A simple hack to improve your tuning

First off, I want to say that the best and most direct way to learn to play in tune is to play along with drone notes (in my humble opinion). Learn more by following the link below:

How To Play In Tune With Drone Notes

That said, I understand how hard it is to learn on your own, especially without the benefit of an in-person teacher to correct you. For this reason, I want to offer you every possible tool to help you play in tune so you can more fully enjoy fiddling.

A simple hack for playing better in tune: Use a clip-on electronic tuner to find your notes before you start. 

Important note: Once you’ve found the notes, DO NOT USE THE TUNER AS YOU PLAY A SONG. If you stare at it while you play tunes, otherwise, it will become a crutch (and you won’t enjoy playing the music).

Like any technology, you want to use it with intention. 💡

First, make sure your fiddle is in tune using the tuner. Review the lesson on that: Tuning The Fiddle.

At the beginning of a practice session, spend 3-5 minutes just working on your tuning with an electronic tuner. Play each fingered pitch of a scale for 30 seconds or so.

Alternatively, you can slowly pay a scale up and down using the tuner and adjusting as you go. Do this for 3-5 minutes.

You can also use the tuner to find each note before you play a tune.

  • Play D1 (which is E) and check that with the tuner.
  • Repeat for D2 (F#) and D3 (G)

If you’re starting on a different string, then find the first few notes on that string with the tuner.

In the future, use this strategy to tune up any notes you are struggling with. Once a note is in tune, continue to play it and simply listen to how this in-tune note sounds.

Try closing your eyes and playing:


Now here comes a key step: TURN OFF THE TUNER. Why is the key step turning off the tuner? Because you really, really, really do NOT want to be staring at the tuner while practicing. You want to turn your attention to working out technical problems and making music.

If you have the tuner on while playing scales and tunes you’ll wind up being totally reliant on it (insert frustrated, super-mopey emoticon here). If you turn it off, you create a small obstacle to using it so that you can’t just glance over. I think this might be enough to keep you from over-using it.


Lessons complete in Module 1.2: 


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10 responses to “How to play better in tune with an electronic tuner

  1. Am enjoying how Module 1.2 is helping me revive my ear-training skills from long ago! Three technical glitches I’ve encountered repeatedly that you might want to check:
    1) When using the site in Night Mode, it’s almost impossible to type entries in the Practice Journal because what I type shows up as white on a very pale yellow background (both on my standard Dell PC and on my Samsung Galaxy S20 cell). In Daylight Mode, what I type shows as black on the same pale yellow or white background, so no problem in that Mode.
    2) Practice Toolkit seems convenient, but sometimes I can’t get to the “Submit” button after making an entry in my Practice Journal on my laptop (ie, the screen won’t scroll down to bring the Submit button into view).
    3) When I leave a comment like this one, the reCaptcha function makes me try three times (ie, I have to “backpage”) before it accepts the comment as “valid” and lets it post. Seems to happen whether I post from my laptop or my cell.

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