Equipment for tuning a fiddle
There are various different types of tuners that you can use to help with tuning your fiddle. The simplest of these create a note for you to listen to, so you can try to match the note of your fiddle to that pitch.
The simplest piece of equipment is a tuning fork. You can buy tuning forks for different pitches. To tune a fiddle you need a tuning fork tuned to the note A. To create the note, hold the tuning fork by the single prong (on the left in the photo below) and hit it smartly off a solid object. This makes the prongs resonate. If you bring the tuning fork up to your ear, you will hear the note.
Pitch pipes are also fairly straightforward. Each of the 4 tubes in a set of pitch pipes creates a different note when you blow into it. So you can buy a set of pitch pipes with the four notes your fiddle is tuned to: E, A, D and G
There are a number of electronic tuners available which have a screen that indicates if the note you’re playing is sharp, flat or in tune. These often use a needle and dial type display.
Clip on electronic tuners
These are electronic devices that clip on to your instrument.
An electronic tuner has a small screen with a digital display, and some sort of clamp mechanism to attach it to the fiddle. Many of them are designed primarily for guitars, and don’t clip easily onto a fiddle. It’s worth trying an electronic tuner out before buying it, as many of the tuners designed for guitars can only be used by clipping them on to the peg of the fiddle – not only is this fairly insecure, it often results in the tuner being angled in a wy that it’s pretty much impossible to see the screen while you’re tuning up, which renders it useless for fiddle tuning. One of the best designs, made specifically for fiddles is the D’Addario tuner, which clips snugly onto the body of the fiddle, and is neat enough that it can be left permanently in place there.
The tuner has a sensor that picks up the vibrations from the fiddle. The biggest advantage of using an electronic tuner is that it will still work well in a noisy environment such as a pub session
There are numerous free apps that you can download onto a smart phone. They generally work in fairly similar ways – the screen will display the note, and will have some visual indication of whether the note is flat, sharp or in tune
On this is pictured (Da Tuner Lite) The screen shows the note name in the middle, with the tuning indicator beneath it. The screen display turns also green wh.en the note is in tune, which makes it really easy to see