Want to keep your six-string guitar singing sweetly while you’re on the road? Look no further than the gStrings app, a dedicated chromatic tuner that allows musicians to measure musical pitch and adjust their axe for a variety of frequency ranges.
The gStrings home screen is easy to read from a distance, thanks to a simple design dominated by an oversize analog audio meter. A small horizontal band above the meter scrolls left and right to show any note you wish to play or tune to, including sharps and flats, while three fat control buttons make it easy to work with the tuner when your hands are otherwise occupied with the business of making music.
Those three buttons allow you to tune an instrument dynamically by playing a reference note or sampling a tone through your phone’s microphone to determine the dominant frequency and intensity. We tested gStrings on a Motorola Droid running Android 2.1, and found the microphone surprisingly accurate in measuring pitch when compared with a dedicated tuner. Advanced users can adjust their microphone sensitivity to particular threshold intensities to filter out ambient sound; you can even optimize the tuner for specific instruments such as the violin, guitar, and ukulele.
The tuning options get even more granular for trained musicians, offering variable tone frequencies (to tune for classical orchestra work) and allowing for harmonic product spectrum analysis. The average guitar player on the go won’t have much use for these advanced functions (and they far outstrip our musical ability when it comes to testing), but they’re a great addition to an already robust tuner. Multiple skins for the interface are also available, and for a small donation users can upgrade to gStrings+, an optimized version of the free app that offers more processing power and an adjustable nonlinear scale function. The free version of gStrings is rock-solid stable and completely free of ads, so consider donating if you want to encourage high-quality design and the inclusion of useful features such as a metronome and a greater variety of specific instrument-optimization options.