Tronical Tuning System Review: Mechanical Retrofit Robotuning

Amped blogger Michael Elsner looks at the TronicalTune   25-Sep-13

Tronical Tuning System Review: Mechanical Retrofit Robotuning

Review by Michael Elsner

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone turned you on to a particular product, maybe an artist/band, or even a song, that you'd never heard of before, yet after you first hear about it, you seemingly see or hear it everywhere? That's what happened to me recently with the TronicalTune system. In the span of about four days, the Tronical System had been brought to my attention by three trusted sources.

Initially, I was pretty skeptical about it, and wondered 'have we really become a society that is so lazy we need a self-tuning guitar system?' However, I spent some time in the studio with renowned producer Michael Wagener, who has the system installed on a few of his guitars, and after being shown some its features, I was very intrigued. There is so much more to this than I had initially thought. So with that in mind, let me tell you a little about my experience with the TronicalTune.

The TronicalTune is a multifaceted automatic tuning system that installs on your guitar in less than 10 minutes, without making any modifications to your headstock.

Once installed, there is no visual difference other than a black tuner mechanism on the back of the headstock that senses the pitch and controls the tuners.

Installing this system was quick and easy. After removing the existing tuning heads, it's a simple three-step process. First place the contacting PCB on the back of the headstock.

Next install the roboheads into their respective holes and tighten them with the included wrench. Finally string up your guitar, and you're ready to go.

The Tronical Tuning system on Mike's guitar

Of course every guitar manufacturer, along with their various models, have their own style of headstock, but don't worry, the Tronical guys already have this covered.

They have accounted for the majority of popular guitar brands and models, so all you have to do is know which guitar you want to install it on as you'll need a system based on the template for that particular headstock. I installed it on one of my Les Paul models that I'm currently using as my main touring/live guitar.

One of the many things that I really like about this system is that it's very easy to learn. There are three modes of operation, each indicated by a red, green, or blue LED, and within each mode are six presets, giving you a total of 18 tuning options. The Red and Green modes include presets for standard E, Drop D, DADGAD, various open tunings such as E, A, G, D, and even a dobro tuning, along with others. The Blue mode allows for six user defined tunings.

The TronicalTune even has a reference pitch mode which will tune the guitar to a particular string. For example, if you want to play along to a record where the tuning is just a little sharp or flat, simply tune one string to the record, then let the tuner use that as a reference pitch to tune the rest of the guitar to. Once your guitar is in tune to itself, save that as a user defined preset in Blue mode, and you can always recall it when you want to play along with that album.

Tuning the strings is as easy as turning the unit on and selecting which tuning you'd like. The TronicalTune defaults to the previously selected tuning, however if you need to choose another one, it's just a matter of selecting the mode and corresponding preset.

At this point, strum all the strings and let the robotuners do their job. When each string is in tune, its corresponding LED on the tuner will light green, however there may be one or two that still need some fine tuning, and those will be lit in red. Play each of those strings individually until the red LED turns green. Once all six strings are lit green, you're in tune and the system turns itself off.

Now, I'm not one who uses multiple tunings very often, so at first I didn't see this as something I would use much, however, after putting it through its paces, I have to say I absolutely love this product!

Not only are the strings consistently perfectly in tune (I've checked its accuracy many times with a strobe tuner and it has always been spot on), but the quality of the tuners is such that they won't slip even when playing hard or doing extreme bends.

Out on the road, especially during the summer months, we are often playing outdoor venues and festivals. These tend to be a bit harder on the guitar than playing indoor venues because of the day to day, and even hour to hour climate changes.

It's very common to have a soundcheck at 3pm and then play at 9pm, all the while the guitars sit out on stage enduring the constant temperature and humidity changes.

This can wreak havoc on the guitar's tuning throughout the show, but the TronicalTune has proven itself to be the perfect solution. It only takes about five to 10 seconds between songs, and two strums (with the volume knob rolled off of course), to be perfectly in tune.

A few final thoughts. Even though the tuning heads are fully robotic, you can still manually tune them in case you lose battery power at any point. Which brings me to the battery. It's a long lasting, rechargeable lithium battery with a very impressive rating of 300 tunings.

Overall, I'm amazed at the speed and accuracy of this tuning system. At $300 per unit, it's may be priced a bit high to install on every guitar you own, however, I highly recommend it for your main guitars. I believe that if you are a skeptic by nature like me, given the opportunity to try one out, you will also become a believer.

I haven't even scratched the surface of the creative possibilities in songwriting with this unit, but I'm excited to explore a multitude of other tunings that are often too frustrating and/or time consuming to tune to manually.

Aside from it being a technical system, I believe that those with creative minds who think outside the box, will see this as yet another tool to create impressive and moving works of music.

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