Usually violinists tune it to G3-D4-A4-E5. I play on a Gba violin, very basic. Can I tune it to D4-G4-D5-G5? I know it sounds crazy but I play Carnatic violin and this is how all instruments are tuned. I want to be sure before I upgrade my strings from the cheap electrometal ones to the D'Addario Prelude 4/4 Light Tension Strings. Or should I use medium or heavy tension strings? Is it possible at least on an antique Italian violin such as a Nicolaus Amatus or a Joseph Guarnerius? I believe they are originals from the 18th Century with the same strings as mentioned above. Would you advise any other strings. I don't know about the tone of any of the violins, whether they are dark or warm, etcetera but if you recommend any other strings I would be happy. I dot bow too hard and the sound quality on both the antiques is pretty good and excellent when played by my teacher but I know its not an optimal setup. Also the pegs are really slippery on the GBA and don't hold in place easily. I am playing one octave below but the strings are really loose and I can't hear the sounds clearly or loudly. Any suggestions please?

  • 2
    SInce you have a teacher who uses this tuning, why don't you ask him/her for advice? The price of an original Guarnerius violin would probably be in the range £50,000 - £200,000. Nobody sane is going to try tuning an instrument that expensive a fifth higher "just to see what it sounds like."!! Your teacher is probably playing a modern copy of an Amatus or Guarnerius. All the original "antique" instruments will already have been altered (in the 19th century) just to handle the standard tuning with "modern" strings.
    – user19146
    Jul 15, 2017 at 17:36
  • Thanks a lot. But we usually play at A3-D4-A4-D5 but I have to play a short concert for my school's annual day and all the singers are singing at the pitch I mentioned before. My teacher has nearly 13 violins and I think 12 of them are antique. They have a date hand-engraved on the inside between 1714-1790. He has an Amatus with the maker's head on it. Another two Amatus violins and also a few other makers such as Maggini and a Concerto violin. The violins I believe are original and renovated. You don't find many Amatus with the maker's head. He also has an Amatus with a lion head.
    – Tarun
    Jul 16, 2017 at 9:17
  • I am sure it is an original and it is not a copy. It has the sound characteristics of an antique violin. We live in India and have you heard of the famous Lalgudi G. Jayaraman? Well he had about 100-150 violins and it seems it became very tough for his son to maintain them after his death and so he started selling most of them through a known violin luthier who has been servicing violins for a long time. So well my teacher happened to know this luthier too and well he has sold my master and all his students about 25-30 violins all of very good quality.
    – Tarun
    Jul 16, 2017 at 9:23
  • There is very little damage to any of them. He also has a Stradivarius but I think its a replica but still old. I will try to upload photos.
    – Tarun
    Jul 16, 2017 at 9:24
  • Reg. “it has the sound characteristics of an antique violin”, please read this article. Jul 16, 2017 at 9:42

3 Answers 3


You definitely don't want to try this with a set of heavy or medium strings intended for standard Western tuning. This would require very high tension which might well damage the instrument.

With a light standard set you might be ok, but a safer solution would be to use only the high three strings of a heavy set for D4-G4-D5, and then add an extra-light e-string on top, tuned to G5.

An alternative you could consider is to bring the entire tuning down by a fourth, i.e. tuning a standard set to A3-D4-A4-D5.

  • As I wrote, if you want that tuning you should not use any G string at all, but one D-, A- and two E strings. — Filing down the bridge will make very little difference to the tension, though it will make the violin easier to play under high tension. And once again, I would strongly recommend against increasing the total tension much, especially on an antique instrument. If the pegs are slipping you should take that as an indication that you're doing it wrong... Jul 16, 2017 at 9:32

I know very little about Carnatic music. But I do play in a western genre where we commonly cross tune. Have you tried tunings like DDGE, DDGD, or GDGD? These are all much less extreme and closer to what the instrument and strings were designed to sound optimal at, and would be easier to play along with the group in than GDAE.


Guys thanks a lot for your answers thy were all really helpful. My Final Verdict- If you are playing western tune it to the pitch your violin sounds best unless you play in an orchestra. There are lots of tutorials, guides, videos and posts on it. If you play Indian Classical or Carnatic where you have to match with the singer's pitch if your accompanying the artist, then you should definitely have a good violin with good pegs and a fair set of strings and change the strings around to get the pitch. It should not be too tight(tension of the strings) or too light in all types of music. You should first note your preferred tune and use a tuner or a sruthi box(Carnatic). If your strings are not able to reach the desired pitch, switch from GDAE strings to DAEE strings or alternatively play a pitch lower but it will not sound that great if you are a solo performer and especially for some songs. Once again thanks a lot.

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