Hi Guys and thanks for dropping by,
Today I’m going to show you how to tune a violin and discuss some of the common difficulties and errors that can occur when students or parents try to tune on their own.
When I was a student, there was no such thing as a ‘tuning app’. To tune my violin, I either had to use a piano and my ears, a tuning fork or wait for my weekly lesson to roll around so that my teacher could do it for me. Oh, and then there were those nifty electronic tuners that all the cool kids had.
These days, you can just download an app and off you go! Easy right? Well, not quite.
From broken strings to snapped pegs there are so many things that can go wrong when you’re not sure what you’re doing. So, let’s take a look at how to get your violin back to sounding great again without causing any unneccessary damage!
There are many free tuning apps available and essentially they all do the same thing. Here’s what came up for me when I searched for ‘violin tuner’ on my phone.
I’m going to go with the first one for no other reason than it’s specifically for violin and, well it’s first.
Just make sure that the tuner you download has the ability to ‘listen’ to you playing each string; it should ask you for permission to record audio.
Once you’ve downloaded your app of choice, you’re ready to start tuning!
Getting Aquainted With Your Fine Tuners:
The fine tuners are hopefully where all of your tuning will take place for the time being. As a beginner, you will most likely have all four fine tuners installed on your violin; more advanced students may have only one or sometimes even none at all.
Take a look at the following slides and familiarise yourself with your fine tuners and how they work.
Fine Tuner Fails:
It’s important that your fine tuners turn easily in both the clockwise and anticlockwise directions. If this isn’t the case, you will want to loosen them as much as possible so as to try and get the screw back onto the thread. With some of the cheaper violins, I’ve found the fine tuners to be such poor quality that they are essentially defunct. If this is your case, you’ll unfortunately need to tune with your pegs and perhaps have your tailpiece (or entire violin) replaced at the earliest opportunity.
There isn’t too much that can go wrong when tuning with the fine tuners. Although it is not advisable to turn your fine tuner too far in one direction, even if you do, it is unlikely that you will break or damage your string. You may, however cause them to become stuck or lose their thread.
Take a look at the slides below for some pictures of what not to do:
Fine Tuner Fails:
Tuning With The Pegs
When you’re just starting out, try and avoid the pegs as much as possible. However, if your violin is very out of tune, or if your fine tuners are getting too loose or too tight, you’ll need to use them.
Take a look at the following slides and get used to how your pegs work before you begin tuning.
Too Far Anticlockwise:
Using your pegs to tune can be quite risky. A small twist in the anticlockwise direction can result in quite a drastic increase in the pitch of your string and twisting even a little too much will cause your string to break. If this does happen, you’re going to need to replace the string.
To avoid breaking your string, it is advisable to loosen before you tighten. This will mean that the peg can turn more gently and there is less likelihood you’ll slip and twist too far.
Too Far Clockwise:
Although you won’t break the string by loosening it too much, it could slip out of it’s hole which is annoying to say the least. If this does happen, check out my video on how to replace a string to see how you can reinstall it. There is no need to buy a new string if this happens but you may like to straighten it out so it’s easier to put it back in place.
Broken Bridges And Other Disasters:
Whatever you do, don’t loosen or remove all your strings at once. At best, this will result in your bridge falling out and at worst, it will lead to your soundpost dislodging and once this happens, you’re going to need to take your vioiln of to the luthier.
Let’s Tune Now:
Now that you’ve aquainted yourself with the fine tuners and pegs, let’s begin tuning your violin. Take a look at the following slides before you begin and again, always try tuning with the fine tuners first. If possible, you should leave tuning with pegs for your teacher!
Learning to tune your own violin is an important part of your violin journey and something that you will get better at over time. While it’s not ideal to use a tuning app forever, it’s certainly a great way for beginners and their non-violin playing parents to ensure that practice is done on a well tuned instrument.
Don’t forget that if you need a hand with how to tune a violin or anything else violin related, you can reach out through social media or in the comment section below.
Your violin is now hopefully back to sounding beautiful and ready for you to resume your practice!
(founder of myviolinbff.com)