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  • Writer's pictureJay EuDaly

Clip-On This!

Updated: Apr 5

This is a rant concerning clip-on tuners. When I say "rant" that means it's emotional. Consider this a trigger warning.

Keep in mind this rant is coming from a performing guitarist, a guy who is onstage in front of people; anywhere from 2-5 shows a week.

Yes, they're convenient.

Some players insist that they don't work &/or are inaccurate. In my experience, they work - except when you're playing an outside gig during the day and can't see the readout.

Yes, I use them.

What then is the problem?

They're ugly. And that annoys the crap out of me!

Aesthetics are important. Read, The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet by Thomas Dubay.

"Dubay explores the reasons why all of the most eminent physicists of the twentieth century agree that beauty is the primary standard for scientific truth. Likewise, the best of contemporary theologians are also exploring with renewed vigor the aesthetic dimensions of divine revelation."

Ok, forget the appeal to science and theology and why beauty is a transcendent quality in and of itself (that's one reason why music is so significant). It's simple; the way things look is important.

Let's say I have a $10,000 guitar - or a $200 guitar, doesn't matter. Even a used, beat-up guitar has beauty.

It has symmetry, form and pleasing lines. You want to gaze at it, don't you? One of my students remarked,

"It's so Freudian it's embarrassing."

The color, the shape of the body - Strat, Les Paul, Tele, SG - these and many others are body templates for many brands of guitars. How about the shape of the sound holes, whether they are f-holes or s-holes on an electric hollow-body or a round or oval sound hole on an acoustic. The variations of all these things (and much more) are not random, and one of the overarching concerns is aesthetics.

I would draw your attention especially to the headstock; the shape of the headstock is the patentable part of a guitar. Each brand has its own unique, patented headstock shape. Many different brands have the same body shape, the same neck dimensions and the same hardware. But it's the headstock shape that distinguishes one brand from another. THAT is the thing that makes that guitar visually identifiable.

It's easy to understand therefore that a lot of thought goes into not only the function (very important!), but also the aesthetics of headstock design. The brand is identifiable by the silhouette of its headstock:

guitar headstocks

BTW: Now can you appreciate this (LOL!)?:

So now I'm gonna clip a butt-ugly $20 tuner onto a $5,000 instrument, not just anywhere on the instrument, but on the brand-identifying part of the instrument - and trash the aesthetic!

clip-on tuner on a PRS McCarty

I know...turn it around so the thing is on the back of the headstock and not visible to the audience (I still see it!), and yes, there are some brands that are less obtrusively ugly than the one pictured above, but all of them involve a clamp that ruins the line of the headstock.

That's why, after tuning, I remove the tuner from my guitar and put it on the amp or in a pocket.

Because looking at a $20 piece-of-shit-cancerous-growth-looking-thing clamped onto my beautiful $5,000 guitar just pisses me off!

Maybe you don't care about how things look and only care about function. Fine, I get it.

I can't help caring about how it looks, but that's just me.


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Mar 20

Sounds like someone with OCD needs a year or two of Therapy?

Jay EuDaly
Jay EuDaly
Mar 20
Replying to

Guilty…although I doubt therapy would work. Besides, it’s the OCD that’s made me the guitarist that I am, for whatever that’s worth! 🤪


Mar 18

Hmmm… did you ever clip on your tuner so that the display is behind the headstock. Might ease the pain a little. 😆

Keep on rockin'!!

Jay EuDaly
Jay EuDaly
Mar 18
Replying to

That’s how I do it. I don’t leave it on. The clamp still ruins the line of the headstock.

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