The violin is an interesting instrument that produces beautiful music if played correctly, but if you don't tune it well before playing it, it won't be pretty at all! When you tune a violin, you adjust the tone that the instrument produces, string by string. Tuning a violin may sound difficult, but with practice, it will become completely natural for you.
Method 1 of 3: Choosing a Tuning Helper
Step 1. Choose an electronic tuner that listens to the note, if you are a beginner
With this type of tuner, you will play a string and then the device will tell you if it is high or low. This method will work very well if you don't have a good ear yet, as it will do the work of hearing the pitch for you.
- You can find these types of tuners both online and in music stores.
- Also, there are many smartphone apps that function as tuners. Most of these cost some money, but are generally less expensive than a physical tuner. You can try Tunable, ClearTune, or insTuner, to name a few.
Step 2. Use online videos if you have a good ear
These videos will give you the proper note for each string. You can then tune the string until it matches the note. However, you must have a developed ear for music in order to find the perfect note.
Step 3. Try a tuning fork or piano if you can find the notes
The notes you need to find and play are sol, re, la and mi; which coincide with the strings of the violin. On the piano, the G is the one below middle C and any other notes you need will be spaced 5 steps higher, starting with D. Play the note on the piano or fingerboard, and then play the corresponding string on the violin. Adjust the violin string up or down until it matches the note you hear.
- Strike a tuning fork on a table and move it towards your ear to hear it better. A tuning fork is simply a metal instrument that will always produce a certain note when played.
- With this method, you will play the note and then try to make the violin string match it.
Method 2 of 3: Tuning the String by Ear
Step 1. Go to a quiet place to tune the violin
It may be difficult to hear the note if there is a lot of noise in the environment. If possible, go to a room that does not have a radio or television on.
If you are outside, you may need to go inside for a moment
Step 2. Listen to the sound of the note
Play the note on your computer, phone, piano, tuning fork, or metronome, which sometimes comes with a built-in tuner. Listen carefully to the pitch of the note. Play it again if necessary.
Work on string a first. It is the second thinnest string
Step 3. Locate the precision tuners
Some violins have precision tuners (also known as micro-tuners) on the E string, others have one on the E and A strings, while others have one on all strings. Follow the string down to find the tuner for that string. Precision tuners resemble small screws in the tailpiece, which is located at the end of the strings near the chin rest.
Step 4. Tighten the string little by little with the fine tuner if it is a little out of tune
Turn the small tuner clockwise to raise the pitch of the string and counterclockwise to lower it. Play the string with the bow to verify that it matches the sound you heard. Keep adjusting and plucking the string to get the correct note. You will only be able to make very fine adjustments with this tuner, so if the string is too out of tune, you will have to move the pegs as well.
If the tuner is fully turned all the way, unscrew it in the other direction to loosen it. Then continue tuning using the peg. This way, you are less likely to break the rope
Step 5. Find the peg corresponding to each string
The pegs are the knobs on the tip of the violin. If you hold the violin face-on with the pegs facing up, the upper right is the A string, the lower right is the E string, the upper left is the D string, and the lower left is the G string.
Step 6. Rotate the peg with your index finger and thumb to make large adjustments
Grip the peg between your index finger and thumb. Turn it clockwise for the rope to go up or counterclockwise to lower it. Try to match the note you hear by passing the bow through the corresponding string. Replay the note on the tuner or computer if necessary.
Step 7. Do the same with each string
Once the A string is tuned, it goes on to the other strings. Tune the E string, then the D and G strings. You may have to check the A string one more time at the end, just to make sure it hasn't gone out of tune in the process.
Method 3 of 3: Adjust the Strings with an Electronic Tuner
Step 1. Turn on the tuner
The tuner should have an on / off button, as most of the time, they will not stay on. The digital display should show text and a tuning indicator when turned on.
Step 2. Pluck the string a
Use your fingers to pluck the string, playing the note. The tuner indicator will move up and down to show you where the note is. Make sure the note says "A" ("a" in Anglo-Saxon notation) in the corner when you strike the string. If it doesn't, you will have to make a lot of adjustments.
- Remember that the rope is the second thinnest.
- If it doesn't say "A", determine if the note it displays is above or below and adjust up or down with the pegs.
Step 3. Use the fine tuner for notes that need minor adjustments
Turn the precision tuner corresponding to the appropriate string to the right (clockwise) to increase the tuning. Turn it counterclockwise to lower the pitch. Keep tapping while still watching the screen to see if you hit the center point of the gauge. Match the note of the string with the note of the tuner.
- The violin may have only one precision tuner on the E string or the A and E strings. If so, just adjust the other strings with the pegs.
- Precision tuners are the little "screws" in the tailpiece of the violin, which is where the strings end near the chin rest.
- If you turn the screw until it no longer moves and the violin is still out of tune, unscrew it until it comes loose and use the pegs instead.
Step 4. Turn the pegs to make larger adjustments
Find the peg corresponding to the string. For the A string, it is the one on the top right if you hold the violin facing you with the pegs facing up. Move it clockwise to raise the pitch or counterclockwise to make the note lower. Make small movements to adjust the pitch, less than 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) at a time.
- Keep moving the peg little by little until the indicator touches the center on the tuner.
- To find the correct peg, follow the string to the peg it is wound on.
Step 5. Check that the note matches the tuner
When the note matches, it will say the name of the note in the corner. The indicator will mark the center of the note, which means that it is neither high nor low, but is just right in pitch. Once it does, you will have in tune the note.
Step 6. Repeat the process for each string
Remember that the strings are G, D, A and E, starting from the lowest to the highest. The lowest string will always be the thickest.
- To avoid breaking a string while tuning it with the peg, loosen the peg by turning it toward you before trying to tighten it.
- When you start using new strings, you will need to tune them more frequently, as they will stretch a lot at first.
- If you have trouble turning the peg, try pulling it out and applying peg paste to it. It should help it twist if it gets stuck and also stay in place if it is too loose.
- Tune the A string first, since with this tuned note it is easier to find the other notes by ear.
- Never hold the instrument too close to your face while tuning. If the rope breaks, it could hit your eyes.
- Avoid overtightening the precision tuners. If you do, the bottom of the screw will touch the body of the violin. Over time, this can damage the finish and surface of the violin. Look under the tailpiece to see how much space there is between the bottom of the tuner and the surface of the violin. Loosen the tuner, if required, and adjust the associated peg to compensate for the change.
- You will likely end up breaking a rope at first. Don't worry, it's not the end of the world. You can replace it with a new string.