Standard Tunings for Violins, Violas and Cellos

By: Benning Violins-Studio City Music  11/09/2014
Keywords: String Instruments, Violin Shop, Cello Bows

For the practicing instrumentalist, tuning a violin, viola or cello is a daily task. Located in the peg box towards the end of the instrument, pegs are adjusted to tune the pitches of each individual string. Fine tuners, optional tiny knobs located in the tailpiece, allow for more subtle adjustments in pitch, especially on steel-core strings. Each of the major stringed instruments (violins, violas, cellos and double basses) hastheirown traditional tuning.

The violin is typically tuned so that the strings, when played "openly" or without any fingers touching the strings to the board, are G-D-A-E from left to right, or lowest to highest pitch. Traditionally the A-string is tuned to 440 Hz.Theprofessional musician's well-trained ear can detect 'beating' or the slight vibrations of sharpness or flatness, and make finer adjustments.

Though the viola is similar to a violin in size and is positioned and played in a similar manner, it is slightly larger and tuned an entire fifth lower. The strings are typically tuned to C-G-D-A from the lowest to highest pitch. The cello has the same tuning configuration as the viola, except it is another octave lower. The upright bass is tuned so that the open strings are at intervals of fourths instead of fifths (E-A-D-G).It is the lowest in pitch of the stringed instruments.

While these conventions of tuning are the most widely used, there are many alternative tunings. In Indian classical music, the violin is most often tuned to D?-A?-D?-A?, while in Arabic classical music the two highest strings (A and E) are lowered so that the configuration is G-D-G-D.In Iranian classical music, the two lowest strings are raised so that the configuration is A-E-A-E.In the Western classical tradition, scores by some major composers call for slight or major tuning adjustments.

Keywords: Cello Bows, String Instruments, Viola Bows, Violin Shop

Contact Benning Violins-Studio City Music


Print this page

Other news and updates from Benning Violins-Studio City Music


Benning Violins Offers Historic Antique American-made Violin for Sale

The violin, crafted by inventor Thomas Edison’s assistant and owned and played by a President Woodrow Wilson-appointed borough Postmaster, is


Benning Violins, Los Angeles Violinmakers, Releases Jascha Heifetz Remembrance Video

In a newly released video, violinmaker Hans Benning, patriarch of the violinmaking family, remembers his years maintaining Jascha Heifetz’s 1740


Acclaimed Violinist, Vijay Gupta, Acquires Violin Crafted by Violinmaker Eric Benning

Critically renowned violinist, Vijay Gupta, has acquired a newly crafted violin by violinmaker Eric Benning. The instrument, modeled after a


Los Angeles-based Violin Shop, Benning Violins, Launches new Website

Benning Violins, a preeminent violin shop in Los Angeles, has launched a new, industry-leading website. Launched in April, the state-of-the-art


Distinguished Violinist Tamamo Gibbs Acquires Violin Crafted by Eric Benning, Preeminent Los Angeles

Kansas City Symphony principal second violinist Tamamo Gibbs has acquired a 2005 Stradivarius model violin crafted by renowned violinmaker Eric


Renowned Cellist Mark Gibbs Acquires Cello Crafted by Preeminent Violinmaker Eric Benning

Mark Gibbs, principal cellist of the Kansas City Symphony, has acquired a cello crafted by distinguished Los Angeles violinmaker Eric


Violinmaking: Measuring and Fitting the Neck Piece

When crafting fine violins, as opposed to cheap, mass-produced ones, placing the neck onto the violin body is the most


Violinmaking: Carving the Scroll

The distinctive scroll found at the top of fine violins, violas and cellos is a purely decorative woodcarving that showcases


Violinist Alex Granger Premiers Composer Lucas Floyd's Violin Concerto with Violin Crafted by Violin

On April 27, 2014, violinist Alex Granger premiered American composer Lucas Floyd's violin concerto in San Francisco Conservatory of Music's


Violinmaking: Designing the Sound Holes

The sound holes of stringed instruments such as fine cellos, violas and violins, also known as F-holes, are openings in


Consigning Your Violin: What to Know

When you're looking to sell your fine violin (or a viola or cello), consignment to a notable violin shop may


Dendrochronology and Fine Violins

Dendrochronology is the act of analyzing tree ring patterns in wood in order to determine the wood’s age. Dendrochronology has


Choosing the Tailpiece On a Stringed Instrument

The tailpiece anchors the strings on the bottom end of violins, violas and cellos. As the top of the strings


The Violin Bass Bar

The bass bar is a piece of wood on the underside of the faceplate or "belly"” of stringed instruments such