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Tuning the violin

THE VIOLIN has four strings. The lowest is tuned to the G below middle C on the piano. The next is the D above middle C, the next is the A above that, and the highest is the E an octave and third above middle C.

Picture comparing the neck of a violin and a guitar

Unlike its predecessors, the viol and the viola da gamba, the violin has no frets on the fingerboard, so the player has to learn where the pitches are. You can see the difference by comparing the neck of the violin with the neck of a standard guitar.

The same pitch on the violin can often be found on more than one string. For instance the pitch of the D that is the open string on the second to lowest string can also be found in a higher position on the lowest string, the G string.

In the video below, viola-player Clare Finnimore demonstrates the pitches of violin, viola and cello strings; then violinist Lucy Gould describes using adjusters to fine tune individual strings on the violin.

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