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Cello Lessons: Tuning the Cello

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[MUSIC]
Now we're gonna talk about
getting the cello in tune.
What does that mean?
What are we tuning?
Well, we're tuning the strings.
Do you know how many
strings are on your cello?
If you said four, you are correct.
If you said three, you are not.
The four strings are named
with the pitches that
they're supposed to be tuned to.
So we have the A string, the D string,
the G string, and the C string.
The C string is the best one of all,
it's probably
the reason that I started playing the
cello, because it has a really rich sound.
We're gonna be tuning
these strings two ways.
There are fine tuners
here on the tailpiece.
And if you turn them to the right, it gets
sharper, which means the pitch goes up.
If you turn them to the left, they get
flatter, which means the pitch goes down.
The other way is, we can use
these bigger tuning pegs up here,
and they affect the pitch more
drastically than the fine tuners.
I'll demonstrate a little bit of each.
So, I've got the A tuning peg here.
And the D tuning peg behind it.
I'll start moving
the A tuning peg forward and
you'll hear what happens to the A string.
[MUSIC]
So as I move it forward,
the pitch goes down,
the tension gets less.
Just a note,
it's really important to try and
start tuning if you're gonna use
the tuning pegs, by going flat first.
Because if you tune it extra high
[MUSIC]
the tension gets really strong.
And there's actually a chance,
if you tighten it too much,
that you could break your string.
So, you don't wanna get too sharp.
You want to tighten it,
just barely over if you can help it.
[SOUND] So
the fine tuners do the same thing but
to a smaller degree.
Let's see if I can
demonstrate it all at once.
[SOUND] Now I'm tuning it back up.
[SOUND] So that's sort of
the basics of tuning.
We're gonna use the drones, the backing
track drones that we've made and
we'll be able to tune our
instrument to those drones.
And so
we're gonna queue up the A drone first.
[SOUND] As the drone is going,
I want you to play your string and
see if it sounds correct.
[SOUND] You may ask yourself,
what does correct sound like?
Well the drone is actually
an octave below the string.
But there'll be a resonance
that the string has.
And so if your string is out
of tune [SOUND] you can kinda
hear it against the drone,
and it won't sound very good.
[SOUND] But if you get it right in
tune [SOUND] suddenly the sound
will relax a little bit.
[SOUND] I'll show you
what sharp sounds like.
This is when the string is too high.
[MUSIC]
Now bring it back down.
[MUSIC]
Take a minute to tune
you're A string with the drone and
make sure it sounds good.
Now we'll queue up with the D drone and
we'll move to the D string.
Now that we have the D drone going,
let's do the same process with our D
string which is the second string.
The A sting is all the way to left.
Then the D string is the next one over.
My string sounds pretty close already, but
maybe I'll use the fine tuners
to get it exactly right.
It's a little flat.
[SOUND] Sounds pretty good.
Play along with the drone, and
see if you can match my D string.
[MUSIC]
Good,
we're halfway there.
Let's move on to the G string.
[MUSIC]
Okay, now let's listen to the G drone,
which is actually in unison with the pitch
that we're trying to tune it to.
[MUSIC]
I'll use the fine tuners again to get
it right.
Let me know, or tell me if you think
this is sharp, flat, or in tune.
You know, put it here.
[MUSIC]
Is it in tune?
If you said it's sharp, you are correct.
So I'm going to turn
the fine tuner counter
clockwise to the right to lower
the pitch to match the drone.
Why don't you take a second to tune
to the drone or to my string as well?
[MUSIC]
Good, let's finish
off with the C string.
[MUSIC]
Listen to the drone first, and
then play your string
to see if it matches [SOUND].
My string is pretty close, but
I'm actually going to sharpen it
a little bit with the fine tune.
[SOUND] See if you can match your string
with the drone or with my string.
[SOUND]
Very
good.
You can download these drones and
tune them at home, and
you can even find all sorts of different
interesting drones on the YouTube,
if you wanna hear a different
sound to tune to.
Just one last note about tuning technique,
if there is such a thing.
The tuning pegs can often be
difficult to get to stay.
And so,
when you're tuning with the tuning pegs.
You're gonna have to push,
push the peg into the instrument,
even bracing the cello against it.
Because the tuning peg
is shaped at an angle.
So the further in the peg
is pushed into the peg box,
the more secure of a fit it will be.
If you're tuning the peg and
you don't push in, it will often just slip
right out of tune, and
your string will have no tension on it.
So, you'll have to sort of
brace the instrument and
push in really hard, actually,
when you're tuning with the tuning pegs.
Sometimes small children, actually,
don't even have the strength to do it.
And so
it's good to have an adult around to help.
Otherwise, the majority of your tuning
can be handled with the fine tuners.
One thing to note about the fine tuners
is occasionally you can tune them
all the way in or all the way out.
So there is actually no
room left to adjust.
If that happens what you would need
to do is change the tuning peg.
So if my C string fine tuner
was all the way in and
my string still wasn't sharp enough, I
would have to sharpen the C tuning peg and
then loosen the fine tuner in order
to give it room for adjustment.
You can also send a video of
your instrument if you're having
trouble tuning and I can give you
some tips on your tuning pegs and
getting your instrument in tune.
You wanna make sure that it's in
tune before every practice session.
[MUSIC]