Fine Tuners/Afterlength

October 5, 2016 at 03:23 AM · I thought I would pose another subjective, controversial, and immeasurable question, as it pertains to something I've been trying to decide. Today I just got my violin back from my luthier after having some work done to the pegs (and some other things I didn't particularly mention, but he touched up anyways. It's like he read my mind...). Before, I had to have fine tuners on all strings, as it was simply impossible to tune otherwise. Now that the pegs tune very smoothly I am able to tune without the use of the fine tuners, so I decided to remove the ones from the a, d, & g. Though, I will say it is a lot quicker to overcome those last few cents with fine tuners than the pegs. Albeit, I'm not very experienced tuning with pegs yet.

So, here's the question, do you think your violin performs particularly better in some capacity from having the strings in contact with the tail piece as opposed to the fine tuners? If so, when do you notice it makes an effect? If not, then why not leave them on for the ease of tuning, especially in scenarios where you need to tune up accurately quickly (i.e. got to rehearsal late, or something of the sort).

Replies (14)

October 5, 2016 at 03:35 AM · Violins sound better with only an E fine tuner. If you do use 4 fine tuners, you should use a tailpiece designed for that.

October 5, 2016 at 04:14 AM · @Lydia Many have said that, as well as the opposite. What I'm asking is if anyone can qualify the differences. I don't know that I can say I hear the difference in what I'm playing with/without them, but I'm also not playing any difficult/demanding music that would push my instrument in a manner that I would expect one.

October 5, 2016 at 03:23 PM · The less metal parts on your violin, the closer the sound is to violin's original design. In this age of high tension strings, we are quite away from the old era sound anyway, so it really does not matter if you use fine tuners or not. You will only add more metallic taste to already metaled strings....

As far as the after-length is concerned, it does have positive impact on overall resonance, responsiveness and somewhat violin power. It will not change the timbre of your instrument, just make it more alive.

Unless you use pure gut strings, or strings with really neat loop, setting proper after-length is impossible.

October 5, 2016 at 03:55 PM · Many years ago, I had lessons with the great Alfredo Campoli. Late in life, he adopted the Hill "Durhill" tuner which had four built-in tuners. He did so because he felt they improved the sound of the instrument so he put them on his Strad (the Dragonetti), his three Roccas, his Pressenda and his John Lott. Later when I purchased one of his Roccas, it was, of course, fitted with a Durhill. I changed it because I didn't like the look of it but I do think the instrument sounded a bit better with it. The contemporary Thomastik tuner is pretty much a copy of the Durhill, though it is pressed metal not cast like the Durhill. The afterlength is quite long. I should also say that Alfredo hooked a Eudoxa gut G and a Golden Spiral gut D to his Durhill. The gut loops seemed to hold well. For his A, he'd by this time switched to a Spirocore on the advice ofhis friend, David Oistrakh.

October 5, 2016 at 04:11 PM · I changed from a standard tailpiece with one fine tuner on the E string to a composite tailpiece with four fine tuners. I believe I found a slight decrease in volume after making the change: the sound seems to be mellower.

I have found though that it is easier to tune the D and G strings with the pegs as long as the pegs are properly fitted. The fine tuners take me more time to adjust for these strings. Although it is helpful to have them for the A and E strings.

I think I might eventually go back to the standard tailpiece but I have become accustomed to the current sound, which I like.


October 5, 2016 at 06:58 PM · I am wondering if anybody ever considered doing a double-blind test on a few violins fitted with integrated fine tuners, all fine tuners, E fine tuner and no fine tuner (with the violins tuned before they are to be played). I don't know what the results would be...

October 5, 2016 at 08:41 PM · This, along with other details some of us obsess about, can improve any violin. From my experience, if violin is great or very good, one will not notice a dramatic improvement in sound. If the violin is average, it may sound better enough to make the violinist happy for time being and delay another purchase. Poor violin will still sound like a poor violin.

In other words, details do matter and do have a compound effect. How big and where it is time to stop obsessing and move forward, depends on the violin in question.

October 5, 2016 at 10:00 PM · Chinrests and the shoulder rests usually have a bigger impact on sound than integrated fine tuners.

October 6, 2016 at 01:46 AM · I think having your violin perfectly in tune every time, for sure, is more important than the 0.5% of additional "resonance" or whatever that you're going to get by removing your fine tuners. But I agree with Lydia that if you're going to have all four, get a tailpiece that has them built in.

October 6, 2016 at 07:12 PM · Paul, that is the approach I use for my orchestral violin - a pair of add-on tuners for a steel E and A, and peg tuning only for the gut D and G, which would be difficult to organise on a tailpiece with four built-in tuners. Sometimes I like to take the steel A and its tuner off and put a plain gut A on in its stead, a simple operation, which it wouldn't be with an integral tuner set-up. Going down the route of changing the tailpiece would be unnecessarily adventurous, unless it's going to be a long-term change.

October 6, 2016 at 07:20 PM · I have wanted to try a steel A since Warchal came out with their Russian A string but I am hesitant to becaise I see some soloists with another fine tuner on the A string which I would like to avoid. Would I bbe able to use a steel A easily without a fine tuner for it?

October 6, 2016 at 09:19 PM · I used to have disdain for those using fine-tuners on any string other than the E. Age and the shift to Dominant strings (that hold their tune a long time) and exacerbate the sticky peg problem have made me a convert. Well, add in that I volunteer with a youth orchestra and tune around 40 violins every Monday night. I see the value of that ability to quickly get the pitch right. Yes, I also use an electronic tuner because rehearsals are just too busy and too noisy to have to play with peg tuning.

As to tone quality - I haven't noticed any difference on my instrument. It makes tuning easier and faster and frankly, at my age I no longer care what others think, nor do I criticize other adults who use them. Whatever works for you is best.

October 6, 2016 at 11:30 PM · Jeff, a steel A can be used with peg tuning if the pegs are perfectly set up (aren't they all, of course!), and the string isn't too high a tension. I don't have any comparative tension figures to hand so I can't recommend anything specific, but at a guess see how you get on with a lower tension A to start with. I suggest having a word with Warchal first.

Oh, and as with all peg tuning, make sure the notches in the nut and the bridge are well lubricated with soft pencil lead - 3B quality should be OK. This is to enable the string to run smoothly and not get caught up by unwanted friction. I relubricate those notches whenever I change a string.

October 7, 2016 at 03:37 AM · I would like to note that, perhaps it's just my ear playing tricks on my mind, but while tuning today I felt a much richer tone (than I remember from the 2 months before) coming from my g string as I played the open G and D chord. Alternatively, I may have also just been flat...

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