A Responsive Pedal Tuner
That's Built Like a Tank
The first thing I noticed, as I unpacked the Pedal Tuner from Planet Waves, was the weight. As packaged it's nearly 1 3/4 lbs. Unpacked, the pedal is still a solid 1 1/2 lbs. It's easy to see why so many people say this thing is built to last - it's solid as a tank!
The second thing I noticed was an unexpected storage sleeve. The storage sleeve is imitation black leather, sporting the Planet Waves name and logo. The pedal snuggles securely inside the sleeve, it's very ample sides of elastic hold it firmly in place. Very handy for dropping into your gig bag worry free.
The packaging is sparse: the operating instructions are printed on the outside of the box, revealed by pulling a small velcro 'button'. The only thing inside the box, other than the pedal and it's sleeve, is a registration card.
Battery installation is a snap. That is, once you understand that the foot of the pedal tuner must raise up. The instructions are unclear, but you need to depress the pedal, then press a plastic tab in toward the pedal. Here's the tricky part: while holding the plastic tab in, lift the foot pedal up. Only by pulling up the foot of the pedal is the battery compartment revealed. The trick is in knowing that when you push in on the plastic tab, you're releasing a lock that holds the foot down.
A 9-volt battery is included, but I replaced it with an alkaline version for maximum life.
To activate the tuner, plug your guitar into the IN connector on the right side of the tuner, then press down once on the pedal. The tuner is ready instantly.
Since this is a chromatic tuner, the nearest note name is prominently displayed at the top/center of the pedal. The note name is bright and easy to read.
By default the tuner starts in Sweep Mode (see Sweep Mode versus Strobe Mode, below). Switch to Strobe Mode by pressing the MODE button at the bottom of the display. Pressing MODE a third time activates Calibration Mode.
As with all quality tuners, you can adjust the 'in-tune' frequency on the Planet Waves Pedal Tuner. This is handy for times when you're working with an out-of-tune instrument such as a keyboard. If you play a known note on the keyboard (middle-A, for example) you can adjust the calibration of your tuner to show these slightly out of tune notes as 'in-tune'.
To change the calibration, press the MODE button (once if you are in Strobe Mode, twice if you are in Sweep Mode). You then press the up or down arrows on either side of the MODE button to calibrate the tuner. You can add or subtract 5 Hz from the standard 440 Hz, giving you a range of A435 to A445 from the standard A440. A red light moves to the right, or left, to clearly indicate the increase or decrease from A440.
When you're done, press the MODE button once more to exit calibration and return to Sweep Tuning Mode; twice to return to Strobe Tuning Mode.
Sweep Mode versus Strobe Mode
In Sweep Mode, the pedal tuner operates like most chromatic tuners on the market: if your note is flat, red lights to the left of center are illuminated; if your note is too sharp, red lights to the right of center shine; when you are in tune, a green center light confirms it. The further you are from in-tune, the further the lights move away from center.
Strobe Mode can be confusing at first, but once you get used to it I think you'll agree that it's the preferred mode on this dynamic pedal tuner. When the tuner detects a note that is flat, the lights around the tuning dial spin in continuous motion. The speed and direction of movement give let you know how out of tune the note is.
- Clockwise motion indicates a sharp pitch
- Counter-clockwise indicates a flat pitch
- Fast motion indicates more out of tune
- Slow motion indicates nearly in-tune
- No motion means the note is in-tune.
The confusion can arise from the fact that when that note is in tune, a red light remains on. So, you see the note name, a green light immediately above the note name (a secondary indication of an in-tune note) and a stationary red light somewhere on the dial. Some may be confused when the red indicator does not disappear. Since it's stationary, the note is in tune, but it will not disappear.
I prefer Strobe Mode, as the motion of the lights gives very clear feedback of when I am out of tune (sharp or flat) and by how much (a lot or a little). I also appreciate that as I approach proper tuning the lights slow as I slow the movement of my tuning keys. If you give this mode a chance, I think you'll agree: it's the easiest and most clear method of tuning.
The Planet Waves Tuning Pedal has three connections for 1/4" cable and two power connections. At your disposal you have:
- One 9-volt input jack (for an AC adapter, or daisy-chained power)
- One 9-volt output jack (to daisy-chain power to another pedal)
- One 1/4" Guitar Input connector
- One 1/4" Bypass Out connector
- One 1/4" Muted During Tuning output connector
These connections are clearly understood by anyone with a set of pedals, but for those of you who are new to pedals and such connections, a quick review should make the purpose of each very clear.
The 9-volt input jack accepts the PW-CT-09 AC Adapter, or a daisy chained 9V input from another pedal. This allows you to use one AC Adapter for multiple pedals. In fact, some companies manufacture special AC adapters to condition the output and drive multiple pedals simultaneously. Using an AC input other than from Planet Waves may void the warranty (check with them first).
The 9-volt output jack allows you to run power from the pedal tuner to another pedal, providing power to it without buying another adapter. You would need a female to female 9-v power cord to run to the next pedal. Some companies sell splitter cables to power multiple pedals from one adapter.
The Guitar Input connector is where the cable from your guitar (or another pedal) plugs in so the signal can be detected by the pedal tuner. I recommend that the pedal tuner be placed first in line if you are using multiple pedals.
The Bypass Out connector is a direct output from the Guitar Input. Any signal coming in to the Guitar Input connector is passed directly to the Bypass Out connector. Ready to play? Your playing comes out clean as a whistle. Want to tune? Those notes come through as well. This is fine for home use, but on stage you might not want the audience hear you as you tune your guitar.
The Muted Out connector allows you to tune the guitar in silence. When in tuner mode, no sounds from your guitar pass through to the amp or PA through this connector. When you press on the tuning pedal tuner again (to exit tuning mode) the signal is activated. The result is: sound when you want to play, no sound when you want to tune up.
The Pedal Tuner from Planet Waves (PW-CT-04) is a great tuner for the performing musician, or for anyone who is tired of having to juggle cables and tuners every time you want to tune up.
Set it on the floor, plug it in, connect one of the two outputs to your amp (or PA system), and you're ready to quickly and accurately tune up. If you need to pack it away, slide it into the included protective sleeve and drop it in your gig bag. This thing is apparently built to take a licking, so it should last a lifetime with normal use.
Two more quick tips: To avoid the need for batteries, use the optional AC Adapter (part number PW-CT-9V); Also, to avoid any possibility of noise, place the tuner as the first pedal in your chain (if you use other pedals alongside the pedal tuner).