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Tuner for a blind musician

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wilco 31 Jan 03 - 06:03 PM
mooman 31 Jan 03 - 08:48 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 31 Jan 03 - 09:03 PM
Jim Krause 31 Jan 03 - 10:56 PM
GUEST,Mikey joe 02 Feb 03 - 02:25 PM
wilco 05 Feb 03 - 09:26 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Feb 03 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Mikey joe 05 Feb 03 - 11:04 AM
Mark Clark 05 Feb 03 - 12:16 PM
Gurney 06 Feb 03 - 05:15 AM
pattyClink 06 Feb 03 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Cory 19 Jan 11 - 12:37 PM
Pig William 19 Jan 11 - 12:52 PM
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Subject: Tuner for a blind musician
From: wilco
Date: 31 Jan 03 - 06:03 PM

A friend, who is a terrific musician, is totally blind. he always gets one of us to tune his insturments, and then we all tune together.
    This is fine when someone is with him, but I would like to buy him a tuner that might "talk" or something like that. Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: mooman
Date: 31 Jan 03 - 08:48 PM

Wouldn't a simple tuning fork in a convenient key, e.g. A or E, be the cheapest and most convenient solution? I've used one all my musical life and although I have an Intellitouch tuner also, which is very handy on a badly lit stage, the first thing I turn to at home for guitar, banjo, mandolin or octave mandolin is still usually the humble and convenient tuning fork!

Just a thought! Maybe someone knows of a device like the one you mention.

All the best,


P.S. Or even old-fashioned pitch pipes?

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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 31 Jan 03 - 09:03 PM

Korg has a couple of tuners that will play reference pitches through their own internal speakers. Like this one. But, like mooman, I don't see where there would be a real advantage to an electronically generated tone as opposed to plain old pitchpipes.


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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: Jim Krause
Date: 31 Jan 03 - 10:56 PM

I'm with mooman. Seiko doesn't make my favorite tuner anymore. It's big, it's clunky, and I've been known to leave it behind sometime. But tuning forks are the best. I don't particularly like those new fangled tuners because they are hard to see for those of us musicians with low vision. Luckily I have good ears, and deafness, so my MD uncle assures me, does not run in the family. Perhaps your friend is as lucky as I. Many blind or near blind folks do have excellent hearing.
    As far as tuning my fiddle, I use an A-440 tuning fork, and listen for the beats. These are the sound waves, I guess that are doing their thing. When the beats go away, I know the instrument is in tune. Putting the fiddle up next to my collar bone in near playing position, I can actually feel the wood vibrating in a peculiar manner if any of the two ajacent strings are not in tune with each other. Feeling the wood vibrate in this manner can also be done on either guitar or mandolin, too.

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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: GUEST,Mikey joe
Date: 02 Feb 03 - 02:25 PM


Barry A. Romich Prentke Romich Company Wooster, OH


As a result of severe visual impairment a professional singer and songwriter, well known in RESNA circles, was unable to see the LED indicators on an electronic guitar tuner. A simple circuit was designed to be built into the tuner to monitor the LED drive circuits and generate a corresponding audible indication in an earphone. The implementation was successful and, with appropriate modifications, should be generalizable to other items using LED or incandescent lamp indicators. A circuit diagram is available.


People with severe visual impairments generally find it either difficult or impossible to use common items that utilize visual indicators. In this case, a professional singer and songwriter who is legally blind wanted to make use of a small handheld portable battery powered electronic guitar tuner 1. This is an especially valuable device in particular situations, such as when tuning in a noisy environment. The tuner has LEDs to indicate the string being tuned (one of six) and whether the tone is FLAT, SHARP, or IN TUNE. If no note is detected, then none of the tuning LEDs are lighted.


The singer was able to tune each string to the general desired tone, and thus did not need to have an alternative indication of the notes. However, he did want to have an alternative indication of the FLAT, SHARP, and IN TUNE LEDs.


A system was proposed to the singer in which he would use an earphone to listen for audible indications of the tuning LEDs. Each LED would produce a different tone in the earphone. The IN TUNE LED would produce a pleasant middle C range tone. The FLAT and SHARP LEDs would produce correspondingly lower and higher tones. The singer agreed to proceeding with a prototype design.

In addition to the basic function, design criteria included ease of use, construction inside the enclosure, low battery drain, low cost, and ease of replication.


