When the original PolyTune tuner pedal was released back in 2010, it quickly became a fan favorite amongst guitarists. With its key features such as polyphonic tuning, bright LED matrix with auto dimming, a tuning magnet which slowed the needle as guitarist approached the correct pitch and mono/poly technology that sensed whether guitarists played one or six strings (and instantly adjusted accordingly), the original PolyTune pretty much cemented itself as the new standard in tuning.
Since then, TC Electronic followed with a pretty nifty iOS app along with a compact version of its namesake, the PolyTune Mini. Now the Danish company is back with the PolyTune 2, leaving many to wonder whether this pedal is merely a slight upgrade or a huge jump forward worthy of replacing the original. Well, let’s find out.
First off, both the OG PolyTune and its successor essentially look exactly alike. You’d think TC would at least add the number 2 somewhere on the box! Seriously – beyond a few subtle differences, it’s rather hard to tell which is which unless you have them both side-by-side, but with that said, there definitely are some differences.
The first thing users of the original will notice with the PolyTune 2 is how much bigger and brighter the display is – very bright, actually – which allows for optimal visibility whether you’re gigging at a dark, smoky bar or in full daylight. It also automatically adjusts the brightness thanks to a built in sensor. Another nice upgrade that users should enjoy is the ultra-precise strobe mode that (as far as my experience is concerned) offered unparalleled levels of precision and speed.
For those of you out there unfamiliar with either of the two pedals, the Poly in PolyTune refers to the fact that you can check all your strings at once, something that most tuner pedals can only dream of doing. Its seriously as simple as strumming your guitar open (without any fretted notes), after which the pedal will show you whether any strings are flat or sharp. You can also do individual strings like a traditional tuner. Furthermore, it also has the option of a chromatic mode to indicate a string’s pitch using an LED needle.
Just like the original, the PolyTune 2 offers a dedicated bass mode along with presets for alternate tunings such as the popular drop-D and capo positions up to the fifth fret. As mentioned above, the PolyTune 2 also features a strobe tuning function which works great for those looking for an extremely precise tuner that is easy to use and fast. It also offers the ability to recalibrate frequencies beyond the standard A = 440 – a nice addition for those looking to experiment with custom note frequencies.
And like your standard stompbox, the PolyTune 2 is powered by either a 9-volt battery or an AC adapter which is unfortunately not included. It also comes with a USB port for firmware upgrades in the future.
I had my first chance to use the PolyTune 2 about a couple of weeks ago and decided to mess around with it a bit during a not so serious practice sessions with a few of my fellow musicians. Being a veteran of the original PolyTune as well as the PolyTune app, this new pedals was a breeze to use. Even those with no prior experience should get the hang of this pedal after a minute or so, maybe a tad bit longer if you’re looking to use some of the more exotic features such as the recalibrated frequencies. As expected, the response was lighting fast and I quickly embraced the brighter display which was extremely easy to read, even in the bright confines of our practice room. I even took the pedal out in the sun and was downright amazed and the clarity. All in all, I was more than impressed.
Just like the original, TC Electronics’ PolyTune 2 is easily the best tuner pedal in the market today, surpassing its predecessor by adding a slew of useful features while retaining everything that made the PolyTune 1 a legend. If you’re perfectly happy with your original PolyTune, the additions of 2 might not be enough to compel you to drop another hundred or so but if you’re in the market for a new one, the PolyTune 2 is definitely the way to go. With its brighter display, accurate and fast strobe tuning function and slew of useful features, TC Electronics’ PolyTune line is definitely looking to keep its place as the industry standard.