Saturday, July 23, 2016

TC Electronic PolyTune Clip Tuner Review


It seems like I write a review for a new tuner every month, and this month is no exception! Today we are looking at the TC Electronic PolyTune Clip tuner, which takes their time-tested technology and packs it into one of those slick little clip-on tuners that everybody and their brother seems to want. I really loved the PolyTune pedal and hated the PolyTune app, so this will be interesting!

I have used plenty of TC Electronic equipment over the years, and it has been universally good stuff. They have been around since 1976, and I really like the tone of their amplifiers and effect pedals. Their products are solid and reliable, and are a definitely a good value when you consider what they can do and what they cost.

The PolyTune Clip is no exception. This thing is bigger than some clip-on tuners, but it is tiny and light for what it can do, measuring 1 by 1 by 2 ½ inches (most of this is the stainless steel clip), and it weighs in at 0.07 ounces. It seems sturdy, and it survived drop test nicely. It runs on a CR 3032 battery (available at drug stores everywhere), and the battery is supposed to last for 18 hours of use. I have not verified that. Yet.

The display has oodles of tiny multi-colored LEDs with the standard utilization of red for out of tune and green for in tune. It is super easy to see in all light conditions because TC Electronic included an ambient light sensor so it can adjust to how much light is available. This is nice as it is not too blinding on dark stages, and you can still see it in daylight. Of course, the glare direct sunlight is still kind of a pain, but what are you going to do?

The specs of this unit look very on paper, with chromatic tuner accuracy of about 0.5 cent (like the full-size pedal) and strobe tuner accuracy of an astounding 0.02 cent. As far as I can tell, the Polytune delivers on these promises.

The Polytune has a logic called “MonoPoly” that allows the tuner to discern if you played one string or all of them. If you play one string it will go into the usual chromatic mode, but if you play all of the strings it will go into polyphonic mode and you can check the intonation of all of your strings at the same time. Really – it will display all six and tell you which ones are in tune, flat, or sharp. Really!

Initially this might seem like a gimmick, but it is truly awesome and a huge time saver, particularly if you are on stage getting ready for the next song in your acoustic coffee house set. By the way, this feature works great on their pedal and is where the TC Electronic app fell flat.

Does this polyphonic feature work on all guitars and basses? I do not know, but it works on all of mine. Electric guitars (ESP, Stratocaster, Telecaster, Les Paul, Explorer), active basses (Sadowsky, Stingray), passive basses (Precision and Jazz), and my acoustic with pickups (Takemine and Martin). All of them worked fine, though I must add in the disclaimer that I use normal tunings. If you use alternate or drop tunings (from E-flat down to B) the Polytune is supposed to work, but I cannot personally vouch for it. The same goes for 5-string basses – I just do not have one lying around right now.

The polyphonic modes is a great tool for quickly checking to see where the guitar is, tuning wise, but I still prefer to fine tune each string individually in the regular chromatic mode. Since it automatically switches modes based on what the user is doing, this is not a big deal. By the way, the polyphonic mode seems to work better when using a pick on both guitars and basses. See what you think…

You do not have to set it up every time you use it. When you select different modes or reference tones, this unit will memorize you settings after it powers off.

In actual day-today usage, and the Clip is very good; if I needed a new high-end clip-on tuner, it would be one of my first choices. But this is a moot point as I love my Peterson strobotuner, so it is not going to be replaced.

The TC Electronic PolyTune Clip is priced competitively with the rest of the higher-end clip-on tuner market, carrying an MSRP of $75, and a street price of $50. Give it a try and see what you think!


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