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Tuning Your Violin using One Hand While Playing Open Strings
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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 14, 2013 - 10:10 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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In this video I demonstrate how to tune the violin using one hand with the pegs, while playing the open strings.
In the beginning it is important to have the pegs at an angle that allows you to get a good grip on the pegs to turn and push at the same time. Tuning with your left hand takes a bit of practice but is very rewarding later when you need to tune quickly and effectively.

Good luck!!!

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 14, 2013 - 10:25 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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How do you tune your violin?

  • I use almost exclusively the pegs except for the E string.(36% : 4 votes)
  • I hold my violin up and tune with one hand while playing open fifths.(36% : 4 votes)
  • I use mostly the fine-tuners until they need to be backed off again.(18% : 2 votes)
  • I play open strings while adjusting the fine-tuners.(18% : 2 votes)
  • I keep the violin on my knees and tune while plucking.(9% : 1 vote)
Total Voters: 11

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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pypetey
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September 14, 2013 - 1:45 pm
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I user an application for my mobile phone to tune my violin. When should I be able to tune my violin without it :) ? How long it does usually takes for students to learn how to tune?

 

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DanielB
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September 14, 2013 - 2:43 pm
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I didn't put fine tuners on my acoustic, so I tune it by the pegs.  For very fine tuning, where it only needs to move like 2 hz or less, I either press down on the string up in the pegbox to raise it that tiny bit or take hold of the string near the center of the length and tug up a bit to get the pitch down that little bit.

For the electric, I have a tailpiece with built-in fine tuners, which is cool, since it tends to drift a little more than my acoustic.  I still tune it by the pegs unless it is only going to need a slight adjustment.

With both instruments I pluck the strings before picking it up, to listen to the 5ths and see if the instrument needs tuned and how much.   With both, I'll rough tune with the instrument in my lap, and then bring it up to the shoulder and bow for fine tuning.  But I fine tune by harmonics rather than the open 5ths.  Similar principle, though. 

I don't use strictly my left hand for peg tuning when the violin is on the shoulder though.  For the A and E strings, I'll use right hand and let the bow hang by the frog from my 3rd finger or pinky.  I haven't given which hand I use a lot of thought, really.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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laserbrainz
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September 14, 2013 - 2:52 pm
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I do the one-handed open string fifth thing. I'm still not perfect though so I use a tuner app to check myself. My violin that I bought off some dude came with fine tuners on all the strings, but when I took it into a local shop to get everything checked out they took all of them but the E string off for me. Which is good, cause I totally would have used them as a crutch by not knowing any better.

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RosinedUp
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September 14, 2013 - 9:18 pm
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laserbrainz said  cause I totally would have used them as a crutch by not knowing any better.

Ah, hey, it's a great thing for you that you found this site, which, as you say you wanted, isn't snooty!  Oh, and you learned about the universal inferiority of fine tuners from your local shop.  Maybe you could get them to inform a lot of violin makers and teachers and a hundred thousand students.  Me, I suppose I'll just hobble along with fine tuners awhile longer, as ignorant and ruinous as I now know that is.

I look at it like this: it's really nice that someone made a great instructional video on tuning using the pegs, for whenever people are ready.  Thank you, Pierre! laugh

 

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laserbrainz
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September 14, 2013 - 10:27 pm
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@RosinedUp I'm sorry...did I offend you? I can't really understand the tone of your comment. If I did offend you, somehow I certainly didn't mean to and am sorry.

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RosinedUp
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September 15, 2013 - 12:45 am
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Ah well, just a little light mocking sarcasm ... but I and, I expect, all of us ignorant cripples using fine tuners do appreciate your conditional apology, ha ha.  laugh

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DanielB
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September 15, 2013 - 7:35 am
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Good grief. LOL  rofl

Don't let RU fool ya, laserbrainz.  He's ok.

 

Unless you maybe only get your violin tuned at a shop or by a teacher, then *everybody* tunes from the pegs.  It is just a question of how often. 

