I’m not really into all the gadgets that are available for guitar players these days, but this tuner caught my eye some months ago, and I wanted to share some details about it.
Tuning a guitar, especially for gigging, can be quite stressful – back in the 70’s when I first started playing, if a piano wasn’t available then maybe a tuning fork would be used to establish a base note. A more unusual method was the old ‘ring ring’ analog telephones, as I discovered that these rang in the key of G!
But nowadays there are numerous digital methods available; for some time now I have used a couple of iPhone apps to help with my tuning. But this gadget, the roadie guitar tuner, goes a step further as it automatically does the hard stuff, it physically turns the tuning pegs (keys), to ensure you get it absolutely right!
There was a big debate going around many guitar forums when Gibson announced their 2015 electric guitar range, where many models came equipped with their automated tuning tool, ‘Min-ETune’ built in to the back of the head stock. Opinions ranged from fantastic, to the more purist view that it was just wrong to force people to have the tool fitted; that turning those pegs is and should always be a manual process. Interestingly they changed their philosophy for the 2016 range.
Whilst I never got to try the Gibson version, I was curious to see what automated tuners could do, so I bit the bullet and ordered the roadie. The roadie is built by a US company, Band Industries, and is available via Amazon – the current price is around $99, which given what it can do, is great value IMHO.
So, what do you get for your money?
Out of the box, you get the tuner itself, a USB charging cable, an adapter to link a standard electric guitar lead into a smartphone headphone socket, plus a printed user guide. It is also essential to download the associated (free) app, from the AppStore, or Google Play.
Using the roadie:
Starting the app brings up the option to add specific instruments (as well as guitars, roadie can pretty much handle any kind of stringed instrument, as long as it has a tuning peg), in my case, I have 3 guitars linked, my Yamaha electric, a Martin Acoustic and a Fender Telecaster.
The next step is to get your guitar ready – if its electric, then using a standard guitar lead plugged into the guitar, and the supplied adaptor, connect the guitar to the headphone socket of your smartphone, and select the instrument from the app. For acoustic guitars, there is no physical connection necessary, the natural sound acoustics from the guitar are sufficient.
Now comes the clever part – switch on your roadie, and using the magic of bluetooth, the next screen of the app becomes available. Pick a string to tune, then simply place the roadie into the respective tuning peg (key), and tap the ‘Tune’ area of the string, in the app. Now start plucking the string, and the roadie will automatically tighten or loosen the string until the correct pitch is established, at which point the wavy line in the app becomes straight – simple, and brilliant! Work your way down (or up) the strings, and hey presto you have a perfectly tuned guitar.
The roadie in action:
The menu in the top right hand corner of the app gives access to a wide range of alternate tunings such as Drop D, and Open G, it also supports custom tunings. Other great tools are the ‘Wind/Unwind’ option, which takes away the drudgery of restringing, and also an ‘Instrument Doctor’ which monitors string usage, and advises when replacement is necessary.
Charging is simple via the standard USB cable, and the supporting app is well designed and easy to use. All round it’s a great tool, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket, but will be really at home in your guitar case.
To know more, check out Band Industries website: