top of page

Tuning Forks

A tuning fork is an acoustic resonator in the form of a two-pronged fork with the prongs (tines) formed from a U-shaped bar of elastic metal (usually steel). It resonates at a specific constant pitch when set vibrating by striking it against a surface or with an object, and emits a pure musical tone once the high overtones fade out. A tuning fork's pitch depends on the length and mass of the two prongs. They are traditional sources of standard pitch for tuning musical instruments.

The tuning fork was invented in 1711 by British musician John Shore, sergeant trumpeter and lutenist to the royal court.

Every time you strike a tuning fork, you're setting off a tiny, invisible hurricane. Thrashing back and forth at tremendous speeds, the two prongs of the fork, known as "tines," are smashing against nearby air molecules, kicking off a chain of impacts that echo through the air. When these violent, microscopic collisions hit your eardrum, your brain processes them as a gentle hum.

By hitting a tuning fork, you're causing its tines to vibrate back and forth several hundred times per second. Often, the vibrations are so fast that they're not visible to the human eye. If you need proof, simply dip a humming tuning fork into a cup of water -- it'll kick up a surprisingly large jet of water. In scientific terms, the speed of a tuning fork's vibrations is known as its frequency, a quantity measured in hertz (Hz), or vibrations per second.

The way a tuning fork's vibrations interact with the surrounding air is what causes sound to form. When a tuning fork's tines are moving away from one another, it pushes surrounding air molecules together, forming small, high-pressure areas known as compressions. When the tines snap back toward each other, they suck surrounding air molecules apart, forming small, low-pressure areas known as rarefactions. The result is a steady collection of rarefactions and compressions that, together, form a sound wave.

The faster a tuning fork's frequency, the higher the pitch of the note it plays. For instance, for a tuning fork to mimic the top key on a piano, it needs to vibrate at 4,000 Hz. To mimic the lowest key, on the other hand, it would only need to vibrate at 28 Hz.

But how do you adjust the speed at which a tuning fork vibrates? Well, first, you could adjust the length of your tuning fork. The smaller a tine, the less distance it has to move, and the faster it will be able to vibrate. It's the same principle as strings on a guitar. Without much room to wobble, a tight string vibrates quickly. A loose string, on the other hand, takes longer to shudder back and forth, resulting in a lower tone. The largest tuning fork in the world, by the way, is a 45-foot (13.7-meter) sculpture in Berkeley, Calif. [source: City of Berkeley]. If someone ever finds a hammer big enough to hit it, the sound would most likely be too low to be heard by human ears.

You can also adjust the pitch of a tuning fork by making it out of different materials. Dense metals like copper and steel vibrate with a crisp, high pitch. Soft metals like brass have a low, dull pitch. Really soft metals like tin, gold and lead, meanwhile, won't make any noise at all. Due to cost considerations, however, most modern tuning forks are made out of stainless steel.

Ever heard an out-of-tune piano? The piano's strings have been allowed to fall out of tune and as a result, the keys are no longer synchronized. Normally, the keys on a piano represent the different notes of a musical scale. But without proper tuning, they're nothing more than random notes cobbled together. To hear them played together, it just sounds chaotic. A band, choir or orchestra works the same way. If the instruments or voices haven't been adjusted to play in the same tone, they'll sound no better than an out-of-tune piano. A tuning fork's job is to establish a single note that everybody can tune to.

Most tuning forks are made to vibrate at 440 Hz, a tone known to musicians as "concert A." To tune a piano, you would start by playing the piano's "A" key while ringing an "A" tuning fork. If the piano is out of tune, you'll hear a distinct warble between the note you're playing and the note played by the tuning fork; the further apart the warbles, the more out-of-tune the piano. By either tightening or loosening the piano's strings, you reduce the warble until it's in line with the tuning fork. Once the "A" key is in tune, you would then adjust all of the instrument's 87 other keys to match. The method is much the same for most other instruments. Whether you're tuning a clarinet or guitar, simply play a concert A and adjust your instrument accordingly.

It can be a bit tricky to hold a tuning fork while manipulating an instrument, which is why some musicians decide to clench the base of a ringing tuning fork in their teeth. This has the unique effect of transmitting sound through your bones, allowing your brain to "hear" the tone through your jaw. According to some urban legends, touching your teeth with a vibrating tuning fork is enough to make them explode. It's a myth, obviously, but if you have a cavity or a chipped tooth, you'll quickly find this method to be unbelievably painful.

Luckily, you can also buy tuning forks that come mounted on top of a resonator, a hollow wooden box designed to amplify a tuning fork's vibrations. In 1860, a pair of German inventors even devised a battery-powered tuning fork that musicians didn't need to ring again and again [source: Case Western Reserve University].

Of course, even the most elaborate tuning fork has little use for most modern musicians. Like most things, the humble tuning fork has been made obsolete by computers. Most musicians now carry $20 electronic tuners the size of a pack of cards. Play any note, and the tuner will automatically detect which note it is, telling you whether it's sharp or flat. A Spanish company also recently launched an app allowing musicians to tune up with nothing more than their iPhone [source: Lewin]. But whether out of caution or sentimentality, it's not uncommon for most serious musicians to keep at least one tuning fork around the house.

While keeping orchestras and concert bands in check, tuning forks have also found plenty of work in hospitals, research labs and police stations around the world.

Among some audiologists, tuning forks remain a preferred method of testing for certain types of hearing loss. In a method known as a Rinne test, a doctor first holds a humming tuning fork to your skull and, using a stopwatch, times how long you can hear it. The doctor then strikes the tuning fork again and times how long you can hear it when it's held next to your ear. If you can hear the tuning fork through your jaw longer than you can hear it against your ear, you have a problem conducting sound waves through your ear canal. In a similar test (known as the Weber test), a vibrating tuning fork is held in the middle of a patient's forehead. By figuring out which ear hears the tuning fork the loudest, the doctor can zero in on which ear is damaged.

When X-rays are in short supply, tuning forks can also be a makeshift way to identify whether a bone is fractured. Simply hold a ringing tuning fork close to the site of a suspected fracture. If you feel a sudden surge of pain, it's time to go to the hospital.

There are many health benefits of using a tuning fork. These include:

  • It stimulates the cells to produce nitric oxide. When sound frequencies do this, it benefits the body by enlarging the blood vessels. This means that it increases blood flow. In addition, it enables cells of the body to work better, which also has a positive effect on blood pressure.

  • By calming you down, inflammation in the body is lowered, as Shape reports. In addition, vibrations can lower heart rate and brain wave patterns, thus helping you to relax.

  • This, in turn, can provide an alternative treatment for conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and sleep disorders.

  • Sound therapy can also help to relieve pain. Some studies have suggested that tuning forks, in particular, can relieve bone and muscle pain, as reported by Senses & Sciences.

Tuning forks are part of what’s known as sound therapy.

This is an ancient cultural practice that makes use of singing bowls and chants to relieve pain. But let’s take a look at their history and how they came about.

Tuning forks were actually invented in 1711 by a man called John Shore who was a trumpeter and lutenist. The tuning fork soon became a musical instrument that was played in church and concert halls throughout Europe.

It’s quite amazing to think that initially, the tuning fork was just a small instrument made of steel with two flat prongs.

These vibrated and produced a musical note that was of a constant pitch. The fork was used to tune musical instruments, as the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry reports.

It was only in the 20th century that tuning forks were applied to muscles and bones to create a vibration which was seen as a way to test neural pathways in the body.

An English osteopath called Sir Peter Guy Manners is said to be the father of sound therapy from which tuning fork therapy came about.

In the 1960s, Manners concentrated his work on the use of sound frequencies that were being used in the treatment of various diseases.

As pointed out by the Senses & Sciences journal, Manners realized that sound therapy stimulated the human body’s ability to heal itself.

So, how do tuning forks actually work?

This non-invasive healing is actually quite scientific.

How it works is that the tuning fork will be struck and held by its base or stem at a certain point over the skin, such as a chakra or acupuncture point. Simultaneously, a tone is produced. By slowly moving the tuning fork over the person’s aura or space around them, it can offer healing properties.

Tuning forks are made in such a way that they generate a pure sound, with a specific amount of vibrations every second.

But sound therapy is also about targeting your brainwave frequencies and the vestibulocochlear nerve in the ear.

As Shape reports, this nerve connects to the vagus nerve, which is the major parasympathetic nerve in the body and it regulates your digestion as well as your rest, so it’ll lower your blood pressure and relax your muscles, while also controlling your blood glucose levels and the body’s release of hormones.

The vagus nerves go to the tympanic membrane, located in the ear, and it vibrates when it identifies sound waves. When sound is processed by the ears, this reaches the vagus nerve.

By stimulating the vagus nerve with the right sound frequencies, this can help you heal in a variety of ways.

You can purchase your own and use them on yourself. However, there are some important tips for using a tuning fork that you should bear in mind.

  • You should start by producing a sound in the tuning fork. You could use a rubber mallet to strike it or gently tap the tuning fork against your knee or the palm of your hand. In fact, it’s said that striking an unweighted tuning fork against a rubber mallet is best while tapping a weighted tuning fork against the palm of your hand is enough.

  • To ensure you get the best sound from an unweighted tuning fork, you should always strike the tuning fork’s prong one-third of the way from the top of the tuning fork. If you have a weighted tuning fork you should hit it on the top of the weighted portion.

  • Avoid striking any tuning fork on a hard surface as this can damage it. Although it’s usually made of elastic steel, it’s still a delicate instrument. You should also avoid tapping two tuning forks against each other as this can also damage them.

  • Hold the tuning fork by its handle or stem, but keep your wrists flexible and relax your fingers.

  • Prevent tension in your arm by bending your elbow while holding the tuning fork. This is important because you don’t want that tension to move to your hand and result in discomfort while using the tuning fork.

  • Make sure you hold the tuning fork on its side. This enables you to strike only one of its prongs. Its U-shape enables both of its prongs to vibrate and create a smoother, purer sound.

  • If you are using an unweighted tuning fork, you should bring it close to the area of your body (such as an area that’s experiencing pain) without actually making contact with your skin. Slowly sweep the tuning fork over the area. You can also bring the tuning fork up to your ear, keeping it about two inches away from your ear, and hold it there while it rings out its sound and vibrates. Based on what we mentioned earlier about the ear and vagus nerve, this can be highly beneficial to the nervous system.

Our Tuning Forks:

High quality aluminum alloy employed in the construction for corrosion resistance

Includes 2 Drumsticks for striking & travel case

174 Hz – Relieving Pain and Stress

The 174 Hz frequency can relieve pain, stress and enhance concentration. It’s been said to provide a sense of security to the organs in the body, and is particularly beneficial when it comes to pain in the lower back, feet and legs.

285 Hz – Healing Tissue and Organs

The 285Hz frequency can help treat minor injuries and wounds in the body. It’s said to help fix damage to the organs and repair cells.

396 Hz – Liberating Guilt and Fear

For those struggling with loss, 396 Hz is the most beneficial. This frequency can help eliminate feelings of guilt, fear and grief.

417 Hz – Undoing Situations and Facilitating Change

The 417 Hz frequency marks the start of new beginnings, removing negative energy from the body, home and office.

528 Hz – Transformation and Miracles

The 528 Hz frequency is one of the most powerful frequencies, with a profound effect on our well being. This frequency can activate imagination, intention and intuition. It’s said to be the ‘love frequency’ and it can awaken spirituality.

639 Hz - Connecting Relationships

The 639 Hz frequency can promote connection and repair turbulent relationships with friends, family and the community around you.

741 Hz – Awakening Intuition

For intuition and problem solving, 741 Hz can be deeply beneficial. It can help provide mental clarity and can also be used to help those struggling with chronic pain.

852 Hz – Returning to Spiritual Order

852 Hz is said to re balance your spirituality. It’ll help you connect to the universe and your own consciousness on a deeper level.

963 Hz – Divine Consciousness or Enlightenment

The highest of the 9 main frequencies, 963 Hz is known as the ‘frequency of the Gods’. It can create room for oneness and unity with the spiritual world.

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page