Planet Waves PW-CT-12 NS tuner

The Planet Waves PW-CT-12 NS works, at least for a couple of hours. It all depends on the actual unit you got. But more on that later. What do you want from a guitar tuner? If you want it to be able to tune quickly and accurately, without it getting in the way or breaking down, you will be happy with this little headstock tuner. It’s a real improvement over Planet Waves‘ previous design, the PW-CT-10. That one was bigger, a bit pricier and it was prone to breakage over the pivot pin, especially after a few years use. The new PW-CT-12 was designed by Ned Steinberger, who’s a true inventor in the field of electric and electroacoustic stringed instruments.

Small and well designed

Planet Waves PW-CT-12 NS headstock tunerIt’s made out of the same black plastic, but instead of using the usual clothespin method, it’s got a ratchet mechanism inside, which is very simple, but very effective at the same time, and doesn’t require as many parts as the other kind of design. You just put it on the headstock where you like it and press it on – it will stay there. Due to the smaller size, you can actually leave it on your guitar even when you put it in your case.

Usable display

The display is placed on the bottom of the device, so it goes on the bottom side of your headstock – it works with all kinds of headstocks, no matter if it’s a 3+3 or a 6 in line type. You can also turn the display fully around (360 degree), this way you can point it to the exact position where you want it to be. The LCD has the same red-green-over-black-background colors as the previous tuner, although in a slightly different design – the mini tuner has fewer, vertical “needles”, and there’s one of them appearing on each side of the letter of the note when you’re in tune, while their color turns from red to green at the same time. I have to say though, it works just as accurately, on all kinds of stringed instruments that are able to resonate the headstock enough to make the piezo sensor work inside the tuner.

Safe for your headstocks

Of course there’s the usual rubber pad at where the device meets the wood of the headstock. There are two buttons on the bottom of the tuner; one is the on-off switch, the other one is for calibration, so you can set the frequency of the A note with it, in the 430 – 450Hz range, the default setting is 440Hz. The tuner turns off automatically after a few seconds (in case you haven’t picked any of the strings) to preserve battery life, but it stays in standby mode, so as soon as you start playing, the display lights up again.

Not each one of them are perfect

So it’s all nice and good, until I decided to get a 2nd one, in the 2nd half of 2013. It’s got the updated, three color display. Now let me tell you, this thing sucks the life out of a brand new battery cell in about a day. Yep. And I mean it’s being turned off most of the time, except when I (attempt) to tune with it. Now I put the “attempt to” part there, because this one just does not work with bass. For some reason, it doesn’t pick up the E string, no matter how I place it on the headstock. Well, I hope they improved their quality control for the newer models. If it works, it works good, after all.

The battery compartment has a plastic door with a groove in it, so you can open it with either a coin or your nails, among other things (is that you in the gutter?). The device requires a CR2032 battery, and it lasts longer in a good PW-CT-12 than it did in the PW-CT-10. A battery is included in the box.

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