How to Tune The Violin

Tuning the violin can be a simple process with a little practice.  The easiest way to tune your instrument is using a chromatic tuner. You can purchase a stand-alone chromatic tuner, tuner and metronome, or download an app for your smart phone or tablet. 


  A Few Things to Be Aware of

First, only one string should be loose at any given time.  Loose tension on multiple strings, will cause the bridge to fall and could even cause the sound post to come loose. 

Second, avoid over-tuning.  Repeatedly tightening and loosening the strings could cause a string to snap.  Carefully adjust each string, only enough to tune it, making small adjustments.  Always tune “up” from the lower pitch up to the designated pitch.  Loosen the pegs first (pitch becomes lower), then tighten (pitch becomes higher).  When facing the violin, turn the peg toward you to loosen and turn it away from you to tighten.


How to Use a Chromatic Tuner

First ensure that the tuner is set for the correct instrument (violin, viola, cello, bass, etc.).  As you pluck a string, the letter on tuner indicates the current pitch.  The dial above/below the letter indicates if the pitch is flat (too low) or sharp (too high) or just right.   Pluck the string, look at the dial, adjust the tension (higher or lower), pluck the string again to compare…repeat until the pitch matches the dial (not sharp or flat).

How to Tune

Start in a room that is as quiet as possible.  You (and your tuner if using one) need to be able to clearly hear the pitches.  The tuner will pick up background noise, distorting the pitch.  Every string instrument is tuned to A, as the first pitch.  (All orchestras tune to the same note: A.) Always remember to loosen your pegs first and then tighten.   Hold the violin facing you with your left hand.  With your right hand, pluck the A string gently, and compare with the tuner.   Loosen the string (very slightly) and then tighten.  If possible pluck as you tighten, comparing with the tuner as you go.  Stop tuning when the tuner registers the pitch as “correct”.   After tuning with the pegs, make any fine adjustments with the fine tuners (located on the tailpiece of the violin, next to the chin rest).  Turn clockwise to raise the pitch, counter-clockwise to lower. Checking the pitch with each half-turn.   When finished tuning the A string, proceed in the same way with the others, in this order: D, G, E.  The ‘E’ string can be easily broken so be very gentle.  When finished with the other strings, recheck all strings again.  Sometimes strings can slip when you are tuning others.