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Roadie Bass

Automatic Tuner
By Bob Thomas

Roadie Bass

This handy gadget aims to take all the hard work out of tuning your stringed instruments.

In the 1990s, Canada’s Kraus Musical Innovations developed the String Master: a handheld combination of electronic tuner and electric motor designed to automatically and accurately tune a guitar to the standard EADGBE. Although it worked well, and pioneered the ‘pistol-grip’ paradigm for future handheld automatic tuners, the String Master disappeared without trace.

Roadie Hits The Road

In 2013, a successful Kickstarter campaign enabled Beirut-based startup Band Industries to launch the Roadie, an automated guitar, ukulele, banjo and mandolin tuner. More high‑tech than the String Master, the Roadie relied upon a Bluetooth‑connected iPhone app to detect string pitch and carry out the necessary computations. The unit itself simply turned the instruments’ machine heads. A second successful campaign launched the Roadie 2 towards the end of 2017, and the Roadie Bass in early 2018, neither of which requires an iPhone to operate.

Although I’ve never seen an original Roadie, I did take a look at the Roadie 2. Like the Roadie Bass, the Roadie 2 detects the pitch of a string through the button of the geared machine head that it is in contact with. Although the Roadie 2 could tune effectively in many circumstances, its motor and clutch mechanism just didn’t seem to have the power and strength to cope with either lower machine‑head ratios or heavier string gauges.

The Roadie Bass is a very different beast to the Roadie 2, being built around a much more powerful motor that enables it to automatically tune bass guitars. In addition, its wide pitch‑detection range (27.5Hz-880Hz) allows it to tune the same range of instruments as the Roadie 2.

Published January 2019