Rant about "modes" on Boss tuner

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Lobster11, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    This rant is motivated by a very frustrating experience I had at band practice recently in which I was unable to get my bass properly tuned using my Boss tuner. It wasn't until the next day that I figured out that the problem evidently was the result of my inadvertently having switched the tuner into a different "mode" than the one I ordinarily use. (That button is awfully easy to press accidentally.)

    Anyway, once I realized that this had been my problem, I went back to the manual to study up on the various modes available on this tuner. And the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that most of these modes are completely unnecessary and are much more likely to cause problems (like mine) than to be useful. I've always just used the "chromatic" mode: When you pluck a string, it displays the name of the note you're closest to -- e.g., G, or A#, or whatever -- and you adjust your tuning accordingly. If you switch it to "bass" mode, however, it displays the number of the string that you're plucking rather than the note name: e.g., it displays "1" when you pluck the open G string (presumably assuming that the intended note is G), "2" when you pluck the open D, etc. In "guitar" mode it does the same thing, but evidently assuming that the intended note for string 1 is E, for string 2 is B, etc. And then there are other modes for tuning a bass or guitar down a half-step, in which it presumably assumes that 1st string (for bass) is F#/Gb, the 2nd string is C#/Db, etc.

    So my question is, what the hell is the value in having all these different modes, when "chromatic" mode tells you everything you need to know under all circumstances? I mean, I don't need the tuner to tell me that I'm tuning string "1" -- I know which freakin' string I'm plucking. I know that this string should be tuned to G. And I know that if I wanted to tune everything a half-step down, that open string should be tuned F# instead of G. And I certainly know whether I'm tuning a guitar or a bass, for God's sake.

    Can someone please explain to me why all these options exist -- especially when it is so easy to inadvertently choose a wrong option? The only plausible explanation I can think of is for the benefit of players who don't actually know the names of the notes that their open strings should be tuned to, and/or do not know what notes are a half-step below those respective notes. Really, are there so many bassists and guitarists who do not know these things that these "solution" have to be built into the pedal????!!!!!

    I swear I would like this tuner 10x as much if it didn't have these stupid modes....
    chris merrill and Seanbassplayer like this.
  2. Seanbassplayer


    Oct 14, 2016
    I know exactly what you mean same happened to me at practise due to hitting the mode button by accident and I admit I had a couple bevvies and I couldn't figure out what the he'll I did. I like you just wanna see the note I'm hitting and I know what string I'm plucking and what note that string should be depending on what what I'm playing that's it lol. I actually just lost my tu 2 through my move so thinking on a tc polytune mini or pitchblack mini as I don't want another boss tuner.
  3. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    I've owned the same TU-2 since 2000 and this is a complete non-issue for me. I tune before any sort of rehearsal or gig and always, ALWAYS check the mode before doing so.
    danster and Seanbassplayer like this.
  4. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    Personally, I've always set the mode to 'bass' whenever tuning a bass guitar, and 'guitar' when tuning a regular 6-string.

    Honestly, though, it's a bit confusing to hear complaints about one of the best BOSS pedals out there having "too many settings".. I'd buy a TU-3 only if this warhorse TU-2 bit the dust. It's been an integral part of my board not only for the ease of use but also for it's fantastic secondary (and sometimes overlooked) function- being an instant mute switch
    danster and 10cc like this.
  5. Seanbassplayer


    Oct 14, 2016
    Don't get me wrong my tu 2 served me well and was quite happy with it. I was merely agreeing with previous post about how easy you can change the mode and throw you a curve ball. Now I have to buy a new tuner and going to try a new flavour. Actually I'm surprised boss hasn't come out with a polyphonic tuner tbh.
  6. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    But if the only mode available were "chromatic mode," which just showed you the name of the note you were tuning irrespective of whether it was a bass or guitar, would that make it any less useful to you?

    To be clear, I'm not complaining about any aspect of the tuner except the inclusion of what seem to be a set of unnecessary functions. And BTW, I agree that one of its most useful functions is as a mute.

    I'm all in favor of adding useful features where possible; it just seems to me that this particular set of options is completely unnecessary. And adding features comes with costs that have to be outweighed by the benefits: For example, it is that many more things that can break. And, in this case, the extra modes (and a prominent, easy-to-push button to change them) makes it all-to-easy to put it into the wrong mode by mistake. I suppose you can avoid this by always checking the mode before tuning, but then that's one more thing to have to think about that I don't want to have to think about when I'm setting up.

