Tronical takes Min-ETune auto tuning system beyond Gibson


April 18, 2013

The TronicalTune robot tuning system is not limited to Gibson guitars, it's also compatible with models from Fender, Charvel and Yamaha

The TronicalTune robot tuning system is not limited to Gibson guitars, it's also compatible with models from Fender, Charvel and Yamaha

Image Gallery (9 images)

Where so-called robot tuning was once the exclusive domain of Gibson's higher end models like the gorgeous Firebird X, the introduction of its Min-ETune system at this year's Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany sees the iconic guitar maker widening the field a little. The folks behind the technology were also at the trade fair, showing off a retrofit auto tuning system called TronicalTune. Essentially the same as Gibson's new mechanical tuner, the Tronical kit comes in a number of different configurations to cater for do-it-yourself installation on various guitar makes and models.

The Min-ETune system is described by Gibson as a compact robot tuning system that allows guitarists to spend more time actually playing, and less time worrying about staying in tune. From the front, the 11 Les Paul and SG models selected to receive the technology just look like their non-robotic cousins. The little black box and robot tuners are hidden out of sight behind the back of the headstock.

If you worry that digital systems like Auto-Tune for Guitar from Antares might mess with your instrument's beloved tone, you'll be relieved to discover that Min-ETune adjustments are all gloriously mechanical. Guitarists can choose from the 12 preset (or six user-programmable) tunings using the unit's 4-way selector.

To tune the guitar, a player just needs to power on the unit and strum the strings. A few seconds later, the heads will have tightened or relaxed the tension to bring all six strings to pitch, at which point all of the indicator LEDs will glow green. Since the system senses string tension, background noise doesn't affect system accuracy (which is quoted as being within two cents).

Gibson says that you should be able to get 80 to 100 tunings per charge from the included battery, and manual tuning is also possible – should you need to adjust your pitch to accommodate your old, out of tune, upright piano.

The bad news, though, is that if you want Min-ETune robotic heads to handle your tuning, you'll need to shell out for a brand new guitar. Pricing varies according to choice, but suffice to say that they don't occupy the budget end of the instrument market.

For those of us who already have perfectly decent guitars, but would still like to take advantage of automatic tuning, there is hope. Chris Adams of Tronical, the man behind Gibson's automatic tuning technology, has released an install-it-yourself flavor called TronicalTune that can be fitted to Gibson, Fender, Charvel, Yamaha and Ibanez electrics, as well as Taylor acoustics.

Like the Min-ETune system, the Tronical version features 12 factory presets and space for six user tunings. Players can tune multiple strings in about five seconds, or concentrate on one string at a time. There's a reference tuning mode and a string up and down mode for restringing, though fans of heavy gauge strings should note that Tronical recommends not to go over 0.013 to 0.056 sets. Its 3.7 V lithium battery pack is claimed good for up to 300 tunings per charge.

TronicalTune is currently available in 12 configurations, five of which are dedicated to Gibson models like the Les Paul, SG and Flying V, while Fender's Strats and Telecasters are also well represented. Each kit comes with everything needed to install the robot tuner on your guitar, including six robo-heads, a contacting PCB and control interface, battery and charger. It retails at US$349, but it's currently listed at $299 on Tronical's online store.

Have a look at the quick video of the TronicalTune system below.

Product pages: TronicalTune, Gibson Min-ETune

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

Pretty cool... and about time. Would make alternative tunings on-the-fly soooo much easier and faster.

Matt Rings

My strat stays in its case for days, weeks even months and never goes out of tune!

Michael Fisher

"My strat stays in its case for days, weeks even months and never goes out of tune!"

Months? Does this mean that you're not playing guitar at all?...are you one of those collecters? Are you sure you talking about a guitar? odd :)


You cannot tune a guitar based on string tension alone unless the density of the string is known. String densities vary hence the various tensions needed to be applied to tune your instrument.

Listed in the FAQ page of Tronica's site is a "how does it work" question which details that the unit tunes in the same way a headstock mounted clip tuner does, it measures sympathetic vibrations in the headstock from the strings with a sensor rather than a microphone.

This must still have a VERY clever algorithm in it to separate out 6 competing frequencies from a single compound frequency input (unless it uses separate sensors closer to each string's anchor point). I am very impressed.

It is also worth noting, that my bachelour thesis was exactly this, my thesis partner and I designed, built and programmed a robot to tune a 6 string guitar based solely on a single analogue input and let me tell you, splitting the strings up is a tough job.

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles