Tuner recommendations?

January 4, 2014 at 09:35 PM · What kind of tuner do you recommend for the violin? My husband has a clip-on for his mandolin, but all of the places on my violin are a little too wide to clip it on to, unless I clip it on the bridge. Is that where I should clip it on? Or is there a better place?

Replies (43)

January 4, 2014 at 09:52 PM · My favourite tuner is an app for the iphone (it may be available for android?) called cleartune. In the setting tab you can select for 'violin' family of instruments so that you aren't tuning to wrong temperament, and if you have your phone or ipad on your music stand you can easily see the tuner as you pluck or bow the string as you tune. If you are trying to tune with other people tuning nearby it will pick up environmental sounds, so is best to find your own little corner.

January 4, 2014 at 10:05 PM · I have a Snark clip on tuner. It clips to the back of the scroll and works well.

January 5, 2014 at 03:33 AM · I have a clip on tuner (similar to the Snark) which clips on the top side of the peg box between the G and D pegs. From there I can see it out of the corner of my eye so I can use it to check pitch as well as tuning which is very useful when practising shifting.

Just make sure that the feet are not too wide or else you will not have enough room to clip it there.

January 5, 2014 at 05:18 AM · i use gStrings on my g2. just tune the a and the rest should be tuned by ear

January 5, 2014 at 10:44 AM · tuner on rye has always been the choice of pros....

January 5, 2014 at 03:39 PM · Amanda - your discussion seems to be focused on clip-on tuners, although that is not the question in the title. There is an enormous variety of different kinds of tuners out there from iphone apps to tuning forks to tuners or tuner/metronome combinations you can buy at your local luthier. There are no right answers to your question as posed. However, if you want a clip-on, I have no insight into those and what the problems are in terms of your set-up. Sorry.

January 6, 2014 at 12:42 AM · Nothing wrong with clipping onto the bridge. That's where I normally put an electronic tuner. The best of those I have seen is the clip-on Peterson strobe tuner. It has a setting specifically for violin with perfect fifths. When I'm tuning from scratch, as I often do in the shop, I use a pitch pipe to get very close, then touch up.

January 6, 2014 at 12:51 PM · How come nobody mentioned the only reasonable answer - a tuning fork?

I wouldn't be caught using an electronic tuner.

No decent player I know uses such devices for tuning a violin, because there's no need for it and it's embarassing. You show that you need to look at a display because you can't hear the difference.

Just for the record, I use several electronic tuners on stage, but only for guitar and only because there you can tune without sound.

January 6, 2014 at 01:44 PM · Tobias, some of us aren't advanced enough to use a tuning fork. There are a variety of experience levels on this board.

January 6, 2014 at 01:54 PM · Buri, do you mean rye bread, rye whiskey, or rye whisky (if that exists)?

January 6, 2014 at 02:18 PM · Tobias - if you look at my post, you will see that I mentioned tuning forks. I even have one, although I do not use it regularly.

January 6, 2014 at 02:27 PM · Sorry, I didn't want to be harsh. Most of my pupils cannot use a tuning fork.

But when one isn't so advanced, he/she has two possibilities:

- I arrange myself with my shortcomings and get used to them.


- I learn it as fast as possible

Learning to use a tuning fork is in fact easier than to play twinkle twinkle with proper intonation. So I can see no use of those things with violin players.

I would seriously recommend to get rid of the dependence on electronic tuners asap. Bad habits are hard to overcome.

January 6, 2014 at 02:34 PM · I use a Korg Chromatic Tuner and recommend ti to all of my students. No need to clip it on anywhere it hears the notes very well just sitting on the music stand. Good Luck!

January 6, 2014 at 03:15 PM · I too use a Korg - at least for the past 15 years or so. For the 60 years before that I used a tuning fork. But since I play trios with a pianist once a week, an electronic tuner will get the lowest string in better tune* for the ensemble than will harmonic tuning - especially since I play cello in that group. Also the electronic tuner allows one to vary the basis (i.e., A=440 Hz) since our pianist's instrument is tuned to 441, so I keep my cello tuned to 441, unless I'm going to play with another group.

