How to Use a Violin Tuner
Every musician knows how important it is to be in tune, especially when playing with others in an ensemble or orchestra. Tuning to standard frequencies prevents musical chaos and cacophony. Tuning a violin may seem to be a daunting task to a beginner, but it is a cinch with practice and the right tools.
First, you need to obtain a violin tuner of some kind from online or a local music store. There are many different tuners available. Some are more 'user-friendly' than others. A tuning fork, for example, produces a sound at some designated frequency (pitch) when it is struck. In this case, the musician has to rely by ear in order to tune to that note. The violinist then needs to be able to tune the other strings with reference to that tuned string (usually the A-string), unless she owns a tuning fork for each pitch.
There are more technologically advanced tools as well. Another type of violin tuner simply produces an electronic tone at a user-designated pitch. The violinist can then tune each string according to that frequency. There are even online tuners that will play tones through your computer speakers. This article, however, will explain how to tune a violin with the most sophisticated violin tuner: an electronic device that actually "hears" the pitch being produced by the violin! An electronic display then informs the musician about whether to tighten or loosen the corresponding string depending on whether the pitch needs to increase or decrease. Here is a full set of steps in order to properly use your violin tuner:
- Gather your violin tuner, your violin, and bow.
- Play your A-string and observe the display. It will inform you if the pitch is sharp, flat, or just right.
- Tune the A-string accordingly. All violins have black pegs near the scroll (the top of the violin, in the "pegbox") with which you can tune each string. Locate the correct peg by following the string up to the peg it is wrapped around. Beginner violins also have fine tuners at the bottom of each string, near the bridge. Violins for more experienced players usually only have fine tuners for the E-string. These fine tuners are used to make slight changes in the pitch of the instrument. The pegs are used to make both large and small changes. However, an inexperienced violinist may accidentally break the string if he is too forceful, especially with the E-string. Because the E-string is so fragile, even experienced violinists still use a fine tuner for the string. Be careful when using the pegs, tuning only a little at a time in order to prevent string breakage. Use the pegs to do most of the tuning, and if you have to make fine adjustments, switch to the fine tuners.
- When tuning with the pegs, you might find that they slip back out when you try to tune the string. To prevent this, put slight force into the peg (straight into the instrument) in order to make the change stick.
- Repeat this process with the D, G, and E strings.
- To prevent your violin from going out of tune, try to prevent exposing it to high or low temperatures or to moisture.
- Play double stops (two strings at the same time, like AD, DG, AE) to ensure proper tuning.
- Congratulations! Your violin is properly tuned and ready to play. Make sure to turn off the violin tuner to preserve battery life.
Once you get more experience tuning your instrument, you won't need the help of fancy violin tuner or other aids besides a tuning fork, a pitch pipe, or another piano. Learning how to tune a violin will come with time; soon, it will be second nature. Have fun playing!