How to Use a Tuning Fork

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Invented in 1711, the tuning fork is essential before any classical music concert. It's a metal device with two prongs shaped like a "U." It gives a constant pitch you can tune your instrument to. Most commonly it sounds the note of A, but you can find tuning forks of any pitch.

Things You'll Need

  • Tuning fork
  • Hard surface
  • Choose your tuning forks carefully. They can be made of steel, aluminum and even space alloy. Consider buying a set so you get a range of pitches for use with different instruments.

  • Keep your wrist flexible when holding the tuning fork. Grasp it firmly at its end but keep your fingers relaxed.

  • Bend your elbow when holding it. There shouldn't be any tension in your arm, which travels to your hand and makes using the tuning fork harder.

  • Pick a hard surface you feel comfortable striking with metal. This can be a desktop, the back of a chair or even a small object like a hockey puck.

  • Hold the tuning fork on its side so you're striking only one of the prongs. The "U" shape causes both sides to vibrate and produces a smooth soundwave.

  • Strike the tuning fork prong about one-third of the way from the top. This is important to get the best sound.

  • Set the vibrating tuning fork carefully on a hard surface like a desk or a chair seat. This acts as a sounding board and amplifies the pitch, which is useful when a room full of musicians are waiting to tune up.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some musicians have perfect pitch and never use a tuning fork.
  • Consider the weight of the tuning fork. One that's too thick or heavy will make it harder for your hand to relax when striking it.
  • Some New Age practitioners use tuning forks for therapy.

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