When I tune the A string on my fiddle with a tuner it sounds like it doesn’t intonate in tune up the neck. Has anyone else run into this? When I tune it a little sharp it does much better.
How long have you been playing? Do you practice scales against a drone?
@KCFiddles I've been at it about two months. Several years ago I got to where I could play a few tunes but put it away. It is challenging, but I thought I'd give it another shot during this Covid stuff. I've been playing the guitar and piano for 60 years. I have a good ear. When I tune with a tuner those fifths to the A string just sound off to me. I practice the scales in relation to the drone strings a lot. Of course when I tweak the A string up a bit I'm merely hitting the notes by compensating. These strings have been on this fiddle for probably 25 years. As I recall they were Thomastiks (sp?). Anyway maybe the string needs replacing?
This is from all appearances a very old violin. It's probably been played by people far above my abilities. If it's not a bad string that doesn't intonate properly, then it's probably my own ineptitude in trying to learn. But those open fifths sound better when I tweak it up and it sounds better when I play it up the neck.......At this point, I don't go up any string beyond it's fifth octave and that rarely.
I am trusting to constant practice and muscle memory for my brain to eventually teach my fingers to hit the notes in tune.........I assume that's how this works.
Possibly a bad string. Strings are sometimes defective; dirty, worn, wrapping, possibly synthetics have some issue with age... affecting the harmonics unevenly. This can affect what the tuner picks up and displays... different than the ear. If bad enough, just by ear can detect the bad harmonics, and struggle to get it in tune. Might want to change strings.
That said, possible it could be some issues with hearing... there is sometimes a preference for a little bit sharp for some folks, even if singing... For one, perfect fifths are a little sharper than the ET tuner. As well that leads to whole steps slightly larger (sharper). For some linear stepped scales sometimes tend to push sharp. But sometimes it's that maybe stands out better, brighter, resonates better, cuts better, or string sings better? Maybe used to a sharper reference?
Edited by - alaskafiddler on 03/05/2021 23:59:53
alaskafiddler At this point anything is possible. Think I'll start by changing the strings and go from there.......
These strings are 25 years old? I'm amazed they make any sound at all!
I'd suggest you start with new strings (hopefully something decent) but also your ears may not like the tempered fifths your tuner is suggesting. You could try tuning the A string to exactly 440 Hz (or whatever other standard you like) and then tune the D string a couple cents flat to the tuner, and then the G string a couple more cents flat. The E string can be a couple cents sharp. This is closer to the perfect fifths your ears may be wanting to hear.
As Doug describes, that’s how I tune my fiddle, I check it every day to make sure it is that way. I would say that you have a good ear. Would get some new strings though.
New strings is a good investment, even if not this problem.
Forgot to add... Somethings in the setup that can cause problem, such as nut slot, or bridge. Hard to describe, bowing makes an A440, but not really clearly and cleanly; string is slightly touching/muting and as if it were trying to vibrate harmonics as slightly different pitch. For any of these possible string issues, try to listen for a really clear tone. After sitting idle for years, might also consider having someone look it over.
Originally posted by kragerin
. . . I've been playing the guitar and piano for 60 years. I have a good ear. When I tune with a tuner those fifths to the A string just sound off to me. I practice the scales in relation to the drone strings a lot. Of course when I tweak the A string up a bit I'm merely hitting the notes by compensating. These strings have been on this fiddle for probably 25 years. As I recall they were Thomastiks (sp?). Anyway maybe the string needs replacing?
Do you have a digital or acoustic piano?
I too would suggest changing strings.
Thank you all for the responses!
I should have already asked, what is a good quality brand of strings? Any recommendations?
Which string - another hornet nest! Dominant strings are the violin reference standard. Some fiddlers like all metal strings but I have no experience there. Tonica strings are cheaper than Dominants and many like them as much.
Your pegs may need a look over if they haven’t been used for 25 years. If you have been playing piano for 60 years I’m going to guess that your joints may have seen better days. Tuning with pegs can be frustrating, many are moving over to to Wittner pegs and other geared pegs. I did and would never go back!
Edit to add you should buy a 4/4 string set. That is a full size if this is all new to you
Edited by - Snafu on 03/06/2021 13:16:03
That helps. Thanks, Jim!
Just put on new strings. Problem solved!
Edited by - kragerin on 03/15/2021 18:32:46
By "problem solved" I meant replacing my ancient strings with a new set took care of the tuning/intonation problem I was having as some of you suggested. I've still got a long way to go on the playing end. Thanks....
'Fiddle Lesson - Jenny Lynn' 12 hrs
'Chin rest' 3 days
'The Nightingale' 4 days
'The Nightingale.' 4 days