Is there any harm in tuning to A string without tuning A first?
I admit that I'm quite lazy when it comes to tuning my A string. I normally just pick the violin up and tune the strings with whatever my A is currently tuned to. Is there any harm in doing this? I guess I've just always assumed that as long as my strings are tuned relative to each other I can't do any harm. I retune my A string maybe twice a week and then once more before a lesson.
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I'd say that there is harm in that. Sensitivity to pitch develops over time, and so called perfect pitch can be learned. But these things won't happen if every time you pick up your instrument the pitch is different. Also, in my youth recorded music came on LP's, i.e. phonograph records, and recording and playback equipment speed varied from one machine to the next, so when I used to try playing along with recordings the tuning was never consistent. With the digital recordings we have now, the speed, and therefore the pitch of recorded music is reliably accurate, and if your instrument is in tune too, you can develop your sense of pitch and intonation by playing with recordings. I probably could have explained this with more clarity, but the bottom line is yes, it's very important to be scrupulous and consistent about tuning your violin.
Just tune to the E string. It is more likely to keep in tune
Frank Song, why did you post my message from another thread????
Bo, with all due respect, you're exactly wrong about that. The thin steel e-string is the one most affected by temperature changes.
not true, the e string always stays in tune better than the other strings, but you should tune to pitch because the violin resonates best at the pitch it is played at all the time, if that pitch varies, its not going to help the tone playing it in.
Are you a violinist Lyndon? Anyway, we're going to have to agree to disagree about that. When I put my violin away on any warm evening and then take it out again in the cool morning of the next day, it's the e-string that will have gone sharp. Then as I play it and warm the strings up, the e-string responds by going flat. Metals expand when they are heated, and contract when cooled.
Nylon (perlon) is more sensitive to temperature than steel, fact.
I think what happens is that the wood of the violin responds to humidity, causing the distance from pegs to tailpiece to change. Steel strings respond much stronger to that than nylon strings, because the elasticity modulus of steel is much higher (200 GPa vs. 3 GPa).
In my experience the string that is most out of tune when I take the instrument out of the case is the A. I have perfect pitch so I can hear if it is off. I keep an electronic tuner in my case and use it to check the A. I rarely have to touch the E. I was referring to my experience - yours may be different.
Seems like a case of theory trumping the facts.
I find myself fine tuning my E string every fifteen minutes or so. I had always thought the A string was stable because it sounded good with the D string and after a week of installing new strings do not have to touch the G, D,A, very often.
I play with any number of poorly tuned pianos so my "A440" could be+/- 30 cents.
If we tell you to tune the A first, will your lazy tuning habits change? I’m thinking not...
Why not just make sure your A is somewhere close to 440 before you tune the rest of the strings? It really doesn't take much more time -- maybe 5-10 seconds?
Han N. asked "Does your indoor temperature swing that much anyway?"
I just did a small experiment: heat the violin strings for a few seconds with a hair dryer while not heating up the violin body at all.
After the Obama inauguration, there was a discussion here about how the string players performed in those cold temperatures, and whether or not they were faking along to recorded music.
Scott, if I weren’t willing to change, then I wouldn’t have asked the question.
What strings then are good for outdoor performances in different kinds of weather or seasons?
Here's are the formulas. The pitch change (cents per degree C) is about -0.6 [ct/K] for wound nylon on the A440 and -1.8 [ct/K] for steel, assuming that the length of the string doesn't change; only the temperature. For a wound string, it depends on the proportions of aluminum and nylon in the cross section.
@Lyndon Taylor: Derp. Not what I posted! Must be a bug with the system ...
Frank, you can edit or delete your first post.
Finger positions are the same no matter what pitch you tune you violin to, as long as its tuned in fifths.
David, et al.,
"What strings then are good for outdoor performances in different kinds of weather or seasons?"
@Rhiannon Malone when I click on Edit it points me to the wrong post. So I think there's some major bug here ...
Frank Song - Ah, I see!
The solution to the OP's problem is to get gear pegs. Then you will enjoy tuning your violin much more and the laziness factor will go away.
oh brother, you don't stop, do you!!
Actually its getting really old, perfection pegs are for people that don't know how to tune regular pegs, and who's luthiers don't know how to make pegs work properly, basically there is nothing wrong with traditional pegs that needs to be fixed, except perhaps to have them gone over by a competent luthier. Mechanical pegs devalue the instrument by damaging the pegbox so they are something of a liability.
Lyndon, some very good players use the mechanical pegs on some very nice instruments. I don't agree with the notion of them inherently damaging the pegbox. In fact, I think they may pose less risk to the pegbox because they don't expand and contract with humidity changes like wooden pegs do.
If you need to ream the holes bigger to fit them, and you glue them in, you are essentially damaging the pegbox.
Naturally, one would try to get the appropriately sized peg, and ream the pegbox as little as possible. Some reaming is usually required when installing or replacing conventional pegs too. However, there is also the option of installing a "spiral bushing" to reduce the size of the peg hole, so no reaming or enlargement of the peg hole is required at all.
Getting back to the topic, no, there is no harm to just tuning to your A string. A440 is not a god-given commandment. Since you are tuning your A twice a week, it will not stray into a dangerously high tension zone.
So, now that I've been playing viola in chamber orchestra, I turned to the oboe player just behind me who was blowing his tuning (supposedly 440Hz) note and I said,
My sense of pitch is not that good but I usually tune my A to 444 so my instrument sounds brighter.
My violin teacher once (i.e. 50 years ago) noticed that I played flat when my violin was tuned a little sharp. He said that many people have partial perfect pitch and that perfect pitch is trainable (don't know, never tried training it). So I played the pitches I remembered rather than correctly in relation to the tuning of the instrument. Or so he said. I might just have had a bad intonation phase (I have them regularly).
Mark, my teacher had relative pitch. She would not have developed absolute pitch in a month of Sundays, however often she tuned her A string to concert pitch (and I'm sure it was often).
To All re Pitch 'n Tune ~
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