Handheld Bot Takes The Tedium Out Of Guitar Tuning

Automatic guitar tuning robot

Even with fancy smartphone apps and custom-built tuners, tuning a guitar can be a tedious process, especially for the beginner. Pluck a string, figure out if the note is sharp or flat, tighten or loosen accordingly, repeat. Then do the same thing for all six strings. It’s no wonder some people never get very far with the guitar.

Luckily, technology can come to the rescue in the form of this handy open-source automatic guitar tuner by [Guyrandy Jean-Gilles]. The tuner has a Raspberry Pi Pico inside, with a microphone attached to the ADC. The program running on the Pico listens for the sound of a plucked string and determines whether the note is sharp or flat. The Pico then drives a small DC gear motor in the appropriate direction, which turns the peg the right way to bring the string into tune. The tuner makes ample use of 3D-printed parts, STLs for which are included in the project repo. [Guyrandy] has also made some updates to the project to make the tuner a little easier to use.

While there’s an affordable commercial version of this — upon which [Guyrandy] based his design — we really like the fact that he rolled his own here, and made the design freely accessible to everyone. We also like the idea that guitarists who can’t use tuners requiring visual feedback can use this, too — just like this one.

[via r/raspberry_pi]

13 thoughts on “Handheld Bot Takes The Tedium Out Of Guitar Tuning

  1. This only tunes in E standard. It would be nice to be able to select a tuning (at least standard and drop tunings with different base notes). It could also have a 6.3mm jack alongside the microphone for detecting the pitch from pickups.

  2. Neat. Could not tell from the readme if it does tune down past the mark and then back up to finish? That’s what you’re supposed to do if it is too high, so that the string ends up properly tightened and hold in tone longer.

    I’m old enough that “back in may day” we used a whistle (sorry, no idea for the proper English name) tuned usually to the open A or D; would get one string in tune, then carry it over to the others by playing the same note on two strings at the same time and then zeroing the beat frequency. It was (still is) a simple but good ear exercise, and I always check my tuning this way after using the electronic tuner.

      1. I had the same concern.
        It’s always best to tune “up” to a note!!!
        Also, I learned to tune the same way you did. I had a pitch pipe with a good old 440hz-A and that was all I needed!!! 😉

  3. A clip-on meter is great for picking up a clear pitch from any guitar – acoustic, electric, or bass – even with background noise. Would highly recommend that approach. Even worked for a clarinet…!

    Don’t know how easy they are to DIY though.

    1. Yeah that surprised me even about the commercial ones. The contact-based piezo tuners are so slick, I was surprised that a fancier automatic one didn’t use it. Not sure how they do it other than I’ve heard them called piezo tuners so presumably use a piezo element as the pickup?

    1. Sure in theory there’s no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. And anyway, some of the hack value for me is based on “cool result” (and “open source” in this case, I think I have all the parts!) and not just “hard to do”

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