finetuners and sound

January 29, 2009 at 07:43 PM ·

I wonder how finetuners affect sound, if they do. I am not an expert (as a fact I am really far far away from being an expert) but I guess vibrations from the strings not only passes through the bridge but also from the tailpiece. Finetuners are metallic: do they affect that vibrations transmision?

Replies (24)

January 29, 2009 at 08:02 PM ·

January 29, 2009 at 08:50 PM ·

I don't think it's really much of a difference. But after changing from a ebony tail piece with a hill tuner to a pernambuco one with 1 carbon tuner it sounds more open and projects a little more. I guess with 4 fine tuners they would add more weight. Guess that's why they have some tailpieces with built in tuners to lighten it up.

January 29, 2009 at 09:39 PM · If you are a beginner you do need a fine tuner so you could avoid snapping your strings especially the E- string while tuning them but with time and as you advance into violin playing, you will naturally find out that you don't necessarily need them any longer because your ear has gotten use to the correct sound of the respective strings that you can tune more accurately than you used to and that fine tuning does not make any much difference in the last 3 strings, then you can remove all except the E- String fine tunner which of course seriously needs it for tuning in small fractions and readily snaps in as much as it responds very well to fine tuning! Also to consider is the type of strings used. If you are using metal strings, then fine tuners are necessary but if synthetic or gut strings, the fine tuners will not make any remarkable change in the tuning of the 3 last strings (G, D, A) if gut or synthetic strings! Then aesthetically, the instrument looks beautiful and senior when you remove all but the E- String's fine tuner. Then like the previous poster, it also sometimes, depend on the individual violinist! Hope this helps!

January 29, 2009 at 09:56 PM ·

January 30, 2009 at 01:44 AM ·

On the violins I make I fit a Hill fine tuner on the E string,  It's enougth if the pegs are working good, and that's what is used by professionals, in general.

Four metal fine tuners will play havoc with the sound, since they are too heavy and may alter the string afterlength also. 

Cello players in general will ask for a tailpiece with built in fine tuners. 


January 30, 2009 at 02:06 AM ·

I concur with the majority. Built-in tuners are certainly needed and helpful for young players and beginners, but a poor quality instrument with 4 separate metal tuners will deaden any meaningful response. Although I am not a purist, I have not yet tried the bois d'harmonie tailpiece due to the price. Otherwise, anything which makes the violin a bit easier to play (and tune) is welcome.

January 30, 2009 at 03:27 AM ·

January 30, 2009 at 03:09 AM ·

Don't a lot of European violinists use 4 fine tuners? 

January 30, 2009 at 03:14 AM ·

January 30, 2009 at 03:50 AM ·

Sorry  Bill,

I didn't mean to offend anyone.  I recall a discussion on this and it was my understanding that violinists in Europe will use 4 fine tuners more frequently than violinists in North America.

If you look at Anne Sophie Mutter, she uses two fine tuners. :-)

Of course, what do I know.


January 30, 2009 at 04:10 AM ·

January 30, 2009 at 04:38 AM · As Luis has said. Fine tuners can wreak havoc with a proper afterlength on a violin, which is detrimental to the resonance of the instrument.

January 30, 2009 at 04:41 AM ·


just to expand  the two fine tuners issue.  This practice was established as standard in the soviet violin school as Oistrakh used it and it wa scompulsory to follow suit or you could end up in the gulags. (Nothing to do with cellists scrotums) Fine tuners are supposed to work with metal strings anmd indeed that is what Oistrakh used-  made by Prim.  You can still get them.

Here in Japan they are coming slightly into fashion.  I know some fine players who use them (Ayu Wakabayashi is one) who say that the sound is not affected and that it is a real help in concert when the a string needs tuning up very quickly.  Note that all the player sI know of are using this extra with synthetic strings.  I have sene it with both Obligato and Dominat.

I use wound gut (Passione) and have also used plain gut which I love.  For these strings I personally feel the sound is affected and would never use one.  I would also note that I don`t care about the tunign issue.  personally I think it is much better for the player to leqarn two disticnt skills.  Firstly, to tune up extremely rapidly and noiselessly during a cocnert and secondly be able to play in tune on out of tune strings.  his latter is soemthign of a lost art as it seems to me more and more of todays players put emphasis on strings of unwavering relaibilty and then complain when they go out.    To me this is an actuall technical limitation. Heifetz use dot deliberatly detune his violin and then demonstarte difficylt @pieces to his students.  Ironcially,  I have also found that despite claims to the contrary there is litlte or no detuning problem with today@s wound gut strings. The Passione stay as well or better in tune than dominats in my experience.   If you do want a strng that stays relentlessly in tune for most of your playign career then I did find Vision to be the best candidate.



