How to Tune Your Violin by Ear
without an Electronic Tuner

Learn How to Tune Your Violin, Part 2 of 3

The first important thing to remember when you are tuning is listen to the sound you are tuning to first! Don't just start playing the strings first. You need to hear the correct pitch before you can adjust your strings.

Basically, the idea is to listen to the note and to adjust the string until it matches. This can be harder than expected if you have never tuned an instrument before. However, if you have tuned before or if you have had ear training before, you should be able to get the hang of it. For more information about ear training, please click here. (coming soon)

Usually, the steps go like this:

  • Play your tuning sound / note. This is the note your are tuning to and is usually played on a piano, pitch pipe, or another instrument. Usually, this is an A.
  • Listen to the note for a few seconds and pay attention to it.
  • Play your A string for a few seconds while the A is playing.
  • Compare the two sounds and adjust the string using your fine tuners for small adjustments and your pegs for larger adjustments. You may or may not be able to tell if your string is high or low. This comes with practice and experience. Try playing and humming the note your string is making, then playing and humming the note you are tuning to.You need to be careful that you do not tune your string too high above what the note is supposed to be. You know what happens if you pull a rubber band too tight? It snaps! The same thing can happen with a violin string, so you need to be careful. Generally, this is only a possible problem if you are using the pegs to tune and are tuning very quickly.
  • After a lot of practice, once the two notes are identical, you will be able to tell because playing the string with the sound you're tuning to doesn't sound bad.

After you finish tuning the A string, you usually will then tune the D string, then the G string, and finally the E string. This is the order in which violinists tune in most orchestras. After you tune the A string, you have two options (the first option is suggested for beginners):

  • You can tune each string individually to its note. This means tuning the D string to a D played on another instrument, then the G string to a G played on something else, and so on.
  • After you have more experience, you can tune the other three strings to the one string (the A string) that is in tune. How? By using the unique sound of fifths, which is a fancy way of saying "notes that are five notes from each other" (D, E, F, G, A). An A and a D string played together make a unique sound. If one or the other is slightly out of tune, the result is a dreadful discord (assuming that the strings are somewhat close to being in tune).

Part 1 - Beginning Instructions - Learn to Tune Your Violin

Part 2 - Tuning Your Violin Manually (Without an Electronic Tuner) - You are here!

Part 3 - Tune Your Violin with an Electronic Tuner Device

Return to top