How to Tune the Violin

July 2, 2007 at 02:04 PM · What's the best way to tune your violin if you haven't got a good grasp of the right pitch yet? Do the electronic tuners that attach to the bridge to catch the vibration really work? I tune my violin using a pitch pipe, which becomes useless when I have to tune while everyone else is playing. And recently I've found that my strings occasionally go out of tune in the middle of a piece.

Replies (20)

July 2, 2007 at 03:23 PM · at orchestra rehearsals i usually come early to tune my violin before other players come. i find it kinda hard to tune up when there are other noises.

my friend has that kind of tuner that you mentioned, the one that's used by attaching it to the violin and plucking the string so that the tuner catches the vibration. i'm not sure, but i once tried using it and after i finished tuning with it i double-checked with a different tuner (a casio tuner that has a pointer) it shows that all four strings are slightly out of tune. (either slightly higher or lower). and both tuners were set to A=440. hm.

pauline

July 2, 2007 at 10:51 PM · Greetings,

probably the best way to tune your violin asan individual is a tuning fork. Pitch pipes are unreliable and electronics are an expensive verison of unreliable and not in tune anyway.

Tuning in orhcetsra is a question of experience as much as anything. Some people say the correct way is to play a slow fairly quite bow stroke at the tip. Unfortunatkey you may not be able to hera becaus ehte other players are hacking away relentlessy in the lower half without even stopping to listen to what they are doing.

Cheers,

Buri

July 3, 2007 at 01:47 AM · I agree with Buri: get a tuning fork :-)

After gently striking the tuning fork, place the butt end (not the tines!) onto your cheekbone beside your ear. This will transmit the tuning fork's vibrations via bone conduction straight to your inner ear; you'll find that you will be able to hear the tone regardless of the noise around you.

You can then put your violin up to your free ear to compare whether or not it's in tune.

July 3, 2007 at 07:34 AM · You can hear it really well if you stick it on your teeth.

July 3, 2007 at 07:55 AM · A bowed string will sound just a little higher than the same string plucked. The difference, on my violin, is no more than one or two Hz. Still, that may explain the difference in tuner readings.

July 3, 2007 at 11:27 AM · Does anyone here use peg drops to prevent this? If so... what do you think of them?

July 3, 2007 at 12:54 PM · Tuning well and efficiently is one more thing to study and practice :) I dislike those clip-on tuners. They seem clunky to use, and when I tried one, I ended up wanting to adjust things a cent or two, anyway. A couple of tricks in a crowd are to bend over when seated, so you can cradle or surround your violin, or to play directly at a music stand or facing into a corner. All help a bit to get your sound to you and block outside racket. Sue

July 4, 2007 at 09:37 AM · Hey, thanks a lot you all. This saves me the trouble of getting an electronic tuner (which is not cheap, mind you). I'll try the pitch fork first and hopefully will get better at identifying the right pitch as I go along.

July 4, 2007 at 03:12 PM · Hi,

electronic "clip-on" tuners do work, but - in my opinion - are best when paired with fine tuners.

Another helpful hint for tuning when in an orchestra: turn your head to the right and bend it forward to benefit from the sound exiting the f-hole. This will cut through the other sounds better since the character of the tone is different (and louder) from the one you hear in normal playing position.

Greetings, Juergen

July 5, 2007 at 03:18 AM · A tuning fork is a simple and affordable way for you to familiarize yourself with the actual sound of the A note versus the subtle nuances (physical and tonal) of your violin. Later on, this will help you single out your instrument out of the cacophony of your performing group.

The problem with electronic tuners of the meter/needle type is that you're focused on a visual cue (i.e., the physical movement of the needle, the number of LEDs that light up, or whatever) instead of an audible cue.

July 5, 2007 at 09:36 AM · Money-wise, I will go for the pitch fork. But here the pitch fork available is only for A, at least in the stores I've frequented. Although in a professional orchestra A is all it takes, I still am not familiar with the pitch of the rest of the strings. What to do... ?

July 5, 2007 at 10:42 PM · Greetings,

sing. If you don`t have the sounds in your head then you cannot begin to play the violin.

Cheers,

Buri

July 6, 2007 at 07:52 AM · Buri, my singing pitch is usually right on, but I can't identify the notes yet. Just beginning to learn solfeggio.

July 6, 2007 at 08:12 AM · Hi again, Putch!

You really won't be able to find a tuning fork other than A. I'm sorry, I probably should've mentioned that before but I presumed that you knew (moral of the story, don't presume! :-P)

The tuning fork is used to tune the A string, after which you use the A string as a frame of reference for all the other strings. You can ask a seasoned violinist to show you how it's done.

Otherwise, you might be better off with a pitch pipe. There are pitch pipes available for violins with G, D, A, and E combined in the same set; they sort of look like a harmonica or pan flute. Try looking in JB Music, Perfect Pitch, Yamaha, or anywhere else that sells violin parts.

July 7, 2007 at 02:02 AM · Yes, I assumed as much since I have been asking about pitch forks at the stores since way back. I use a pitch pipe and it's serving me well, for now. But books I have read and the comments of the people here have confirmed the fact that this will go out of tune eventually. I will have to wing it, for now. What I do is, as soon as I recognize that my strings have gone off key in the middle of a piece, I just adjust my fingers to find the right tone. I don't mind doing this, but maybe it's not the right way things should be done.

Anyways, I am trying to ask around for teachers who will help me progress. At yesterday evening's practice I really liked the sound of my violin as I was going through the slower hymns. Now if I could only bow better, do vibrato, and get a handle on the perfect pitch, I think making music will be quite a pleasurable experience.

July 8, 2007 at 02:26 PM · If, when you're tuning the strings, you're unsure of what each string is supposed to sound like relative to the rest, keep in mind that the jump between strings is the same as the opening notes of "Twinkle, Twinkle".

So set the pitch of A correctly (pitch pipe, tuning fork or whatever). Then base the other strings on the melody. Eventually, you'll be able to "sense" the correct tuning between strings without having to sing the melody in your head.

July 8, 2007 at 05:44 PM · Using a tuning fork, Buri? Doh! I bought an expensive tuner (Korg, OT-12) allegedly used by concert conductors. Can I return it a year after the purchase? :-)

July 8, 2007 at 10:35 PM · just take pride in being more sophisticated than me.

July 9, 2007 at 06:24 AM · Putch,

It's perfectly acceptable to adjust your fingers midway through a performance ONLY IF you're a seasoned violinist and/or you're already very familiar with your own instrument's unique sound.

You need to learn the basic positions so that when you shift, you have a frame of reference so that your fingers don't get lost on the fingerboard.

Hope this helps; just took a quick peek at violinist.com while at work... I'm not able to properly compose my thoughts and words as well as I'd like :-P

Ciao for now

July 9, 2007 at 12:38 PM · Yes, someone told me that the key to this was mastering the intervals. On that note, I guess "Twinkle Twinkle" is more than just a nursery tune and Suzuki is actually training one to do more than just play the notes.

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