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Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf: Keith McMillen Batt-O-Meter

Gear Reviews

Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf: Keith McMillen Batt-O-Meter

Review by Jake Wolf
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So it’s a battery tester…..What’s so special about a battery tester, they’ve been around for ages right?  Not like the Batt-0-Meter, which is specifically designed for the needs of musicians.   This clever little device is way cooler than a typical batter tester for at least one good reason.  Its integrated ¼” plug allows you to test the voltage and remaining percentage of battery life without ever having to remove the battery in your bass or stompbox.  It’s pretty cool if your 9v battery is hiding behind a handful of tiny machine screws, and not in a quick change harness.  If you’re a lazy like me, you might just take the chance that your current battery is going to make it through that three set gig tonight, but in the back of your mind, you’re hoping to god there’s enough juice to keep your active electronics or chorus pedal going from dying mid-song.  The Batt-O-Meter provides no-hassle piece of mind and tells you exactly where your battery life is at, both voltage-wise, and in terms of hours remaining, as well as overall percentage remaining.  Those of you saying “big deal” have probably never had their basses’ electronics go dead in the middle of a song, no?

The Batt-O-Meter is sturdily constructed, and worked flawlessly during my testing.  Its clear readout and highly visible text make it a snap to use, even on a dimly lit stage.  Plugging the gold plated ¼” probe into my active bass, and holding down the test button displays the data:  AL (for alkaline battery), Vol (for voltage remaining i.e. 8.4 for a 9 volt batter), and Hr (hours of life remaining).  According to Mcmillen’s website, the Batt-O-Meter uses a microprocessor to determine the load and power consumption of the device being tested to calculate the remaining hours of life, pretty cool.  A switch on the side allows you to calibrate the device for testing alkaline, rechargeable, and carbon zinc batteries. The unit allows for a self test, so you can see how much life the Batt-O-Meter itself has left in it, and it also allows you to test your battery individually, without the ¼” plug, using the built in tester terminals on the side of the box.

I had no snags of any kind when testing the Batt-O-Meter and it hasn’t left my gig bag since it arrived.  For about $35, it seems like a no brainer accessory.  I have a handful of basses and stompboxes and this allows me to check all the batteries in a fraction of the time it would normally take.  Not that I’m giving up on the white knuckle excitement of battery gambling, but it sure is nice to take at least one variable out of that last minute pick up gig.  Don’t we musicians have enough to think about already?

Technical Note – Since this review came out, it was brought to my attention by several users that this unit does accurately determine voltages for 18 volt systems, only 9 volt. At the time of the review, I didn’t have an 18v bass in house, so this unfortunately went un-noticed. thanks to our readers for pointing this out.

For more info on the Batt-O-Meter, visit Keith McMillen online at

Jake Wolf welcomes your comments and questions… drop him a line

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