Fine Tuner for E string

Edited: November 10, 2022, 1:40 PM · Can anyone recommend a high quality fine tuner for the E string that is easy to turn? I currently use a gold plated fine tuner by Wittner. The screw is hard to turn. Thank you.

Replies (21)

November 10, 2022, 3:10 PM · Years ago the fine-tuners with the lever that sits under the tail piece were popular because they are inexpensive and they work well. That is what I have on my violin. (Yes I have an E-string fine tuner even though I have PegHeds). You can get it for under $5.00 from Shar.

Somehow, over the last 40 years, everyone switched to some kind of "hill type" tuner that has a very short lever arm. Presumably it is lower in mass and more idiot-proof (won't bruise the top of your violin if you entirely forget what you are doing). So of course, since the lever arm is shorter, the screw is harder to turn. So they made the knob on the screw bigger to compensate for the loss of mechanical advantage in the lever arm. You can lubricate the screw with graphite from a pencil, also.

November 10, 2022, 5:51 PM · I'd try to lubricate the thing before taking any other measure.
November 10, 2022, 11:55 PM · Don’t use the old kind with the lever under the arm! Not only do you risk gouging the top of the violin, they shorten the afterlength of the E string and negatively affect the sound.

I use the Hill style tuner.

November 11, 2022, 12:47 AM · I just had one put on a new tailpiece made by StradPet (I think). This was for an instrument with a fairly high arch, so finding one that didn’t reach below the ebony was essential.
November 11, 2022, 7:18 AM · I did lubricate the screw on my Hill style (Wittner) tuner with some ChapStick, but the improvement in turning the screw was negligible. I'm going to try the MBerg Ultra Light Titanium Fine Tuner. (https://mberg-music.com/ENG/feinstimmer.html) I'm curious to know if anyone else has used this tuner and what their opinion is. Many thanks to everyone for your helpful and very insightful comments!
November 11, 2022, 8:44 AM · Doesn't that have the potential of digging down into the top of the violin?
November 11, 2022, 11:29 AM · The Götz fine tuner is more compact than the Hill an keeps the string on saddle of the tailpiece thus keeping the afterlength constant. Stradpet makes a titanium version which is a bit lighter.
November 11, 2022, 7:10 PM · If the Hill-style tuners are not adequately lubricated from the get-go, lubricating them after they have started to become difficult to turn (typically indicative of excessive wear having already occurred) will seldom be more than a very temporary fix.
November 12, 2022, 12:46 AM · The Hill-style tuner is popular for good reasons. Whenever I install one, I do a few things to make it work even more smoothly and effectively. If an old one isn’t working well, there are a few things to consider:

-is the screw bent at all? If so, that will prevent it from turning well. If you can’t straighten the screw, replace it.

-is there a metal deposit in the threads of the tuner and screw? If so, cleaning it out will help.

-is the bottom of the screw engaging poorly in the threads? I have gotten a lot of screws to work by simply filing the bottom of the screw into a domed shape. This isn’t something that’s always necessary, but it can help in certain situations.

-if there is nothing on the screw to lubricate it, applying a good lubricant can help. I have a wax stick that’s made specifically for tapping screws that I think works especially well, but you can use other things like candle wax or dry soap to help it work. I prefer a dry lubricant to an oil or grease.

I’ve gotten countless old tuners working better over the years, Hill-style and otherwise. Sometimes the machining isn’t great on cheaper products or the threads aren’t a perfect match between screw and tuner body. If that’s the case, replacing it with a new one is a quick fix. Unless you’re buying one of the titanium tuners, they’re pretty inexpensive.

November 12, 2022, 9:34 AM · Hill here. I compared one of the old type of tuners with the Hill type. My violin sounded better with the latter.

I think that generally, the lighter the tail piece, the better. Though, I have a Pernambuco tail piece, when I could have a lighter boxwood tail piece.

I found that the Hill type tuners can be a little fussy. Make sure that the lever which holds the E string moves freely after tightening the flange that holds the tuner on the tail piece. Also make sure that the tuner is centered properly in the hole before tightening the flange.

November 12, 2022, 9:46 AM · There is an opportunity here for the clever entrepreneur. A special lubricant just for e-string tuners! If we've learned anything from forums like violinist.com, it's that one should never use something simple and cheap like pencil graphite when one can pay $20 for 100 milligrams of some bespoke lubricant. I kind of had to laugh at the chap-stick, sorry! There's pressure on those screw threads and you need something that can handle that, and I would not put my money on paraffin wax.
November 12, 2022, 11:50 AM · What should it be called? Lube-Eez? Lube-E-tune?
November 12, 2022, 12:00 PM · Chanterelle Schmaltz.
November 12, 2022, 3:57 PM · If you're looking for a lubricant I would recommend ZIP extra fine graphite. I bought my tube 30 years ago but this product is probably still around because there are applications which require a 'dry' lubricant, for example, door hinges. You can also use this graphite on your violin bow's screw at the frog.
Edited: November 12, 2022, 5:51 PM · I use the Conrad Götz ZF 6811 Adjuster Gold on all my violins, very easy to turn and I never had a broken E-String.
November 12, 2022, 8:29 PM · The ones that do well that avoid the sharp edge problem that cheaper fine tuners exhibit that I usually recommend are:

Gotz: https://www.concordmusic.com/products/gotz-violin-string-adjuster-gold

Mberg: https://www.concordmusic.com/products/mberg-ultra-light-titanium-fine-tuner-for-violin-or-viola

November 14, 2022, 12:53 PM · Very grateful for the additional suggestions. Thank you!
November 14, 2022, 1:18 PM · https://m.aliexpress.us/item/2255799949761708.html?spm=2114.12010608.0.0.1fc7751b3EEnms&gatewayAdapt=gloPc2usaMsite4itemAdapt&_randl_shipto=US

Pretty sure this is what I got. Holds a ball or a loop.

November 18, 2022, 3:43 PM · For a completely different approach have a look at my post today (Nov 18, 2022) on https://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=6090
November 20, 2022, 1:36 PM · Thanks Trevor, for your unorthodox approach, but I can't imagine tuning my E string in fifths with the bow while turning the E peg with my left hand. I just don't have that super power!
November 20, 2022, 3:56 PM · I just replaced my Hill style (Wittner) fine tuner with the MBerg Ultra Light Titanium Fine Tuner (https://mberg-music.com/ENG/feinstimmer.html) and I am very, very pleased. Light as a feather and extremely easy to turn the screw. My high expectations were exceeded. Thank you to the good folks at The Sound Post for their excellent customer service! https://www.thesoundpost.com/


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