Using Digital Tuners to Tune a Violin
Help with Intonation
(The Complete Guide to Violin Tuning
- Continued from page
There comes a time for some that no amount of reference
tone generators, violin fine tuners or correcting peg problems
will help in fine tuning a violin. Fine tuning is a skill
and essentially boils down to our hearing. It is the ability
to bring the sample pitch or tone (in this case the sound
of your violin) to match the pitch of a standard reference
tone (coming from this online
violin tuner for example).
What happens if I'm unable to hear the pitch difference?
One sure way to solve this problem is to obtain a pitch
detection device that would provide visual feedback (such
as a LED display) of the note you are playing. This would
not only be good for tuning but for intonation training
(or ear training) as well. A couple of these devices are
The Center Pitch UniversalTM
The Center Pitch UniversalTM, a very
unique and impressive intonation tool by Onboard Research
Corporation, provides immediate intonation feedback
up to 5 notes per second (Was from my own testing, but could
probably respond faster). In normal practice routines, it
can provide response to such skills as slow scales, arpeggios,
octaves, long tones, slurred notes and more. For beginners
it is an excellent tool for ear training
It can be used in noisy environments such as a band or
orchestra. The device doesn't use a microphone for detection,
but rather it is clipped unto your instrument, and is able
to "feel" the vibrations. So you are able to tune
and play without interference from ambient room sounds,
even when it is very noisy. It can be used not only on violins
but other stringed, brass and woodwind instruments.
There is one thing I wished this device had, which would
make the device complete in my opinion, and that is a reference
pitch generator. It would have also been nice if the device
would display the piano octave for which the note falls
in (Example: A5 for note A in the fifth piano octave and
A3 for note A in the third piano octave). If you want to
get a clear picture on piano octaves, please refer to the
online violin tuner
Features of the Center Pitch UniversalTM
the pitch. Play anywhere without interference from room
- Large LED
display for easy viewing.
"accidentals" (sharp or flat notes) enharmonically
(as either sharp or flat).
the note in Concert Pitch or as transposed for B-flat,
E-flat or F instruments.
A-reference detection between A - 440Hz (standard), A=441Hz
- Weighs less
than two ounce, battery operated, 60 hours of use per
set of batteries.
- Tuning Range
- Seven Octaves, 27Hz to 6000Hz
- Tuning Precision
- Better than one cent
- Battery Life
- 60 hours of continuous use
- 1 3/4" wide, 5 1/4" long, 3/4" thick
- Power supply
- 6 volts
- Battery Type
- CR2032 coin cell; two batteries required.
Warranty (USA and Canada only, 2 years international).
to purchase this device.
Using the Center Pitch UniversalTM
with a Violin
Attaching the Center Pitch UniversalTM
to your Violin
First locate the space between the G and D pegs on
the left and the E and A pegs on the right side of
the peg box. This is the space on the violin that
the device will be clamped. Don't worry, the clamps
are made with soft rubber, so it will not damage your
After clamping the device on, you will notice two
ball swivel joints behind the display that enable
you to position the LED display.
Face the LED display towards you in playing position.
After you face the LED display towards the tailpiece
end, press the blue colored "Power"
button to turn in on.
There are three other buttons on the
- A reference button, changes the internal A reference
note detection to one of A=440Hz, A=441Hz and A=442Hz.
For the violin, it should be set to 440Hz.
- Enharmonic button, changes displaying accidentals
from sharp to flat or flat to sharp. For example,
if you are playing sharp on A, you would see A-sharp
(A#) or B-flat (Bb) depending on your enharmonic
setting. For the violin, it should be set to sharp.
- Transpose button, changes between Concert Pitch
(i.e. Key of C), or transposed for B-flat, E-flat
or F instruments. For violins, leave the transposition
in Concert Pitch.
Tuning and Intonation Training
This tuner is a chromatic tuner. That means that
it uses the 12-note chromatic scale as you see the
notes on a piano keyboard (To understand the chromatic
scale click here).
When a particular note is fully in tune, the display
will show the symbols ">>>"
on the left and "<<<" on
the right (The photo on the right shows A-note fully
in tune. Notes that are played too flat will show
fewer ">" characters on the right.
Notes too sharp will show fewer "<"
symbols on the left. There is also a symbol pattern
for very very flat or sharp (See below).
I really find this device great for intonation training.
Although this device can respond to notes at a rate
of greater than 4 notes per second, it does not make
sense to play this fast, because you would not be
able to visually keep track of all the notes that
appear on the display. For intonation training, I
would suggest playing no faster than one note every
two to three seconds.
