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It seems as though everyone is coming out with pedal tuners these days, and once you try one, you realize why. They can offer as much tuning accuracy as the more traditional tuners we have been using for the past couple of decades, and the convenience of having a tuner at your disposal, at any time, quickly becomes indispensable.
Dean Markley has introduced the PT-13 Chromatic Tuner to get in on the burgeoning pedal tuner scene. This little pearl white, diecast beauty feels nice and sturdy when fetching it out of the box. It features one input, two outputs – out and bypass – plus a 9V in. Everything needed and nothing more. A nice, big, round, easy to read display aids in keeping even the most myopic rockers among us in tune.
You know how pedal manufacturers seal the batteries in cellophane for shipping? And how that’s a great thing, because back in the day it was either: “Battery? Go buy your own!” or “We’re thinking of you! Here’s a battery! Oh, it is dead, isn’t it?” Normally, given the previous choices available, the hassle of prying the battery cover off to take the plastic off and hook it up is a small one. Notice that I prefaced the previous sentence with normally. We only had the one to test, but opening the battery compartment required two editors, some fingernail clippers, and enough colorful language to make Tony Soprano blush. In the interest of fairness, it subsequently worked as advertised after the initial curse-fest.
Once we resolved the power issues, it was time to plug in. Unplugging the battery (getting into the compartment wasn’t so hard the second time) indicated we had ourselves some genuine true bypass switching going on, which is a fine thing indeed. Replacing the battery, we ran some signal through the tuner and A/B’ed it with a straight to the amp signal which confirmed the true bypass action with nary a hint of tone suck. With all of the prerequisites out of the way, we decided to finally test what this thing is actually supposed to do: tune a guitar.
The PT-13 offers up a muting function while engaged, and tuning up was very intuitive and straight-forward. Turn up your volume, step on the pedal, and go. The easy-to-read display indicates which string you’re picking, and a series of LEDs around a semi-circle indicate whether you are sharp or flat. Once again, everything you need and nothing you don’t. On the left face of the tuner resides a Pitch button, which changes the tuner’s reference frequency, so tuning to that old piano at the VFW is no problem. It’s situated in a place that is both easily accessible, yet in absolutely no danger of being stepped on. Same with the Flat button – which sits across on the right side of the pedal – whose function is to let you use flat tunings, so your Hendrix covers can sound even more authentic.
If you’re in the market for a new pedal tuner, definitely put this one on the list. True bypass switching plus an intelligent design make this one easy to recommend.