New innovations rarely pop up in categories like guitar tuners. Honestly, what more is there to innovate besides the device’s basic function: tune my darn guitar!
I’ve had the opportunity to test run the new Roadie Guitar Tuner this past month and it has certainly proved to be a new twist on an accessory that everybody already owns. The question is this: is the Roadie Tuner one that you need to own?
See the video review below, followed by a more in-depth written review:
Innovation: Roadie Review
Over the past decade, the only other true innovation in the guitar tuner category that I can think of is the Polytune, a pedal guitar tuner that allows you to play all your strings at once and immediately pinpoint which strings is out of tune.
The Roadie Tuner is interesting in that not only does the app do all the legwork of figuring out what is in-tune and out-of-tune, you now have a device that physically spins the guitar tuner heads to get it in tune. In essence, you are taking the human out of the guitar-tuning equation.
Before I get too far into the Roadie review, I want to point out that I have mixed feelings about this idea. Do I think it’s a stinkin’ awesome innovation? Absolutely! Do I like the idea of having a robot tune my guitar…not really. I’ll dive deeper into my thoughts on this later.
What’s Included: Roadie Review
There are three items that you receive when you open up a new Roadie Tuner:
- The Roadie Tuner Device
- A Roadie charging cable (USB)
- A Guitar-to-phone adapter cable (1/4″ female to 1/8″ male)
That last cable is small, but important. I personally found that in high-noise environments, it was much better to plug my guitar into the phone to get more accurate readings.
The free Roadie app was simple to find and download and connects with the Roadie Tuner without any extra setup. All that was required of me was to make sure that Bluetooth on my phone was enabled and the Roadie was turned on. The connection was made on its own, which was nice.
Using the Roadie
Once the Roadie was connected to my phone, I was able to simply place the Roadie on my tuner head and initiate the calibration through the app.
Important: I found out the hard way that calibration is a very important part of the Roadie setup process. Seems obvious, I know, but I’m sure that a lot of you, like me, might just start using the device without reading the instructions carefully. Failing to calibrate resulted in the Roadie behaving erratically on my tuners and having a very difficult time finding the right pitch.
After calibrating, which took me about 5 minutes, the tuning process from that point forward was less than 30 seconds. Incredibly simple.
The power of the Roadie extends to the functionality of the app. The app prompts me to setup a profile for my guitar so that it can track the usage of my strings and let me know when I need to change them.
Within each profile I can setup specific alternate tunings. I can also use the preset tunings that the Roadie has to automatically tune to. It’s quite a handy feature that cuts down a lot of time when changing tunings, I found.
There are only two buttons on the Roadie: an on/off button and one switch button. Personally, I rarely used the switch button but I can see it being useful for louder environments where auto-detection of your string might be difficult.
My Take on the Roadie Guitar Tuner
First, let me say that I’m very impressed by the Roadie Guitar Tuner. It’s a fun little device that has been a blast to show off to different people. It’s small and compact, making it easy to carry around and it’s well-designed, so it looks pretty cool to show off. Kudos to Band Industries for making such a nice product!
You can find the Roadie Tuner on Amazon.com
As I mentioned earlier, I did have a few problems during the initial setup of the Roadie, although I later learned that it was because I didn’t properly calibrate the tuner prior to use. Also noteworthy: the Band Industries customer support was incredibly quick to respond to my questions.
Once, while tuning in an especially noisy environment, the Roadie began to wildly spin my tuner peg on the G string. This caused such tension that it snapped. This is my primary complaint with the Roadie: the lack of control was unnerving. I wish I could configure the switch to be a “kill switch” to make sure the spinning doesn’t happen again.
Once I get past the “wow” factor, I wonder: am I so inept that I can’t tune my own guitar? Obviously this isn’t what the manufacturer is hinting at. I can’t help but think that removing me from the tuning process implies that I can’t do it myself. It seems that the makers of the Roadie guitar tuner are aiming at a mostly novice guitar player; however, if I were a guitar teacher I wouldn’t want my students to use it. I would want them to learn to tune the guitar by ear. Do you see the problem?
I’ve concluded that the Roadie is very useful for anybody who uses alternate tunings often. Or who has trained their ear to tune but would rather not have to do it all the time. In both of these cases, the Roadie Guitar Tuner shines.
Currently the Roadie is $99. You can check out the specs and reviews on Amazon for more information.
In my case I think I’ll continue to use it as a conversation starter to show that innovation continues. Even in an industry that has remained mostly the same over the past few decades.