The cellist David Finckel advocates using an electronic tuner, as he does, and as the entire Emerson Quartet did when he was their cellist. It eliminates any disagreements on that score. There are enough other intonation problems in the quartet literature.

*Harmonic tuning of a viola or cello C string will not be exactly in tune with a piano's C. Before I bought my Korg tuners, I would always tune to the piano's A AND C for trios.


January 6, 2014 at 03:17 PM · No opinion, here, on tuners for tuning -- I feel folks should just use whatever works for them (personally, I'm a tuning fork guy). But in selecting an electronic tuner, I'd consider getting one that has a tone generator so it can produce tones as well as recognize them. I wouldn't use it for tuning, but it would be a really handy way of creating a drone sound to assist with practicing scales.

January 6, 2014 at 05:42 PM · I was taught in a early state that you have to adjust the pitch according to the situation, i.e. to narrow the 5ths when needed.

I'm very surprised to hear a renowned musician does it the easy way.

Maybe it's because I'm an european oldtimer who cringes when people clink wine glasses and not grasp them by the stem.

January 6, 2014 at 08:39 PM · There we go again with the shock and awe at people doing things 'the easy way'. It's like the horror at mechanical pegs. Shrug + eye roll.

Get over yourself.

I used tuning forks too. Big whoop. Now It makes for an extra piece of equipment in the case that then has an entire section in a community orchestra taking umpteen times as long to agree on the tuning. FOR WHAT? To show people my archaic but genuine musicianship?

I carry my mobile phone every where; at orchestra it's 2 to a stand taking turns get tuned in a snap, pass it back. And we all agree at least on those open strings ;)

January 6, 2014 at 09:15 PM · Sharelle, what do you mean - AGREE on the tuning? In ANY level of orchestra, youth orchestra, community orchestra - you tune to a single A. Preferably from the oboe, but if it's just strings, the leader plays the A and everyone tunes to that.

And if you can't hear when the strings are in tune, how do you expect to play in tune?

January 6, 2014 at 09:28 PM · With the violin I am a recent beginner (<3yrs), but as a musician some would call me ancient.

I have tuning forks, several in guitar cases and one set aside for the violin. The only problem is I have not been able to figure out how to hold the tuning fork, bow the violin and turn the peg. This would be a great service for one who knows and can make videos.

Being a former church musician (guitar, wooden flutes, etc.) I become too reliant on the electronic devices.

The one thing I did learn when tuning a guitar to a piano is to have them play a major chord for each string you are trying to tune. Do not try to tune to individual strings.

I found nothing that helps much with an organ.

January 6, 2014 at 10:58 PM · Malcolm, of course we are all tuning to a single A. And it would be lovely if the oboist turned up for each rehearsal with a ready reed and could play a steady A. But this is a genuine community orchestra, so stuff happens. And even though the conductor has instructed the horns to stop twiddling once they tune, they keep on flubbing. The conductor was requested to take the role at the retirement of our director 4 seasons ago and is still to be replaced permanently. There is no permanent orchestra leader. There is no 2 nds leader - just the two chaps who are willing to sit at the front. The previous leader was hospitalised for 3 seasons and needed a break. The orchestra has enormous goodwill but never had someone take a development role (May change this season).

Under such circumstances, the strings take the opportunity to tune a little earlier, but we have a very short time frame and competing noise. And we use the electronic tuner.

January 6, 2014 at 11:15 PM · Greetings,

well, is use an electronic tuner for the a simply because it is easy? Never looked at the dials and flashing lights. One thing I do recommend beginners is carry a tuning fork around with you and listen to it dozens of times every a day. Then try listening , waiting and singing the a. When you have that down start trying to sing an a and then check it with the fork and see if you are sharp or flat. By how mch?

an interesting exercise,



January 6, 2014 at 11:26 PM · My tone engineer used to say (sitting in front of a starship like high end mixing console) "ok, let's see what we hear".


January 7, 2014 at 12:15 AM · There does seem to be a realization that some environments can force the issue.

