[Review] D’addario NS Micro Tuner for Violin and Viola

by | Jan 29, 2015 | 6 comments

In this episode I review a new product for violinists and violists: the D’addario NS Micro Tuner for violin and viola.

You can place this device on your instrument and according to D’Addario this device can serve you in three ways:

  • You can tune your violin or viola easily
  • It’s a metronome
  • While playing you can see if you are playing in tune, because the tuner responds very fast

In the video I demonstrate how to place the Micro Tuner on your instrument and how to use all it’s options.

You can adjust the tuner, so it fits your violin or viola perfectly. You can safely place it on your instrument: it won’t damage your instrument (if you don’t do strange things) and it won’t fall off. The tuner responds much better when you bow vs pluck.

Of course you always have to tune your instrument yourself. This is not a device that actually tunes your instrument. It just indicates what’s the pitch and it’s too low, in tune or too high.

The tuner works with whole tempered (piano) tuning, so the fifths are a bit narrower than perfect fifths. When you want perfect fifths and you can tune by ear, use a tuning fork or just tune your A string with this electronic tuner.

The metronome function is more like a little extra and is quite limited. The metronome is only visual: it doesn’t make sound. You can adjust the tempo by clicking on two buttons. A larger metronome makes sound and is easier to adjust from one tempo to the other without clicking a button loads of times. It’s handy that the metronome function is there (for on the road), but in daily use you probably want a separate metronome. This device is mainly meant to be a tuner.

There is some discussion about the third function: checking your intonation with the tuner while playing. 

First of all: when you tune your violin in perfect fifths instead of piano tuning, your G and D will be indicated to be a little low by the tuner and the E will be indicated to be a little too high. These differences are very small, but they can bother you when using this device to check your intonation.

The response of this device is very quickly as promised. You can see if you are in tune while playing, certainly when you are playing slowly and carefully. 

As a teacher I can totally image that this sounds like a must have. Lots of people are very insecure about playing in tune and long for some way to check if they are when practicing.

This sounds very good, but it comes with a warning from my side. When I’m practicing I often check my intonation with my piano, so I also use something to check myself. When you check with the piano, you need to hear the pitch and compare it to your own. Your ear is more active in this case.

Checking yourself with the tuner is very passive: it just tells you whether you are in tune and you don’t have to use your ear. You just have to move your finger until the tuner indicates a green light.

For this reason you must be careful when you use this device. Don’t use it all the time, because your ears will become lazy and you will only depend on your eyes. You will not be able to play the piece in rhythm and in tune. Don’t become dependent on it, because it will work against you. You won’t learn the motor skills and you won’t train your ears. Chances are your intonation only gets worse as your ears get lazy.

When you use this device just to check yourself once in a while (when you have doubts or when you are totally lost)… that’s ok… that’s exactly how I use the piano. It’s useful for that and it works fine.

Just to summarize what I think about this device:

It’s a great tuner: small, low cost, easy to use, clear, fast and it’s handy and safe to place it on your instrument. When you are looking for an accurate, fast and practical electronic tuner, this is a very good option.

As a metronome it’s limited, but it can come in handy when you are on the road or when you don’t use a metronome that often.

As a check to play in tune, the device absolutely does what it promises: the response is very quick, accurate and clear. However: use it carefully and certainly don’t use it all the time. It can help you when you use it right… it can work against you when you use it wrong.

 

Is this video helpful to you? Please let me know in the comments below! If you like it, share it with your friends!

Love,

Zlata

PS: Do you have questions or struggles on violin or viola playing? Post a comment below or send an e-mail to info@violinlounge.com and I might dedicate a Violin Lounge TV episode to answering your question!

Specifications of the cheap violin in this video:

1. Brand: Glarry
2. Model: None
3. Size: 4/4. but available in all sizes
4. Back/Side/Face Material: Matte Spruce Wood
5. Top/Violin Bridge Material: Maple Wood
6. Violin Bow Material: Arbor
7. Tailpiece Material: Aluminum Alloy
8. Fingerboard Material: Ebony
9. Chin Rest/Tuning Peg/End Pin Material: Dark Wood
10. Violin Color: Dark Goldenrod
11. String Material: Steel String

Thee NS Micro Violin Tuner features an easy-to-read, multi-color display and visual metronome in an attractive compact design. A non-marring, lever-lock clamp holds the tuner securely to the instrument while allowing easy application and removal. The precision violin tuner is not only perfect for tuning, the unique mounting system and fast pitch response allow it to be used as an effective practice tool for referencing and improving intonation while playing.D’Addario electronic tuners are designed by musicians for musicians featuring intuitive features, easy-to-read displays and exceptional tuning accuracy.

  • Features a non-marring, lever-lock clamp that holds the tuner securely to the instrument while allowing easy application and removal.
  • Built-in piezo transducer picks up instrument’s vibration rather than sound
  • Tri-color reversible backlit LCD screen makes it easy to tune in dark environments
  • Wide calibration range (410Hz to 480Hz) and visual metronome
  • Tunes both violins and violas

Most valued features:

  • Accurate
  • Fast
  • Practical
  • Quality
  • Price

Hi! I'm Zlata

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6 Comments

  1. Ellen

    Hi Zlata,
    Is it possible with this tuning device to change 440Hz in 441Hz?
    Probaly not, but le me know, please!
    In many modern (string) ensembles 441 is used that is why I ask.
    Warm regards,
    Ellen

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Ellen,

      This is certainly possible and many more or less Hz. When the device is in tuner mode (not metronome), you can use the arrow buttons to adjust the Hz.

      All the best,

      Zlata

      Reply
  2. Kathy

    This review was very helpful. I didn’t realize that this tuner is set to tempered tuning, like a piano. I would prefer a tuner that is set to perfect fifths. Are there other brands of tuners that are set to fifths? Or would a tuner set to the chromatic be more accurate and not tempered? Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Hi Kathy,

      The thing is… you would need a tuner for every key… because the F sharp can be different depending on the key and the function in the music. It would be impossible to create a tuner like this.

      All tuners available are therefore in the whole tempered tuning, which is ok. This d’Addario micro tuner is a chromatic tuner.

      Best regards,

      Zlata

      Reply
      • Kathy

        Thank you for your response. I thought that the open strings could be tuned in perfect fifths. My violin teacher recently told me about tempered tuning and said that pianos are actually slightly out of perfect pitch. He also told me what you said–that the violin pitch changes slightly, depending on the key. This music theory is new to me, and quite amazing!

      • Violinist Zlata

        Yes, it’s very interesting!

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