planet waves micro soundhole tuner (pw-ct-15 ns)

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after falling in love with the ct-12 micro headstock tuner i thought it would be about time to have a look at the soundhole version and how that one fits to my ukuleles. note that ct-15 is the “standard” (guitar) version of the micro soundhole tuner, d’addario also have a dedicated ukulele version, the pw-ct-22. from their website i don’t see any real difference (apart from the new display colors) – and the ct-22 was not available locally at the time of writing anyway. the soundhole tuner is slightly bigger than the headstock version: the front (display & switches) measures 3,5 x 1,5cm, overall depth is approx. 3,5cm. see pictures below for more measurements (scale shown is cm; 1″ = 2,54cm)

display "front" view

technical specs are generally like the headstock version:

  • 3-color display (red = not, yellow = almost, green = in tune)
  • chromatic
  • piezo system
  • calibration range 410-480Hz
  • standard CR2032 battery, easily accessible (just held with a clip)
  • designed to work with soundboards up to 3,8mm (.150″) in thickness – i actually reworked the holding clip slightly for ukulele
  • underside of the clip (the bit resting on the outside of your soundboard) is nicely padded so it wouldn’t leave scratches
  • the ct-15 doesn’t have a metronome function (never used it on the ct-12)

once installed it is even less visible than the ct-12, you really don’t see more than a small black clip the size of your fingernail (1,5 x 1cm). and yet it is easily visible for the player. depending on the individual ukulele (mostly soundhole diameter) switching it on and off can be a bit tricky – after all the tuner is inside the soundhole so you have to work your way around the a-string somehow.

tuning as such is as easy and precise as expected, response on the soundboard is excellent. be aware that the tuner doesn’t show the octave (3 or 4 for ukulele), it is your own responsibility to get that correct. a string overtuned by a full octave will most probably snap before being even close to the correct note, but undertuning could easily happen and will end up with a pretty floppy string. being strictly chromatic the tuner does of course not give any hint which string you are tuning. but hey, you know the basics of your instrument, right? (if unsure have a look here)

but still my final verdict is the same as with the ct-12: definitely a “must have” accessory even though it is a tad less universal than the headstock tuner. the risk of losing a soundhole tuner is for sure next to nothing, this one will not accidentally be knocked off and disappear.

a word of caution, though: the tuner is not completely buzz-free on all of my ukes. i haven’t yet found the exact reason, but a tiny bit of paper as additional padding on the soundboard apparently helps so i don’t really feel pressed for further investigations.

pictures below show the tuner mounted on a pono tenor. note: the slightly off-center position is due to some bracings (parallel to the strings) on the inside.

audience view of mounted tuner
audience’s view
player's view of the mounted tuner inside the soundhole
player’s view (g-string is tuned slightly flat)

i bought mine from amazon (here), but of course it available elsewhere as well.

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