? (new strings need to settle down a little before the stay in tune). Metal core, synthetic core or gut? (gut are more difficult to keep in tune). Finally add to this the pressure and stresses that are applied to the different parts of the instrument during the course of playing, and you will begin to understand how tuning is likely to go out, and that you need to know how to make tuning adjustments.

This may be something you will need to be able to do quite quickly, and it is something that you will get a feel for in time.

The Notes

Violin strings are tunes to G, D, A, and E (with the thinnest string being E). This is the opposite way around to for example to the first 4 strings of a guitar (with normal tuning).

Finding the Notes

There are several different ways of making sure that your violin strings are in tune with G, D, A and using a digital tuner. These can be attached to the violin (e.g. at the bridge). Coloured lights (red for too flat or sharp and green for in tune) and / or a visible arrow or ‘gauge’ design will help guide the process. A chromatic tuning function can give more accuracy.

Tuning the Violin to audible note which could come from a piano or keyboard, a tuning fork, pitch pipes, other instruments or even online tuners. If you’re a beginner and you’re tuning to a piano, make sure you know where middle C is so you don’t tune the violin too high or too low by an octave.

How To Tune The Violin

With each string (if done from scratch e.g. with a new string or a very out of tune string), start by tuning it (open) to the required note as closely a possible using the pegs at the head end of the violin. Broadly speaking these are used to get the note in the right ‘ball park’. Many players find it easier if the flat part of the tuning pegs are resting in a vertical position.

Behind the bridge on the tailpiece of the violin are the ‘fine tuners’. For each string use these to refine the tuning as closely to the note as possible.

Other Things to Remember

You may have to use a bit more of the peg than and the fine tuner to find the right balance and you may find that tuning one string slightly affects the tuning of another string, so you may need to check the tuning of each, and of each string’s tuning in relation to eachother several times. With time and experience however you will develop a method, a feel and an ear for the task.

Happy Tuning.

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