A Complete Violin Tuning Guide
Lemuel Huang, July 15, 2011
Many beginners learning how to tune a violin often face
big challenges and problems. Why is it so difficult sometimes?
The pegs won't turn or stay, strings break during tuning,
the violin bridge snaps off the belly, the soundpost becomes
lose, the fine tuners on the tailpiece don't work, difficulty
discerning or comparing small pitch differences, and more.
If you don't know exactly where your problem is, then the
following introduction may help you to identify where in
the tuning process you are stuck. On the other hand if you
would like to read the whole violin tuning guide from beginning,
then jump to the bottom
of the page.
Introduction - A snapshot
of the violin tuning process
Typically, the process requires the following three skills
Comparing the sound difference between a reference
tone and the sound of your violin.
First, you'll typically need a source for generating
reference tones for each of your violin strings. Reference
tones can come from a number of sources such as a piano
or a tuning fork. If you don't have access to any such
source, you may use our online
Using the violin pegs to tune the sound of each
string most of the way close to the reference tones.
Many problems can happen at this stage. Sometimes the
pegs are really hard to turn. They appear stuck or when
they actually move, the pegs feel like they are turning
through sticky gum or tar. Yet another problem occurs
when the peg is easy to turn, but as soon as you let
go, the pegs won't stay in place, but loosen up again.
There are good reasons and solutions to these problems.
Please see this article, "Problems
with Violin Pegs" for more information.
In addition, it is important to check over your violin
bridge before tuning. You will not only reduce the risk
of damage to your violin, but also optimize the sound.
See this important article, "Avoiding
the Bridge Snap" for more information.
Fine tuning each violin string to match the reference
tone (well at least very close to matching).
To fine tune a violin, you need to hear minor pitch
differences between the reference tone and the sound
of your violin. This is not easy for many beginners.
To put things in perspective, it can take years
of ear training to discern very small pitch differences.
However there is a solution.
You can solve this problem by using a ptich detecting
device. These electronic devices essentially "hear"
(through a built-in microphone or vibration detector),
the sound of your violin and tells you what note is
being played. See this article, "Fine
Tuning Violins with Digital Tuners".
Another challenge is to make small increases or decreases
in the pitch of your violin. This is not easy with pegs.
The problem experienced here is that you either turn
the pegs just a little too high or a little too low,
but never right on. To solve this problem, metal
violin fine tuners added to the tailpiece
are usually used. For beginners, this is an economical
and easy way to start.
(For many advanced violinists however, adding metal
violin fine tuners to the tailpiece changes the sound
quality of the violin, because they add weight to the
tailpiece and change the string length. To solve this
problem, some have obtained tailpieces with lighter
built-in fine tuners, or obtain very light carbon-fiber
tuners. Some violinists have also opted for the more
expensive FineTuning Pegs with "gears" in
the peg shaft. All this will be discussed in future
Fine Tuning a Violin without Fine
If you don't like to add any of these additional
parts to your violin, there are tuning techniques
used by advanced violinists to fine tune a violin,
and without cost. Please see this article, "Fine
Tuning A Violin Without Fine Tuners".
Finally many wonder why the violin doesn't stay in
tune after it is finally tuned. For example, after leaving
the violin for a a few hours, the violin strings, especially
the A and E go off tune. This is actually quite common.
It is more than likely to happen if the strings are
new, or made of gut. It can also happen with large changes
in temperature and humidity.
Learning how to tune a violin becomes much easier once
you understand the problems beginners often face, and how
to solve and/or avoid them. In the following pages, you
will find detailed information complete with photo images.
Although, I have arranged this article so that beginners
can follow the tuning process page by page, please feel
free to follow some of the links listed further below that
may apply more to your situation.
The next two pages are important. These are things
you must check over on your violin to avoid the risk of
damaging your violin and optimize the sound at the same
OF COMPLETE VIOLIN TUNING GUIDE
This is page 1
Page 2: Tune a Violin - Avoiding the Bridge Snap -
Page 3: Tune
a VIolin - Problems with Violin Pegs -
Important notes on peg problems and setting them up for
Page 4: Online Violin
Tuner - Understanding Reference Tones
A neat online violin tuner and experiments you can try with
an online piano tuner...Read
Page 5: Installing
and Using Violin Fine Tuners
Once you have brought the pitch of your violin strings most
of the way towards the reference tones by using pegs, there
are a number of low-cost fine tuner parts you can add to
Page 6: Fine
Tuning Violins with Digital Tuners
Although there are many digital tuners on the market, there
is one quite amazing digital tuner in particular, that will
help you with your intonation while playing...Read
OTHER HELPFUL VIOLIN TUNING INFORMATION
Other Ways to Generate
Conventional and new ways that reference tones can be generated...
Tuning a Violin Without Fine Tuners
These fine tuning techniques are used by advanced violinists
which you can use if you do not have any problems discerning
to Tune a Violin Using Only Pegs
Photos illustrating how advanced violinists may use only
their left hand and fingers to tune violins...Read
Installing and Using Fine Tuning Pegs Coming
No more wrestling back and forth with your pegs! These neat
set of pegs will help you fine tune your violin EASILY!.
A Review of Pusch Tailpieces with built-in Fine Tuners
Have a good look at the built-in fine tuners that come with
these tailpieces. The two advantages of these tailpieces
Installing and Using the Light-Weight Carbon Fiber
Tuners by Bogaro and Clemente Coming
Don't want to add weight to the tailpiece or change the
string length, and don't want to spend so much for fine
tuning pegs, then these specially made carbon fiber tailpiece