D'Addario PW-CT-14 NS Micro Violin Tuner, ET or JI?

Edited: December 15, 2020, 10:33 AM · I have one of these, and I normally only use it for the A and D strings (the A harmonic on the D) and I tune the E and G strings by ear. This is mostly because I assumed it would have ET tuning. But today I put all my fine tuners on about 1/3 and retuned using the pegs and I suddenly realised it would make a lot of sense if violin tuners are specifically JI. Maybe it should have been obvious, but since I tend to use such tuners on their "chromatic" settings, it never occurred to me before. So is that how they work? Put them on chromatic and they are ET, put them on violin and they are JI, or is that too much sophistication to expect from a piece of cheap electronic junk? (I checked the d'Addario website and they don't say anything). How can I verify it, with my ears, or is there a better way?

Replies (10)

Edited: December 15, 2020, 10:38 AM · If you use your ear instead its always JI ;)

Put on wound-gut strings on A, D and G, tune the A to a tuner and the other three to the A. They go up and down according to the humidity mostly - and it forces you to retune every time you take the fiddle out. After a few weeks, just intonation tuning becomes a piece of cake.

December 15, 2020, 10:40 AM · tune every time you take the fiddle out no matter what! tune the A and do the others by ear. It gets very simple and automatic after a short time, and helps develop your ear.
Edited: December 15, 2020, 1:12 PM · They're all ET by default, even with a "violin" setting. The original NS Micro is definitely ET, and as I recall, it doesn't have much to help you fine-tune it off ET either (e.g. a frequency readout or cents off centre).

There are several apps with custom temperament support - you need to find and learn how to use its settings if you want the reading to be directly useful for standard violin tuning. Thereafter it's trivial.

Edit: I don't know for sure about the new colour MS Micro, but would be very surprised if it was tuned to violin/viola fifths. The "violin" / "viola" part seem to be more about the mount than the tuning. They're advertised as "chromatic", and so tune the entire range, not just the 4/5 violin strings. It'd be anyone's guess as to how the rest of the notes were tuned unless they specified a specific temperament, and if they did vary from ET, one would expect to have a setting to switch back to ET for more general utility.

Edited: December 15, 2020, 1:31 PM · Don't waste money, just use a smartphone app, I use one just to get the A, the others I tune by ear, as everyone does. If you're a beginner or don't know how to do it, use gStrigns Free app, set the temperament to perfect 5ths.
I have a tuning fork (because I really like them), but I would never buy that crap.
Edited: December 16, 2020, 1:08 PM · I've got several of the original D'Addario Micro Tuners (one in each instrument case and 2 on my home music stand one violin/viola and one cello, which has a different "base" to attach to the bridge but is otherwise the same device).

I have come to swear by them because in an orchestral setting you can't hear your own instrument well enough to tune well. Although I learned to tune to a tuning fork or piano (440A) when may age was in single digits I find it convenient to check my tuning against the ┬Átuner especially when playing with a piano. For violas and cellos the lowest string (C) will be far enough off when tuned in perfect fifths that you need to check that string against the piano - if there is any occasion to have to play the open C string in harmony with the piano.

You have to realize that when you have tuned all the strings chances are your A string will have already changed when you think you are finished so it is good to have a way to double check it against a standard - I can't count on my ear for that and I'm reluctant to ask the oboist to toot again - the microtuner still attached to my fiddle can be that standard.

December 15, 2020, 6:02 PM · I tune A to a fork then the rest by ear. I check with a phone app that reads freq. Perfect 5ths G-196, D-293.66, A 440.0, E-659.26
December 15, 2020, 7:19 PM · Bill Barber, your numbers are equal tempered values, not perfect fifths.
Edited: December 16, 2020, 6:30 AM · I have plenty of tuning forks (A, E and C 523/4 for ukes. Planet Waves used to make C 262, but they stopped, and I've never found any used ones on EBay). I usually tune in the green room, then pretend to tune in the auditorium. I don't have a smart phone.

I just experimented. I used my Planet Waves E and A tuning forks on it. It thinks the A might be a tiny fraction flat (sharp if I tell it A=439), and the E might be sharp by a slightly larger fraction than the A is flat. This is probably only explicable as poor quality in the tuner, unless the forks are out. Don't imagine your phone apps are better quality!

However, the difference between an ET G (196) and a JI G (195.55555) is less than half a cycle per second, and bow pressure will affect intonation by far more than that.

December 16, 2020, 5:53 PM · "However, the difference between an ET G (196) and a JI G (195.55555) is less than half a cycle per second, and bow pressure will affect intonation by far more than that."

That's almost 4 cents difference, which is audible when tuning by / playing fifths. But if we could play all notes within 4 cents...

I might disagree about "bow pressure will affect intonation by far more" - it can, but typically won't.

December 16, 2020, 5:54 PM · If you're a beginner or don't know how to do it, use gStrigns Free app, set the temperament to perfect 5ths."

It's nice that a free app has this much capability, but its definition of "Perfect 5th" (for violins) doesn't match our standard tuning. It targets G: 195.9, D: 293.3, E 658.7. I.e. G: -0.56, D: -1.96, E: -1.40 cents. gString's D and (of course) A match standard violin values with this temperament, but the E and G don't.

As per Gordon's post, these are close enough to not be worth quibbling over, but while we're here, the "ideal" values would be:
D -1.955, E: 1.955, and G: -3.910 (roughly: -2 cents, +2 cents, and -4 cents off ET). Frequencies: G: 195.6, D: 293.3 E: 660.0.

You can enter those values in gStrings for a custom temperament, which is also great for a free app. However, on my device it wasn't very responsive to changes in notes and often detected the wrong part of the spectrum when trying to tune the E string.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases


Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning
Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning

ARIA International Summer Academy

Meadowmount School of Music

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine