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How to Use a Pitch Pipe

Use a Pitch Pipe

A pitch pipe is a tool that produces a musical tone used for tuning or as a reference pitch. There are many types of pitch pipes for different applications. A pitch pipe is not a musical instrument, but the proper use of a pitch pipe can improve the performance of many different kinds of music.

Find the right pitch pipe. There are special pitch pipes made for guitars that have six different pitches, one corresponding for each string. Chromatic pitch pipes are perfect if you are using the pitch pipe for vocals or timpani. You can also get pitch pipes that you must blow into or electronic pitch pipes that make a tone by pressing a button.

Tune string instruments with a pitch pipe. Pitch pipes are great way to get a rough tuning on a guitar, banjo, violin or other stringed instruments. Blow into the necessary pitch, or press the button, and tune the instrument accordingly. When you are tuning the instrument lower, you will stay in tune better if you loosen the string below the pitch and then come back up to it.

Use a pitch pipe to tune timpani. Timpani are large drums that are used in ensemble and orchestral settings. Timpani music will tell the player what to which note each timpani should be tuned. Blow into the pitch pipe softly, just enough so that you can hear the pitch and adjust the tuning pedal to tune the drum to the right pitch.

Make a reference pitch with a pitch pipe for a vocal performance. Pitch pipes are used with vocalists and choirs when singing a cappella. The conductor or leader of the group will blow on the pitch pipe to give a reference pitch for the whole group or blow individual pitches for each section of the group.


When you can, it is a good idea to verify your tunings with an electronic tuner, especially on stringed instruments.

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