The marketers are billing it as a robotic guitar. It will automatically tune your instrument. Technology Review gives more technical details, but a more pop news side of the story is linked here. For the past few years, if you wanted a custom job, you could have your guitar reworked for some thousands of dollars, and it would look like what you see on the left.
My ear for tuning seems to have lost some acuity over the past five years, but I can’t see ever investing in something like this. I’d give up music and take up watercolors before I’d let someone else tune my instruments.
The only upside is for guitarists who play multiple tunings within a single event–most of these people have multiple guitars tuned in different ways to suit different songs. No doubt, it’s inconvenient to retune an instrument in the middle of a performance. Church giggers get the homily if they’re quiet enough.
But the notion that an ordinary guitarist will have the tuning done for her or him–it’s just against a basic skill and understanding every good musician should have.
Every musician, pianists and organists included, should know how to tune their instrument. It’s part of the basic understanding of being a musician: how your tools work, and the kind of craft that is needed to permit good music-making. Which isn’t to say I particularly like tuning a piano. And organ tuning is most often a team job.
A self-tuning piano … I’d like to know how much they’d need to put into graduating from six to twelve strings up to 230.