I wrote about the Roadie 2 guitar tuner back in April 2017 and at that time the product was being crowdfunded, hadn’t yet been released and was building on from the previous incarnation of the product which was just called Roadie.
Well, now in 2018 the Roadie 2 has been out for a few months and I have spent them testing one of them out on my own guitars. As many of you may already know, I have a sizeable collection of guitars currently hovering somewhere around 4o, so I figure that I can give a pretty honest opinion on how Roadie 2 operates.
I had the opportunity to try it out on six-a-side Fender style headstocks and three-a-side Gibson and PRS style headstocks as well. Tuner wise I used the Roadie 2 with vintage Klusons, Grover Rotomatics, Sperzel locking tuners, vintage style ‘Tulip’ buttoned Klusons, Gotoh and more, so I think I gave it a good workout.
The Roadie 2 looks a little bit like the Bosch rechargeable electric screwdriver that I keep on my desk: It is a right-angled device that has an internal motor and can turn a head in either direction. The Roadie 2 is all black, very angular and has a digital readout on the top to let you know what ‘mode’ it is in.
It has an open head that you slot over your guitar tuner designed to accommodate almost every style of tuning peg. It does this via three notches inside the head that gradually taper inwards and so it handles pretty much any style of tuning button, whether vintage of modern. The only heads I had issues with using Roadie 2 was a set of vintage Tulip Klusons, where Roadie 2 had problems fitting in comfortably and slipped off more often than not on a three-a-side Flying V that I own. But other than that one guitar, the design grips well.
Roadie 2 comes with a set of built-in guitar tuning modes such as electric guitar and acoustic guitar, but also ukulele, mandolin and banjo as well. Plus, you can do open tunings such a DADGAD or tunings like Drop D and Eb etc
A dial on the back of the unit allows you to select the tuning and the blue digital readout on the top is clear, easy to read and lets you know which mode it is in. The on/off button is set in the centre of the dial and lights up blue with the ‘R’ logo when engaged, this button also allows you to select the mode.
Now what? Simply dial in your mode and press the button once to select the appropriate setting you require. Easy enough and intuitive. However, the button on my first Roadie 2 gradually became less and less responsive after a month or so, and then packed up almost completely after about six weeks. I reset the device a few times via a recessed ‘pinhole’ reset button on the bottom of the unit, but it didn’t fix the issue.
They sent me out another one a few weeks back and that one appears to be fine, it turns out they had had a few dodgy buttons in their first batch and I had obviously gotten one of those rogue units. Looks like a teething problem on launch, but it was fixed by a fresh new unit and so hopefully that was just a one-off.
When I first received the Roadie 2 there was no app for it, but after a few weeks, they had an app out first on iOS and then on Android, so luckily I go to use it with both versions, as I have two smartphones and so got to check it out on both. You just pair the Roadie 2 via Bluetooth and off you go.
The Roadie Tuner app allows you to make custom tunings, set the Roadie 2 to vibrate, beep and controls the front LED on the tuner as well. You can use it to easily customise the Roadie 2 and I found it pretty easy to use, setup and it easily allowed me to make up my own custom tunings, which is handy as I do like to use the odd open tuning on certain guitars in my possession.
You can use the Roadie 2 to quickly wind your strings onto your guitar when you put on a fresh set, so I tried restringing a few of my guitars using this setting as well. Now, I found that after restringing three of my guitars in a row that the battery needed recharging, so if you are a guitar technician, you may find that if you have to deal with lots of restringing of instruments during your day, well you may want to keep a peg winder to hand, as the available battery power – although decent – isn’t perhaps enough for professional use.
However, battery life for just regular tuning is pretty decent and would last me a week or so, if I used the Roadie 2 exclusively. I usually use a TC Polytune clip on or tune by ear and for the duration of this test, I tried to avoid using the TC Polytune.
I found that the Roadie 2 suffered a lot with background noise, especially if it wasn’t fully charged. It would either get note pitches completely wrong or just never quite finish tuning, so hopefully, the updates to the product that come down via the Roadie Tuner app will help it get better over time.
Overall, though, the tuning was pretty much spot on and it can tune up a guitar fairly quickly. I actually handed it to a friend that does not play the guitar at all, had them tune up a few out of tune guitars and they had no issues working it out or getting my guitars in tune. So it is easy to use and does its job well.
If you like guitar gadgets then you will probably love Roadie 2, or if like me you own a lot of guitars or have to set up lots of guitars, then it could be handy to have around. However, I’m not sure if it has enough power to be used professionally for long extended periods of time without being recharged and it wasn’t too keen on background noise, so if you are a guitar tech for a band bear this in mind.
The USB charging cable is included in the box, but you don’t get a charging plug and so make sure you have one handy or you will be disappointed.
It isn’t exactly cheap, but it is very easy to use and does what it says. I really like the app and this is probably it’s strength because you can really customise it to your own needs easily and have all your favourite tunings loaded up ready to access quickly on the Roadie 2.
RRP – USD 129 / GBP 114