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Violin Lessons: Tuning the Violin

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So let's talk about
tuning the violin.
Tuning the four open strings of the
Now when I was a kid learning, I don't
think I tuned my own violin for
the first, two or three years that I
played, if you can imagine.
There was always someone around to tune it
for me.
And that sounds strange in retrospect,
but it provided a solid reference point
for me, so that every time I picked it up,
and started playing, I knew that my
strings were in tune.
As adults, we're probably not always going
to have the benefit of someone being
around to tune for us.
So, it's important to learn that properly
right away.
And unless you have perfect pitch, which
by the way is certainly not necessary to
play any musical instrument, you need a
reference for the open A.
Traditionally we tune our A strings first.
You could tune any other string first but
traditionally of course you hear people,
can you give me an A?
What's your A?
And in these lessons I use a 441 and I
have my tuner here on the, the music stand
next to me and it's calibrated to 441.
Some tuners give just one A, and that's
whatever A your tuner gives, is the one
you can use.
This one gives, 441 and so when I play my
open A [SOUND]
I can see that the two center, the green
are lighting up, letting me know that I'm
in tune.
Now let's just practice.
If I tune that down.
[SOUND] Can see I'm significantly flat.
Now I'll, I happen to have some fine
tuning pegs on this instrument.
[SOUND] There we go, I've gotten to my in
tune a,
but now if your violin is like mine,
I've tuned the string up.
If I give a tug on the A string.
Like that, or several tugs to simulate
some kind of hard playing,
I may have pulled out a little slack from
the string.
Now let's see if it's still in tune.
It is.
These must be good strings.
Some of you may find that after you've
given a little pull, especially depending
on what kinda pegs and strings you have,
your string may have gone a little flat.
And that's why I like to tune just a
little bit.
Let's not call it sharp, but we'll call it
on the sharp side of in tune.
When I tune my open string.
So here I've tuned down again.
That shows in tune.
But I'm gonna keep going just a little bit
more until it starts showing me sharp.
Okay, it just went
a little bit sharp.
Now, I'm gonna give it a tug for some
slack and test it again.
Perfect and now I know that whatever
I play, that string is gonna stay where it
All things being equal.
So now it's time.
You'll hear many people go on to the D and
the G strings next.
I like to tune the E string next because
the string with the highest tension.
And what I often find is that if you save
that one till last and
start moving the E string around, you've
thrown off the other ones.
So, let's tune the E.
[SOUND] Well, let's tune it without the
help of the tuner first.
I'm gonna start off a little bit flat and
I'm gonna start turning until I don't here
those ugly beats any more.
I can still hear some slow beats.
Keep going.
And it's the same idea here.
I'm going to keep turning til I just start
hearing beats on the sharp side for
the same reason as before.
Now I'm going to tug for some slack.
[SOUND] Sounds pretty good to me,
let's test just the E string, by itself.
[SOUND] Looks like I'm a little on the
sharp side, so
there wasn't that much slack, I'm going to
tune down a little bit.
[SOUND] Pull off some slack and
I've gone too far.
I tuned it just to in tune,
pulled the slack,
and now I'll test by itself.
[NOISE] So I'm in tune or
on the sharp side of in tune.
So I may come and revisit that.
Let's do the D string.
I'm starting flat.
[NOISE] Okay, I've just started to hear my
beats on the sharp side.
I pull it.
That sounds good to me so
lets check the D.
Nice and finally the G.
I'm just starting
to hear those beats.
that just still doesn't sound right to me.
I've taken it down a little bit for
just a little bit of beats, so
I'm still a little bit sharp, pull it.
[SOUND] Still not right.
[SOUND] So, I'm gonna start again.
[SOUND] All right,
I've gone just past.
I pull it.
That would check it.
There we go.
My strings are in tune and that only took
well, several minutes in this version.
The point is it takes some practice if
you're going to be really accurate.
Now this is a very accurate way of tuning
and it helps
build your ear as well as give you a
violin that's going to stay in tune.
You will also want to have your instrument
repair person,
your luthier check your pegs.
And maybe your fine tuners on your violin
to make sure those are in good shape.
Now, there can be problems with that
equipment with the pegs and
the fine tuners.
But most of the time, when I see an
instrument that's not in tune or
that has trouble staying in tune, the
problem was the way in which it was tuned.
The way in which the pegs were turned or
the fact that there's slack in the
So, but for those of you who are real
I don't want you to spend half of your
practice time tuning the instrument.
Get an A from your tuner.
Find it in tune.
And then tune your open strings
individually with the tuner.
If you read online and if you talk to some
people they'll say,
oh the electronic tuner isn't won't give
you good intonation on the violin.
And, and that's just not true.
If you tune your four open strings to the
you're gonna have great sounding fifths,
you're gonna be able to develop the fine
ear that you need to play in tune.
Because as you know, tuning the strings is
only the start, but
it's an important foundation.
The reason I prefer that you eventually
away from checking each open string with
the tuner
is that you need to be able to hear those
perfectly in tune fifths.
The ones without any beats, and so that's
the way I tune my violin.
So I'm gonna give one final demonstration
of how I would do it in real time.
I'm gonna tune all my strings down.
They're gonna sound.
[SOUND] They're gonna sound awful.
So, I'm gonna use the tuner to find my A.
That's how long it takes me, and that's if
it's really out of tune.
And so you practice that skill, just like
all your other ones.
But in the beginning make it easy, check
your four strings with the tuner, and
then play some songs.