Why a guitar toolkit tuner review? Being an Apple iPhone owner, I recently wondered if anybody has created an iPhone tuner app that I could use to tune my mandolin. I carry my mobile phone everywhere I go, so having a tuner app seemed like a good idea. But how an iPhone tuner app would compare to the online mandolin tuner available here at the Mandolin Tuner?
My research revealed that there are plenty tuner apps out there. Good news, right? I was happy at the beginning too, but soon I realized that these apps did not really conform to my requirements and quality standards, as I opted for an app with intuitive user interface and solid performance.
But then, I discovered Guitartoolkit, an interesting, good-looking iPhone/iPad app, with solid performance, providing a seemingly extremely accurate tuner, a precision metronome, more than two million chords, scales and arpeggios. suitable for guitar, ukulele and mandolin. Impressive, right? Well, this is what I thought, so I decided to purchase the app to perform a thorough test that I am now sharing with you.
G uitar toolkit tuner review summary
My experience from using Guitartoolkit has been so far excellent. It allows me to tune my mandolin at home or at quiet environments very easily and at the same time provides as bonus plenty additional capabilities which I am frequently using e.g. scales and arpeggios to warm-up, chords to experiment with, a customizable metronome to practice etc.
- No need to carry additional device, besides your own Apple device
- Very accurate chromatic tuner
- Many additional functions to practice chords & scales and use it as metronome etc.
- Suitable for many instruments, including Guitar, Bass, Banjo and of course the mandolin.
- Not suitable for noisy environments
Recommended tool for tuning in quiet environments and as a training assistant for practicing chords & scales.
But note, people looking for tuners to be used with gigs, should look elsewhere, i.e. select instead a clip-on digital tuner that can help you tune your mandolin in a noisy environment.
If you want a mandolin tuner always available wherever you are, look no further than your own Apple device. If you own a iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, the Guitartoolkit app is a good choice for tuning your mandolin. At first glance you will think that this tuner is only for tuning guitars, but unlike its name, this handy app is the perfect companion for guitarists and mandolinists alike.
I was really pleased with the accuracy and user friendliness of this Swiss knife type application, that you can use not only to tune but also practice chords, scales and also replace your metronome.
Ease of Use: 10/10
The Guitartoolkit is a unique mandolin tuner in a couple of ways:
- The Guitartoolkit setup is very simple.
- The User Interface is uncluttered without an overload of options and buttons.
To configure the app for mandolin usage, a simple four-step procedure (see below screenshots) is required only once, as from then on the application remembers the setting and acts as a mandolin toolkit, until it is again changed.
- The “start-up” screen: Select the “6 String” button (bottom-right)
- The “Instrument” screen: Select the “6-String” setting (top)
- The “Instruments” screen: Note the default selection “6 String EADGBE” (guitar icon). Scroll down till you see the mandolin option..
- Still in the “Instruments screen: Note now I have selected the “Mandolin GDAE” (mandolin icon). That’s it. Go back to the tuner to tune your mandolin!
Once configured for mandolin, the tuning process is very simple. You just strum the string close to the smart phone/tablet, and a clear indication on the screen presents you the tuning status. The tuner uses the built-in microphone or your headset mic for earlier iPod touch devices.
The Guitartoolkit visibility is excellent, as it uses the retina display of the iPhone/iPad/iPod to present you with the tuning capabilities. It also includes a high contrast mode to be used when in intense light.
As the Guitartoolkit is not a standalone gadget but only an iPhone app, there is little to say about hardware design. As it is used with your iPhone, it “inherits” the iconic design status of the iPhone itself.
From a software design point of view, one can only be impressed by the simplicity of the application and the pack of features that have been included.
Battery life: 10/10
As the Guitartoolkit is not a standalone gadget but only an iPhone/iPad/iPod app, the tuner battery life depends only on your apple device battery status.
If you own an iPhone, things are looking good, since we all care not to be left in the middle of the day with a useless phone due to battery, and therefore we tend to keep our mobile phones charged.
The result: there is low probability that we will not have enough battery for our nice tuner app when we need it!
As useful as an iPhone tuner app can be, there are limitations to the usage of a mic-based tuner. Although a valuable tool for quiet environments, it is clear to me that a clip-on tuner is a prefered solution for tuning in noisy environments (yes I consider a gig to be noisy!).
If we exclude gigs, we will find the tuner to be extremely versatile, as it can be set for standard tuning, all notes, common alternate tunings or any custom tuning that you set. You can even set the reference pitch. The default reference pitch is A=440.0 Hz tuning, but pro musicians, especially classical musicians, can set the reference pitch from 392.0 Hz (French Baroque) all the way up to 528.0 Hz (DNA Repair).
If Guitartoolkit‘s dozens of alternate tunings don’t fulfill your needs, you can set your own custom tunings. For any supported instrument, set the pitch of each string with an easy-to-use selector wheel. The custom tuning is applied to the tuner, but also to all chords, scales and arpeggios.
Guitartoolkit‘s huge chord library is described to contain 2,000,000 (!) chords for guitar, bass, banjo, ukulele and mandolin.
I could not possibly test this out, but while testing chords for the mandolin, I was pleased to see that for a given chord type and key, Guitartoolkit shows typically 24 different chord patterns, up and down the fretboard, including also inversions. It is useful to see the notes and finger positions on-screen and also be able to strum virtual chords to hear what they sound like and compare it with the real chord – or at least your version of it.
Nevertheless, I have to note that the chords feature is more user-friendly on the iPad, where the screen size makes it really easy to switch between chords, and the whole experience is greatly improved.
The good news is that Guitartoolkit is a universal application, meaning that you pay it only once and then you can download it at no extra cost on all your apple devices. So, if you are a happy owner of both an iPhone/iPod and an iPad, that is definitely good news for you.