How to Tune a Violin: A Beginners Detailed Guide 

 March 16, 2021

By  Zen Chung

Instruments are made of metal and wood, which means that they respond to humidity and temperature changes that can alter each string's sound and pitch and hence need tuning. A violin is an instrument made of four strings where it is tuned to intervals to achieve a perfect fifth, and violin tuning is the adjusting of the violin to its correct pitches.

The fifth is the distance between the lower note and the five lines and spaces above it. On the violin, there are four strings, and each string is different. The lowest string is the G string (Concert G) and the one next to it the D (Concert D, followed by A ( Concert A), and the final one being the E string (Concert E)

There are some methods you can use to tune a violin, and they include:


1. Use Pegs and Fine Tuners

Fine tuners are used to tune minor differences in pitch, whereas pegs are used to tune large pitches' differences.

i. How to tune a violin using finer tuners

Start holding your violin in your natural playing position and bringing your left hand under the violin to hang over the fine tuners to turn them when bowing the strings easily. Use the fine tuners to tighten or raise the pitch by turning them in a clockwise direction and loosen or lower the pitch; use the fine tuners for tunings counter-clockwise. If you have not used your violin in a while, it might take a few weeks of constant violin tuning to achieve a perfect fifth.

ii. How to tune a violin using Pegs

Pegs can be hard to work with, stay in place unless exposed to extreme temperatures, or get rammed. The strings of the instrument can easily snap, so make sure you carefully tighten your pegs. For violin tuning, turn the peg to the right to tighten it and check how close the tuner is to the middle.

When the tuner is on the center, bring your left hand up and scroll to support and support while pressing the tuning peg firmly to the hole, not allowing it to move. For secure adjustments, you may need to purchase a peg compound. Depending on what condition your violin is currently in, it may take several tries to get your peg to stay in place.

To get a higher pitch or tighten, turn the peg forward and loosen it or lower the pitch. You should tune the peg back to you and turn it just a little. You will use the same process for the rest of the pegs in your violin except when you get to tune G and D strings. You should switch your hand and use your left hand to turn your right hand to support and pluck for these strings.

2. Using a Chromatic Tuner or Tuning App

A tuning app or chromatic tuner can help violinists tell whether their string is too high or low. If, when playing your string, the line moves to the center's left, this means that the pitch is low, and you should tighten the string. But if it moves to the center's right, this means your pitch is high, and you should loosen the string as it should be in the middle.

I. Choose an electric tuner that listens for the note

For beginners using this type of tuner, you can play a string, and the tuner will tell you whether your violin tuning is flat or sharp. This is a suitable way if you don't have a sharp ear and it does the listening for you.

Some smartphones have apps that usually act as tuners, but they charge but are still cheaper than the physical tuners. The violin tuning apps include ClearTune, Fiddle Companion Try Tunable, and insTuner. You can also purchase a physical tuner online, at a violin shop, or any music store.

ii. Use a tuning fork or a piano if you can find the notes

The notes that match the violin strings you should find and play are G, D, A, and E. Use a video, play the note on the tuning fork or piano, play the matching strings on your violin, and then adjust the string on your violin either from top to bottom to match the note you can hear.

iii. Use Online Videos

A video can only work on how to tune a violin if you have an excellent musical ear to match notes. Online videos will help you with violin tuning by giving you an appropriate note for each string, making it easy to tune the string to match the note perfectly.

3. Using Your Ear

A violin is tuned in perfect fifths, making it possible to tune by hearing the interval or playing double stops to listen and mesh the soundwaves. There are several steps to use your ear to tune your violin successfully, and they include:

i. Find a quiet location

It can be challenging to hear any note to tune your violin in a noisy environment. Ensure you are in a room that doesn't have noise and if you are outside, move inside to a quiet space.

ii. Listen to the note sound

Play the note on your phone, computer, piano, tuning fork, pitch pipe, or a drone in your metronome, which at times comes with an inbuilt tuner and works on the A string that is the second smallest. These are some sources that can help you get a correct A string.

iii. Find the tuners

Some violins have finer tuners on the E string, while others have on both E and A and other tuners have on all strings. You should follow the string down to find the fine tuner, and they look like tiny screws located on the tailpiece, where the strings are ending near the chin piece.

iv. Adjust the string in small increments if it's out of tune a little

Turn the fine tuner in a clockwise direction to make the string higher and anticlockwise to make it lower, and play the string using a bow to check if the sound matches the one you've heard. Adjust and play the string until you get the right note. This tuner only works with fine adjustments, and if your string is out of tune a lot, you should move the pegs. If your string is down, switch it the other way to lose it up and continue violin tuning the peg to avoid breaking the string. Unlike teachers and advanced students, Beginners are advised not to use the tuning pegs because they can easily break them.

You will need to compare your string's pitch to a correct pitch starting with the A string compared to the reference pitch. The idea is to listen to the correct A, then play your A and if higher, loosen the string, and if lower, tighten the string until you achieve the correct pitch. 

Zen Chung

I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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