Ever since I started at BMM, my opinions on tuners and our reliance upon them has been well documented. That said, we all need a solid tuner in our bag that we can use as a base for where our tuning should be; anything beyond that is a bonus. And while for the longest time I used headstock tuners, I have to admit that in a very small theatre pit, having a tuner you plug into is ideal. With that in mind, the Unity Tuner from Rocktron has made me a very happy – and in tune! – camper.
At first glance, the Unity Tuner is housed in a brushed aluminum enclosure and has a very large display. While that sounds great, many musicians can cite that a large display works in dimly lit situations, but fails outside at a gig. Thankfully, this tuner has photocells lying underneath the display, allowing the display to adjust for the ideal brightness setting at your gig. While I didn’t use this outside, I have been using it extensively in dark theatre pits, and the adjustment it makes from low light to no light is noticeable and very appreciated (especially in the middle of a scene). Another quick and simple feature I noticed is that it has two outputs; one that will be muted when you’re tuning and one that won’t. While I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to mute when you’re tuning (it IS the polite thing to do!), you have the option of still running the signal when the tuner is engaged.
From there, I found two other excellent features that really sold me on this pedal. First, it gives you the option of switching between a standard tuner and a strobe. For many of us, we have come to rely upon the super-accuracy of the strobe tuner, so this option is ideal. Second, it has a calibration function. Remember that comment I made (and if you didn’t, feel free to refresh your memory) about how tuning with an instrument like a piano makes your tuner worthless? Simply tune any string to the pitch of the piano, and press the calibration button on the tuner. You have just calibrated your tuner to the (off) pitch of the piano, allowing you to still utilize your tuner. The beauty of this feature is that it’s not saved, so you don’t have to worry about calibrating it back to A=440 once you’re done with the gig. Just turn off the tuner, and it will reset.
All of these functions are great, but without accuracy, is it really that good? I mean, that’s really the primary function of a tuner, right? This video from guitar tech, Rene Martinez, should answer any and all questions about accuracy.
The Unity Tuner from Rocktron is a phenomenal tuner, packed with a lot of useful features and at a price point that makes it well worth the investment. It has quickly become my favorite tuner (aside from my ears, of course) and has knocked the headstock tuners – and any others I have – out of the running. Grab one and see for yourself.