Tube-Powered Guitar Tuner

   April 2002

   Well, it's been six months, so it must be time for another Tool of the Month.

   This hot (sometimes literally) little unit is just the thing for you electric guitar purists. Yeah, nothing has the warm sound of a tube-powered amplifier. But how do you tune your guitar to get the maximum benefit from those old pre-transistor amps? A tube-powered tuner, natch!

   Weighing in at just under 40 pounds (18 kg) without the battery pack, the A.C.M.E.™ Tube Tuner® is just about as portable as it can be — probably nothing your 300 pound roadie can't easily sling into a van. And, speaking of slinging, the industrial-strength case has been road tested — falling off a Ryder rental van at 75 mph (120 kph) and surviving (sort of).

   Craftsmanship is apparent throughout. Here is a shot of the interior with the battery pack removed (or was it stolen?). No solid-state devices here! The schematic is attached to the underside of the lid for those of you who just can't leave well enough alone.

   Running on just 900 VDC, the unit is powered by 100 common 9 volt batteries in series. Batteries can be obtained from smoke detectors found in most houses.

   Controls and instrumentation are clear and easy to read, even in a smoky bar at 2:30 A.M. after the usual drunken brawl. Operation is simple:

  1. Plug your guitar into the input jack and your tube amp into the output jack. Of course, our jacks are nonstandard to keep those cheap knockoff manufacturers from duplicating our machine. The in/out adapter (part # 3B65INOUT) is available as a separate purchase ($75.99 US).
  2. Turn the power supply on (one of those little switch thingies). Let it warm up for about 2 hours.
  3. Turn the main power on (the other little switch thingy). Remember, the batteries have been draining for 2 hours, so you will have to work quickly from here on. Make sure the voltage meter indicates at least 900VDC.
  4. Select the type of guitar (pre-1960 electric, post-1960 electric, hydro-powered, or air).
  5. Raise the gain until you are no longer able to hear normal human (or musician) conversation.
  6. Set the large dial in the center of the front panel to the desired musical key. The meters should start fluctuating wildly. We've had the most luck with a quarter semitone over D#. This allows for just the right amount of tension when other band members try to tune to your instrument by ear. The knob to the right of the musical key dial is for fine adjustment and is graduated in nanoflops per smoot.
  7. Pluck several strings at the same time. We use a revolutionary statistical averaging method to determine proper (or close) tuning. The meter to the lower left should center when you are in tune. If the needle fails to move, strike the lower left quadrant of the equipment case. This usually frees up the needle which may have become magnetized during the warm-up phase.
  8. The meter at the upper right will tend to display random values. Pay no attention to it. It has no known purpose, having been added as an aesthetic balance.

   The A.C.M.E.™ Tube Tuner® can be shipped directly to your next gig or sleazy motel room. Cost? Just $2,398.99 US, C.O.D. only. Allow nine month delivery for orders outside the US. Shipped UPS Underground for $9.59 US (10.6214045 Euros as of 1:17 P.M. April 11, 2002).