REVIEWED: TC-ELECTRONIC POLYTUNE 3 GUITAR TUNER

Amber Technology | ambertech.com.au | Expect To Pay: $219

Once upon a time, tuners were the unsexiest device in a guitarist’s kit bag. Even cables got more glory. “Dude, check out this $200 cable. Listen to all the handling noise you’re not hearing.” But then TC-Electronic came out with the original PolyTune and shook everything up. Here was a tuner that could listen to all six strings at once and tell you exactly how far up or down you needed to adjust each one. It was genius. It still is.

TC-Electronic have continued to work with the PolyTune format. There’s the PolyTune 2 Mini, which shrinks the original concept down into a more space-conscious format. The PolyTune 2 Clip is a clip-on tuner that lives on your guitar’s headstock and gives you the same handy functionality as its big brothers. You would think that when it comes to tuners, TC have pretty much got everything covered. Right? Well, meet PolyTune 3.

 

PolyTune 3 builds on the feature set of the original pedal, with multiple tuning modes including polyphonic, chromatic, ultra-precise strobe mode and the ability to store alternate tunings. But it ups the stakes with the inclusion of TC’s acclaimed BonaFide Buffer. If you’re unfamiliar with what a buffer does, here’s the short version: it’s an electronic circuit that ensures that your signal stays strong over long cable runs or complex pedal setups, and a good one will open up the edges of your tone just that little bit more. If you’re using a bunch of true bypass pedals, a buffer will help your signal to stay strong even as it runs through all those dang patch cables. It’ll prevent high-end signal loss and squishy dynamic range. It’s a very good thing. The BonaFide Buffer has a 1 MΩ input, 100 Ω output and extremely high >112 dB signal to noise ratio.

 

PolyTune 3 has a super-bright 109-LED display with an ambient light detector that automatically adjusts the intensity to provide the perfect readout regardless of where you are. TC-Electronic has also included the ability to switch between buffer and true bypass modes, the idea being that the buffer model lets you keep the tuner in full operation even when your signal is not muted. It’s an elegant solution to killing two birds with the one stone as far as your signal chain management goes. The tuning accuracy is within 0.5 percent in chromatic mode, and the strobe mode gives you plus or minus 0.1 percent accuracy, which is ridiculously precise, and a great asset for when you’re intonating your guitar. And the tuner automatically switches between polyphonic and monophonic tuning modes based on how many strings you play.

Hits and Misses

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Great-sounding buffer makes life easier

Excellent readability in a variety of environments

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No seven-string mode for us low-end denizens

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