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The Vibrations of a Tuning Fork

Jun 3, 2008
While the tuning fork may not really be considered an instrument, it is a great help in keeping instruments in tune. This simple tuning tool has been around for a fairly long time and has been used to tune just about any kind of instrument. It is an acoustic resonator that will vibrate at a particular pitch. This pitch is what musicians will compare with a note on their instrument to test whether the instrument is in tune or not. The tuning fork has earned its name from its shape, as it is a metal bar that divides into a u-shape; it is this shape that allows the vibrations to be heard after the instrument is struck against something.

Tuning forks come in many different sizes. The different sizes or the different lengths of the prongs will create a unique pitch. Larger tuning forks will emit a lower pitch while the smaller tuning forks will emit a higher pitch. First invented in 1711 by John Shore, it is one of the typical ways that a person can keep their instrument in tune, though electronic tuners are preferred by many people today.

People who are not familiar with the use of tuning forks may find that when striking a tuning fork against something, they will find that they may not have an easy time hearing the sound. Those familiar with tuning forks are well aware that to hear the pitch, the tuning fork will sometimes have to be pressed against a surface, like a table top, in order to amplify the sound so that the person can hear it well enough to make a comparison.

One might say that a drawback of the tuning fork is that one size will only make one pitch, meaning that they would have to purchase a number of tuning forks in order to make different pitches. While purchasing a single tuning fork is usually enough for an experienced musician, some may prefer to have more than one for a number of reasons. Tuning forks can be expensive, but there is the chance that one might be able to find an older one from a store that sells instruments.

In the end, however, it is probably best to purchase them new. If purchasing a tuning fork new is not an option, then one can look at purchasing an electronic tuner. One might think that these can be fairly expensive, but the truth is that they are relatively inexpensive and can be adjusted to show when different pitches are hit. In fact, electronic tuners are becoming more popular all the time because they are easy to use and one doesn't have to rely as much on one's ear in order to calculate whether one has hit the right note or note.

Many musicians, however, will prefer that non-electronic ways to tune the instrument are used because it teaches the musician to become familiar with what sounds right and what does not. Electronic tuners take away from this and tempt the musician to rely too much on it in order to get the right notes.
About the Author
Victor Epand is an expert consultant for used CDs, autographed CDs, and used musical instruments. You can find the best marketplace for used CDs, autographed CDs, and used musical instruments at these sites for used harmony CDs, autographed band CDs, and used tuning forks.
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