- MGR/Brian Johnston
An Accurate Tuner now with a Metronome and Winder/UnwinderPublished on 01/14/21 at 05:51OVERVIEW:
Anyone who likes tech gadgets will enjoy Roadie 3. Although any other tuner will do the job, the mechanics of Roadie 3 is pretty cool (like the Chase Bliss Preamp MKII), but there’s a lot more under the hood. Roadie 3 can tune anything from a uke to an 8-string guitar with 72-gauge strings, but it also is a string winder. You can wind and tune in one swift movement, or use the string winder (up to 120 rpm) or unwinder (a bit slower, but at peak it must be around 100 rpm) on their own. For luthiers doing a lot of restringing work, this definitely is a bonus. The Roadie 3 also triples as a metronome, allowing you to select various tempos that are incredibly slow (20 bpm) and…Read moreOVERVIEW:
Anyone who likes tech gadgets will enjoy Roadie 3. Although any other tuner will do the job, the mechanics of Roadie 3 is pretty cool (like the Chase Bliss Preamp MKII), but there’s a lot more under the hood. Roadie 3 can tune anything from a uke to an 8-string guitar with 72-gauge strings, but it also is a string winder. You can wind and tune in one swift movement, or use the string winder (up to 120 rpm) or unwinder (a bit slower, but at peak it must be around 100 rpm) on their own. For luthiers doing a lot of restringing work, this definitely is a bonus. The Roadie 3 also triples as a metronome, allowing you to select various tempos that are incredibly slow (20 bpm) and upward of 300 bpm… and anything between. The Metronome function can be audible beeps, vibration or both.
With the exception of Bass (which requires a stronger motor, found in the Bass Roadie), you can tune just about anything with a peg, and thanks to an improved peg connector – I’m talking about uke, mandolin, banjo, guitars ranging from 6-12 strings, guitalele, bandurria, charango, dobros, etc. The USB-C rechargeable battery also allows tuning for about 150 instruments in a single charge, and the Metronome will last about 5-hours of practice. Recharging is quick, and takes less than one-hour. You also can change the A4 reference pitch in 1Hz increments.
Roadie 3 retails for $169 Canadian (about $135 USD), which is not an inexpensive tuner, but certainly on board with many quality stomp tuners (the Peterson StroboStomp is $139 USD). But, for the price you do get some nice extras, including the app for customization, an audible/vibrating metronome (not found in the previous Roadie 2 model), and a string winder/unwinder (upward of 120 rpm vs. 60 rpm with Roadie 2 model). Moreover, if you use the discount code GET10BJ_R3 when placing your order, there’s an additional 10% off (NOTE: I do not get any kickbacks from any sales of the Roadie 3).
The Roadie 3’s construction is exceptional, and you can see videos on its site where the unit is dropped repeatedly on a hard surfce and it keeps working. It’s also covered in TPE (thermoplastic elastomers) that will not degrade from skin oils, making it comfortable to handle and grip. The full color LED screen can be seen from any angle, it is easy on the eyes and for navigation, and a definite improvement over Roadie 2’s black/white OLED screen. Next, it not only comes with 100+ alternate tunings (including drop and open tunings), but you can include your own custom tunings and tune for various capo settings.
In comparison, Roadie 2 only had 40 alternate tunings available. The detection range also has improved from the previous version, now at 27.5 Hz to 668.84 Hz versus Roadie 2’s 43.65 Hz to 668.84 Hz. The new Roadie 3 also has a stronger motor, compared to v. 2, cranking out 2.5 Kg.cm compared to only 1.1Kg.cm. The new model also has higher noise immunity (and next-gen vibration technology) and accuracy of ± 1 cent, compared to v.2’s ± 2 cent. This latest version also has a built-in tool to fix intonation issues in guitars.
Now, I already listed some improvements or new features between Roadie 3 and its predecessor, but here are a few more… for those interested in upgrading. The battery lasts longer with Roadie 3, and there is an auto-detect in the tuning, which detects which string is being tuned. The shape has changed for better handling (more ergonomic), with rounded edges (necessary for those heavy 72-gauge 8-string guitars). Roadie 3 also has a lot more space to save all your settings for several instruments, whereas Roadie 2 had limited space. Finally, menu navigation also improved with a sturdier 4-way button, as opposed to a scroll-wheel and button navigation system.
Performance wise, it should be noted that the Roadie 3 is sensitive enough that it takes initial data from the first few tunings of any particular guitar to create a ‘template’ for the harmonics and individual characteristics of each string. This means if you create a tuning preset for a Gibson Les Paul, and then apply it to a Strat (although also six strings), you may not get an accurate reading, and particularly once you return to that Les Paul (it can change the data because it thinks the Les Paul has changed harmonically and sonically). It’s as though the technology learns what instrument it is tuning. In effect, don’t take the same preset and try to tune several different guitars, but select the guitar and the desired tuning in your created presets. This adds time it takes to set up each preset, and then to choose it prior to tuning, but you do get greater accuracy.
Next, six top tuning pegs certainly are more convenient to tune than a 3x3 headstock, for example. Tuning a 3x3 or other such opposing configuration with 7-8 string guitars, or 12-string guitars, is not cumbersome, but you do have to grip the Roadie 3 and reach over top or underneath the headstock (or flip the instrument around for the other pegs, as I tend to do). Also, you do require a phone/android device to upload new firmware, features, updates, etc., although I’m hoping the company rectifies this situation, since not everyone has a phone and just about every quality product offering software does offer a computer-based version.
A few other points to consider. First, it does not work with headless guitars, which is a joke, of course. It works perfectly fine with the Strobel travel guitars, which are headless, but still have tuners located on the body. Second, bass players will require the Bass Roadie, since that device has a stronger motor to work with the high tension of bass strings/tuners. The makers of Roadie 3 did not develop an all-in-one (to include bass with the guitar version), as it would add to both cost and size of the unit, which makes sense. Finally, there is a minor issue with Floyd Rose type locking tuners. When you tune a Floyd Rose, you need to loosen the nut, and also tell Roadie 3 to tune each string down a semi-tone (give or take) than the desired tuning, since tightening the nut increases pitch. You then fine-tune the guitar with the bridge tuners; HOWEVER, unless you have good pitch and can do that by ear, you would then need a secondary tuner of some sort to zero in on final tuning. This may make the Roadie 3 redundant (less useful) with Floyd Rose guitars, but you still can get most of the tuning done with the Roadie 3, plus you still have the string winder/unwinder and metronome functions.
For more information or to order, visit: https://www.roadiemusic.com