January 30, 2009 at 04:49 AM ·

Hi Buri,

I'm an adult student and I deliberately took the 4 fine tuners off of my violin on purpose because I wanted to learn how to tune on the pegs.  That being said, one of the finest violinists I know has 4 fine tuners on her instrument still and jokes that she is probably the only one in the orchestra that does.  I wish I could tune quickly and silently but right now I have to use a tuner.  Someday.  :-)


January 30, 2009 at 06:00 AM ·


I certianly wouldn`t take the e string one off. That is standard.   As for using the pegs you will certainly acquire the ability (assuming you have been taught how to do it correctly) and depending on your hand strength but keep in miond that your pegs have to be functioning well. I guess your new ones will be fine.

Incidentally, over the years tuning with pegs puts a huge and unnatural strain on many peoples hands.  With the evolving of arthritis and such ther eis abolutely no shame in using fine tuners and the other option,  geared pegs which I have never even seen (!) but have bene helpful to some people.



January 30, 2009 at 07:17 AM ·

I use fine tuners on all four strings because my left wrist is weak and I can't tune with the wooden pegs alone.  I use plastic tuning screws, and I hope they don't have the same alleged problems as the metal tuners.

January 30, 2009 at 12:05 PM ·

Hi Buri,

Well yes, I meant I left the fine tuner on the E!  I finally got comfortable tuning the violin and then switched to viola.  If you think tuning a violin can put strain on the arm and hands,.....I think that's one of the reasons I opted for new pegs.  I was really getting tired of fighting with the old ones and they really weren't worth spending any money on having re-hoaned.  The new ones are aesthetically more lovely and SOOOOOOO much easier to turn it is incredible. 

So with regards to fine tuners, if you don't really need fine tuners on anything but the E, why do violists put one on the A???????


January 30, 2009 at 02:07 PM ·

I'm with bill platt on this. Many fiddlers of my acquaintance use 4 fine tuners. It reflects that they  often prefer steel strings. For those with wrist & hand problems that make using pegs difficult or painful, I think it is worth considering Planetary pegs. These don't require that the peghole be enlarged, a drawback in earlier brands like Caspari's. Sue

January 30, 2009 at 03:43 PM ·

January 30, 2009 at 04:11 PM ·

Steel strings are more sensitive to slight adjustments of the pegs. It's harder to hit the right spot when using pegs to tune steel strings. And not all steel strings are cheapos. Helicore is one of the good example as a steel string that produce warm and nice tone, but they're rather more difficult to tune with pegs.

All in all, use a fine tuner if you need it, and take it off if you hate it. Make your life easier.

January 30, 2009 at 06:05 PM ·

Somewhere early on it was said "don't over think it"! Good point. The after-length of the strings (point between bridge crossing and the tailpiece)  is critical to sound. Weight, type of material used and placement all affect sound. Yes steel strings constantly change pitch and need fine tuning i.e always a fine tuner for E. If you play with steel strings or can't tune with pegs yet get a tailpiece with built in tuners, otherwise the standard setup is in order. There is the right way and everything else is a waste of time and money.

January 30, 2009 at 07:44 PM ·

Whitman has a good, light tailpiece which we used for my daughter's 3/4 size violin. I wanted to put one on her full size because she was having trouble tuning with the pegs, but all is fine now.

January 30, 2009 at 07:48 PM ·

My luthier once told me that if I wanted four finetuners a tailpiece with integrated finetuners is better than a standard wooden one with the finetuners added on. He gave weight and afterlength as the main reasons. I since tried a Wittner tailpiece with finetuners built in, with no problems at all for the sound. Putting thicker strings in was a pain, as was putting in strings with a loop, so I switched back to a traditional tailpiece with a finetuner only on the E. Dominants and Visions are easily tuned without finetuners.

(a message with 6 finetuners gets somewhat top-heavy, too:) . Need to fine-tune it.)

February 7, 2016 at 11:48 PM · I use a tailpiece with four fine tuners built in (one violin) and one with add-ons (another violin) and synthetic strings. I use add-ons for one violin because when I first bought it, it only had one fine tuner on the E string. It was a little cumbersome to tune with the pegs, although I got used to it. I added fine tuners onto the tailpiece because I never bothered to change the tailpiece. I can tune with the pegs no problem, and the pegs are in good shape, but sometimes it can be cumbersome to be perfect and it takes longer.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine