I hate having to buy and replace batteries, so I was intrigued when I heard about the Tascam TC-1S tuner. You see, this is a solar-powered tuner, so you would never have to worry about it crapping out on you during a gig or having to go to Radio Shack to find a bizarre-sized replacement battery at the last minute.
At first I thought “What a dumb idea, it is always dark at gigs, so how is it going to get power?” Well, it turns out that the TC-1S is solar rechargeable, and can also be recharged from with its micro USB port. When fully charged, it will work for about 6 hours of continual use, and has a standby charge life of seven years. There must be some Lithium Ion in there somewhere.
The TC-1S is attractive and compact. It has a silicone cover that comes in six different colors, and includes a clip so you can clip it to something. Actually, I have not figured out what I would want to clip it to, but maybe something will come up. It measures about 3 ¾” by ¾“ by 1 ½”, and weighs just a couple of ounces.
There is a ¼-inch input jack as well as a microphone, but there is no output jack. The controls are simple, with a power, mode and calibration switches. The mode switch provides four options: a bar tuning, fine tuning, strobe animation and needle animation. The calibration switch allows tuning to a different pitch (a piano that is slightly off, for example).
The tuner is accurate to one cent, and the fine tuning mode is in one cent intervals. It responds very quickly, and works well on my guitars and basses. I have used it a fair bit and have never had the charge crap out on me, so the solar charging works well.
But…the LCD display sucks. It is hard to read unless you are looking directly at it, and there is no backlight so forget about using it in the dark. I guess it would be ok for around the house, but I really cannot recommend it with all of the better choices that are out there. You can buy a Snark Tuner that is easy to read and works in the dark for about 15 bucks, and you will get a lot more features, including a metronome.
The Tascam TC-1S solar tuner has a list price of $39.99, and a street price of $20 to $25. Buyer beware...