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Total guitar tuning with PolyTune

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January 19, 2010

TC Electronic's Polytune offers either a standard chromatic tuner or a polyphonic tuner wh...

TC Electronic's Polytune offers either a standard chromatic tuner or a polyphonic tuner which will examine the tuning needs of all strings at the same time

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Denmark's audio manufacturer TC Electronic launched a new tuning pedal at this year's National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) trade show in California. Guitarists needing to do a quick tuning tweak will be now able to strum all six strings at once and the Polytune will advise if any are in need of some attention.

Owning a number of guitars has its negative side with regular tuning up becoming an irritating, if necessary, evil. Strings slip out of tune for numerous reasons, anything from changes in room temperature to excessive bending or using the whammy a lot to trying to save money by not changing them often enough. No matter how expensive the instrument, the odd retune is an inevitable part of playing guitar or bass.

TC Electronic announced at this year's NAMM trade show in California that from the end of February it will ship a new pedal that takes an unusual approach to the tuning problem. As well as offering an intuitive chromatic tuner with a classic needle view or a stream mode that measures even the slightest pitch alteration and feeds back information to the user in real-time, the Polytune introduces the world's first polyphonic tuner which simultaneously analyzes all the strings on a guitar or bass and advises the user which ones, if any, need attention.

All in the strum action

The guitar or bass player simply strums all the strings and then 100 LED display indicates which ones are in tune, sharp or flat. Different lighting conditions shouldn't present a problem as an in-built ambient sensor will adjust the brightness of the LEDs to suit the surroundings. Being designed for "speed, accuracy and ease of use", the tuner features a technology called "MonoPoly" which will automatically recognize whether the player is tuning by single or multiple string picking and adjust the unit accordingly.

TC Electronic said: "PolyTune was our chance to build the ultimate tuning tool from the ground up and finally get rid of some of the current tuner drawbacks that guitarists run into time and time again. Tuners have been around for some 30 odd years and we felt it was high time they got in tune with today's guitarists."

The Polytune also caters for pitch variation and alternative tunings and will even remember user settings when powered down. The reference pitch can be set to anything in the range of 435Hz to 445Hz (in 1Hz steps) and "True ByPass" ensures the preservation of that special tone by allowing the signal to flow through the pedal without alteration.

Useful addition

The electronics are enclosed in a tough diecast aluminum chassis and the unit weighs only 300 g/10.6 oz (including battery). In common with most other effects pedals, the 72 x 122 x 45 mm Polytune is powered by a 9v battery or DC input. The manufacturer's recommended retail is US$149 and until something like the Evertune bridge arrives, which promises to make tuning a one-time-per-string-set deal, the Polytune could be a very welcome addition to a player's arsenal of effects.

The following introduction video leans a little towards Hollywood but is worth a watch:

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
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