How to Tune Your Violin or Viola with an Electronic Tuner (or app)
For tuning small differences you can use the fine tuners. For tuning larger differences you can use the tuning pegs.
When you are just beginning to learn to tune, I recommend using just the fine tuners. It’s handy to have four fine tuners on your violin.
Eventually it’s best and most accurate to tune with a tuning fork. However, for beginners, this might be very difficult. As it’s important to tune your violin or viola every time you play, I recommend using a tuner. When you want to learn to tune with a tuning fork, watch this video: How (and WHY?) to Tune Your Violin with a Tuning Fork?
How does a tuner work? When you talk, the tuner reacts on the sound of your voice. When you pluck a string, the tuner shows you which tone it is and whether it’s in tune, too low or too high. Some tuners have a special violin mode that only recognizes the violin strings. When it doesn’t, use the chromatic mode.
When you use the chromatic mode, your tuner can indicate a tone that doesn’t match your string. For example: when the G string is very low, it becomes a high F sharp. This means the string is tuned too low, not too high.
When you are tuning, please always check where you are by watching the tuner constantly. Don’t just tune and check later. Otherwise you can tune too high and your string can snap.
Remember that the violin or viola doesn’t have guitar mechanic. The pegs are smooth. When you just turn, they will come out of the peg box. Make sure to push the pegs inside the peg box while you are turning them.
It takes quite some practice to become handy in tuning your violin and viola. Just take your time and tune your instrument every time you practice: preferably daily.
Just to summarize the most important things around tuning:
- Use the chromatic mode on your tuner. When it has a violin mode, use that, but not for the viola.
- Use the fine tuners for small differences and the pegs for larger differences.
- Push the pegs into the peg box while you are tuning.
- When you have to tune your violin or viola a lot (when it’s new or there are lots of changes in temperature or humidity) check if your bridge is still standing up straight. There will be a video about this soon.
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PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!