Sound quality with built in fine tuners on all 4 strings
If I have a violin with a composite built in fine tuners for all 4 strings. Is there a difference in sound if I remove them all except the e string?
How do you remove the fine tuners out? Can I do it myself?
Focus on perfecting your technique before blaming your tone issues on built-in fine tuners.
Some folks say that fine tuners ruin your tone. I'm skeptical about that, but if it is true, then probably it's quite violin-dependent. If you're going to remove your fine tuners, probably you want to get a tail piece that doesn't have them built-in. If you do remove your fine tuners, will you be able to tune your violin with just your friction pegs? Many folks have trouble doing that, especially with their A string. Even Anne-Sophie Mutter has a fine tuner on her A string and somehow her tone seems fine. Another alternative to fine-tuners is to get gear pegs (such as Wittner Finetune Pegs or PegHeds). They're not super expensive (probably about $150, installed) and they work beautifully (I have them on all my instruments and people have installed them in priceless antique violins too). Of course, some people say that these wreck your tone too. There have been many threads on this already -- you can search for them in the "Custom Search" box if you're curious.
Since you're using a composite built in model, you should just leave it as it is. Usually it's a Wittner
You can't remove the built-in fine tuners from a Wittner-type tailpiece; you would need to replace it with a standard tailpiece and then add an E tuner. I wouldn't bother.
I've been using using Bois d'Harmonie tailpieces on all 4 of my violins for almost 20 years, since osteoarthritis made wooden pag turning troublesome. I noticed no change in tonal properties (or any playability issues) compared to these violins when they only had Hill E tuners and their "bare" wooden tailpieces.
The composite tailpiece you have is very light. I went back and forth with one on my violin and could not hear a difference. Putting four metal fine tuners on a standard tailpiece is a definite tone killer. I found that metal tuners on my E and A strings had no effect on tone that I could hear.
Bottom line, everything affects tone. I myself planning on trying a titanium fine tuner for my E string for e.g. The tailpiece shape has an effect, the string that holds the tailpiece has an effect, the material of the tailpiece has an effect. The number and type of fine tuners used has an effect. The only thing that doesn't have an effect is perhaps its color!
The violin I bought actually only had 1 fine tuners but I request for 4 fine tuners. Now I regret it if it affects the sound
The first violin I got a half dozen years back was the cheapest I could find on ebay- just to see if I thought I'd be interested. It had built in tuners on an alloy tailpiece. I later got a couple of better violins, both came with only one tuner on the high string. I missed the built in tuners and added full tuners just for the sake of the strings- the built in tuners were easier to dial in than the pegs and so I figured less likely to break strings- and because the new violins take a bit to get the pegs pushed in and holding tune.
Does having all fine tuners just dampen the sound? Does it really affect the tone?
I used to be a naysayer, but I have found that Wittner composite tailpieces are quite nice, and one can set the proper string after-length with them, something that is mostly impossible to do with 4-fine tuners.
A modern lightweight composite tailpiece with integrated fine tuners will neither affect sound volume nor the tonal quality. Your model most probably seems to be one of those, but you haven't been more specific.
I always thought that a wooden tailpiece (indeed, with just one fine tuner) produces a "warmer, wooden" tone in comparison with those composite tailpieces which bring some "coldness" in the sound? Has this ever been tested? I myself play on a decent chinese violin with a wittner tailpiece and have been planning for a long time to have it replaced by a wooden one. Never got to it yet, for some reason.
Jo J, if you presently have a wooden tail piece with one fine tuner for your E string, and you want four fine tuners, you have three options:
Jean, to be honest - I have no idea... I have tried this only on two "cheaper" although pretty fine violins (around 5k) without noticing a huge differenence (Wittner vs plain ebony) and could not say what happened if done to a "better" one. (My luthier doesn't mount them on >2k instruments, and my son was test-driving but did not want to live without his Wittner tailpiece...) Before and after, both fiddles had a nice warm timbre but weren't in need of more clarity.
I have *always* had trouble tuning my instrument with the pegs alone, and both my current instrument and my previous had fine tuner tailpieces installed at my request. I was hoping to have the geared pegs installed on my current instrument, but two luthiers recommended against doing so. So... a Wittner fine tuner was installed and it has not impacted the sound of my violin whatsoever. I have been thinking of upgrading to the Bois d'Harmonie composite fine tuner, but I've been spending any extra "violin funds" on... violin lessons.
Jean wrote, "I always thought that a wooden tailpiece (indeed, with just one fine tuner) produces a 'warmer, wooden' tone in comparison with those composite tailpieces which bring some 'coldness' in the sound?"
I recommend sticking with the fine tuners. I feel I can tune the A string quicker with a fine tuner. But if you can tune as well with the pegs, then I suppose it doesn’t matter.
Ah, fine tuners. In my BIASED, PREJUDICED, SELF-RIGHTEOUS, UNEDUCATED opinion, I always associated violins with 4 fine tuners as beginner violins. I never tried them - even with the composite tailpiece with built-in tuners. When I bought my kids their violin, I consciously avoided getting them violins with 4 tuners. Their violin only has one fine tuner on the E string, and I just taught them how to tune their violins. But I also made sure the pegs on their violins are well fitted, and easy to turn without losing its tune. However, there are YouTube videos showing how the different tailpieces with and without tuners, can affect the tone on a violin that anyone can watch. There’s even videos that compares harp tailpieces vs regular tailpieces. But these are videos, so there would be some sound degradation.
Yes, Ben David, I find your opinion is pure snobbery!! The ease of fine tuning with well-fitted pegs varies with ambient temperature and humidity, And during a rehearsal I will frequently have to make quick, minute adjustments as the winds warm up.
@Adruan Heath wrote:
Another poster on this forum had mentioned Michael Tree, violist of the Guarneri Quartet as a user of Wittner tailpieces with built-in fine tuners. I don't think anyone regarded him as unprofessional or childish, and this link has more on his views on technique:
"Does having all fine tuners just dampen the sound? Does it really affect the tone? "- Jo J
The most stable strings tuning-wise I've used (and still do) are the Warchal Ambers. Tuners with these strings are quite unnecessary for the G, D and A. But recently, as an experiment playing without the add-on Wittner E-tuner, I have found that the E tunes perfectly well from the peg - if you're careful, I might add! The tone of the E now seems even a little better, possibly because of the increased after-length and the fact that the E is now in direct contact with the wood tailpiece without the intermediary of an add-on tuner (which perhaps could have a damping effect on some of the vibrations?), and less weight on the tailpiece.
To clarify I have built in tuners for all 4 strings, not just the A and E.
Jo J, that's what I'm talking about. Just leave it as is, except your concerned about not being "professional" enough by your peers.
On thing to keep in mind, the effect of the tailpiece/finetuners variations should in theory be more noticeable on the better instruments, which tone can be more easily affected. Put 4 fine tuners and a heavy tailpiece on an instrument built like a tank, you probably won't see much of a difference as compared to the effect it may have on a feather light instrument.
Roger, the violin I've just been talking about is a feather-light 18th c instrument. It has a 14-1/4" back, with bout and rib measurements in proportion, so I think your comment applies.
Ben David's comment prompted me to look on YouTube and I found this video:
on the violin, the only thing wood doesn't sound better for are the strings!!
Jean, I agree, but the ebony tailpiece is weighed down by four added tuners.
Weight and tailgut free length are what I have found to affect tone the most. String afterlength can too, but not as much.