How electronic clip-on tuners on chromatic setting provide greatest benefit for young musicians

Electronic tuner shows string in tune on violin

Two main advantages demonstrated by the Arcofacile range

GDF has recently introduced a range of Arcofacile electronic tuners by Rowin which are proving ideal for young students and any other player wishing to quickly and easily keep a tight control of the pitch of their strings.

Four of these devices have multi-instrument alternatives for violin, bass, guitar, ukulele as well as a chromatic option.

Chromatic tuning focus

Tuners for orchestral stringed instruments that feature a chromatic tuning feature include the G-LT23, G-LT33, and the G-LT600 (with microphone) models.

These models, known as miniature electronic tuners, are very compact and lightweight and feature a ‘Glow Green’ ‘in tune’ facility indicated by a needle moving across the screen.

The chromatic scaling of the tuner will work as the sheet music of a chromatic scale exercise, detecting the half note intervals – natural or sharp. Typically these tuners are set at a frequency of 440 Hz with 50Hz deflection either side of the middle (the Glow Green in tune point) in the half tones as you go up or down the chromatic scale. The frequency range is know as category A0 (27.5Hz – lowest) to C8 (4186 Hz -highest).

All these models have a 360 degree adjustment on the clip mounting: the display body can also be tilted for the best viewable position when clipped to the instrument.

The main benefits of chromatic tuners

Godfrey Foster of GDF Violins explained how they work – and how they benefit students.

“Before using the chromatic setting on the electronic tuner, it is important to ensure that the four open strings are already securely in tune themselves. We can then use the chromatic setting.”

There are four major benefits of a chromatic tuner, namely

    1. It can be used to tune C clef stringed instruments such as the Viola and Cello. With minimal experience, the C,G,D and A strings of these differing octave strings can easily be tuned ready for the instrument to play.
    2. These dedicated string tuners are simple and focussed on the task; they need only a healthy battery. Other applications from mobile phones only work off the phone’s microphone and not by touch which detects the resonance made from the string being played. The CR2032 coin battery is cheap and easy to replace.
    3. During playing pieces in grade II and above the fourth finger is required, such as an Eb in the B major scale – fourth finger on the A string. This is the start of getting to hear your notes and a definite difference between open E and Eb fourth finger, neither too low or too close to the open string E, an accurate half tone away. The chromatic scale of the tuner can help to confirm good fourth finger position.
    4. The second major advantage is to help the young student train their ears to a scale made on the fingerboard in a new position. The first fully useful new position is the 3rd position. Here the tuner’s chromatic scale setting will prove invaluable. Clip the tuner in such a way that the display is easily visible. On a peg with such a lightweight device would be best for violin and viola or the bridge on the Cello. The young student can constantly view the screen as they practice the third position fingering. Getting the fingers down in to the approximate right place on the fingerboard is the first priority and adding the vision of seeing how close a player is to the right pitched note is the second step.

Or, as Godfrey observed,

“Practice makes perfect is the slogan – and it is certainly true for a young player and to grow their confidence and sight reading skills whilst on their own in between lessons. It is advisable to of course to discuss your intentions and how you feel you can progress with your teacher using an electronic tuner. Getting better and securing your playing is the most important objective you and your teacher have in common. 

“Happy accurate natural playing will soon be the norm, thanks to this clever little tuner rapidly enabling the young player to gain know-how and confidence.”

Further information

Electronic tuners for violins, violas, cellos and basses »

Contact GDF with your electronic tuner questions »