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How to tune your instrument at home

by Bows for Strings on

One of the most common topics that we receive questions about at Bows for Strings, particularly for newer players, is tuning. Specifically, how to tune your instrument safely and what to do when an instrument has gone so far out of tune that a string has come completely free of the peg (which is common when an instrument hasn't been played in a while).

The first thing to note is that the string is not broken, so you can relax. All instruments need to be regularly tuned to maintain the correct pitch; this applies to entry level instruments right through to professional level instruments. 

Violins, violas and cellos are affected by their surrounding temperature and humidity and respond to these changes by loosening of pegs and going out of tune. This is very much the case at the moment during winter where homes might be getting very cold overnight as the temperature drops, and then considerably warmer during the day when the heating is on. Think about expansion and contraction. The peg is made from a different wood so the grip of the peg on the violin, viola or cello can be released by expansion of the instrument.

It's important to know how to tune your instrument yourself, particularly now, when lessons might be done via zoom, or you are unable to come into our store for a free instrument tune. It also provides players a greater connection with their instrument, particularly when learning to tune by ear.

In the video below, Myles shares tips for tuning your instrument (specific to violins, violas and cellos). 

Topics covered in the video:

  • How to re-fit a string to the peg that has come loose
  • Tips for tuning to avoid breaking a string
  • How to use a smart phone app to tune your instrument
  • How to use the fine tuners
  • Learning to tune by ear using Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Important points to note about tuning your instrument from home: 

  • Your bridge is held straight by the tension of the strings. If one of your strings has come loose and you are re-fitting your string, be watchful that you are not pulling the bridge forward or moving it out of place.
  • If all of your strings have come loose, we recommend coming and seeing us to have your instrument tuned/checked, as this is when the bridge is likely to move out of place.
  • For cellos, we don't advise lying your instrument down to tune like the video shows for a violin. Instead we recommend sitting down with the instrument standing up between your legs so you can look directly into the peg box.

As always, if you have any questions or if you are having trouble with your instrument, don't hesitate to give our team of musicians and luthiers a call on 03 8802 7905.

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