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My fellow musicians!

The Chord Genome Project is not the only thing we're doing. You see, we strongly believe that a finely tuned guitar is an object of divine beauty, so we went ahead and created GuitarTuna, a guitar tuner that anyone can use anywhere at any time. And yeah, it's also very much free to use – no ads, no popups, no strings attached (and no pun intended.)

How GuitarTuna works is that it uses your computer's or phone's microphone to listen to the notes you're playing. Pluck a string and our swanky software shows you whether to tighten or loosen the screw. Soon, a perfect tapestry of melodious harmony has been achieved. Nifty!

GuitarTuna for browsers is on its late beta stage, which means it pretty much finished, but it could use some more polish. So, we could definitely appreciate if you can share some ideas on how it could be more awesome – as every artist knows, learning where you need to do better is essential.

(There's also a phone version of the tuner on its way, but needs still a bit more tuning. (See what I did there?))

So. Here's the link. Try GuitarTuna out.

If you like it, spread the love -- the more people pick up their guitars and tune them six ways 'til Sunday now that they don't need a dedicated tuner anymore, the better. We could all use a lil' more music :)

Thank you,

Jori Virtanen, community manager, Ovelin.com

Edited by jorivirtanen
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Hei Jori.

My initial reservation is that the application requires the installation of a third party browser plugin which I think many people may be averse to installing, despite it being above board. More often than not, a site offering a free product such as this tend to find users "turned off" because of the requirement of an install. Additionally (after installing Unity for the first time) the plugin then asked me for permission to access my webcam and that images from it can be recorded. Obviously this is applicable to Unity's wider scope as a gaming engine and application platform, however it will make anybody unfamiliar with Unity suspicious of why a guitar tuner application would want to control a user's webcam. A simple pre-amble of why Unity is needed and forewarning of what it will ask after install would be useful.

The application itself is clean and works as it should. I would list these as useful aspects to me:

  • my main instrument which is a 5-string bass and I am also known to use alternative tunings such as GCGCG
  • select the type of instrument and tuning (custom, list of usual tunings)
  • custom tuning and/or a list of tunings
  • chromatic tuning
  • concert pitch tuning and detuning offsets in cents
  • reference tones and visible beat difference

I presume that the primary target audience is classical/acoustic players?

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Hei Jori.

My initial reservation is that the application requires the installation of a third party browser plugin which I think many people may be averse to installing, despite it being above board. More often than not, a site offering a free product such as this tend to find users "turned off" because of the requirement of an install. Additionally (after installing Unity for the first time) the plugin then asked me for permission to access my webcam and that images from it can be recorded. Obviously this is applicable to Unity's wider scope as a gaming engine and application platform, however it will make anybody unfamiliar with Unity suspicious of why a guitar tuner application would want to control a user's webcam. A simple pre-amble of why Unity is needed and forewarning of what it will ask after install would be useful.

The application itself is clean and works as it should. I would list these as useful aspects to me:

  • my main instrument which is a 5-string bass and I am also known to use alternative tunings such as GCGCG
  • select the type of instrument and tuning (custom, list of usual tunings)
  • custom tuning and/or a list of tunings
  • chromatic tuning
  • concert pitch tuning and detuning offsets in cents
  • reference tones and visible beat difference

I presume that the primary target audience is classical/acoustic players?

I didn't install for the reasons Listed. Sorry you won't find me using it or recommending it.

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My initial reservation is that the application requires the installation of a third party browser plugin which I think many people may be averse to installing, despite it being above board.

I didn't install for the reasons Listed. Sorry you won't find me using it or recommending it.

Yeah, you're right. I should've been on the up and up from the get go that if you don't have Unity installed yet, Guitar Tuna's going to need it. The platform itself is, like Prostetha said, above board, but unless you know what it is, suddenly being asked to install something you don't know what it is is off-putting, especially since it asks permission to use the camera. I can understand the need for the mic, for obvious reasons, but the camera? To be honest, that would make me nervous, too, even if I knew that the program would use only the mic.

However, the reason why we wanted to use Unity is because it gives reliable results, and having an unreliable tuner is useless. Unity allows GuitarTuna to work with the efficiency we are accustomed to, and we won't make substandard products. Our goal really is to help people keep their instruments in tune, because it will lower the threshold to actually picking the ax up and starting playing. An unused guitar gathering dust in the corner is a sad, sad sight. And if GuitarTuna would not give reliable results, it would be the exact opposite of what we're trying to do.

The silver lining here is that the smart phone version of GuitarTuna won't be needing an extra install. And as your cell phone goes with you practically at all times, you'll have a reliable tuner with you whenever you need it. (Been at enough parties to know that picking up a strange guitar that's completely out of whack is... well, it can still be fun, but not in the intended manner.)

The smart phone GuitarTuna will also be totally free. No ads, no nothing. Like I said, we just want the people to play more guitar.

@Prostetha: The target audience is both acoustic and electric guitars. However, the tuner will go nuts if you try to feed it with e.g. distortions, so electric grinders will have to tune with clean sounds. Probably the main user group for our tuner will be beginning players, as they're still unsure whether or not their guitar is in tune. We're trying to come up with ways to make the tuner extremely reliable even when you're on stage. If we can't overcome the high amount of ambient noise, we'll see if using a wireless/bluetooth mic with the phone/iPad will solve this issue. That would indeed be handy for experienced users.

Thanks a bunch for the feedback! Please, keep it coming - the best way for us to make the tuner as good as you want it to be is when you tell us what's wrong with it. We really want to do right by you.

-Jori Virtanen, community manager, Ovelin.com

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Thanks for the excellent back-and-forth Jori. I truly wish this project the best - I was actually thinking of a simple Bluetooth dongle type of thing (that's an ISO standard, "type of thing") halfway through your post but you mentioned it anyway! :-D

Although I haven't yet worked with the Bluetooth communication protocol yet, I have briefly considered incorporating Bluetooth into an amp design I have on the cards using a TI SoC. This is not entirely impossible to scale down to a specific application such as a remote tuner link, and it would even be feasible to offload some of the processing from the application to the dongle in the form of simple DSP to provide an easily interpreted signal for the tuner.

To be fair, I think that unless the tuner offers one or more from simplicity/accuracy/timesaving it might be somewhat of an uphill struggle especially when many beginning players end up with a cheapy tuner as part of a store package or whatever. Although not unique, incorporating useful things like a metronome and scale/chord charts would be great "under one roof". Especially if the tuner is capable of working in a chromatic mode and displaying a certain scale with that note as the root. That's a few mouse clicks or touchscreen presses more convenient and useful right there!

Oh, my licencing fee for each of these ideas is either a nice cold beer or a slow-brewed cold drip coffee.

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