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How to tune a violin

7 good tips for beginners that are helpful when tuning the violin



Tuning the violin is not an easy thing; beginners in particular find it difficult. That’s why the teachers usually do the tuning before class. But what about practicing during the week when a teacher isn’t available?

With this article I would like to give a few tips on what you basically need to know about the function of the violin in connection with tuning. So that parents and students can better understand what is happening and lose their fear of voting.

1. When does a violin need to be tuned?
Every time you pick it up to play with it.

2. Why does a violin need to be tuned?
Since the violin and its pegs are made of wood, they react to fluctuations in humidity/temperature by contracting and expanding. Strings also react to this, which is why a violin often has to be retuned.
The strings are tuned to a specific frequency A (440 or 443Hz), D, G, and E string in perfect fifths.
The violin must first be in tune so that you can play it cleanly, i.e. so that the intonation is correct.
When playing with other musicians, it is also important to agree on a common mood, otherwise it always sounds wrong.

3. What does voting mean?
First the A string is tuned, usually to the frequency 440 Hz.
Then the D, then the G and finally the E string.
The distance between E and A, A and D and D and G is each a perfect fifth.
If the tone is too low, the string is turned up, creating more tension and a higher tone.
If the tone is too high, the tension is relaxed and the string is turned down.

4. How is the violin tuned?
For beginners, I recommend tuning with an app (e.g. Simply Tuner) or a chromatic tuner (e.g. Korg), where the pitch is displayed directly and also whether the tone is too low or too high. This allows you to slowly get to grips with tuning.
Over time you will learn to tune by ear. For this you need a reference tone: the A, from a tuning fork, pitch pipe or, for example, from a tuned piano. After the A, the remaining strings are tuned in perfect fifths.

5. Tune with a tuner or app
Place the tuner or cell phone with the app open on the table in front of you, put the violin on your lap and first take a picture:
Which string belongs to which peg and which fine tuner?
The strings are: from bottom to top/from low to high and from thick to thin G-D-A-E
-Pluck the open A string.
-Look at the display, are you too high or too low? Are you just off or more than a quarter tone off?
-If you’re just a little off, turn the A string fine tuner clockwise to tune up, counterclockwise to tune down.
-If you are more than a quarter tone below, turn the appropriate peg clockwise. CAUTION is required here. Never turn past the target point, as the strings are designed to be slightly overtuned and then break.
-Pluck the open string every now and then to check where you stand. When you are close to the desired frequency, stop turning the peg and move on to the fine tuners.
-The pegs must always be pressed in a little at the same time when turning. This takes a bit of practice and feeling to find out how much pressure you can exert.
-If the A string is correct, do the same for D, G, and finally the E string.

6. This is IMPORTANT when tuning the violin
Never overtighten the strings, always approach the tone from below, if necessary tune the string down a little first.
– If the strings are very out of tune, you should also check the position of the bridge in between: Has the bridge tilted forward towards the fingerboard? Then you should straighten it again. How? You can find out here.

7. Problems tuning the violin

The vertebrae don’t hold
There can be different reasons:
The vertebrae may need to be adjusted or lubricated; the room climate may be too dry (below 40% humidity)
In this case, ask your violin maker what the cause could be.

The pegs are too tight and cannot be turned
The pegs may need to be adjusted or lubricated; perhaps the room climate is too humid? The violin maker will be happy to help with this too.

The fine tuners turn very hard
Unscrew it and put a drop of sewing machine oil (acid-free oil) on it, then turn it back in. Then it should work fine again


The string is broken
Either the string was old and already damaged, or it was over-twisted. This happens quite often with beginners. Turn very carefully and approach the sound from below.

With a little practice, tuning will soon become routine.

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