Tuning with electronic tuner
If I tune all four strings with an electronic tuner, my fiddle is not in tune with itself. I only use the tuner for the A string, but I was wondering why it doesn't get the entire fiddle in tune. Does anyone know?
The short of it is: a mathematically pure fifth is a little bit wider than the equal-temperament fifth on the keyboard.
What do you mean by "doesn't get the entire fiddle in tune?" Are you asking about notes further up the neck? Or do your open strings not sound in tune with each other after you've tuned it with your electronic tuner? Do you get the same bad results with every tuner you try?
The short answer is because your tuner uses equal temperament, like you’d use on a piano. In this case, true fifth require a slightly (about 2 cents) lower D and G, and higher E.
I use the Peterson iStroboSoft app in my iPhone, which can be set to yield perfect fifths on my violins. I recommend it. I can tune my violin well without it, but it’s simply a fact that these devices are more accurate than my ears are, and I can tune better with them, so I use them. I guess the next question is how accurate does it need to be, but a lack of compromise is par for the course for violinists, isn’t it?
Please don't use a tuner to tune anything except the A string. Tune the A string to the tuner, then use your ears to tune the other strings in fifths.
Don't waste your money on electronic tuners, tunning forks can last a life time.
There are serviceable tuner apps that can be downloaded free to a smartphone.
This question doesn't really follow, unless you answer how you are determining in the end whether your violin is in tune or not.
Thank you for your replies everybody. I have always tuned to fifths. I was just wondering why this tuner doesn't do it, being that it's advertised as a violin tuner. It's a D'addario micro violin tuner. I tried tuning all four strings some time ago with another brand of tuner that I can't remember the name of. It was a chromatic tuner so I wasn't surprised when it didn't work. I just thought a tuner dedicated to violin only would have had a different result.
Leon, I guess I'm not sure why the tuner would tell you something weird. Perhaps it's miscalibrated. I guess I misunderstood the nature of the device you were using - I thought your tuner was providing different tones that you were matching up with, rather than that it was telling you what frequency you were playing. Who knows? We should be judicious in our use of technological "aids", even if, as J Ray mentions, it makes us tend toward the conservative.
I recently encountered a professional player who confidently tuned the violin to 5ths by ear. An accurate electronic tuner demonstrated he was no closer to perfect 5th tuning than equal temperament on a couple of the strings.
I have some of those D'addario micro tuners "rigged" for violin, viola (a bit thicker) and cello (with a different clip-on). I have found them useful when a string is slipping and the orchestra continues to play.