Roadie 2 Tuner (for Guitar, Ukulele, etc.)
A few days ago, my friend Paul Marchese (a music educator in Illinois) made a short video and post about the Roadie 2 tuner. He demonstrated how he could tune instruments in his classroom while students were playing by momentarily swapping a tuned instrument with the student and tuning the student’s instrument using the new Roadie 2. The original Roadie was a string winder that connected to your phone, using the phone’s microphone to tell whether a note was sharp or flat. Like all sound-based tuners, the device worked, but once you are in a situation where there is ambient noise (such as a ukulele jam or a classroom with 40 ukuleles) these tuners are no longer effective.
Last year at NAMM, Band Industries (the creator of the Roadie) showed off the Roadie 2, and then crowd funded the device. That device is out in public now, available to all.
How is the Roadie 2 different? The Roadie 2 no longer needs the phone. It relies on vibration, like a clip on tuner (such as the very accurate D’Addario NS Micro Clip on Tuner ($20 for 2), or the ubiquitous Snark SN-6 ($9), or even the $5 Reverb tuner). The device allows you to select a desired tuning, at which point you put it on the strings, in order (generally closest to you and then moving around the headstock), and it tunes the strings.
And it works, and it works QUICKLY. Sure, I can take a clip on tuner between instruments and tune that way—but it takes longer. Now, if you have one ukulele, a $129 tuner is overkill. But if you have 15 at home, that might make the purchase worthwhile. And if you have over 100 instruments at school…saving a minute on each tuning (or even 30 seconds) will be significant.
I have tuned about fifteen instruments so far, including two guitars. There have been a few errors when starting with the first string (see the video), and the device doesn’t seem to work with friction tuners. I tried it with three friction tuner ukuleles…my (Linear tuned) Orca Prototype Tenor, my 1st Generation Outdoor Ukulele, and my Martin S1 Soprano (Reentrant), and the device immediately loosened the strings completely on the first peg. So…if you are hoping for a device to tune your friction tuner ukuleles—this won’t be it. I had a hard time even trying to get the friction tuners to nestle into the Roadie 2’s slots. The tuner also wouldn’t work with my 5 year old’s Mickey Mouse First Act Ukulele, which has thematic buttons (mouse ears).
However, if you have geared tuners, the Roadie 2 will work—and it will work fine. And chances are, if you are a teacher with a set of ukuleles, every ukulele in your room has geared tuners. How would you like to spend significantly less time tuning instruments every day? I have over 100 ukuleles, of which I try to keep 65 of them relatively “tuned” for use. This takes 20-30 minutes each time I tune, sometimes twice a day. I’m betting that becomes 10-15 minutes. I am curious to see how long the battery lasts, which is a rechargeable USB. If this works as well as I think it will, I may buy a second for school, and a third for myself.
A word about the app that comes with the device—it works. It connects via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and syncs your device “tunings” with custom tunings you created on your phone. You can custom name instruments—as I did with “Reeentrant Ukulele” (to differentiate between that and Linear tuning). By the way, the Roadie’s ukulele tuning choices (on device) allow you to choose between standard (GCEA) and traditional (ADF#B) tuning. I recently had an exchange with a Canadian educator, and apparently traditional tuning is still used in many schools in Canada. Incidentally, “Traditional” as a term is debatable—I was able to obtain Ernest Ka’ai’s 1910 ukulele instruction book (one of the first) and he was writing for GCEA ukulele.
I’m looking forward to tuning ukuleles on Tuesday morning (we have no school on Monday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday). I think this is going to save me hours (and over time, days) of effort. Yes, the ability to learn how to tune is still important—but instructional time (and my prep time) is more important.
If you choose to buy a Roadie 2, will you consider using my referral link to Amazon (the Amazon seller is Band Industries, which makes the Roadie 2)?
Video follows below!
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