When I played the mandolin, many years ago, in the youth orchestra of my hometown, no one told me there are such things as a tuner or a metronome. I tuned my mandolin by ear, hoping I am doing it right, and practiced various rhythm options by myself. Only years later I discovered how a simple metronome tuner device could have made my life so much easier.Music students today are never taught like that. My son plays the guitar, and very quickly he had a tuner and metronome apps on his Smartphone. Same for my daughter. In the first few weeks after she started playing she always came to me to tune her guitar. Sometime after she stopped, I asked her how she is doing. Turns out she is tuning now her guitar herself, using an app. Smartphone apps make the usage of these aids much more widespread than ever.
What about those electronic simple devices? Is someone using them anymore?
The answer is – yes and no. The demand for them is definitely going down. Looking at the graphs of the demands for metronomes and tuners in Google trends for the last few years shows a definite decline, while the demand for “guitar tuner app” is on the rise. Even the demand for “online metronome” is going down. Young students are all using their Smartphone apps.But more experienced musicians are still using the physical metronome tuners. No metronome app has yet all the options given in a good physical metronome tuner, and there is no substitute to a clip-on tuner that can pick the vibrations straight from you guitar and help you make an exact tuning.Is this going to change? Will the apps grow to be so good that we will soon be seeing violinists and rock starts tuning their instruments on stage using their phone?
My guess is no. Smart phones are designed for many purposes, but having a good metronome on hand is not one of the main purposes of any phone or iPhone, and good old digital metronomes will always be superior. The professional musicians will prefer having their physical metronome devices, giving them good audio and visual signals to all their various tempos etc.
The same goes for tuners. You can’t clip your iPhone to your guitar head. A good clip-on acoustic guitar tuner or electric guitar tuner will be more sensitive than any Smart-phone. When you have an orchestra with 10-40 players all tuning their devices at once, you need a device that is not influenced from the outside noise, and only a clip-on device will serve this purpose.