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How to Fine Tune a Violin Without Fine Tuners

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Fine Tuning a Violin without Fine Tuners

Lemuel Huang, July 15, 2011

I learned the following couple of tips on fine tuning a violin, from a Czeckoslovakian concert master. It involves the use of finger pressure to alter the string tension. However it takes care not to over apply the pressure.

The photo on the left shows how to increase the string tension (higher pitch). It is done by using the index finger to apply pressure on the strings in the pegbox just on the opposite side of the violin nut. The photo on the right shows how to decrease the string tension (lower pitch). This is done using the thumb to pull the string upwards a little and towards the right, and then sliding the thumb down and up the string once. Among all the open strings, the open G string responds least using this technique.

I have used both methods for fine tuning for many years without any problem. Sometimes, you may have to alternate between the two before you get it just right.


Increasing the Pitch

Apply pressure using the index finger on any of the strings in the peg box on the other side of the violin nut.

Lowering the Pitch

Using the thumb, lift any string just a little. Then pull towards the right. Slide the thumb down and up the string just once.


How to Fine Tune a Violin using Harmonics (Advanced tuning)

This technique is a great way to fine tune your violin provided you are able to get just one string accurately tuned (usually the A-string). For example, assume that the A-string is fully tuned, and you want to fine tune the rest of the strings. Here you have a choice to fine tune the D string or the E-string. Please continue to follow the photos below.

Fine Tuning the D String

To fine tune the D string, you need to lightly touch the A5 note (one octave higher than open A) using your pinky. This will be your reference harmonic. Then using your index finger, lightly touch the fifth note A4 on the D string which will also sound the harmonic A5 note. Now you can compare both harmonics, the A5 reference harmonic on the A string and the A5 harmonic on the D string.

Fine Tuning the E String

To fine tune the E string, lightly touch with your index finger the fifth note E5 on the A string to sound the harmonic E6 note. This will be your reference harmonic for fine tuning the E string. Then use your pinky to lightly touch the E6 harmonic note on the E string (one octave higher than open E). Now you can compare both harmonics, the E6 reference harmonic on the A string and E6 harmonic on the E string.

Fine Tuning the G String

Finally, since the D string is now tuned, you will be able to fine tune the G string. Using your pinky, lightly touch the D5 harmonic (one octave higher than open D). This will be your reference harmonic. Then use your index finger to lightly touch the fifth note D4 on the G string to sound the harmonic D5 note. Now compare both harmonics, the D5 reference harmonic on the D string and the D5 harmonic on the G string.


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

How to Tune a Violin Using Only Pegs
Photos illustrating how advanced violinists may use only their left hand and fingers to tune violins...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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