The Roadie 3 tuner is the latest generation automatic guitar tuner from Band Industries. It’s definitely an interesting proposition for those of you with a large collection of guitars, or for players who love to experiment with alternate tunings.
In this article, I’ll look at all of the features of the Roadie tuner in detail, explain who this device is aimed at, and give my verdict on the unit.
In 2018 I reviewed the excellent Roadie 2 guitar tuner, which already worked really well. So let’s see if things have progressed and improved in the latest release!
Disclosure: Roadie was kind enough to send me this product to test out. I have tried my best to provide a fair and unbiased review.
Roadie 3 Tuner Review
What Is The Roadie 3 Automatic Tuner?
The Roadie 3 is a small, handheld tuner for guitar and other stringed instruments. The device is placed over your guitar’s tuning pegs and automatically tightens or loosens each string until the desired pitch is reached.
Essentially, it takes almost all of the work out of tuning your guitars.
In addition to being an accurate tuner, this innovative little box of tricks also functions as a string winder, as well as a vibrating metronome.
- Automatic Tuning Via 110RPM Motor
- Improved Accuracy Over Previous Models
- 150+ Tunings Built-In & Space For Custom Tunings
- Vibrating/Beeping Metronome Function
- String Winder/Unwinder Function
- Works With Most Stringed Instruments
- Full Color LCD Display
- USB-C Rechargeable (150 Strings Tuned On A Single Charge)
- Compact, Pocket-Friendly Design
- Capo Support
- iOS & Android Companion Apps Available
- Dimensions: 3.54 x 2.1 x 1.08″ (90 x 54 x 27.5 mm)
- Weight: 4.7oz (133g)
What’s In The Box?
Inside the box, you’ll find the following.
- The Roadie 3 Tuner
- USC-C Charging Cable
- Quick Start Guide
Setting Up Your Guitars
Before you start using the Roadie you will first need to add your instruments to the device. You will be asked to store at least one instrument before you can use the tuning features of the Roadie 3.
This can either be done on the device itself using the navigation buttons, or via the iOS or Android app.
It’s a little easier and quicker to use the app, but shouldn’t take too much longer if you’d rather skip it. A nice bonus of using the app is that you can snap a quick photo of each of your guitars for easy identification. With the app, you can also add custom instruments if you have an exotic model that isn’t pre-installed.
To add a new instrument we first select the type of instrument from the in-built list. We can then choose the number of strings and give it a name to save it to the Roadie’s memory. If using the app we can additionally create a custom number of strings or even select the brand of the instrument.
If you keep each of your guitars in their own individual tunings all of the time, then you might want to name each instrument by its model or brand. Or if you often flip between different tunings on the same guitar then it might be a better idea to name each instrument as the tuning – e.g. ‘Standard Tuning‘, ‘Drop D‘ etc.
Now that your instruments are stored, we can start to actually tune them!
How To Tune Using Roadie 3
If we now navigate to ‘Tuner Mode‘, we’ll be presented with a list of the guitars we have just saved. If we select a guitar we’ll be taken to the tuner, which will default to the standard tuning for whatever instrument you have input.
So if you just added a 6-string electric guitar it will default to EADGBE. Psst, ever wondered why standard tuning is EADGBE? Click here to find out!
Starting at the lowest string, place the Roadie 3 on the tuning peg, give the string a quick pick and the unit will get to work.
The motor will rotate the peg until the correct pitch is reached, at which point the readout will turn green, and the device will beep to let you know it has done its job. Now move to the next peg, and rinse and repeat until all strings are perfectly in tune.
It’s so simple to use, and immensely satisfying to watch it do its thing. A great benefit of tuning via vibration is that the Roadie 3 should work flawlessly in almost any environment, regardless of ambient noise.
If you’re just quickly checking that you’re still in tune, one pick of each string should be enough to do the job. However, when moving from one tuning to another it might require an extra pluck to get the string perfectly in tune.
To switch to a different tuning, simply press the right arrow once to enter a further sub-menu. From here you can select from the many tunings which are built-in to the unit. If you need more tunings you can add your own custom ones in the app.
I believe Band Industries is adding more tunings (plus other improvements) in firmware updates (so it is definitely worth grabbing the app and updating your unit). I spotted some older reviews of the Roadie 3 saying that the device only came with 10 different tunings for 6-string guitars. But my freshly updated unit actually has almost 4 times as many as that!
Inside this menu, there is also the option to add a capo, change the tuning pitch to anything between 420 and 460Hz, or rename the instrument.
Whichever options you select here will be the default choices loaded the next time you choose this instrument.
What Instruments Can The Roadie 3 Tune?
The Roadie 3 can tune most stringed instruments. As standard it has support for 13 instruments including guitar, ukulele, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel, lap steel, and dobro. If the instrument you need is not on the list, you can simply add it as a custom instrument.
The Roadie 3 cannot tune a bass guitar, presumably because the motor is not quite powerful enough for heavy bass strings. However, there is a special bass version of the Roadie automatic tuner available.
