Whether you are just beginning to learn how to play the viola or you have been doing it for years already, a well-tuned instrument is crucial for every musician. With a lot of great mobile apps specially made for musicians, tuning your instruments is way easier compared when doing it manually. But if you’re an aspiring violin or viola player, it is an added skill to learn how to tune by ear.
Pegs and Fine Tuners
Tuning pegs are parts of violins and violas used to adjust the tone and hold the strings of these instruments. Pegs are located at the upper part inserted in the pegbox of a viola. On the other hand, fine tuners can sometimes be a built-in tailpiece or added on your instrument. However, the built-in fine tuners are increasingly being popular for many classical musicians these days.
To adjust the tone of the viola, turn the pegs gently, one at a time. Turning the pegs clockwise will increase the pitch while moving it counterclockwise will adjust it to a lower tone. If you see that your viola peg keeps on slipping, push it in the pegbox a bit as you tune your viola. Also, check if the strings are properly wound to the pegbox. Each string should be close to the outer side of the peg where it is connected. You can also try using peg drops or soap your pegs if the pegs still keep on slipping.
For making small adjustments on the tone of your viola, you can use the fine tuner to get the exact pitch of each string. Turn it to the right for a higher pitch and adjust it towards the left side if you need to lower down the pitch. Take note that fine tuners are only used to make small changes on the viola tone. If your strings are completely out of tune, you should use the tuning peg first.
If you aren’t specifically familiar with the viola tone, use the bow and draw it across the string and see if it matches the right tone using an electric tuner. Turn the tuning peg until you reach the exact pitch of the string. Always start with correcting the A string then repeat the procedure for D, G, and C string. If you do not have an electric tuner available at hand, you can download tuner mobile applications available online.
In tuning your viola, practice the routine of the orchestral violists. They always tune the A string first, followed by D, G, and C string. Prevent strings from breaking by starting to tune from below the note. Also, take advantage of using fine tuners to avoid pegs from over adjustments. This will prevent your tuning pegs from losing and your strings from overstretching. Practice adjusting your viola tune with helpful tools until you tune your instrument by ear. Lastly, maintain and store your instrument properly. Violin, viola, and other string instruments are sensitive to humidity and temperature, so it needs to be stored in a cool, dry place.