Fine Tuning or Plain Tuning

May 26, 2005 at 01:04 AM · Hi all,

When I got my violin it had a fine tuner installed on the E.

The other strings I have to tune with the wooden tuning keys (pegs? excuse my English), which is a rather erratic job as they do not turn smoothly.

Could I install fine tuners on all strings (added weight on the tailpiece could influence the sound---) or concentrate on solving the peg turning problem??

Thank you so much, kind regards, Bert

Replies (12)

May 26, 2005 at 02:12 AM · Hello,

I think that the setup you have currently, with a fine-tuner just on the E string, is pretty conventional. For the hard-to-turn pegs, try dabbing some peg compound on the part that makes contact with the inside of the peg-hole. Peg compound looks like brown lipstick - I believe Hill is one brand of it.

Good luck!

May 26, 2005 at 04:54 AM · I agree, try peg compound. I had a similar problem with one of my instruments and compound on the pegs really did the trick. While you *could* put fine tuners on all the strings, I think you'd actually find smooth-turning pegs easier to use than having four fine tuners. Just remember, you'll have to completely remove the pegs to apply the compound.

May 26, 2005 at 10:12 AM · Pegs need periodic maintenance and good initial setup to work. Lots of little tricks. If the pegs don't work smoothly, see someone who can get them working.

May 26, 2005 at 10:21 AM · i'm actually gonna recomend the the fine tuners. Not good for everybody and i only use one on the e. But when i first started i was dodgy at the tuning thing and needed the tuners. You get used to tuning the more you have to. But as for the grumpy little pegs get that worked out to cause it can somtimes affect your intonation if you have temprimental pegs.

May 27, 2005 at 06:07 AM · Thanks all for your advice, kind regards, Bert

May 28, 2005 at 07:01 AM · Many people say that fine-tuners degrade the sound. However, I have yet to find ANY empirical evidence of this. I believe it's just a snob thing, as good players equate four fine-tuners to being a beginner.

I have been a recording-studio owner/engineer for 25 years, with much experience recording good violinists. I would estimate that only one in twenty ever get their instruments truly in tune with the pegs. Granted, most playing is with the fingers, so a good player can compensate, but it's still better if the strings are dead-on.

(What constitutes "dead on" is a separate issue, as a violin is never truly in tune, but that's a complicated subject for another thread.)

I have four fine-tuners on my violin. They are not the expensive type. I recorded both with and without them, both times with a fresh set of strings. I actually prefer the sound WIth the fine tuners. Every instrument will respond differently, of course, and perhaps with a different tailpiece or bridge, my results would have been opposite. Still, the point is that those tuners are not doing anything seriously negative to the tone.

If the snob-factor gets to you, you could opt for one of those new geared-peg systems. Some folks seem to like them very much. I'm going to try them myself one of these days.

May 28, 2005 at 11:25 AM · Hi Allan,

Thanks for your thoughts,

I certainly will ponder over one and the other.

I'm a very beginning violinist, have a technical back ground, and never expected the multitude of mechanical/engineering details that can be considered in relation to a violin.

Certainly gives it a lot more perspective; I love it,

thanks very much, kind regards, Bert

June 30, 2005 at 06:11 AM · I am playing Dominant strings on a decent violin.

After purchase, I found the Dominant E is too thick at the ball end to fit into the fine tuner. I tried anyway, and the result was the winding got pulled into a sort of ball-knot at the ball end: sort of like how a tailor knots a thread after threading through a needle. I determined the string and tuner were at risk for breaking, so I removed the tuner and put the end of the E string into the tailpiece in the same manner as the other strings. The does make tuning the E much more difficult at first, but now I am used to it. The E is about 4 weeks old now, and is stable, so the need for tuning is greatly reduced.

Surprisingly, this direct mounting style actually improves the sound of the E string - much sweeter. So, perhaps this is one way to overcome the infamous tonal drawback of the Dom E ?

thanks for reading my 2-bits.

On a different topic, has anyone out there tried the Grover machine heads for violin?

June 30, 2005 at 01:18 PM · Having not read many of the posts above mine, here's my advice.

I tune only by the pegs, except for the "E" string, so I can get more precice intonation for that string...why else do we play violin? We are the only stringed instrument to have an E string.

Peg compound is a great idea. I haven't used it lately, because I'm so happy with my pegs as they are, but whenever I used to change my strings, I would dope them up and it kept them really smoothly. Also, it's a good idea, when you change strings, to take a #2 pencil and run it along the nut where the string rubs when you tune it. It helps keep it lubed. Anyway, those are just two ideas.

June 30, 2005 at 11:20 PM · The best argument I know against the use of fine tuners, is that it changes the ratio of string length from the nut to the stop, then over the bridge to the tailpiece. I think the ratio is suppose to be 6 to 1 (correct me if I am wrong on that). The ratio problem can be remedied with some of the new tail pieces with built-in fine tuners designed for the correct ratios.

Having stated my argument for the tail piece with built in fine tuners, now I'll tell you what I don't like about them; I find my strings must be tuned more often. Of course, it is quite simple to do.

By the way, on my "violin", I do not use fine tuners (except for the E string). I use the tail piece with built in tuners on my "fiddle".

July 1, 2005 at 12:14 AM · I use fine tuners on all four strings because I don't have much strength in my hands. The fine turners really help.

Sticky pegs is a common problem. I suggest taking your violin/fiddle to a good luthier. They will probably sell you something (Hill's peg dope, graphite, etc.) you can put on the pegs to make them easier to turn.

July 1, 2005 at 03:23 AM · All pegs except for the "E".

-ross christopher

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