I used to like to tune the A and then tune the instrument to that. Some of my friends thought the electronics with the "violin" setting or the "stretched guitar" setting were close enough.

I just remembered what must be somewhat of a odd sight. Several years ago I went to a concert in a very lively hall and I remember something out of place; A contact electronic tuner on a lute.

I know my OT120 has historical temperaments but I didn't think any of the smaller tuners did.

I think I will start carrying a tuning fork with me again. Now where do you touch the violin with the tuning fork, or do you?

January 7, 2014 at 12:45 AM · One thing I do recommend beginners is carry a tuning fork around with you and listen to it dozens of times every a day. Then try listening , waiting and singing the a.

I have used a tunning fork always, and in the beginning I did this exercise. Now I can hear and sing the A, and I can tune my instruments before hearing the fork. But I don't have perfect pitch so I always need to check if I have tuned correctly.....

January 7, 2014 at 08:19 AM · "Now where do you touch the violin with the tuning fork?"

Here's my routine:

I hold the violin neck in my left hand and put the back end of the instrument on my right upper leg.

I hit the tuning fork against my knee. Ideal would be a rubber hammer, but usually there aren't any around. The knee is soft and hard at the same time. The edge of a table or a chair is too hard; it makes an awful sound, and can be damaged.

I press the foot of the vibrating tuning fork lightly against the top of the bridge. When the A string is in tune, it answers the tuning fork by resonating.

Now I would be curious to hear about different routines.

Annoyingly I have to use different tuning forks for different settings. The classical folks stupidly have moved to 442, the rest is on 440. My ear has adapted to 442, so when I tune a guitar by ear it's always 442, but default setting on electronic tuners and band keyboards is 440, and when advanced students enter with a already tuned instrument there is a difference. I would have preferred to stay on 440.

January 7, 2014 at 10:28 AM · I press the foot of the vibrating tuning fork lightly against the top of the bridge. When the A string is in tune, it answers the tuning fork by resonating.

Am gonna try this next time............

January 7, 2014 at 02:54 PM · For those of you that like to use a tuning fork, take a look at tuning fork resonator boxes.


Cheaper ones can be found using google but the Wittner one is very nice. Beautiful tone that sustains for several seconds.

January 7, 2014 at 10:26 PM · I use clip-on tuners for guitar and mandolin - but usually I'm playing in noisy environments (e.g. bluegrass jams) where a tuner with a microphone would pick up every other instrument in the room. For violin and viola, I've gone to tuning forks; I keep one in each instrument's case. I strike the fork and touch the end to the top of the bridge; this gives plenty of volume. I've been in the habit of plucking the A string to compare it with the fork, but I like that idea about letting the string resonate, and will give it a try.

January 7, 2014 at 10:37 PM · When I use a fork I set it on the top near midstring, then put a fingernail next to the a string. When it is in tune I can feel the string vibrating against the fingernail. I can never hear the string "answering" the fork.

April 20, 2015 at 06:58 PM · Aloha! I am a professional violinist and Suzuki teacher in Hawaii.

We just launched our new online store ALOHA TUNERS featuring the Charactuneâ„¢ digital clip-on tuners that comes in fun colors and shapes like Aliens, Reindeers, Owls and Batman.

They work on any instrument - stringed, fretted, brass and drummed- but they come with presets for violin, guitar, ukulele, bass and chromatic mode.

No more boring black box-shaped tuners! They work by vibration so they must clipped on to the violin peg. Calibrated to 440Hz. Made of sturdy silicone rubber, the tuner head is 360-rotational so it is visible from any angle.

The Charactuneâ„¢ tuners are kid-friendly and also great for musicians of any age and level looking to practice slowly, note-by-note with a tuner.

For more photos and info, please check us out at http://www.alohatuners.com

April 20, 2015 at 07:15 PM · Tuning fork.

April 20, 2015 at 07:22 PM · I like the tuning fork too. Easiest to use with one of those resonators. The problem with the clip on tuner is that it tells you whether you are in tune or not (red or green light, typically), but what it means in practice is that the two frequencies match within some specific tolerance interval. I'd like to know what that interval is.

