Review: Everyone will thank you for using Bit-Tuner Retro Guitar Tuner

Tune your six-string with retro chiptunes, with this easy-to-use, open-source freeware.

Bit-Tuner Retro Guitar Tuner's old-school coolness comes from chiptunes. This portable, open-source freeware generates electronic tones from the dawn of the video game era that help you achieve accurate Standard Tuning on your six-string guitar. You control Bit-Tuner with your keyboard's directional arrows, but you can also configure different key combos if your keyboard lacks directional arrows, or if you just want to. Bit-Tuner is also compatible (and configurable) with most USB gamepads and controllers, too. Bit-Tuner 1.0 only offers Standard Tuning, but developer Tom Pereira calls it a "first edition," so future releases may offer more tunings.

We extracted Bit-Tuner's folder and opened it to start the program and also view the README file, which has basic instructions for using this tool. But the program's title window, which takes up fully half of Bit-Tuner's ultra-compact, ultra-basic user interface, actually explains most of what you need to know about Bit-Tuner with almost haiku-like simplicity: BIT-TUNER, STANDARD TUNING, USE ARROW KEYS TO CHOOSE NOTES. Below that, Bit-Tuner simulates a row of seven red LEDs, labeled with Standard Tuning's two-octave, low-to-high E tuning, EADGBE, plus a "No sign" as a stoplight. The menu bar has two items, a File menu with one entry, exit; and a Settings menu accessing Keyboard and Controller settings for alternative control schemes. The tools for changing keyboard and controller options are flexible and most welcome, but they need some work, like better labeling. But Bit-Tuner is an open-source work-in-progress, and the fact is, it does what it's supposed to do with no fuss.

We pressed the Right arrow, and Bit-Tuner began generating a pulsing low-E tone that played continuously, as long as the tool was on top of the desktop (note to Tom: Always On Top option). Pressing the Right or Left arrow moved the tones up or down the scale (same for the Up and Down arrows). Moving back to the No sign stopped the tone, too. Some audio options might be useful (future upgrade?) but since any steady, accurate tone does the job, why settle for less than Bit-Tuner's 8-bit retro goodness?

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