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7 Tips For Tuning Your Violin

One of the hardest things to learn for many music students is how to properly tune their string instrument. And although it’s not the most exciting or glamorous part of training, it is one of the most important aspects to learn. Therefore, knowing how to perform the correct procedures for violin tuning can help enhance your learning process, allowing you to make progress quicker because you’ll be able to recognize the correct pitch while playing. Like all string instruments, learning to tune violin strings by interpreting the right frequency influences all of your notes, and when your instrument is in tune, it helps develop your capability for recognizing the right pitch intuitively.

However, building your intonation ability takes practice, so at first, you’ll want to employ a chromatic tuner that is easy to use and understand. Also, beginner students need to regulate themselves to the fact that you will need to check, and possibly tune violin strings each time to practice with your instrument.

So, if you are just starting out, these seven tips will help make your violin tuning process much faster, and help you cultivate effective practice skills that will ensure your success.

1. First thing—Check for tune. The strings on your violin steadily lose the battle against the proper tension. The age of the strings, the atmosphere around the instrument, how forcefully you place your bow and left hand pressure all influence how often you’ll need to adjust the strings. Because the frequencies are exact for the proper pitch, even a slight deviation will totally alter your sound. Moreover, learning the violin involves training in a variety of new physical and mental processes. If your violin is in tune, your fingering and bowing techniques will advance much quicker than if you constantly play off-key. So, first check the pitch of each string with a digital or electronic tuner. It’s not imperative that it be chromatic (provides all the 12 semitones) for beginners, but it doesn’t hurt either.

Incidentally, if you are looking for an incredibly durable violin tuner that is easy to use and carry, the Snark SN-2 all instrument chromatic tuner is great. It securely clips to your instrument, has a vividly clear display, and offers minute frequency measurements. For under $12, it’s a fantastic tool for any string musician.

2. Tune from Low to High. Odds are that you’ll need to tweak a few of your strings and there is a specific process for this. You want to gradually increase the tension to the correct pitch (bring it up), rather than trying to loosen your string (go lower). Loosening is less easy to control, and as mentioned, the frequency is exact. For standard violin tuning, strings are tuned in perfect fifths, at A4(Hz):440, which means that you’re A string is nine semitones above middle C on a piano. Starting underneath the note and gradually bringing it higher by increasing string tension is the best method.

3. Tune the A String First. Because the tension of your violin strings influence the entire instrument, even holding the soundpost in place, each change that you make to one string will have a slight impact on all of the others. Which, admittedly, does make violin tuning a practice that requires calm and patience, at first. As you become more adept, the whole process will become much easier. Tune violin stings in this order: A, D, G, E, and then check each string and keep adjusting as needed.

4. Use Your Fine Tuners If The Pitch Is Less Than A Single Semitone. Beginners must be extremely careful when using tuning pegs, and when the pitch is less than a half-step away, use your fine tuner located on the tailpiece.

5. Remember to Use Small Adjustments. It does not take much tightening to alter the pitch of your strings. You should use very small turns, like a millimeter at a time whether you’re tuning with your pegs or fine tuners.

6. New Strings Require Frequent Tuning. When you place a new set of stings on your violin, remember that they will need a number of tunings at first.

7. Listen Carefully to Each Note. If you’ll train yourself to be able to recognize the exact pitch, violin tuning will become much easier. A simple way to help accomplish this highly desirable ability is: once each string has been tuned, play the note, then hum the note for five seconds.

Developing a consistent, effective way to tune violin strings will help you improve your execution skills and overall performance quality.

anatomy of a violin