Meideal Clip Tuner T83Z
This is a simple clip tuner designed for the guzheng and guqin. Produced by Meideal, a company that got started in 2008 producing clip tuners for guitars, the T83Z provides exactly what you need to tune these instruments without getting lost in bells and whistles. Usage is straightforward: power it on, set the tuning mode and key you are using, clip it to your instrument and pluck away. The screen glows orange by default then changes to a dramatic green when your pitch is correct. Online retailers in China have it for the incredibly low price of $3 USD. I do not know of a US-based reseller. The original manufacturer, Meideal, does not list the T83Z on its English product page.
The T83Z is a clip tuner, meaning it must be touching the instrument to detect the instrument's sound waves.* This is very valuable in noisy situations such as performance spaces as the ambient noise won't interfere with your tuning. A swivel and tilt joint allows you to position the screen so it is reasonably visible. The design is meant to be clipped on the head of a guitar, so depending on where you clip the tuner its angle may be a bit weird to read.
It has three buttons: Power, Item, and A4/Flat. A long press on Power turns it on and off. Pressing Item changes the tuner between three modes: Guzheng, Guqin, and 12-note or chromatic mode. In Chromatic mode, the tuner shows the note letter the plucked string is closest to. In guzheng and guqin modes, the tuner shows the string number and the note letter. "13A", for example, tells you it is detecting a pitch that is closest to the 13th string, which it expects to be an A.
If the tuner is in guzheng or guqin mode, a short press of A4/Flat changes the key the tuner is set to. This changes the number and letter pairings it displays as noted above. For example, tuning in the key of C would yield "1C" whereas tuning in the key of G would yield "1D". The guzheng keys programmed into the tuner are A, D, G, C, F, B♭, E♭. The guqin keys are D, G, C, F, B♭, E♭.
Holding the A4/Flat button changes the A4 frequency used to determine when a string is in tune. A4, the A key roughly in the middle if a piano keyboard, has a default frequency of 440hz. Holding the button will increase the frequency by 1Hz. The range you can choose is 430-450hz. The current reference pitch is shown in the bottom left of the screen.
* The screen has a space for "mic" to display, but I have not been able to figure out that mode is activated. It is possible that this particular model is clip-only, but reused a screen from a model with more features.
* Two look-alike products, models T83GB and T83GW are designed for guitars and thus do not include the guzheng/guqin string numbers and tuning modes.
The only real objection I have is its lack of a low battery indicator. After a few months mine suddenly stopped working. I made due with other tuners until purchasing the Cherub. By coincidence, I had an extra battery laying around, remembered this poor forgotten tool, and popped the two together. Magic! It works once again.
The range of motion of the screen relative to the head is somewhat limited. Clipping the tuner to the fixed bridge as in the picture provides a normal reading angle but prevents you from tuning the two strings it is touching. Clipping the tuner to the lip of the tuning compartment removes the need to move the tuner, but you may have difficulty reading the screen.
Brand: Shenzen Meideal Musical Instruments Company (the particular tuner I reviewed is unbranded)
Battery: CR2032, 3-volt watch battery