Sometimes it’s just easier to have your teacher tune your violin for you. But as an aspiring violinist or violist, you will need to learn to tune it for yourself, and the sooner the better. Don’t be too concerned if your first attempts are a bit frustrating and imperfect: just keep trying!
How to Use Pegs and Fine Tuners
If the pitch is too low (too flat), make it higher by tightening the string.
If the pitch is too high (too sharp), make it lower by loosening the string.
FINE TUNERS: Use to tune small differences in pitch.
To tighten, or make the pitch higher, turn the fine tuner clock-wise. To loosen, or make the pitch lower, turn the fine-tuner counter-clockwise.
PEGS: Use to tune larger differences in pitch
To tighten, or make the pitch higher, turn the peg forward. To loosen, or make the pitch lower, turn the peg back, toward you. Turn it only a very little bit. Since traditional pegs are held in place simply by friction, push the peg in a little as you turn, to keep the peg from slipping. If you have geared pegs then you don’t have to push in because they work differently. You’ll also turn geared pegs a little less; they are more like fine tuners in that way.
*If you are tuning a very small violin, a little goes a long way! Most will have fine tuners on every string; try the fine tuners first. If you have to use the pegs, turns them only a tiny, tiny bit, as even a small turn will change the pitch enormously.
USING A CHROMATIC TUNER OR TUNING APP
This is a great option, if you are still learning to trust your ears, if you don’t have a reference pitch, or if you want to tune to a specific “A” (440, 442, etc.)
A chromatic tuner or tuning app can tell you if your string is too high or too low, and it can also tell you if your tuning efforts have corrected the pitch. While tuners can all be a little different, one very common way they work is this: If you play your string and the line moves to the left of center, the pitch is too low and you need to tighten the string. If the line moves to the right of center, then the pitch is too high and you need to loosen the string. If it’s right in the middle, hooray! The pitch is correct. Again, chromatic tuners vary in the way they work, but you’ll get the feedback you need, and they will also show you when your string is tuned correctly.