You can use various methods to tune your instrument, and fortunately, if you want to play the violin you can also find tuner apps that will help you greatly. Of course, those aid you a lot if you’re a beginner. More experienced players will prefer adjusting their strings using their talent and experience. Here are some other methods that you can use.
Use an electronic chromatic tuner
A chromatic tuner is a high-tech and cool piece of equipment that you can use instead of the guitar tuner. It’s an efficient device that can be used to tune a diversity of instruments, especially stringed ones. One such tuner doesn’t cost much and with $25 you can find a good one in a music store. It’s also easy to use. Most tuners need batteries, but you can find some that don’t require them.
After you turn the tuner on and place it close to the strings, pluck the G string. This will cause the needle on the tuner to move. Depending on how the needle moves you will know if the string is tuned too low or too high. Tuners that have a good display also flash a green light when the tonality is right.
With the help of the tuner tighten or loosen the string depending on what the needle is showing you. Pluck the string after each adjustment. You just need to repeat the process until the needle is on target, in the center of the gauge, or the green light appears.
After you have the G string in tune continue with the other strings. Go on to the D string and follow the same steps and after that do the same with the A and E strings.
Tune with the help of the piano
While the guitar tuner and the electronic chromatic tuner are very similar in use, tuning with the help of the piano is slightly more difficult. If you’re a true beginner it might be hard to learn to do that at first, but once you manage to do it you won’t need any other device to help you.
Tuning with the piano is a reliable method that will help in many situations. If you’ve got a piano, play the note you want on it and keep your foot on the sustain pedal so the note plays as long as possible. While the note plays, adjust the string you want and make the sound of the piano and the one of your violin match.
Pianos are good at giving a tone because they stay in tune for a long time. You only need to tune a piano every 6 months or so. Because the piano is an easy instrument to understand, each of the notes that the violin’s open strings produce can be found on the piano.
So, for the G string play the G under the middle C on the piano. Then pluck the corresponding string of your violin, that’s the G string, so the one on the left. If you can sing a bit, you can hum or sing that particular note, so you don’t have to keep your foot planted on the piano’s pedal.
Singing the note also helps those that have some choir experience or a decent ear. This way they can tell if the G they sing is higher or lower than the pitch of their violin. But singing is not a necessity, as you can always rely on the sustain of the piano to help you. The tricky thing is to feel when the pitches are the same and when they are not.
When you feel that the G string sounds lower than the note given by the piano turn the fine tuner a bit to the right. Of course, if the string sounds higher, do the opposite.
Find the pitch with a tuning fork
Invented many years ago, the tuning fork is a device that has helped many musicians keep their instruments in tune. It’s a pocket-sized acoustic resonator that is made of metal, usually steel. When striking it against a surface or an object it resonates at a specific pitch that stays constant.
The actual musical note or pitch produced by this small device depends on the length and mass of the two prongs that give the U shape of the fork. Many musicians nowadays keep a tuning fork in their violin case, just so they can tune their A string with ease.
One important thing to know about tuning forks is that they don’t produce a clear tone right after you hit them. The tone produced is a very pure one but only after the overtones have faded away. However, with a regular tuning fork, you might feel that the sound fades quickly. So you don’t have the time to dwell and adjust your strings.
That’s why electrically driven tuning forks have been invented so they can keep the sound sustained for a longer time. There are also metronomes today that mimic a tuning fork and can provide a sustained A sound to help you keep your instrument in tune.
Tuning a violin or any other instrument with the help of a tuning fork is easier and better to do than it is with the help of the piano. That is because of the pure tone that this device offers. In the case of stringed instruments, much of the energy put into moving the strings is transformed into overtones. But in the case of the fork, the energy is mostly transmitted into the actual A tune itself.
Fortunately, most of the tuning forks found today are pitched for the note A, and you will have an easy time finding one to help you tune your violin.
If you want to get the tune from your tuning fork tap it lightly on your knee and then place it on its resonating box to amplify the sound. If the fork doesn’t have such a box you can touch it lightly on the top of your violin for the same effect.
Use the pitch pipe for adjustments
Technically being a harmonica that lacks the musicality and only plays a small number of notes, the pitch pipe works on the same principle as many woodwind or brasswind instruments. When you blow air in it, it produces a certain note.
It’s a handy item to keep around you as it’s very small and reliable. Some violin sets come with such a device, but if your set doesn’t you can find one in a music store for a low price. One downside of the pitch pipe is that the sound it produces can vary depending on how hard you blow in it.
However, it does give you a good impression on how the strings should sound. The advantage that most pitch pipes have is that they allow you to get out the sound for each of the strings. There are pipes that are specially made for violins and have all the notes required to tune all of your strings. Other such pipes are variable and can be adjusted to offer different notes.
Using the pitch pipe is like using the piano or the tuning fork to help you keep the musical tone in mind. You blow into the device, and at the same time, you play the string you want to tune.