Tips on How to Tune a Cello

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Last updatedLast updated: May 07, 2021
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As a beginner who is just starting to learn how to play the cello, your instructor is who usually will help with tuning the cello every lesson that you have. However, if you are learning at home or online for some reason or the other, or you just cannot get it tuned for you by someone else, you need to know how to tune a cello.

In the beginning, tuning the cello can be a challenging task, especially as a beginner. You might have tried it and thought to yourself that you would never know how to tune it. Well, the good news is that you can learn how to tune the cello effectively. And with the cello, the more you tune it, the easier it will become for you to do so. When the cello is tuned, it can make your playing easier, more enjoyable, and pleasant to the ears. Furthermore, it will assist you as a beginner to know where to place your finger during playing.

In this post, we will show you some of the best ways to tune the cello and other important information that would help you with this.

Why Does a Cello Need Tuning?

Tips on How to Tune a CelloYou have just played a perfect composition, and you drop your cello for some days. You come back to it and observe that your well-tuned cello has lost all the tuning. What is responsible for that? Well, in this section, we will see some of the reasons why your cello might be out of tune.

If it happens to you, do not fret – it is not a strange phenomenon. In fact, it happens to everyone. Here are some reasons.

  • If you have just fitted new strings to the cello, these strings will not be perfect right away. Instead, they will need a period of adjustment. Many of the modern cello strings that are found right now do this quickly and will adjust in a short time. It might take just a day or two before it is done. However, if the string comes with a synthetic core, it might be up to a week or more before the strings can settle. How can you make the settling process faster? One thing that you can do is to play more often. With consistent playing and practice, you will have the strings settled.
  • Another thing that could have an effect on the strings and tuning of your instrument is the weather. A minute change in the weather condition, especially pressure, can affect the strings. A change in the humidity can also affect the string. For example, in seasons like autumn, your strings are likely to break if not handled properly. Also, the cello is a wooden instrument, and it is made from different types of woods. Wood, as a material, has great sound properties. However, it expands and contracts based on the weather.
  • Dropping the cello or impacts can have an effect on the cello. If you hit the cello on the wall or you drop it, you will likely affect the tuning and will have to re-tune the instrument. If this happens, the soundpost of the instrument might shift. We recommend that you loosen the string immediately and refit it as soon as possible.

The Basics

The process of tuning the cello is simple and straightforward, and in this section, we will consider the important things to do that will help you get it done quickly and correctly.

First of all, the cello will be fitted with two sets of tools for tuning. In most cellos, these are the pegs and the fine tuners.

When tuning the strings, you have to be extra careful because the strings are not with a warranty. Therefore, if you end up breaking them, you will have to buy another.
Apart from being gentle with the string, you also have to be wary of the bridge. If you adjust the tension of the string, it changes the pressure. And if anything were to happen to the bridge, it might be difficult to replace.

Now that we know what to look out for, we will now delve into how to use these parts to tune the cello.

How to Know If the Cello is Tuned

Tips on How to Tune a CelloBefore you start tuning the cello, you have to be sure that it is in tune. So, how would you know when it is in tune.

The bow might work as a helpful indicator of the tuning of the cello. You should bow a long, clear note that will sharpen the pitch without making it too soft.

One of the most popular ways that experts and players use in tuning their cello is by playing its notes against those of a piano or keyboard.

Another way, which is easier, is to check with an electronic cello tuner or an app for tuning on your instrument.

How to Use the Pegs to Tune the Cello

The pegs, as we have earlier pointed out, are found at the top of the cello. The strings are designed over the raised piece of ebony and into the pegs and peg box. Each of these strings has a peg and a hole through which it passes. It is then connected to individual pegs. Rotating the peg will either loosen or tighten the string against the peg.

Tuning the cello using the pegs can be hard, especially if you ate a beginner. However, you can still do it.

One of the tips that work when tuning via the pegs is to do that slowly and steadily. If you are in a rush, you might overtighten the string. Therefore, you have to do so slowly. By gently tuning the peg, you will reduce the level of damage to the strings.

When should you use pegs for tuning? We recommend that you use the peg box only at times when the string is really out of tune.

How to Use String Adjusters

The fine tuners, or string adjusters, are located at the bottom of the cello. These are relatively easier to use for tuning the cello. You can adjust the tuners by turning the screws that are attached to them. If you tighten it anti-clockwise, it will flatten the pitch as this will loosen the string.

The best method is the turn with these screws. The only time these might not be great is if the peg has slipped and the string is too far out.

Using An App

You can tune the cello using an app on your device. It works best if all the strings are tight to start with. If a string is loose, you might have a hard time using the app.

But if the strings are tight, you can start with the A string down to the G string, then back to the E string.

Instructions for tuning are usually included in the app. Most of the apps will show the pitch that you played on the screen. If it is in tune, it will indicate that the note you get is perfect. If not, the app will also indicate that the string is out of tune. You can use the tuner application to loosen or tighten the string until it is in tune.

Ask a Teacher

When all else fails, you can always call on a teacher to assist you with the tuning of the cello. Ask your instructor or someone with more experience playing to help you to tune the cello.

Tips on Protecting the Strings

Tips on How to Tune a CelloIf your strings are brittle and not protected, the chances are high that it might break off during playing. Therefore, it is important to maintain the strings. There are some tips that can help you. Let’s go over them.

  • Keep the strings clean at all times. Clean strings will work for longer and will be better. Cleaning the strings is easy. All that is often required is to wipe them down with a soft cloth after each playing session. If you discover build-up on the strings, you can remove these by using an alcohol wipe. However, don’t let this touch the body of the cello.
  • Keep the cello protected and avoid bumping on surfaces. If bumped, it can compromise the integrity of the strings and cause breakage.
  • Use a stand when possible. Reviews show that the Cello stand from Ingles can help you keep your cello safe during playing.
  • Cut your fingernails. Your fingernails can end up damaging the strings, so it is important that you keep your nails short. This goes for all the stringed instruments that you might play.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you need to know how to tune a cello. This post has provided information on how to do this correctly. We have also provided tips on how to maintain your strings and make them last you for a longer time. Use this information to get the best out of playing your cello.

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