The eBay Super-Bargain Violin

THE FIRST TUNING

Tuning the violin proved quite challenging.  First, the pegs wouldn't hold.  I had to jam them in several times, and even then, they kept popping loose for a while.  When jammed in, they turned only very reluctantly.  However, with time, they have gotten easier to turn, and rarely just spring out any more.

SCROLL AND PEG BOX

Ill-fitting pegs had to be jammed in reeeeeally hard to hold against the tension of the strings, then they were reeeeeally hard to turn.  Above:  Before jamming.  Below:  After jamming several times.  Still not flush, but after much effort, they turn somewhat easier and hold better -- most of the time.

For comparison, below are the peg boxes of my two other full-sized violins.

The one above is my grandfather's 115-year-old instrument; the peg holes had split, and the box had to be rebuilt and new pegs added.  The one below is 76 years old, made in Germany, possibly in the shop of Ernst Henrich Roth, if that means anything to you (it didn't to me), and the peg box is in its original condition.

Tuning was an incremental process.  At first, every time I added tension to one string, the others would drop dramatically in pitch.  But eventually, the neck settled, and the tightening of one string had less and less effect on the others.

WARNING:  Over-tightening, especially on the higher strings, can easily lead to breakage.  It is better at first to tune the violin too low than to possibly over-shoot the pitch.  Using the piano, the strings should be tuned as follows:

* G (far left when instrument is neck-up, facing you) should be tuned to the piano G note immediately below middle C.

* D (middle-left) should be tuned to the D on the piano just above middle C.

* A (middle-right) should be tuned to the A above middle C.

* E (far right):  Find the C an octave above middle C, then the E just above that.



Really Cheap Built-in Fine Tuners


Using the built-in fine tuners was possibly the most frustrating part of the effort.  First, the one for the A string popped off its lever arm, and I had to unscrew and rescrew it several times; the alignment was so bad that it kept popping off.  Then the threads for the E string fine tuner stripped, and it became completely unusable.  I finally figured out that I could trade it with the one for the G string, and both of them now work (I don't know how that's possible).  But they all remain difficult to turn, and of minimal effectiveness.

But at last, I actually got the thing in tune!  It is now not much harder to keep in tune than my other violins, though occasionally one of the pegs will still pop loose.


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