Anyone who pays attention to music industry trade shows can tell you how some company is always introducing a new gizmo designed to make the electric guitar better. Aside from the work from a few legitimate firms, most of these devices are bird-brained, non-production-ready, untested heaps of crud. So, when producer/engineer Sean McDonald called to tell me about EverTune, a device that guarantees to keep your guitar in tune, I had a hard time believing him. Now, Sean, whose credits include Aretha Franklin, Patty Griffin, and Sonny Landreth, is not easily awed by gear. And he's never given me bad advice in the eighty years I've been bothering him. So out of politeness, I agreed to take three of his EverTune-equipped guitars to test here at Treelady Studios.
Many of you won't believe me, but these things just WORK. This is one of those "see it to believe it" things. In plain speak: an EverTune guitar will not go out of tune! I know. It sounds like science fiction. I couldn't believe it. We sat around on the floor like kids. Pulling on strings. Trying to make EverTune mess up. No luck. EverTune just works!
So how exactly does it work? Unlike robotic tuning pegs, EverTune is a passive mechanical system. It replaces the stock bridge on your guitar and manages the tension on each string.
(Brief physics class: The frequency of a resonating string is based upon three factors: length, mass, and tension. Since the mass and length of the string are generally constant, tension changes are the most common source of pitch drift.)
EverTune works by supplying constant tension to each string. Inside each EverTune bridge are six modules, one per string. Each can be set to any tension ranging from 10-28 lbs. Adjustments can be made with a standard 2.5 mm hex key. Since these are independent tension devices, if one string breaks, the others aren't affected. Try that, non-flush Floyd Roses!
Guitar players are probably asking, "That's great for strumming, but what if I want to bend notes?" Well, EverTune can be configured to react accordingly when the player bends a note, and thus, allow the string's tension to change, otherwise the EverTune will keep the string in pitch. Without getting complicated, each string has three tension zones. The first, called the Back Stop, is the furthest back the saddle will be rocked. Zone 2, the sweet-spot, is where the string retains constant tension; and Zone 3, the front stop, is used for bending and solo playing. The tuning peg at the headstock is used to move the saddle between the zones. So the trick to setting up for fast bends is to put the saddle in Zone 2 very close to Zone 3. Videos and specifics can be found on the company's website.
Because I'm not a dedicated guitar player, I asked Scott Mellinger, guitarist for Zao, to use an EverTune-equiped guitar for a demo session. After a few hours, Scott had this to say: "I am amazed at the stability of the tuning, I literally pulled the strings and picked up the guitar with them and it stayed perfectly in tune. This bridge feels great to play on; I am an avid fixed or Tune-o-matic bridge player, and the EverTune felt very comfortable instantly. The resonance this bridge offers is great; the bridge really allows a lot of vibration from the string to go through the guitar. The new Zao record is rich with very expansive chording. Tracking with an EverTune bridge on my guitar will eliminate all tuning issues period. The intonation on these things is unmatched!"
Presently, EverTune is available for electric guitars only. Three bridge models, named F, T, and G, for the three most popular electric styles: Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, and Gibson Les Paul. Four color options exist: chrome, gold chrome, black chrome, and nickel. In the future, the company hopes to release units for bass, tremolo, and B-Bender electric, acoustic, and 12-string guitars. As of this writing, a seven-string version is in production. Installation requires removing some wood in the bridge area, so vintage and prized instruments may not be the best candidates for the process. I'm also concerned that EverTune could encourage lazy playing or inhibit ear development, but each player is responsible for his or her proficiency. Finally, I've heard some purists do not like the "looks" of the non-standard bridge, but no one really cares about that in a recording environment. In fact, in low light, it's difficult to tell that EverTune is installed on some guitars.
I don't know what else I can write to explain how amazing the EverTune system is. For recording studios, having these installed on house guitars could be a time and session saver. When you get a chance, you have to try one of these for yourself!