Tuning a violin is much the same as tuning any stringed instrument, with the notes ascending in perfect fifths as G, D, A and E, the latter being the highest in pitch. An electric tuner makes life much easier as it helps you to tune quickly and quietly while making sure that the strings are in tune with each other and with the rest of the orchestra or ensemble. An example of a high-quality yet affordable violin tuner is the excellent D’Addario NS Micro Violin Tuner.
Digital tuners are highly sensitive and react to small adjustments in pitch. While this is essential as far as tuning accuracy is concerned, it can be difficult to lock in your desired pitch while tuning. Fine tuners enable the player to tension their string close to pitch and then use a small rotary knob at the bridge end of the string to make incremental adjustments. Some violins have fine tuners on all strings, some just on the E string, while others have none.
The two most popular types of violin tuners are pedal and clip-on tuners. Pedal tuners are only effective if you have a magnetic pickup fitted or play an electric violin, as they are positioned between two instrument cables. These are silent to use, highly accurate and very sturdy. Clip-on tuners are the most popular violin tuners by far and they work by detecting the resonance in the instrument's body as the string is plucked. They are affordable, lightweight and small enough to fit into an instrument case or pocket.
The clamping mechanism is the main point of differentiation between a violin tuner and a regular stringed instrument tuner. Many violin tuners use a wider clamp to attach to the body of the violin, not the headstock as with an acoustic guitar. Those that do attach to the far end of the instrument must also have a clamping mechanism that is wide enough to accommodate this. Ensure that a tuner is suitable for attaching to violins before you make a purchase.
To tune your violin, a string is plucked as if you’re playing pizzicato, and the note registers with the tuner, which displays the amount by which it is sharp or flat. The best tuners compute and present the result in milliseconds, with barely any visible delay. The meter on the screen should not lag while you turn your tuning peg, as this can affect your ability to quickly and precisely tune to pitch.
You must be able to read your tuner's display, whether you are tuning your violin alfresco in bright sunshine or the orchestra pit of a dimly lit concert hall. The best tuners have highly illuminated graphic meters, often with backlit LED screens. In addition, many screens can rotate and swivel to ensure they can always face the musician, no matter how the tuner is clamped to the instrument.
A low battery can affect your tuner’s performance before it stops working completely, so the longer the battery life, the better. The best violin tuners are rechargeable via a micro USB or USB-C port and give you several hours of use when fully charged. Many also feature auto power-off functionality, which helps to ensure that you can tune your instrument for over a week between charges.
Digital violin tuners are relatively inexpensive as far as musical instrument accessories are concerned. You can pick up a perfectly effective clip-on model for as little as $10, but high-quality options cost $15-$30, with pedal tuners costing $50-$150.
A. The best violin tuners detect and display the note that you are currently trying to tune. If the note is flat, the meter lights up to the left to signal the degree to which it is out of tune. Tighten the string to pitch, and the meter should display green or similar to register it as in-tune. If the note is sharp, the meter lights up to the right and you must slacken the string accordingly.
A. When you weigh up cost, convenience, portability and ease of use, clip-on tuners win in every category. They may lack the accuracy of a pedal tuner, but these require a line signal to work. Clip-on tuners are far more accurate than their microphone-based counterparts.
A. App tuners are convenient to use and make great backup devices if you forget your digital tuner or it runs out of battery. However, app tuners work by gauging the frequency received by your phone's microphone, and digital violin tuners pick up frequencies via vibrations in the instrument's body, which is far more accurate and quicker to respond.
What you need to know: The NS Micro is a highly responsive and easy-to-read model that clamps directly to the violin’s body.
What you’ll love: This popular model from D’Addario has a three-color display that makes it easy to use in dimly lit environments. It is easy to attach and remove, and because it attaches close to the player, it makes a good tool for referencing pitch.
What you should consider: This is made specifically for violins and violas. As such, it is not easy to use with other stringed instruments.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This well-designed option is highly accurate and displays the notes in large illuminated letters.
What you’ll love: The ENO professional swivels and tilts for optimum viewing, and attaches to the peg boxes of many stringed instruments. Its auto power-off functionality helps to preserve battery life, and it is accurate to one cent.
What you should consider: Its batteries are not rechargeable, as they are with some higher-priced models.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: The UberTuner is so-called because it works with almost any instrument, making it a great choice for multi-instrumentalists.
What you’ll love: This is one of the most accurate tuners due to its highly sensitive piezo sensors, which are not affected by ambient noise. It is highly adjustable and can be transposed for use with woodwind and brass instruments.
What you should consider: This is not as durable as some similarly-priced tuners and is prone to breakages if dropped.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Luke Mitchell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.