What Tailpiece and How Many Fine Tuners Should You Have on Your Violin or Viola?

by | Nov 6, 2014 | Maintenance | 11 comments

You might be wondering why some violinists and violists have one fine tuner, others two and some even four.

What is the difference? What should you choose? Which tailpiece should you pick?

I’ve just discovered shortly that the choice of fine tuners and tailpiece makes a big difference in the sound of your violin or viola.

In this episode of Violin Lounge TV, I give you the complete guide to fine tuners and tailpieces.

First, for beginners, let’s go into what a fine tuner does…

When you tune your violin or viola you can do this with the tuning pegs. When you just want to tune a bit, you can better use the fine tuners. There are different types of fine tuners, so yours can look a little different than the ones in the video.

For beginners I recommend to have four fine tuners, so a fine tuner for every string.

Tuning your violin or viola can be difficult in the beginning. When you have four fine tuners you can easily tune every string very precisely.

When it’s so easy to have four fine tuners, why don’t all violin and viola players have all four?

On a wooden tailpiece you can put as many loose fine tuners on it as you prefer. These loose fine tuners are quite heavy. When you have four loose fine tuners on a wooden tailpiece, the whole thing becomes very heavy. The downside of this is that it mutes the tone of your violin or viola and can alternate the sound. This is why lots of violin and viola players just have one or two fine tuners.

These fine tuners are mostly placed on the E string and perhaps the A string. The E string is very tight and thin, therefore hard to tune with the pegs and it can easily snap when you turn it just a little too high. The G and D strings are easier to tune with the pegs only. The fine tuner is optionally placed on the A string.

When you want to have four fine tuners for easy tuning, but you also want to keep the beautiful sound of your violin or viola, consider a plastic tailpiece with integrated fine tuners. These type of tailpieces are light, so they won’t mute the sound of your violin or viola. It will even mute less than a wooden tailpiece with one fine tuner. A plastic tailpiece goes very well with most violins.

Personally I have a wooden tailpiece with two integrated fine tuners.

I choose for two fine tuners, because I really don’t need the fine tuners on the G and D strings.

I prefer a wooden tailpiece, because on my violin the sound is better (warmer) than with a plastic tailpiece.

I prefer integrated fine tuners above loose finetuners, because with integrated fine tuners the distance between the bridge and the tuner is larger. This distance should be 1/6 of the vibrating string length to reach an optimal sound. With loose fine tuners this distance is most of the times to short.

Click here to get the exact same tailpiece I have on my violin.

The choice for a tailpiece and fine tuners makes a big difference for the sound of your violin or viola.

Experiment with it and find out what is best for you.

Would you like to know how to replace a tailpiece yourself? It’s not so difficult. Just watch this video I made (click here).

Is this useful to you? Please let me know in the comments below!

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!

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11 Comments

  1. Michael

    One of the luthiers I visited said the fine tuners on my tailpiece were not good because they weren’t integrated. Thanks for taking the time to explain why that is the case. I bought my violin from a luthier so I’m surprised that he didn’t use integrated tuners in the first place. I’ll make sure they’re integrated on the next violin I purchase.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Thanks for watching, Michael! Glad that the information is useful for you.

      Reply
  2. John Fulton

    The other solution is geared pegheads. Then there is no need for fine tuners.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      Thanks for sharing… it’s still on my to do list to try them out one time.

      Reply
  3. Louis

    I have four fine tuners and the third one is very loose. Is it supposed to be loose?

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata

      No, it shouldn’t be loose. Can you try turning the screw a bit tighter?

      Reply
  4. Mark Arpa

    I play a standard violin left handed so all my chin rest are the center type. I have a vintage ebony tailpiece with a notch on the A and E so a standard fine tuner would have more room for tightening. The G and D strings are easier to tune with the pegs but I use a Hill type tuner anyway so the strings are not bent, this gives my strings longer life and the Hill type fine tuners are so light that it does not add a significant weight to the tailpiece.

    Reply
  5. Jerome

    What is that black thing between the strings by your tail piece?

    Reply
  6. Esther

    Hello Zlata. I would really like to buy a better. I have had my current instrument since I was a child and it has hit me through Grade 8 but I am now very aware of its limitations. The problem with replacing it is finding the right instrument at a price I can afford. I have tried out instruments at a local stringed instrument dealers but when I get them home they don’t sound nearly as good. I suspect the sympathetic vibration of all the other instruments is effecting things at the shop.

    Do you have any advice, please? Many thanks.

    Reply
    • Violinist Zlata Brouwer

      Hi Esther, did you take someone with you when trying them out in the violin shop? And did you try them out yourself or did you also listen to someone else playing on it?

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [Video] Zlata's Gear: What Violin, Bow, Strings etc do I have? | Violin Lounge TV #250 - Violin Lounge - […] Click here to watch my video about tailpieces and which one is most suitable for you. […]

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