Like a lot of things in life, tuning instruments with simple friction pegs, like the violin, is something that gets easier the more often you do it.  I never even blinked at it, since I already had two peg tuned instruments before I ever owned a violin.  My oud has pegs just like a violin, except it has 12 of them to tune.  My autoharp has 36 strings.  Autoharp tuning pins are slightly different than violin pegs, because they are smaller and metal and have nothing to grab onto, so you use a wrench to tune them.  They also have a very fine thread on the metal shaft, so you don't need to push them in to get them to hold.  But before anyone gets the thought that those differences make them any easier to tune than violin pegs, I can tell you it does not.  They are the same 1:1 turn ratio, and have the same tendency as violin pegs do to jump and stick sometimes. LOL  So that's 48 pegs that I was already used to tuning before I got my first violin.   Neither of those instruments have fine tuners.

Sure, when I first got my oud, the friction pegs were a pain compared to the nice geared pegs on my guitars, bass guitars and dulcimers.  But you do it every day for a few weeks and it becomes practically automatic.

I will (due to my already mentioned experience with tuning a buttload of pegs every day) tell you one trick I know about it.  The more you avoid tuning pegs, the more they tend to want to stick and jump when you try to tune.  If you want the pegs to move nice and smooth when you need them to, tune from the pegs every day, whether they need it or not.

When I first was tuning my acoustic violin by just pegs after I changed to an ebony tailpiece and decided not to put on fine tuners, it was a little stiff.  But within a couple weeks of using the pegs every day, the action on them smoothed right out.  I've never used peg dope or drops.  Haven't needed those things.

Unless you go for fancy geared pegs for your violin, everybody tunes from the pegs at least sometimes.  Since it is something you have to do at least sometimes, why not get at least kinda good at it?  The more you avoid it, the harder you make it when you do have to do it, since you have less experience at it and the pegs may actually stick more.  If it is something you want to be able to do, you want to let yourself get some practice at it, just like anything else in the world.

The notion that the presence or absence of fine tuners somehow indicates virtuosity or something is just one of the many things I find seriously bizarre in some violinist's attitudes. LOL

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlestix
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September 15, 2013 - 8:13 am
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@laserbrainz: You have to be carefull what you say in this forum, there are a few very touchy people here. Believe me, I know.

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Picklefish
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September 15, 2013 - 9:07 am
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I'm very touchy feeley!

I removed the fine tuners from my instrument with exception the E string. I put a new tailpiece on it and bought into the hype and peer pressure. I felt that it would make my instrument seem older, finer, better etc. Total insecurity from my newb brain. Now that I have my pegs working correctly a year later, lol I am really good at tuning without the fine tuners. I do miss the convenience of being able to finetune quickly and easily though, without that thought in the back of my head that the peg is about to pop! and rapidly unwind during orchestra sunday morning. Peace of mind is a big thing. So now I am of the opinion that fine tuners are not a necessity but a pleasant luxury. Its funny that something I didn't want a year ago is something I miss having now, lol..I'm sure my preferences and opinions will continue to change the more I learn.

@RU- get rid of them crutches and run, forest, run! lol

(Its humor, not meant to offend anyone, appologies if I do)

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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laserbrainz
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September 15, 2013 - 10:08 am
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Yikes. The thought that anything I say would come off as snobby shocks me. Have I mentioned how completely and totally new at this I am? I didn't request my fine tuners come off - the very kind and generous and sweet lady at my local shop said they weren't really necessary, and I tend to like to do things as straightforward as possible, so I let her take them off. I know zero things about the actual violin community. I don't think anyone is better or worse for how they tune their instruments. I do thi they're better or worse for how they treat people though.

 

as for pegs, my violin doesn't have the kind you have to push in to tune. Mine are more like guitar pegs - what are those called? They're temperamental to use; some of them stick, some of them slip. I manage to keep things tuned up, but would the other style be easier to deal with?

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Fiddlestix
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September 15, 2013 - 10:59 am
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With my very limited knowlege about violin's, my Concert Master came with 4 fine tuner's built into the tailpiece. I replaced it with an ebony tailpiece and when I took it to my luthier, his comment to me was, "well the first thing we need to do is put fine tuner's on this. Then I explained to him that I had had them on and went with an ebony tailpiece because I read somewhere that a better sound is projected using an ebony tailpiece, so I had him install, Knilling Perfection peg's and eliminated all four fine tuner's.

There is not one thing wrong with using fine tuner's on a violin, it's what they are made for. I've seen many professional's with fine tuner's and no one think's any less of them for that.