Roadie 3 Vibrating Metronome
A further handy feature of the Roadie 3 is its in-built metronome, which is a new function that the Roadie 2 didn’t have. The metronome works either via an audible beep, vibration, or both. You can also mute it and rely solely on the visual cues on the screen.
So you can use it with the click like a standard metronome, or place it in your lap or pocket and use the vibration setting (which is fairly powerful!). I thought the vibration mode was particularly cool and can see a ton of scenarios where being able to feel the beat would come in handy. On stage for example, where the audible beep wouldn’t be loud enough.
The tempo can be set anywhere between 1 beat per minute and 400 beats per minute. In addition, you can also change the number of beats to between 2 and 16, with the first click being emphasized.
A slight downside when using the vibration function is that it causes the power button to rattle fairly loudly. Not a deal-breaker by any stretch, it just slightly detracts from the otherwise premium vibe of the unit.
The speed at which you can change tempo can also be a little on the slow side, as there is no way to quickly input an exact tempo. We simply have to scroll to the number we need. Worst case scenario, it took me 34 seconds to go from 1bpm to 400bpm.
Roadie 3 String Winder
The final trick up the Roadie 3’a sleeve is the ability to use it as a powered string winder.
Simply pop the device on your tuning peg and select if you want to wind or unwind. Choose between 3 different speed settings for both.
Something I didn’t realize for a while is that you can actually access a less versatile string winder whilst in tuning mode. Simply hold the left arrow to unwind or the right arrow to wind – very handy! I say less, versatile because there is only one speed setting in this scenario. But to be honest, I actually prefer this simpler method of winding strings.
Either way, this is very useful as you can restring and tune without having to flip between tuning mode and winding mode.
Although you don’t need the app to use Roadie 3, it is required to upgrade the unit’s firmware to ensure you have the latest features and improvements. As I’ve already mentioned above, the app is also the only way to add custom instruments and tunings to the device.
In addition, the app makes some operations much easier to carry out on your mobile device due to its larger user interface.
A nice feature of the app is the ability to add a photo of each guitar to make managing your instruments a little easier.
It connects to and syncs with your Roadie 3 via Bluetooth and is available for both iOS and Android. Creating a Roadie account will let you save your settings to the cloud to make sure you never lose them.
Roadie 3 Verdict
There’s no doubt about it, the Roadie 3 is an excellent tuner – but who is it for?
If you have a small number of guitars that are pretty much always kept in standard tuning, then you are probably better off opting for a different tuning solution. The Roadie’s features will be a little wasted on you, and a $20 headstock tuner will be just as fast and equally as accurate.
Where the Roadie 3 really comes into its own is in its ability to streamline the tuning of a large collection of guitars and other stringed instruments. It’s also going to be an invaluable tool for someone who loves to experiment with alternate tunings. You’ll never again have to remember what guitar is in what tuning, or even what notes each tuning actually consists of!
If this is you, then the Roadie 3 is an excellent tuning option. Plus you get the added bonus of the vibrating metronome and string-winder. In addition, you’ll be the center of attention every time you whip it out.
I also think that the Roadie 3 would make an excellent gift idea for guitar players. I’d certainly be happy to find one under my tree this Christmas! You know, if I didn’t already have one…
Roadie 3 Automatic Tuner Pros
- Easy management of a large collection of guitars
- Fast and accurate tuning
- Makes experimenting with alternate tunings straightforward
- Compact size and easy operation
- Rechargeable and long battery life
Roadie 3 Automatic Tuners Cons
- Fairly expensive
- App required for custom instruments and tunings
- Too much string slack can sometimes confuse the unit
Get It On Amazon
If you’ve decided that you’d like to try a Roadie 3, you can
click here to get yours today.
Roadie 2 vs Roadie 3
A few years ago I reviewed the Roadie 2 and was mightily impressed, but what has changed with this third-generation model?
Check out the table below to see how the Roadie 3 has improved in almost every area when compared to the previous generation device.
|Roadie 2||Roadie 3|
|60 RPM Motor||110 RPM Motor|
|Basic Vibration Tuning||Higher Tuning Accuracy|
|40 Built-In Tunings||150+ Built-In Tunings|
|Slightly Awkward T-Shape||Smaller, Pocket-Friendly Design|
|No Metronome||Beep/Vibration Metronome|
|Small, Black & White Screen||Larger, Full Color Screen|
|Screen On Top, Not Always Visible||Screen On Front, Always Visible|
|Compatible With Most Tuning Pegs||Improved Tuning Peg Compatibility|
|No Frequency Display While Tuning||Dynamic Frequency Display While Tuning|
|Improved Battery Life|
I would also say that the Roadie 3 is a definite step up in terms of build quality. It feels much more solidly built and robust when compared to the Roadie 2. It has a good weight to it and feels like it will last.
In addition, the soft rubber coating around the body of the unit gives it a much more premium feel in the hand.
Roadie Automatic Tuner Alternatives
If you’ve decided that you need a Roadie 3 in your life, then please check it out at the link above.
If you’d like to learn a little more about the different types of tuners that are available, and how to select the best one for you, then please check out my huge guitar tuner buyer guide!