another one bites the dust

I picked up a guitar tuner app for iPhone. It was, uh, 2-3 bucks, maybe $4.

I just wanted a backup for gigs, in case the tuner I already have dies. I have one already and it works great. The iPhone-based tuner will never be that convenient! No way.

But the iPhone app is pretty damn good for what it is. It’s more than good enough for practicing or jamming, anyway, and since most guitar tuners are owned by people who only need something for practicing and jamming, that portends dark things for the guitar tuner industry.

A physical guitar tuner today costs $15-$50. They’re a thriving little market, since they get beat up and have to be replaced, and there’s plenty of competition in features. But no more. The high end will still be needed, but not the low end that accounts for the bulk of units. This industry has no future.

Electronic guitar tuners are a pretty young product. They only become common about ten years ago. That puts the lifespan at something like 2000-2015. RIP.

5 thoughts on “another one bites the dust

  1. I have two. One’s called Cleartone, the other one is Tuner 440. Tuner 440 isn’t much good. Cleartone is the one that’s decent. It’s not a great tuner as a general thing because there isn’t enough normalization to minimize the deceptive wobbling of the pitch. But it’s good enough to be a backup live or for practicing.

    Dunno about bass.

  2. In both high-end and low-end, I don’t think the iPhone apps are going to supplant in-line tuners. Maybe if someday we’ll be able to plug our guitars and basses into our iPhones, but that’s a pretty big if (right now). Then again, maybe someone will invent a bluetooth jack module that will stream guitar to the iPhone and let it tune that way.

    P.S. Only four lines in the comment text box?

  3. Man, tuners are a drag in comparison to an iPhone app. You need the special little battery. You inevitably forget the tuner or have it break right when you need it. Or it’s just that the tuner is downstairs and your iPhone is right in your pocket. You’d be nuts to not spend the $4 on the insurance tuner, and once you do that, in a lot of situations the dedicated tuner isn’t worth the trouble.

    I’m thinking specifically of the backup tuner I keep in my guitar case, which has been unable to start up at unpredictable times. I’ve been meaning to buy a replacement but can’t stand to waste money on something that’s purely a backup.


    about the 4 line comment box, the height is pegged to the size of the container, and the container sometimes has a bunch of crap in it that needs all the expansion room. Still, 4 lines makes no sense, and giving people a good writing environment is obviously the right thing…

  4. I was thinking about a case where I wouldn’t just use a dedicated tuner, and I realized I had a case right in front of me:

    My dedicated tuner is downstairs in the studio, and gets regular use in a more “pro” context. But I also keep my nylon string next to my bed upstairs, and like to keep it tuned, as well. This is also where my iPod Touch ends-up every night. So, having an extra tuner on my iPod would be totally handy.

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