The violin, viola, cello and double bass are members of a family of instruments known as “chordophones.” The sound of chordophones is primarily created through the vibration of a string, held at tension over a resonating body. In order to make the instruments to sound their best, it is important to correctly tune the intervals of the “open strings,” or strings that are not stopped by a finger. Here are three tuning tips that can help you sound your best today!
Tips for Tuning Your Violin, Viola, Cello or Double Bass!
1. Tune regularly.
You always want your instrument to be in tune, so re-tune any time the instrument has been at rest in its case. You should do this even if you tuned and played it earlier that day. A good tool to help you tune is a chromatic tuner. Violin, viola, and cello strings are tuned at perfect 5ths while the double bass is tuned in 4ths.
2. Tune accurately and cleanly.
Clear intervals between your primary open strings help your instrument resonate fully and freely and can also assist in the creation of harmonic overtones. Listen to your open strings and your instrument with your whole body. Take your time adjusting your strings one at a time.
3. Turn the tuning pegs in very small increments.
If the violin is so out of tune that you do need to adjust the tuning pegs, move the pegs in very small increments. If you move dramatically in the wrong direction, you can alter or damage other parts of your instrument. At best, the bridge may shift out of place and/or you will snap a string. At worst, you can snap the bridge altogether or break a tuning peg. If your string is only off by a half tone or so, use the fine tuners on the tailpiece to make precise changes. If it is off by more than that, gently maneuver the pegs.
When in doubt, always get assistance from a teacher or a more experienced player. You can also give us a call at 213-471-2124 to set up an appointment, and we will be happy to assist and get you back to music making!
Tips compiled by Felix Hernandez.