Violin Tuning - With Pegs Only
Lemuel Huang, July 15, 2011
When I was learning how to tune a violin, I started by
holding the violin neck with my left hand while resting
the lower bout of the violin on my upper leg. Then with
my right hand, I would turn the pegs on the right while
plucking the strings with my left thumb. I would then switch
hands, right thumb plucking and left hand turning the pegs
on the left. Finally, when I was just about tuned, I would
hold the violin and bow in playing position and fine tune
the rest of the way using the fine tuners on the tailpiece.
After seeing a professional violinist tune with only his
left hand and fingers, I was motivated to learn the same
thing. I don't remember how long it took for me to learn
it. However I believe the skill can be acquired in a few
For those who would like to try it out, I have provided
photos below of suggested hand and finger positions for
holding the peg box and turning the pegs. I am sure other
violinist have developed their own unique positions, so
my way is not the only way. You may find yourself adapting,
modifying or creating a totally new way for yourself.
There are essentially two functions that your left hand
and fingers must perform:
- Apply a force
or pressure on the pegs into the peg box.
the pegs clockwise or counter-clockwise.
Here's how I position my left hand and fingers for peg
turning. The yellow arrows indicate perceived direction
of force or pressure while I was turning.
Peg for A String
Here the index finger applies a counter-pressure
in a direction towards the thumb. Both the middle
finger and thumb apply two forces - one component
towards the peg box and the other to turn the pegs.
Peg for G String
I perceive equal contributions for
peg turning and inward pressure towards the peg box
using the index and thumb. I find it interesting also
that my pinky is performing all the counter pressure.
The middle and ring fingers are almost not used at
all. Sometimes, the middle finger will push back towards
the D peg.
Peg for D String
Here, I don't even use the middle finger
for anything. Most the inward pressure towards the
peg box is done using the thumb, while the index finger
does most of the turning. The ring and pinky fingers
provide the counter-pressure.
Peg for E String
The E-string is most difficult for many
violinist. That is why you'll often see on more advanced
violins only one tailpiece fine tuner for the E-string.
Here most of the pressure on the peg going into the
peg box is done with my middle finger while my thumb
accomplishes most of the turning. My index finger
hangs on the other side of the peg box to apply the
Adjusting the Rotational Position or
Angle of your Violin Tuning Pegs
This really helpful preparation will make it much easier
to tune with only your left hand and fingers. Notice the
two photos below.
Set your pegs so that when the strings are just about tuned,
the peg handles are oriented in such as way that you can
still tune by applying pressure on the peg faces, and not
the peg edges. This will make fine tuning easier.
You may have to take your strings out and place more of
the string end into the hole in order to adjust the rotational
position of the peg handle. For example the photo on the
left shows an awkward rotational position of the E-string
peg handle, and causes the left thumb to meet it at the
peg edge. The photo on the right shows the E-string peg
handle in a different rotational position, allowing the
thumb to turn from the peg face instead.
Difficult Turning - Thumb on Peg Edge
Easy Turning - Thumb on Peg Face
It takes a certain amount of practice to fine tune a violin
using only the pegs. The problem is that the pegs are turned
a little too high or a little too low, but never seems to
get it right on. There are a couple of fine tuning tips
that can make it easier - and without fine tuners. Click
here here to find out.
A Complete Violin Tuning
Page 1: Introduction
to Violin Tuning
A snapshot view on tuning violins, the process, it's problems
2: Tuning a Violin - Avoiding the Bridge Snap -
The most important thing to check before you tune a violin.
Prevent damage to your violin and optimize the sound...Read
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
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