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RosinedUp
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September 15, 2013 - 1:16 pm
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Ah, well, good---this has turned into a useful, even somewhat friendly, discussion, despite it being pushed rather close to the edge, ha ha.  People have been able to make their points without anyone effectively telling anyone else to shut up, and I think that may be the best measure of a forum's quality. Thanks to all for keeping some cool as they add their ideas and experiences.  Maybe it's hard for a thread to go wrong when it's started off with such a great video.

True, @DanielB, everyone has to tune from the pegs, or at least every violin has to be tuned from the pegs.  But with fine tuners, one doesn't ever have to fine tune from the pegs, which, I must say, is a different thing.  Tuning within 10 or 15 cents is to me not much like tuning to within say 2 cents. Thanks for your points about conditioning of the pegs and of the person doing the tuning.  While it may be that someone good at using the pegs can tune "close enough", I really doubt they can tune "as close" as when using fine tuners.  Now I think you may be about to say something about electronic tuners not being perfect, and maybe about a tone being a mixture of different pitches.  IDK, but I have checked my tuner against generated tones, and I feel some confidence in it.  Is the perceived extra precision an illusion or a waste of time?  Maybe, but I don't feel that it is.  Anyway, I doubt anyone's ability to, using the pegs alone, make the tuner lights do what I can make them do using fine tuners.

At some point I'll probably set up a fiddle with no fine tuners, and that's when I'll look more closely at Pierre's video and learn to fine tune using the pegs.  Until then, I look at it as a nice skill that I don't really need right now.  Further I don't see the fine tuners as enabling some kind of bad habit that is going to be hard to break.

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DanielB
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September 15, 2013 - 4:06 pm
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@RosinedUp:  Hmm.  I think perhaps you assume a bit much.  It was, however, mildly entertaining to see you try to cover everything you thought I might say.  Did you make your coffee a wee bit strong this morning, RU?  LOL

If you like using an electronic tuner and fine tuners on your violin, I don't think anyone is actually trying to stop you.  It's your gear...

Relax.  cow-fingerscrossed  LOL

 

 

 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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RosinedUp
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September 15, 2013 - 5:26 pm
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DanielB said
@RosinedUp:  Hmm.  I think perhaps you assume a bit much.  It was, however, mildly entertaining to see you try to cover everything you thought I might say.  Did you make your coffee a wee bit strong this morning, RU?  LOL

If you like using an electronic tuner and fine tuners on your violin, I don't think anyone is actually trying to stop you.  It's your gear...

Relax.  cow-fingerscrossed  LOL
   

You might consider whether it's you who is assuming something.  I was and am relaxed, and I don't see what in my post would indicate otherwise. I never accused anyone of trying to stop me or anyone from tuning the way they want.  Now why would you write as if I did?  So please don't try to ascribe emotions to me.  It wouldn't be respectful.  I think the idea of the forum is to try to get to some useful truth about the violin.  Like I said, I think a thread is usually healthy until somebody tells someone else to shut up, however it might be encoded. 

I've seen you make a point about the possible inaccuracy of tuners before and that a tone has a mixture of pitches. I thought I might save you the trouble of a discourse.

But since you made a point of saying that everyone ought to get kinda good at tuning from the pegs---basically that they face the doom of tuning from the pegs and that they ought to start getting prepared now, I thought I'd say why to me it doesn't seem necessary.

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RosinedUp
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September 15, 2013 - 5:33 pm
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Okay, we've been shown the how of tuning one-handed from the pegs.

Now could we hear something more about the why?

Isn't it as good to bow with the right while operating the fine tuners with the left?

If there is some pressure or conformity on professional players to tune from the pegs, I think I understand that, and I would submit to it if I wanted to be that kind of pro.

What are reasons both technical and social for tuning from the pegs?

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
September 15, 2013 - 7:20 pm
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Nothing wrong with using fine tuners.
This video was a request by a teacher.

Although I have known a few that have fine tuners on all strings, most professionals don't have more than just the E string fine-tuner and synthetic core strings on their instruments. With this type of set-up it's preferable to play while tuning.
Some reasons for not having fine tuners are longer string length, less equipment, less chance of fine tuners failing or buzzing, no risk that the fine tuners scar the top of the violin.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Kevin M.
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September 15, 2013 - 11:10 pm
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Thank you for the video. I found it very informative. At some point we all have to tune with the pegs even if we have fine tuners we have to get it close with the pegs. I will say I love the Hill fine tuner for the E string. It keeps the afterlength the same on all strings and allows the E string to contact the tailpiece.

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