Fine tuners do not affect the sound of the violin. They may, however, affect pitch, particularly when they work in the same passage where the violin player’s tone comes from. A fine-tuning error (for example, of more than one fret or tone) may, therefore, appear as a “lack of clarity or articulation” even if no “bass-hole” or “pitch-hole” is present.
However, there are two types of fine-tuning errors: natural ones that result from physical changes to the violin in the presence of a string (such as the addition of a “bump” to the string plate), and deliberate ones that result from the violin player’s technique. The precise reason for the “lack of clarity or articulation” when a fine-tuning error is found depends on which type of error is being examined: natural (or unintentional), deliberate (like a fault that has been “fixed”), or “hidden” (where the instrument is not tuned accurately or is tuned incorrectly due to some problem in the instrument’s components). The reason for the “lack of clarity or articulation” for natural mistakes can, therefore, differ between instruments. In the section below, we discuss the nature of accidental errors in violin tuning and in some cases how these can be corrected.
How do I know if my violin is still “fine tuned”?
While you can determine the natural tuning of any violin, you may never know precisely what it was at its “original” point of origin. To learn to determine the original “tone” and harmonic frequency of a violin, check out the “Finding the tone” page.
How do you know the pitch of a violin?
Viola strings are usually fixed and the pitch remains constant. However, the instrument’s internal tuning system can oscillate. This effect is referred to as the vibrato of a violin. A vibrato effect affects pitch because notes, especially low-pitched notes, tend to change pitch more quickly than notes of higher pitch. In other words, the instrument’s pitch changes over time. By using a spectrogram (Fig. 1) to test the frequency of the instrument, you can identify which notes change (or stay) the fastest (the top left portion of Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Spectrogram showing the vibrato of a violin
There is also a chromatic frequency, which occurs in the lower third of the instrument’s scale
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