The $129 Roadie 2 tuner builds on the original Roadie's ability to automatically twist tuning pegs to make your guitar sound like it's supposed to. The biggest update is that it no longer needs a smartphone to listen to your stringed instrument; instead, it uses the vibrations generated when a string is plucked to adjust the pitch. This new version is a completely standalone device. But just because you don't need an app doesn't mean you should ignore your smartphone, because the companion app will track all your guitars and their string health.
While tuning with the Roadie 2, I found the onboard display easy to navigate. There are clear options for different stringed instruments (ukulele, acoustic, electric etc) just a knob turn and button tap away. I simply stuck the Roadie 2 onto the tuning pegs, plucked and it started twisting until the string was in tune. The device vibrated and I continued to the next peg until the instrument was ready to play. It was a relatively painless experience except for one thing: the guitar.
The prototype unit brought into the Engadget office by Band Industries, the makers of the Roadie, had its work cut out for it. The acoustic guitar I brought from home had tuning pegs that were rusted and difficult to twist. But even though the tuner wasn't a production model and it struggled to get the key just right, it delivered on the promise of making my out-of-tune acoustic sound good. Well, good-ish. It's still a crappy guitar. That would be enough for someone jamming in their living room, but it's not powerful enough for gigging musicians.
The combination of audible, visual and haptic feedback when a string is finished being adjusted means that the Roadie 2 will work on a noisy stage. Which, if you've ever played a live show before, you know is every stage. Basic re-tuning is easy enough to accomplish with a pedal, but the new Roadie really shines in its ability to quickly restring a guitar, ukulele or banjo so it has the potential to make a lot of guitarists and guitar techs happy.
It's not just the hardware that's helpful onstage. Band Industries said updated app (which was unavailable for testing) will keep track of things like when a guitar got new strings and how many times it's been tuned to alert the player when it's time for them to be replaced. It does this for over 150 different instruments. That's probably more than the average guitarist would own, but for a tech dealing with a band on tour, it could be a game-changer.
But it's going to be a while before the $129 Roadie 2 and its app are on shelves. Band Industries is launching a Kickstarter campaign for preorders of the Roadie 2 and its more powerful brother, the $149 Roadie Bass. They'll sell for $79 and $99, respectively, during the campaign and are expected to ship in October.