Fine tuners on A and E string?

December 12, 2007 at 03:49 AM · I currently am the concertmaster of my local high school string orchestra and I have to tune the orchestra using the A from my violin. I often cannot get the A to exactly 440 because I am using pegs that frankly don't turn very smoothly, and the conductor threatened my position if I don't get it in tune. I have tried peg dope, but that does not work. However, I would like to install fine tuner on my A string in addition to the E string. I have a loop-end E string connected to a corresponding fine tuner, and no fine tuners on the rest of the strings. Do you think I should get two ball end fine tuners for both the A and E string to make tuning easier? (tuning on the G and D string are easier, but tuning the A string is tough because of the awkward location to tune using my left arm)

Replies (22)

December 12, 2007 at 04:25 AM · You have several options.

Wittner makes a tailpiece with integral fine-tuners for all the strings. There's also folks who make geared tuning pegs that look exactly like the regular ebony pegs, but actually contain planetary gears that make tuning very accurate and painless. The set needs to be installed by a luthier and isn't cheap. Might run a couple hundred dollars installed, I'm not sure. Or you could opt for a second fine tuner.

The problems with add-on fine tuners are that they can damage the top of the fiddle if the string breaks; they make you look a tad amateurish perhaps, and they interfere with the proper spacing of the string between the bridge and tailpiece, which may have an adverse effect on tone.

The problem with the Wittner is you have to buy and install a tailpiece, but it's cheaper than the planetary pegs.

The problem with the planetary pegs is cost. If you have a Strad you might not want them, as they are slightly heavier than plain wood, but it's not likely to make a noticeable difference in tone for most folks' violins.

December 12, 2007 at 04:34 AM · Greetings,

if I was in your position I think I would put a fine tuner on the a string. I recnely did a cocnert with a soloist who does just that after seeing Oistrakh do it. She says it does not affect the tone or string life with obligatos or otehr synthetics. Actually I am not convinced but I think that is a minimal issue compared ot keeping your psoition and respect,

Cheers,

Buri

December 12, 2007 at 12:00 PM · I dunno if the E string tuner I have now is part of the tailpiece or not. It is a loop end tuner. can I use a ball end tuner with the a string at the same time?

December 12, 2007 at 12:48 PM · A trick is to use a Hill type (Loop end)fine tuner for the A and then put the hole in the ball on it. Works fine for dominant A but might be a problem for others. The L shaped ball end tuner dampens the sound to much for my taste.

December 12, 2007 at 02:20 PM · I would start taking the violin to a good luthier, if the A peg is not working well, it must be fixed. Once it's fixed and you think you do need a fine tuner, then you can study the possible alternatives, including using a Hill type fine tuner on the A string.

I don't like metal or plastic tailpieces, like Wittner, they may play havoc with the sound. When you change the tailpiece, the sound may change too. In general professionals will only use a fine tuner on the E string, preferebly a Hill type one.

December 12, 2007 at 02:50 PM · A fine tuner for the a-string is not a bad thing to do , in itself. But that doesn't really fix the problem of the peg not turning properly.You might want to fix that first, then decide on an extra fine tuner.

For a player, things like bad pegs seem like a huge deal sometimes. but for a luthier, it's an easy fix for the most part. And we don't bite :)

Have you met any luthiers in you're area yet? I think it's good for all musicians to have some kind of relationship with a fiddle fixer. It's just like finding a good mechanic.

December 12, 2007 at 04:13 PM · In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with two fine tuners. Anne Sophie Mutter uses fine tuners on both her E and her A. So it's not "amateurish". What ever works best for you. Though, I've been wondering how those pegs with the gears work.... cause my D string is KILLING me......

December 12, 2007 at 04:50 PM · I have no personal experience with the geared pegs, but I've never seen any complaints from folks who have them. For what that's worth. Perhaps some disgruntled soul can prove me wrong?

December 12, 2007 at 05:24 PM · The pegs on my Luis & Clark violin are geared. They work great.

December 12, 2007 at 05:37 PM · Do you have to alter the violin to install geared pegs?

Ihnsouk

December 12, 2007 at 07:45 PM · If you have your pegs checked out by a prof maker, there is no reason to have geared pegs at all.

December 13, 2007 at 06:40 PM · The geared pegs are fitted into the same holes the regular pegs reside.f the holes have been enlarged over the years they may need to be bushed. But it'd be the same as fitting new wooden pegs.

December 13, 2007 at 09:34 PM · Bob, Thank you!

Ihnsouk

December 14, 2007 at 07:58 AM · My violin has excellent pegs...I have hardly any need to use fine tuners for the G/D/A (gut) except for the E (steel).

Now on my viola...for some reason, I've always appreciated having a bois d'harmonie tailpiece with four integrated fine tuners. Sure, I've gotten comments in the line of "that's what kids have." My response is: What is more important: the appearance, or having the ability to easily ensure that all the open strings are in tune?

December 14, 2007 at 11:17 AM · I'm mostly a viola maker now, and I got one Bois D'Armonie tailpiece with 4 fine tuners.

First I found it too heavy and I had to work with it in order to make it 10 grams lighter. Then the litle arm that holds the E string broke... And with Evahs C, G, and D, the amount of tuning adjustments we can do with the fine tuners is too small, I think (but with steel strings they may work better).

December 14, 2007 at 11:38 AM · luis/michael/david, would you be concerned about disturbance of the after-lengths with both metal tuners added to a regular endpiece?

December 14, 2007 at 02:10 PM · Hill type fine tuners will not interfer with string afterlength, but those fine tuners with long arms will. String afterlength is quite an important thing in the set up.

December 15, 2007 at 05:27 PM · Go ahead and use two fine-tuners. Two is a good choice. My daughter's nice violin from Eastern Europe (over $2,000) has two fine-tuners. Go to www.Johnsonstrings.com and pick out a fine tuner from the violin accessories section. You can get a Wittner Stable Style fine-tuner for just $2 that attaches to your tailpiece.

Many cheap violins have perfection pegs on all four.

December 15, 2007 at 04:02 PM · Look at it this way: What's more amateurish, having fine tuners or having out of tune open strings?

December 15, 2007 at 05:32 PM · Well. I personally use only 1 fine tuner on my A(im a violist). My teacher uses fine tuners on every strings. She is a retired violist of the ASO. Well, it might add some extra weight to your tail peice, but other than that(and a possible change in sound) putting one on your A and E should be fine.

December 15, 2007 at 05:51 PM · I read somewhere that for the more practical minded, it's just a matter of druthers. Some very expensive instrument players...

Personally, if I get it close enough to where I can hear the harmonies consistently across the string harmonies after grabbing each with a keyboard than tuning each? I'm ready to play. But that's just me.

One of my guitarist buddies who I played with in rock band, was tuning all the time....

December 16, 2007 at 02:59 AM · There's one school of thought which says fine tuners are great for steel strings but that there's a noticeable degradation of sound with gut or synthetic strings. I believe Oistrakh used a steel A (correct me if I'm wrong), so he was still doing the "okay" thing by some people's standards.

I'm sure it depends on the instrument as well. I would think that the finer the instrument the greater the chance of a noticeable difference in sound. A cheap fiddle with all steel strings--no biggie if you have fine tuners all across the board.

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