“What do you mean I have joint problems? I’m too young to have joint problems!” Like many of you, I began tuning as a teenager. After an intense year and a half of study, practice, study, practice, tele-mentoring, practice, hands-on training, practice, in person mentoring, practice — did I mention a ton of practice? — I was ready to begin tuning for pay. Less than a year later, I began experiencing extreme pain in my fingers, caused by playing using them for tuning and test blows.
Tip 5: Protect Your Fingers
To solve my problem, I began wearing rubber fingertips. This helped with the pain in my fingers, but ultimately didn’t help with my joint issues. It got to the point where I had to pause about every 10 minutes or so, wait a minute for my hand to stop screaming at me, and continue tuning.
A gentleman from my chapter advised me to use a key pounder. So that night I found a dowel, glued a felt punchings to the end, and decided to use it until I could build a better one. Oh, the difference was heavenly! After switching to a more ergonomic key pounder, it was even better.
Is this a tip for tuning more efficiently? I’d call it that, but perhaps it’s also something to keep you tuning efficiently for years to come. At first I didn’t realize just how much my fingers hurt, until they didn’t.
Learn to tune in sync with your ETA. Use the key pounder (or, use your fingers, if you weren’t paying attention to everything I just said) to play the next note while you move your tuning lever to the next pin. By the time you have your hand back, the ETA will have switched over and calculated where it thinks you should put the string. It really contributes to not wasting time while tuning.
What if you’re an aural tuner? Consider saving unisons for last, then use a key pounder. That will ensure you can use the key pounder for as long as possible.
No matter how you tune, the important thing to remember is that your body is not replaceable. Sometimes we put off doing the stupidest little things, but seriously, why shouldn’t you care about preventing as much damage to yourself as possible? Finding a new position, getting a different lever — maybe the first step for you is using a key pounder. Start today. In ten, twenty, or thirty years, how is your health looking? What can you change now that will effect the future you?