My trusty 20 year old Korg DT-1 is on its last leg so it was time to go shopping for a new tuner. This tuner lasted me through a lot of rough handling in high school, college, and beyond. The fact that the Korg lasted as many years as it had me favoring another Korg tuner. Back in the 1980′s that tuner cost me about $100 if I recall right. The tuner never gave me any problems except that a few of the LED’s had stopped working over the years so I had to rely on my sense of pitch to substitute for the led’s that used to light up above Bb & Gb. It worked great until recently when I would have to hit it harder and harder to get it to start working. At that point, it was time to buy a new one.
When I was shopping for a new tuner, there were some features of the DT-1 that I wanted to have in my new tuner. Some of the features that I liked about the Korg DT-1 over other types of tuners was that it could be viewed low lighting situations. Back when it first was introduced, most tuners were the needle type which were fragile, due to the mechanical nature of them. Later I saw a lot of people using LCD tuners, but didn’t like them because they were hard to read in dark settings (even with the backlights). When you backlight something, you’re essentially looking its shadow, which isn’t as easy to read as a straightforward LED. The LCD simulated needle was also hard to read at a distance, because it was a thin line. The LCD’s also seemed slower and visually not very responsive to slight changes in pitch, but that could also be because those tuners were cheap.
The downside of the DT-1 was that the small LED’s got washed out outdoors. If I had to read it in that situation, I would have to cup the tuner so that the LED’s wouldn’t get washed out. Since the LED’s lit above an ink labeled letter for each of the 12 tones, it was also difficult to use in complete darkness since you wouldn’t know what note letter that the led was lit above. It was always accurate, reliable, and easy to use overall.
When I started shopping for the new tuner, I was drawn to the DT-4, which incorporated the same concepts but had a lot of improvements. A few revisions have passed since I purchased my DT-1 and it looks like Korg did not sit idle on their product. The DT-4 has larger and far brighter LED’s that were much harder to wash out in sunlight, it was even more compact, and it responded quickly just like the DT-1. The DT-4 also lights up the letter of the tone that you are playing so that you can use this in complete darkness. Best of all I was finding these at $30 at stores because of some heavy discounting out there. The tuner was very accurate and responsive to slight pitch changes, which allows for easy tuning. Since almost everyone has them now priced at more than 60% off, it’s a great time to try out the new Korg DT-4 tuner. I highly recommend it for use on our upright bass.
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