We were so impressed by the original Roadie robotic guitar tuner we reviewed in 2015 that it's been in our gig bag ever since, helping to ease the burden of countless string changes and tune ups. Having to use it together with a tablet or smartphone hasn't really proved a problem – both the tuner and our smart devices tend to travel with us much of the time anyway – but Band Industries has launched an upgraded Roadie on Kickstarter that does away with the smartphone altogether.
At first glance, the Roadie 2 looks very much like the pocket-sized original. The box housing is topped by a tube ending with a motor-driven peg gripper. The tube is now glossy and has an integrated OLED display to the top, and a knurled dial and power button at the opposite end to the motorized gripper. The dial is used to scroll through menu items, presets and saved instrument profiles on the screen.
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To tune up, the gripper is placed on a tuning peg and the corresponding string plucked. Instead of using a smartphone's microphone like the original, the upgraded device makes use of new vibration detection technology to analyze the pitch and turn the gripper to raise or lower the string to the desired pitch. This means that players should be good for an accurate tune up even in the noisiest of rooms (something that could be a problem for the original).
The 3.4 x 3. 1 in (86 x 78 mm), 3.2 oz (90 g) Roadie 2 has a detection range of A1 (55 Hz) to A5 (880 Hz), with promised ±1 cent accuracy. Tuning is said to take as little as 30 seconds, and total restrings should be completed in a fraction of the time taken with manual winding thanks to a peg gripper rotation speed of 60 RPM.
The robotic tuner can handle 6-string electric, acoustic, classical or steel guitars, as well as 7- and 12-string guitars, ukuleles, mandolins and banjos, and there's also a special big brother for bass players called the Roadie Bass that has a more powerful motor and detects from A0 (27.5 Hz) to A4 (440 Hz).
Haptic feedback will let users know when a string has been successfully brought to pitch, without having to look at the device itself or a paired smartphone, though the power button does change color when in tune. Users can choose from 20 presets, including alternate and open tunings, or create their own custom tunings in the Roadie companion app and load them onto the device over Bluetooth LE. And it's built-in 500 mAh Li-ion battery is touted to last a month between recharges over USB-C.
The Roadie 2 project has launched a Kickstarter today, where pledges start at US$79. The Roadie Bass pledge levels start at $99. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in October. The pitch video below shows what's on offer.