The tuner was opened and the power and LED drive circuits were traced. The unit was powered by a nine volt battery with a five volt regulator supplying power to the digital circuits. It was proposed that the tone generating circuit be powered at the five volt level in order to take advantage of the system for powering up and back down, which happens automatically after a preset time.

The three subject tuning LEDs were driven by low true circuits. Of course, only one would be on at a time and with no note being detected all three would be off. A common CMOS low power timer circuit was selected to implement the function.


Even though the tuner was small, the enclosure had ample open internal space. The "freespace" circuit was attached to the tuner circuit board and wired to the power and LED drive circuits. An earphone jack was added. In addition to the three tones, a very low frequency ticking is a reminder that the power is still on when no tone is being detected.


The completed unit was evaluated by the singer. He has commented repeatedly that, for the first time since losing his sight, he has the pleasure of playing a virtually perfectly tuned instrument. He refers to the solution as elegant in that it provides the desired function with essentially no additional demands on him or other adverse effects.


The manufacturer of the tuner was contacted and an agent indicated that they receive occasional requests for modifications of this nature. The design is being shared with them.

With appropriate modifications, the design should be able to be implemented on other devices that use LED indicators.

A circuit diagram is available by contacting the author.

1. Model PIK-700 Sabine Musical Manufacturing Co., Inc. 4637 N.W. 6th St. Gainesville, FL 32609 Tel: 904-371-3829

Barry Romich, Prentke Romich Company ,1022 Heyl Road Wooster, OH 44691 Tel.: 216-262-1984 ext. 211 Fax: 216-263- 4829 e-mail:

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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: wilco
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 09:26 AM


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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 09:29 AM

There was a thread about all this last year. Might be worth trying to find it - I can't remember what it was headed.

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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: GUEST,Mikey joe
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 11:04 AM

McGrath I should have said my post above is the fruit born from last years thread. There is no need to look although it is there if you want.


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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: Mark Clark
Date: 05 Feb 03 - 12:16 PM

Moonman nailed it. There is no better tuner for guitar than a good quality A-440 tuning fork. This is true for sighted folks as well as the blind. In a situation with high ambient noise levels, just place your ear against the side of the guitar; you'll hear the pitches and "beats" clearly.

      - Mark

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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: Gurney
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 05:15 AM

I have a cheap battery powered small tuner for guitar EADGBE which plays the tones, has LEDS and liquid crystal display. It is made in China , called a QWiK Tune (small i) and cost $NZ20/$US10
Haven't seen a freeby one on the WWW that plays all the tones, but it's worth looking. There are several freebys for the sighted.

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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: pattyClink
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 09:38 AM

Are tuning forks expensive? What about a set, one for each string, marked with tape on the handles for quick I.D.

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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: GUEST,Cory
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 12:37 PM

Tuning forks or anything else that just genorates tones to tune to is very impractical and a band gigging situation. I am also a blind musician and have been handing off my guitars to band members before shows to tune. I just stumbled on this discussion and wanted to chime in through my own personal experience. In a gigging environment, at least atmost places I play, between sets, or when we're showcasing, the house music is usually pumping and half the time it's pumping through the stage monitors. Maybe some of you are good enough to tune an electric guitar with the amp still on stand by to a tuning fork in a 100DB environment, but that's not me.

Also we need to consider speed. When my 7 piece original band is showcasing we have a 45 min set, with about 5 minutes set-up time. Tuning to tones will eat my whole 5 mins, never mind hooking up the rest of my rig. Tuning to indicators is far faster I'd imagine.

Playing in bands where we do 4 sets and play all night, it would also be nice to achieve the type of retuning between songs that doesn't draw attention to itself. Not much will clear a dancefloor faster than right after a killer dance tune, the guitarists starting tuning out loud with amps still blaring. Always smarter to run your tuner in front of your volume peddal, turn the volume down and be able to tune. With my current set-up, unfortunately this isn't an option, so one of the things that annoys me more than just about anything else, I'm forced to do.

I'm going to have to check out this tuner that has different sounds for sharp or flat and in tune. I've wanted something like that for a long time, but just haven't done the research to see what's out there.

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Subject: RE: Tuner for a blind musician
From: Pig William
Date: 19 Jan 11 - 12:52 PM

My colleague created a tuner for another colleague who is visually-impaired, you can find the details here in case it's helpful

Cheers, Mark

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