Where would guitar players be without the humble ‘starter pack’? I remember being 11 or 12 years old, wandering into the local music retailer and gawking at the seemingly limitless racks of axes. Having only taken up playing less than a year prior the majority of these dream machines were as vastly out of my price range as they were my skill set. At the very top of the aisle, however, sat several ubiquitous, irregular trapezoidal boxes that housed everything that a young player could ever need to instantly metamorphose into Kurt Cobain; that is until the idea of a pedal board taps your shoulder. Alongside the cheaply made Strat copy comes the first battalion, light infantry of rock; the padded gig bag, nylon strap and of course, the ever-important tuner.
Models like Boss’ TU-1, or as it’s more commonly known ‘the long, grey one’, set the standard early on but everyone’s first foray into intonation still populates the vast majority of music-room-desk drawers to this day. JVB have long been the most trusted name in home grown accessories. Their strings especially are renowned for being the more affordable, yet just as reliable alternative to bigger, overseas brands. With that same sense of trustworthiness comes their TMT 500 3-in-1 Digital Tuner, tone generator and metronome.
‘Yeah yeah, we get it! It’s a tuner’ I hear you cry and well that may be, but JVB have been kind enough to pepper this unit with some newer demands that the market makes of such a humble contraption. Switch between guitar or bass settings depending on your clef of choice and you’ll find the response time and pitch read as accurate as ever. It has purveyors of more obscure instruments, like mandolin, banjo or anything that sings around between 430 and 450Hz, covered too with its chromatic function and, for the more old school player who trusts nothing but your ear and a pitch pipe, it has an inbuilt tone generator primed to play any sine wave you can stand to listen to. The metronome, too, has just about every time signature, swing pattern and tempo covered so there’s no limit to what you can practice with TMT 500 as your partner. The fact that it comes with an earpiece for late night practice and headstock clip capability only sweetens the deal in a clever new way.
The reason tuners like this are included in beginners’ packages in the first place is a twofold gift. Not only are they reasonably cheap to manufacture but they also set you off on the right foot straight out of the gate. No guitarist is impervious to the perils of playing out of tune and/or out of time so including a tool for sharpening that skillset is imperative. JVB condense that lesson into one tidy, soft-feel little package here with a few modern updates thrown in to make the experience even easier.
Hits and Misses
Not sturdy enough for stage application. A little slow on the pitch uptake