April 20, 2015 at 09:43 PM · I too opt for the tuning fork - as accurate as you'll ever need, stable, lasts for ever, nothing to go wrong, no batteries, and it has been around for over 300 years with no complaints. Furthermore, the mathematics underpinning the design of this apparently simple object is encouragingly complex - the same sort of math that engineers use when designing big bridges and other large structures.

April 22, 2015 at 05:54 PM · The idea of a tuning fork appeals to me, but it also sounds like it would complicate things. I depend on my left hand to support the violin, so I would need put something down constantly to strike it.

I typically use a tuner (Korg TM-50) to get my A, and then tune the rest by ear. But maybe I'll start having it sound the A.

April 22, 2015 at 09:04 PM · Fork. Train your ear. Touch it on the bridge -- not a hard thing to do.

April 22, 2015 at 10:59 PM · When I use a fork (rarely these days with better options) I set it on the top where I can get a fingernail very close to, but not touching, the A string. When I feel the string vibrate I know I'm close. But there is a small range where that will happen. My preferred tuner right now is the D'Addario violin tuner, made by Planet Waves. Very sensitive and cheap. Clamps on the body without damage and is out of the way. If you need to tune to a different A, such as 442, it is simple. Try that with a fork.

April 23, 2015 at 01:01 AM · Laying the violin in your lap to tune with a fork is a good way to go about things. If at home, kitchen table, counter top, coffee table, are all viable choices.

I have ordered a NS Micro Violin Tuner. it is made especially for violin and clips onto the body. I cannot attest to its usefulness and clip-on-ability, but at $15 it seems like a low-risk option to try.

Edit: upon further research, the NS Micro tuner is the same as the Daddario referenced above.

April 23, 2015 at 03:04 AM · Some of the clip-on tuners are accurate and easy to use, but the ones I have tried so far all use equal-tempered tuning.

If you want to use just-temperament, then you can tune the A string with the clip-ons, but should tune the other strings by ear using beat patterns.

April 23, 2015 at 12:18 PM · I've found over the years that if you tune regularly with a tuning fork and/or play in an orchestra that tunes to the same pitch (usually A440 for many people) then you get to remember that frequency and can often tell just by touching the A string when taking the violin out of its case that it is slightly out of tune.

April 23, 2015 at 03:46 PM · While I carry a fork, I make extensive use of the ClearTune app on my smartphone. The ability to specify temperaments and calibrate it to your preferences makes it extremely useful.

April 23, 2015 at 04:35 PM · I have experienced much the same thing as Trevor. The fork is especially good for improving your pitch. Ditto for a metronome which gives you a strong A440 tone. However, when you use one of these electronic tuners, you are tuning primarily by the EYE as you watch the needle, not by the EAR, and consequently you may never acquire the ability to hear accurately when your violin is out of tune. I have noticed that this is a growing problem with a lot of younger players who rely on electronic tuners. All too frequently they don't seem to hear it immediately when their violin has gone out of tune. Their device has been doing the work of careful listening for them.

April 23, 2015 at 11:50 PM · I've got some of those NS Micro Violin Tuner (from Amazon) and they are great. I keep one clipped on each of a couple of violins, and on my cello I clip one on the bridge - juust when tuning. I play in 3 groups that all tune to A-440Hz, so it's easy. And for plying with a tempered piano, the tempered tuning gives a perfect match even on an instruments lowest string.

The NS Micro Violin Tuner does not have a microphone, it only senses frequency by contact - so it makes no difference what other noise is going on - in orchestra the drums, piccolos, trumpets,and flutes can all be blasting away - and you can still tune. The tuning range is the greatest of any tuner I have.


April 24, 2015 at 10:51 PM · A few years ago I was a cello coach at a rehearsal of a children's school orchestra in the 12-15 age range. The conductor started tuning the orchestra with a loud electronic tuner, which she rapidly waved to and fro in a wide arc in front of the kids. For the next few minutes I and another string coach were busy sorting out a wide range of badly mistuned A's. Anyway, I suppose the kids now knew what the Doppler Effect was!

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