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A Crash Course in Violin Tuning & Maintenance


The Straznicky Violin Studio Presents: A Crash Course to Violin Tuning and Maintenance

Like many of us are feeling after yet another New England snowstorm, violins aren't big fans of winter. Once the weather changes, violins tend to be pretty obstinate. Here are a few tips to help keep your violin happy and in-tune this winter.

First, make sure your violin is kept in a stable environment. When you're not playing your violin, put it in its case and leave it in the same room of your home. Keep it away from drafty areas like windows and doors. Also, make sure it won't be exposed to direct sunlight. Lastly, keep it away from heaters and heating vents.

Violins are out of their element in wintertime because of the low humidity in the air. They are prone to cracking and getting open seams, which is simply a nightmare. To avoid this, add a humidifier to your case. My favorites are:

1. The Damp-It ($14.95 on www.dampits.com) is a simple tube with a sponge inside. All you have to do is soak it in water, dry off the excess, and feed it in to the F-hole of the violin. Make sure to order the correct size for your violin or it won't fit. Also, check it every day as they do dry out quickly.

2. The Stretto ($30 on www.johnsonstring.com or www.sharmusic.com) is an easy-to-use bag filled with special gel-like beads that slowly release moisture safely into your violin case. Just soak the bag for approximately 2 minutes and then place it in its holder inside your case. Plan on checking it once a week in winter time.

3. The "Life Hack"is cheap, easy, and effective. All you need are a few household items: A Ziploc and either a kitchen sponge, paper towel, or washcloth. If you use a sponge or a washcloth, cut it so it fits inside the violin case easily. Soak it in water, wring it out so it isn't dripping wet, and pop it in your Ziploc bag. Place it inside the case (preferably in a compartment or up by the scroll). Take care to make sure it doesn't leak onto your violin.

Tuning

The violin strings are named after the notes they sound: G, D, A, and E. On most student instruments, there are one pegs and one fine tuners per string. Check out the chart for location.

We typically use fine tuners for student violins because they’re much easier to control on smaller violins. Watch out for tightening the screw of the fine tuner too much as you can accidentally push the screw into the body of the instrument. As you turn the fine tuners, periodically check by looking underneath the tail piece.

In general, use the pegs:

  • When the string is very loose

  • When the pitch needs to go much higher or much lower

  • When the fine tuners are screwed down as far as they’ll go. In this case, unscrew the fine tuner and tighten the string using the peg. Then, tune as usual.

To make the pitch higher, tighten a string by turning the peg or fine tuner clockwise.

To make the pitch lower, loosen the string by turning the peg or fine tuner counterclockwise.

Question: How do I know what the right pitch is? There are many tools to help you!

If you’re at home and near a computer, you can use these great sound clips from ViolinOnline.com.

G String

D String

A String

E String

I highly recommend you buy a violin pitch pipe. The Glaesel Violin Pitch Pipe is compact (Perfect to stay in your case), inexpensive, kid-friendly, and very easy to use.

If you’re using a piano or keyboard, you can find each pitch using this chart:

That's your crash course to violin tuning and maintenance. If you have any questions, please comment below.


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