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Violins

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 weeks.

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:

  1. Apply a force or pressure on the pegs into the peg box.
  2. Rotating 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 counter-pressure.

 

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

Fine Tuning

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 Guide

Page 1: Introduction to Violin Tuning
A snapshot view on tuning violins, the process, it's problems and solutions...Read more

Page 2: Tuning a Violin - Avoiding the Bridge Snap - IMPORTANT
The most important thing to check before you tune a violin. Prevent damage to your violin and optimize the sound...Read more

Page 3: Tune a VIolin - Problems with Violin Pegs - IMPORTANT
Important notes on peg problems and setting them up for optimal tuning....Read more

Page 4: Online Violin Tuner - Understanding Reference Tones
A neat online violin tuner and experiments you can try with an online piano tuner...Read more

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 your instrument...Read more

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 more




OTHER HELPFUL VIOLIN TUNING INFORMATION

Other Ways to Generate Reference Tones
Conventional and new ways that reference tones can be generated... Read more

Fine 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 pitch differences...Read more

Installing and Using Fine Tuning Pegs Coming Soon
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 Coming Soon
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 Soon
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 fine tuners

 


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