    The other thing is that the only reason I can think of for including the other modes (besides "chromatic") is for the benefit of people who do not know the names of the notes that their open strings are supposed to be tuned to. But if that's the case, those people could learn the names of those notes/strings much more quickly and easily than they could figure out what all these damn modes do. And call me a snob if you want, but I think this is just something people should learn if they're going to play a bass or guitar, and designing these modes into the pedal seem like a long way to go to save them from having to do so.

    Finally, let me add that my ranting is at least partly tongue-in-cheek. Honestly, I'm a lot more annoyed at myself for not having figured out my problem more quickly than I am at Boss for designing the pedal this way. ;)
  7. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    You just answered your own question. The "value" isn't to the end-user; the value is to BOSS, who can now sell tuners not just to musicians, but also to morons who own musical equipment. More sales = more money.
  8. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    Yeah, I get that, and I'm certainly cynical enough to believe it. But let's think this through. Suppose you're one of those folks who has a guitar and who doesn't know the note names corresponding to the open strings. First, do you go out and spend 50-60 bucks on a tuner? Second, if you do, do you comparison shop and choose the Boss because it has a tuning mode that doesn't require you to know the notes? (Would you even be able to tell from product-info pages or advertisements?) And if the Boss didn't have these modes, would you buy a different tuner for that reason -- just to avoid having the learn the notes?

    To my mind, that doesn't quite add up. So I'm going to go with a variation of this explanation: I suspect it's simply that many or most people assume that when it comes to "features," more is better -- without really thinking about the details and whether those extra features are actually useful or not.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    One of the best guitar players I ever met couldn't tell you a single note on the neck. A chromatic tuner wouldn't do him a bit of good.

    Yes, I admit that is a very rare case.
    Lobster11 likes this.
  10. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    It's the "tab" of the tuning world. I'll see myself out...
    wncBass, ahc, holy ghost and 4 others like this.
  11. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    I'd only be interested in the chromatic setting.

    Hell IMO, the string number order is backwards. On a 4 string, I view the E string as #1...
    Lobster11, tzohn and viper4000 like this.
  12. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Having worked in a couple different musical instrument retail stores back in my sordid youth, it makes perfect sense to me:

    The guy who "doesn't know the note names corresponding to the open strings" will spend 50-60 bucks on a tuner, because he's willing to do whatever it takes to play in tune with his brahs ...so long as it doesn't involve having to learn how to use his ear, or having to learn any music theory [sic].

    And those very same guys wouldn't comparison shop, or read product info pages; instead they would walk into the local Guitar Center and say "I need to get me one of those tuner things, but I don't know dookie about music or note names." And the GC salespeson -- who works primarily for commissions -- will deftly walk past all the $12 clip-on tuners and show him the $60 BOSS (or the equivalent Fisher-Price MyFirstTuner®).
    Lobster11 likes this.
  13. cataract

    cataract Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Columbia SC
    If you have complaints about what BOSS set out to do with their tuning pedals, I think you're missing the point-- having a decent tuner with plenty of options shoved into a rugged & familiar BOSS pedal chassis, powered by a 9V power supply or battery, easily used by itself or incorporated into your effects chain, the option to hear the note you're tuning through your amplifier or having an easy way to mute your instrument between songs/during songs for dramatic effect/before playing while your tubes warm up.

    The chromatic mode vs. bass/guitar modes is a moot point, and I don't think playing experience or musical knowledge plays into the selection preference of any of the tuning modes; some people prefer to just know if the note they're tuning is tuned without having to see the name of the note-- the end result of selecting either setting to tune is exactly the same- ultimately, it's not at all overwhelming to use, and for having paid maybe $100 for mine back in the year 2000 makes this one of my best investments as far as gear goes.
    Bob_Ross, Bassman Spiff and ERicks like this.
  14. Every piece of gear I own goes haywire when I press the wrong button:)
    Jop vS, Remyd and Lobster11 like this.
  15. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
  16. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    I tried out for a band once where the guitarist didn't know what tuning he was in or the key of any of their songs. IIRC we figured out the producer had put him in drop G#.
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