When you are a new violinist (or the parent of one), tuning your violin can be a daunting task at first! With a little bit of time and practice it will become easier, but in the meantime, here are some tips to help you out.
If you have a violin that isn’t used to being in tune it is going to take some time for the strings to settle into the correct pitch, but if you consistently tune it you will find it needs less adjusting day after day. Most violins come with a tuner that can be clipped on. These tend to be most helpful when your strings are not far off pitch, so they work best once you have a stable G-D-A-E tuning.
For the tough cases you should use a reference pitch to match before trying to use the tuner. Here are some options for doing so:
1. If you have a keyboard or access to a piano (that is tuned frequently), the notes to tune to are shown in the picture on the right.
2. There are many free tuning apps available and many of them have a “tuning fork” function that plays pitches for you. An “A” tuned to 440 Hz is the standard pitch for tuning and most apps that have this option will allow you to adjust the note up or down from there.
3. Another option is to use YouTube videos. There are some available of sustained tuning notes for violin strings.
Now for some tips on the mechanics of tuning:
1. There are two ways to adjust pitch on most violins: the pegs and the fine tuners. The pegs should be used to make larger adjustments to the pitch and the fine tuners should be used for small adjustments, (like when the correct note is recognizable to your tuner, but you don’t have a green light).
2. You will notice that the slightest turn of a peg will give you a lot of change in pitch, so go slowly. (If you are holding the violin facing you, turning the peg up toward the scroll will make the pitch higher).
3. The peg might be stuck pretty tight, in which case you can loosen it by turning it slightly down first. As you adjust the peg, you will want to apply steady pressure inward. This helps the peg stay securely in place.
4. If your violin is really out of tune and you need to do some major adjusting, get all the strings close to G-D-A-E using the pegs before fine tuning them. You might tune your A-string perfectly, but then the changes you make to D and G could alter the pitch on A again. So save precise adjustments for last.
Fine Tuners Pegs