Note A Tiny Flat
Note A Tiny Sharp
Note A Very Very Flat
Note Very Very Sharp
To purchase the Center Pitch UniversalTM
The IMT-204 Intelli Metronome/Tuner
The Intelli IMT-204 is an integrated Digital
Metronome and Dual Tuner device. I will not be going over
every feature of this device, but just those that can help
you tune a violin.
The pitch detection capability relies on a
built-in microphone. When the IMT-204 is in tuning mode,
it essentially displays on the LED the note name that you
are playing. The tuning range is from A0 to B7 (8 octaves).
It is not as sensitive as the Center Pitch UniversalTM
described above, and also requires that the room be quiet.
It also does not display the piano octave for which a note
This device also has a built-in pitch generator
ranging from A2 sharp to C6 sharp. A2 refers to the second
piano octave containing the note A. C6 refers to the sixth
piano octave containing the note C. For violin tuning, you'll
need G3, D4, A4 and E5.
Tuning Features and Specifications of the
and guitar tuner for intonation training.
range is 12-note chromatic, A0 to B7 (8 octaves)
- Large LED
display for easy viewing.
microphone and jack (6mm mono jack) for electric guitar
A-reference calibration or detection between A - 430Hz
to 449Hz with 1Hz step.
how are sharp or flat you are in cents
- Works for
most string and reed instruments including the human
stand tilts the unit for table top viewing or mounts
on music stand
memory maintains all settings during power-off
power off - 3 minutes with no signal
- Pitch generator
range: A2# to C6# (40 notes)
- Pitch generator
shift (430 to 449Hz, 1Hz step)
source: dry battery 2 X AAA (3 volts)
To purchase the Intelli IMT-204 tuner, click
Using the Intelli
Placing the Intelli IMT-204
The device has a built-in stand enabling it to stand
on a table facing you. Make sure that there is no
other noise in the room, as it picks up other sounds.
Try to set the device on the same level as the violin
in such a way that the F-holes of the violin (where
most of the sound travels out from) is facing the
microphone of the device (labelled MIC on the
Pitch Generation Mode
Press the POWER button to turn the device
on. To tune a violin, one would start in Pitch Generation
mode to generate reference tones. To set the device
in this mode, press the SOUND button (next
to the POWER button) until you hear a fixed sound.
You can increase or decrease the pitch by pressing
the two buttons labelled NOTE as shown to the
right. For the violin, you'll need reference tones
3G, 4D, 4A and 5E to show on the upper right hand
corners when tuning each string.
Using Tuning Mode (for fine tuning)
To change to tuning mode, press the TUNER
button (same as SOUND button) until you hear no sound
coming from the device.
The microphone is now listening to ambient sounds.
You will even see the LED flashing red, yellow or
green as you speak.
The Tuning Display
This tuner has chromatic and guitar tuning. For violins
you want to use the chromatic tuner (This means that
it uses the 12-note chromatic scale as you see on
a piano keyboard). To set the tuner for chromatic
tuning, press the GUITAR button until you see
the word CHROMA located right underneath where
the notes are displayed on the upper right hand corner.
For violins, you should see a tuning calibration
for note A of 440Hz shown on the upper left hand corner.
If not then press the CALIB buttons (the two
leftmost buttons) to adjust.
You should also see no "b" symbols
(called flat used for flat tuning) located towards
the upper center of the display. If so, press the
FLAT until you see no flat symbols left.
Now, whenever you are in tune with any chromatic
notes, the needle on the display moves towards the
center, and the LED flashes green. The name of the
note is shown on the upper right hand corner.
If you move away from any of the notes in the chromatic
scale, the needle in on the display moves away from
the center and the LED flashes red or yellow. If the
needle falls to the left of the center, the note displayed
on the upper right hand corner shows that you are
playing too flat on that note. Likewise, if the needle
falls to the right of the center, then the note displayed
is played too sharp.
Note A in tune (Green LED)
Note A flat (Red or yellow LED)
Note A Sharp (Red or yellow LED)
To purchase the Intelli IMT-204 tuner, click
This concludes the 6-page "Complete Guide to Violin
Tuning". If you found this guide helpful to you, and
would like to comment, please join our forum
and make any suggestions, corrections or criticisms. I would
be very happy to hear from you.
END of COMPLETE VIOLIN TUNING GUIDE
This is page 6 - the last page
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
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