Boss TU-12EX, TU-88 and TU-1000 tuners
TU-12EX, $124.50; TU-88, $90.50; TU-1000, $278.50
Originally published in Guitar World, Holiday 2009
These three new additions to the Boss tuner line will ensure the company’s domination of the tuner market for years to come.
Way back in the Sixties and Seventies, most guitarists tuned up by using either a pitch pipe or their ears. Only rock stars could afford the other option: the prohibitively expensive Petersen Strobe Tuner. Boss changed music forever when it introduced the world’s first affordable compact chromatic tuner, the TU-120, in 1978, and ever since then live music has sounded a whole lot sweeter.
Though dozens of companies have introduced competing products over the years, Boss has continually dominated the compact tuner market. The TU-2 Chromatic Tuner pedal is the best-selling Boss pedal of all time, and products like the TU-12 remained on the market for more than 20 years. Boss recently expanded its tuner line with the introduction of the TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner (which replaces the perennial favorite the TU-12), TU-88 Micro Monitor and Tuner and TU-1000 Stage Tuner.
The TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner significantly improves the performance and expands the features of the TU-12. Its dimensions are about the same as its predecessor’s, except the TU-12EX is about half the thickness. Like the TU-12, the TU-12EX has Chromatic and Guitar/Bass tuning modes and a built-in mic for tuning acoustic instruments, but the range is greatly expanded (E0 to C8 compared to the TU-12’s C1 to B5 range). In Guitar/Bass mode, the pitch LEDs function as individual string indicators, and you can now use the seventh indicator to tune a seven-string guitar or five-string bass. Other new additions include a Flat tuning function (for drop tunings ranging from Ds to B), a reference pitch, and Accu-Pitch Verification, which produces a tone when the desired pitch is reached.
The TU-88 Micro Monitor combines the functions of a tuner, metronome and headphone amp. The display features a digital “needle” instead of the physical VU meter-style needle found on the TU- 12EX. Like the TU-12EX, it produces reference pitch tones, provides the new Accu-Pitch function and analyzes pitch from E0 to C8. In addition to Chromatic, Guitar and Bass tuning modes, it has a versatile metronome with a tempo range of 30 to 250 bpm, a tap-tempo function and a choice of rhythm styles ranging from simple quarter, eighth and 16th notes to triplets and sophisticated clave-based patterns. Finally, the TU-88 features a speaker-simulated headphone amp. Not only can you use the tuner for late-night jamming—you can also use it as a direct-input device for recording.
The TU-1000 Stage Tuner is a large floor unit with a big, bright display that’s easy to see on stage no matter how bright or dark the lights may be. In addition to Chromatic, Guitar (up to seven strings) and Bass (up to six strings) tuning modes, it includes six-string modes for Open A, D, E and G, Drop D and DADGAD tuning. The Flat tuning function lets you lower the tuning modes up to six half steps in half-step increments, and the overall pitch range is C0 to C8. The TU-1000 ships with a seven-pin DC output cable that enables the tuner to power up to six stomp boxes.
The TU-12EX’S accuracy is greatly improved over its predecessor’s (+/- 1 cent rather than +/- 3), and the larger indicator needle provides more accurate feedback. The TU-12EX also tracks pitch on the low E and A strings much more quickly (particularly on acoustic instruments via the built-in mic) and tracks string vibrations even as they begin to fade. The Accu-Pitch function on the TU-12EX and TU-88 is a helpful addition, providing a third source of verification in addition to the visual meter and LEDs. The TU-88’s digital needle tends to jitter and jump around compared to the smooth movement of the TU-12EX’s physical needle, and the Accu-Pitch verification tone doesn’t activate as quickly.
The TU-1000 has “Cent” (sweeping “needle”) and “Stream” (strobe-style “spinning wheel”) display modes that track pitch quickly and exceptionally accurately. The Accu-Pitch function confirms correct pitch with several visual cues, including a pair of amber arrows, red bars and a green bar that tells you when you’re in pitch. While the box features sturdy metal construction, the on/off button is plastic. Fortunately, the TU-1000 has a jack that lets you use a sturdier external pedal instead for remote switching of the TU-1000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
These three new additions to the Boss tuner line will ensure the company’s domination of the tuner market for years to come. The TU-12EX is an essential upgrade for anyone who loves the TU-12, the TU-88 is a fun and useful entry-level tuner for first-time buyers, and the TU-1000 is a pro-quality unit that roadies and performers alike will love.
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