We all have to do it no matter what instrument we play. If it has strings, it will need tuning. Probably every time we use it. And if we have put on new strings, several times in the first few hours.
With a violin, it is a skill you need to master. That’s why you need some help. My Tips For Tuning Your Violin is a guide to help you learn how to do that.
Not particularly glamorous…
All you want to do is get on and play it. But tuning up is one of the things you have to learn. It isn’t a very glamorous pastime. But it has to be done. There are some procedures to adopt and some things you can do to help. Not many people have perfect pitch, and so you’re going to need some help.
Using a Tuner
One tuning aid is a chromatic tuner. You can use a piano to give you the notes, but you need a very good ear for that. A tuner is precise, quick, and not expensive to buy. The D’Addario NS Micro Violin Tuner is a good option.
Ways to Tune a Violin
Before we start, be aware there are two ways to tune a violin. The first is using the tuning pegs. The second by the Fine Tuners on the tailpiece. Let’s briefly discuss both before we get into the practicalities.
Using the pegs…
Usually made of wood and situated on the headpiece. For newcomers, it can be a difficult area to master. The tendency is to overturn the peg, which could snap the string. Using the pegs initially is a case of trial and error. However, once you are familiar with how they work, it is the best way to tune your violin.
Using the Fine Tuners…
Located on the tailpiece, these are also a turning process. The difference is they turn much slower and are easier to manage and master for a beginner. It is unlikely you will overturn them.
I would recommend, at first, you use the Fine Tuners to tune your violin. Once you are more familiar with the instrument and feel confident, then you can use the pegs.
Ideally, the pegs are used if your violin is way out of tune. Fine Tuners, as the name implies, are if they are a little out and need fine-tuning. Experienced violin players will use both as part of the tuning process.
Checking The Tuning
The first thing is to check each string’s tuning. Strings are in a constant struggle to maintain their intonation. There are three materials violin strings are made of. These are Gut, Steel, and Synthetic. Most newer brands of violin use synthetic strings.
There are many reasons why violin strings go out of tune. Just playing it may cause a loss of intonation. The environment you are playing in, and the age of the string will also have an effect.
Your playing style can affect the tuning if you are heavy with the bow. Or if the music you are playing is loud, frantic, and demands an aggressive style of playing. Expect that some or all of the strings on your violin may need adjusting before you start every session.
Tune low to high…
Start below the note you need to tune and gradually tighten the string to achieve it. This needs to be done smoothly and gradually with no sudden movements. This applies to each string.
‘A’ string first…
The strings are tuned G-D-A and E. Start with the ‘A’ string. Tuning a violin string-by-string has an impact all over the instrument. Each string can even affect the soundpost. That makes tuning the violin a challenge. Tune the middle two strings first, the ‘A’ and ‘D’ strings. Then move on to the outer two, ‘G’ and ‘E.’
You may need to check the strings again once you tuned all four. Tuning one string can affect the others. Even when you are experienced, you will use the Fine Tuners for those adjustments.
Always use small adjustments to the tension. It will probably take less than you imagine to change the intonation. As we have said, adjusting too much too quickly could cause a string to break.
Listen to the tuning for each string…
As you get it in tune, listen carefully to the intonation. You may not develop perfect pitch, but it will help you to get closer to where you need to be by ear.
As you might expect, new strings take some time to break in. You may find yourself tuning two or three times when you first put them on.
There are many brands of violin strings out there. Some expensive, some cheap. In my opinion, the D’Addario Prelude Violin String Set, 4/4 Scale Medium Tension are a great set for the money.
Looking for a quality Violin?
If so, you check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Student Violins, the Best Electric Violins, and the Best Violins for Kids you can buy. Also, have a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Violin Cases and the Best Violin Bows currently available in 2023.
Even though they are guitar tuners, you may enjoy our reviews of the Best Guitar Tuners and the Best Clip-On Guitar Tuners on the market. A guitar tuner will work with violins, especially the clip-on tuners.
Tips For Tuning Your Violin – Final Thoughts
Quite simply put, the best tip we have for tuning a violin is to practice. The more you tune your instrument, the better you will become. It won’t be easy at first. But you will soon learn, and once the instrument is perfectly in tune, you will hear yourself at your best.
Until next time, don’t let those strings slack.