Snark tuner & recommendations

May 14, 2021, 4:09 PM · My Snark Super Tight tuner (fits on the scroll) has just stopped working. New batteries, just doesn't work anymore. Recommendations on a better quality tuner that also works from contact vibrations? Thanks!

Replies (16)

May 14, 2021, 10:32 PM · I was always fond of the Korg Tuner/metronomes. Although it doesn't come with it, there is a contact microphone by Korg that you can buy that plugs into it and lets you tune from contact vibration. I always preferred the Korg with the pick-up to the clip-on tuners because in my experience they picked up the vibrations better and was more accurate on the tuning.

The metronome is nice too, although it could be louder. Granted I haven't used one since the Korg TM-40 and they are now on the TM-60 so perhaps the volume has been improved. I usually use tonal energy on my iPhone and iPad these days and just connect to a Bluetooth speaker if I ever need more volume.

You can get the tuner online from lots of places. I found out of the sites I frequent that Southwest strings had the best price.

Southwest Strings:
Korg TM-60:
Contact Microphone:

There's also a version that is just for tuning if that's all you're after, the Korg CA-50:

May 14, 2021, 10:59 PM · I have the Korg TM 60, moved to the Snark as the Korg was too slow, or too variable. Didn't realize it can be turned into a contact tuner, will look into that. The metronome is just too soft so I use a Wittner mechanical, nice and loud enough for me to hear. even when I'm playing FF.

It's just weird the Snark just stopped picking up. It's not been abused and the batteries are good, but they obviously weren't meant to last for years.

May 14, 2021, 11:04 PM · I like the D'Addario NS Micro Tuner for Violin and Viola. They fit on the upper bout and are very easy to read and adjust to. SHAR sells them

They might be a bit snug for a thick viola body, but you can get them to fit if you trim the rubber contacts a bit. I've done that for the one I use with my thicker viola but my #1 viola is thin enough that the unaltered tuner fits it and all my violins.

The tuner can also be purchased with a different attachment design that attaches to the bridge for cellos.

It works very well in the noisy environment of a pre-rehearsal orchestra.

May 15, 2021, 1:25 AM · The D'addario NS Micro Tuner is also a good one. Although after reading a couple of reviews, as Andrew said, they don't fit thicker violas. Someone on the SHAR website said it didn't fit violas 15 inches and up. So if you play any viola at all and don't really want to trim the rubber contacts I think turning your Korg TM-60 into a contact tuner with the Korg Contact mic would be your best bet.

Depending on how long your snark lasted and if you liked it, you could just get another snark tuner. Although I've never used one I know how popular they are. If it were me I'd just get the contact mic and make the Korg a contact tuner. Means you don't have to buy a new tuner.

The only reason you wouldn't go the Korg route is if you care whether the tuner is on the violin or not. With Korg, you'd have to use the built-in kickstand or rest it on a table or in your case as you use it while you clip the contact mic to your instrument. It works best clipped onto the bridge in my experience, although you can clip it onto the scroll or a peg as well if you use fine tuners to tune the instrument.

May 15, 2021, 6:05 AM · I have three battery tuners but have not used them in years and instead just use an A tuning fork.
May 15, 2021, 7:53 AM · Speaking about Korg, my favorite device of the brand is the KDM-3, which has everything I need and then some. It is indeed digital, but is *very* loud, and has a variable pitch tuner (I use it mostly for A 442+, but it can be setup with other notes, from 410-480-more than most people will ever need.) It's only possible weakness is that it's battery-operated only, whereas old school metronomes only need winding, and many modern ones have an electric plug.
May 15, 2021, 8:35 AM · I've looked at both the D'addario NS Micro Tuner and the KDM-3. I don't need a metronome at all, my Wittner Taktell Piccolo does a fine job there and no batteries/power required.

I will take another look at the D'adarrio and also the cost of turning my Korg TM-60 into a contact tuner. The Snark was fine, but it barely lasted a year. It isn't like it gets heavy use...

I should probably learn to use a tuning fork, but this seems to work fine for me currently. I've also tinnitus in both years, have had for 24/7 for over 20 years now. While I have a good ear according to my teacher, I don't want to trust my tuning to a tuning fork. I DO check my fifths, but the digital tuner isn't going anywhere.

May 15, 2021, 9:04 AM · TE Tuner app on Apple device is excellent. Lots of functionality for a very low cost. My humble suggestion would be to consider not becoming overly dependent on a tuner of any kind. Rather focus on your aural training. Use your ears to tune the instrument and check all fingered G, D, A, E notes against open strings. Check sharps against the next higher notes and flats against the next lower notes. The violin is tuned in fifths thus making the use of tuners somewhat tricky for beginners. I have noticed some beginner students playing scales with a tuner using equal temperament. One can become fixated on the tuner and end up forming bad intonation habits.
May 15, 2021, 9:33 AM · I've used the D'addario NS Micro Tuner for years. I just use it to tune the A string and then take it off.
Edited: May 15, 2021, 10:57 AM · Thanks everyone - and John, I'm following my teacher's guidance. I do not focus on the tuner.

I think I will try the D'addario - it's the same cost as the device to turn my KORG into a contact tuner - BUT the guidance for the contact microphone says to put it on the violin bridge!?! Nope!

May 15, 2021, 12:00 PM · Putting the contact microphone on the bridge doesn’t damage it. I never had a problem with it messing up my bridge. But you can also put it on the scroll or a peg. Maybe the E string peg since we don’t use that one to tune.
Edited: May 15, 2021, 3:47 PM · If this discussion is about battery tuners that put a frequency number on a screen, rather than emitting a pitch note, then a basic disadvantage of these devices, as I see it, is that they encourage the user to look rather than to use their ears.
May 15, 2021, 6:51 PM · There are plenty of other opportunities to use your ears. Tuning the instrument with a tuner that shows the note isn't that big of a deal. People who are in an orchestra or even just practicing will use their ears for intonation anyway. I don't know how others do it, but I just use the tuner for the open A and then tune the other strings by ear.
May 15, 2021, 6:59 PM · Catherine - look for one that mounts on the violin body - the bridge mounting is for cellos.

These things give you a wide choice of A frequencies - I always choose 440 Hz, because that is the setting our orchestra oboe(s) use to tune us. But when every one else is tuning and I can't hear my own fiddle, I can use the d'Addario to check the other 3 strings. When I was younger I didn't need to do that - (and they didn't have contact tuners then anyway) - I think I still have a tuning fork it one of my cases' compartments but I haven seen it for years - it may well be the same one I had when I was 10 years old.

May 16, 2021, 4:50 AM · "But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!"

(Lewis Carroll)

May 16, 2021, 12:04 PM · Snarky reply,-
I use the tuner inside my head. I occasionally re-calibrate it with the tuning fork on my piano. I don't have perfect pitch, but I can just tell--. I don't know how that works. As for the metronome, it is useful for keeping yourself steady in fast passages, but most of the time I don't need a metronome to tell me how fast I want to do a piece.

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