The violin is a wonderful instrument to take up, and if you practise every day, will bring you years of joy. It is one of the smaller string instruments, with fours strings which should be tuned to perfect fifths. The pitch to start tuning your violin is the A above middle C. However, if you’re just starting out, how are you supposed to know how to tune your new instrument?
More traditional methods include tuning by hand to a piano, a tuning fork, or a metronome, but this method means you have to have a pretty good ear for music already. As a beginner, you might not have developed this skill just yet. It tends to develop over time, but when you first start out, it’s a difficult skill to get your head around.
Therefore, it’s a great idea to invest in a violin tuner. These machines will save you time which you could be using to practise. There are different types of tuner available on the market, but they can all be split into two categories. Some violin tuners give out a sound that you tune your instrument to. With the other type, you pluck your string first. On the display screen, it will tell you the pitch the string is at, and then you tune the string accordingly. The latter kinds of tuners tend to be more expensive, but you can pick them up for a small price, sometimes for as little as a few pounds. More expensive brands tend to go for about fifty pounds. Some tuners are very small and come with a clip, so you can attach them to the neck of the instrument. Some more classic tuners also double up as metronomes, so it’s worthwhile thinking about exactly what you want in a tuner before purchasing one.
The usual tuning on a violin is G, D, A, E. The thickest string is the G, and the thinnest is the E. Each string will need tuning. To start, switch on the tuner and pluck one of the strings. Adjust the pegs until you are at the right pitch, then repeat with the other three strings.
One of the most important things to do is to re-check the first string you tuned. More often than not, the body of the violin bends during the tuning process because of the new tensions of the strings, which can alter the pitch. It’s important to keep checking the instrument is in tune to make sure you get the best sound, so use your violin tuner several times before starting to play. It’s also worthwhile to continue to check your tuning during your practise sessions. Humidity and temperature can also affect the strings and the wood of an instrument. To be safe, get into the habit of re-tuning your violin every half an hour.
Tuning your instrument by hand can take a long time, and the tuning process is quite precise, so it’s a worthwhile purchase if you’re taking up the instrument.