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Fiddle Lessons: Tuning the Fiddle

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What is it?
It looks like some kind of alien being
from alien land or
maybe it's a musical instrument.
Could it be a fiddle?
It could be.
In fact, it is a fiddle, and for those of
you who are new to this,
we're just gonna run through some nuts and
bolts about the instrument.
What is it?
Okay, well, we know that it is a string
because we've got these little, tight
little things going.
You've got four of those.
You've got the high string.
[SOUND] We've got the next highest string.
[SOUND] The next highest string.
[SOUND] And the lowest string,
which are tuned to the notes E, A, D, and
We see the top of the instrument where the
strings are fastened.
It's the peg box.
This is, these little spirally thing is
the peg head.
And obviously these are the pegs which can
be used to tune the strings.
At the other end, this is the head, so
obviously this must be the tail.
We have the tail piece.
Because it's a piece of the whole thing.
We have this black table like thing which
is the chin rest,
which is a relatively new invention.
It's only been around for about 150 years.
But that keeps you from sweating all over
the top of the instrument and
going through it after a few years.
We have the bridge which stands up.
It's not glued to the top, it's loose.
It's held in place by the strings.
It's always a good idea to keep an eye on
your bridge because when
you tune the strings tend to drag the
bridge forward, and
eventually if you don't do anything.
While you're playing it'll fall over,
making a huge, horrible sound,
and right in the middle of your fancy
solo, it's gonna really ruin the show.
We have the two holes that let sound in
and out.
They're shaped like script F's.
You can see.
And of course that's why they're called
the F holes.
We have the end button.
We have the heel.
Also called a button, even though you
can't button anything on there.
We have the removable shoulder rest.
This is definitely an option.
Some people don't use them.
I've known people that thought they were
ridiculous, and then,
a few years later, started using them.
Now they're confirmed users of shoulder
There are maybe 200 types of shoulder
rests that are available.
There's as many different kinds of
shoulder rests as there are different
kinds of bodies, and that's a whole
subject in itself,
how to choose a shoulder rest.
This little extra business is also very
It's a small microphone, which is mounted
on the instrument.
Some people use a pickup, and there are
different pickups.
And we're going to cover all that stuff in
a later episode and
find out how all that works.
So there's the violin.
Now, we're missing something very
important here.
And I think that we are going to need
something called the bow.
And this is our bow.
It's made out of a kind of wood called
Which is wood that comes from Brazil.
It's very, very hard.
Very, very oily wood.
Very, very stiff.
And that's carved and then bent.
The hair.
You can see is.
It's like a bow because it's you know,
it's, it's, it's sprung.
And it's sprung with a hair.
And this is indeed hair, it's from the
tail of a horse and
they, it doesn't hurt the horse to remove
the tails, but these,
most of the horses that grow this hair
come from Mongolia.
It's Mongolia's chief export besides rocks
and throat singing.
So on the bow we have some parts.
We have the tip, obviously it's over here.
There's, on this side,
this little black thing that holds the
hair is called the frog.
And no, I looked it up.
Nobody really knows why it's called the
frog, but that's what it's called.
It doesn't look much like a, a actual
frog, but you know, what do I know?
Anyway, so we've got this little button
back here that it
screws to control the tightness of the
If I unscrew it you can see the hair
getting looser and looser and
looser and looser and looser.
If I screw it back the other way, the hair
tightens up, the bow straightens out,
and eventually if I keep tightening it up,
the bow breaks.
We're not going to do that today.
So all these parts together.
Make a violin sound.
So, right now the violin's in tune, which
is kinda nice.
There's all different ways to tune an
Obviously these pegs tune the instrument.
These are the traditional friction pegs.
You're gonna find these pegs on 99% of all
They're just held in there by friction.
This is 14th century technology.
[SOUND] It sorta works, it's pretty good.
It's not my favorite but it does the job.
This is a modern tail piece which has
small tuners built into the tail piece.
You can also buy tuners that tune the
strings down here.
So, we can get it kinda in the ballpark.
[SOUND] And one way to do,
use these tuners is to hold the instrument
on your knee, on your lap.
And manipulate the tuners like this.
You can get it pretty close
Like this.
And this is good, because you're always
having to.
So, mo, move the tuner,
press the tuner in while you're turning it
in order to keep the friction up.
If you can get close, then you can use
these little guys, and a good way to do
that is while you're playing it.
Pardon me, while I replace the shoulder
It's always a good idea to buy a kind of
shoulder rest that doesn't
fall off the instrument.
You can put bow on the string, and then
reach under your right hand around.
So that your hand is inside the bow.
While you're tuning it.