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How To Tune A Violin

Updated on June 19, 2013
Where to start when tuning a violin..?
Where to start when tuning a violin..?

Tuning a violin: Why Bother?

The violin is a delicate instrument which, when played right can provoke stirring emotions deep within the hearts of others.

However... play it badly, and you're likely to have your audience running for cover.

The first step to making a beautiful sound on the violin is making sure you know how to tune a violin.

If your violin is out of tune, you're off to a bad start - but by following these instructions, you should by the end of the article know how to tune a violin.

Tuning a violin: Which bits to use?

They do seem rather complicated, don't they?

Well let me give you a small tour of the parts you're going to need to twiddle to tune your violin.

The Strings

These are the parts you actually play (duh) and by gently plucking or running your bow over them, you will be able to hear which note each is playing.

The Keys

These are the 4 black parts at the bottom of the violin's neck, and are the keys you turn to change the note of each string.

The Fine Tuners

These are the small silver screws closest to the chin rest. They do the same job as the black keys at the bottom, yet do not alter the notes as drastically - they are perfect for when the violin is just a little out of tune.

Which pegs tune which strings?
Which pegs tune which strings?

Tuning a violin: Which note where?

So there are 4 strings, each which plays a different note.

From left to right, the notes the strings should play are as follows:

GDAE

(If you struggle remembering this you can always make a silly sentence up using the letters in order, like Grand Dads Always Eat)

The Fine Tuners

The fine tuners are easy enough to work out which relates to which string as the strings match directly with the fine tuners from left to right.

The Black Keys

The black keys are a little more tricky. To work out which to turn for which note, look at the diagram I have included.

Tuning a violin: Getting the notes right

Now you know which bits do what, it's time to actually get the right notes.

Some violinists just get one note right (usually the A string) and then using their knowledge of music and how each string should sound, tune the rest of the violin accordingly.

Some violinists don't have the skill to work out everything from just one note - so if that's you, read on.

First you will need to get something which will be able to give you each note correctly. Ideas to use:

*Note - electronic tuning devices work best because there is less chance of them being out of tune themselves!

Now compare the sound of each violin string to the sound of the note it is supposed to be with whatever device you are using to tune your violin.

If you notice a big difference, you will need to adjust the violin note with the relevant pegs at the end of the neck.

If there is only a slight difference then use the fine tuning screws as they are more precise.

Tuning a violin: Some extra tips

To round this article off, I'll leave you with a few useful ways of making tuning your violin easier:

  • Tune regularly. Even if you aren't planning on playing your violin for another month, make sure you get it out once or twice just to tune it - the longer it is left un-tuned the harder, stiffer and more out of tune your strings and keys become
  • Carry an electronic tuner. You never know where you are going to end up without another instrument to tune your violin from - electronic tuners are small, fit inside your case and can go anywhere you go
  • If you have the ability to tune all strings from one note (this ability is called relative pitch), then you might consider instead just carrying around a tuning fork, which will probably work out cheaper than buying an electronic tuner

Thinking of buying a violin from eBay?

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