Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - August 2015

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I Can Actually Recommend This to Beginners.....

A student yesterday came in with this:

 It's a tiny little Fender-branded clip on tuner that apparently comes with Fender Squier acoustic packs.

 I am loathe to recommend tuners, because a) one should learn how to tune by ear at some juncture and b) most "electronic" tuners are massively fidgety to use for someone not familiar with the process.

 I have tentatively recommended in the past an app called "G Strings" by a Russian programmer I had some input on, that worked well but again, for the beginner is a big tricky to use.  Also the Peterson IOS/IPhone app is probably the most accurate/best I've encountered, but again - not for the beginner.

 The problem with these devices and programs is that in reality, they're too good.

 The brilliance of this little tuner is that it's pretty eager to "announce" you're at least close to being in tune.  It lights up an obvious green in that case.  The user must still understand they have to make sure it is displaying the correct note for the string they are tuning, and the meter shows low/high relative to the target note.

 But that's about all.  The problem with the Snark clip on tuners is that they may be a little more accurate, they're so flightly at the note for the most part you have to be relatively experienced to use it properly.  In addition, they flash different colors for flat, sharp, and it has (as most tuners do) a large display for the reference pitch (440), and other miscellaneous things on the display that isn't necessary for the beginner.

 The problem with the flashing of different colors is, when a beginner is in the process of tuning, their attention is focus in such a way that flashing lights are not interpreted as conveying anything other than specific information.

 This tuner does nothing aside from showing you're flat or sharp - and when you're "in tune" it does "something", it flashes green.

 Unlike every other tuner, it's not too picky about whether you are perfectly in tune.  It is quite literally a well-chosen "good enough".  This is good, because the beginner does not end up chasing their tail trying to finesse a perhaps less-than-great tuning gear for minutes at a time, and possibly getting confused in the process.

It just lights up when you're "good enough".   With this tuner a first time 2nd guitar lesson student managed to get her guitar in tune with  this in less than 2 minutes.  I'd say this is about twice as fast as normal with other electronic tuners, and I'd also say the result was better and less stressful.

One button to turn it on and off, a meter that shows you if you're flat or sharp, and the note you are trying to tune.  That's all.  I presume these are being sold separately at Fender dealers, a beginner should look for them.