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Hands-On Review: Center Pitch CP10 Tuner and Metronome

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Intonation training is officially a breeze.

By Henry McDannell

When it comes to achieving great intonation, very often the cards are stacked against you. Between the sometimes slow development of your ear and faulty instrument designs, not to mention proper embouchure and muscular development, playing your instrument with accurate intonation is a lifelong pursuit. To make the quest for precise intonation easier and more fun for brass, woodwind, and stringed instrument players, Onboard Research developed the CenterPitch CP10 Universal advanced tuner and intonation tool. The CP10 is a small, light, low-cost feedback tool that delivers rock-solid performance to accelerate the development of your ear, help you develop lock-down control over your intonation, and put your embouchure development into overdrive.

CenterPitch CP10 Tuner & Metronome

A clip story

The CP10 delivers powerful, personal, and portable tuning and intonation feedback with small size, low cost, and razor-edge precision. The CP10's most revolutionary feature, though, is not its price point or size or accuracy. The CP10 doesn't have a microphone like standard tuners. Instead it has a clip that easily attaches to any brass, woodwind, or bowed stringed instrument to sense its pitch. And since it's actually attached to your instrument you get the extra benefit of ultra-immediate feedback and pitch-reading precision, plus it's always right where you need it.

Onboard is also the company behind the revolutionary Intellitouch Tuners, the PT-10 and the PT-20, and the CP10 shares some genes with its two brothers. All three designs hinge around technology developed by Onboard that picks up the unique "vibrational energy" created by the instrument when it sounds a note. Since all instruments rely on vibrations as a fundamental part of their operation, these tuners have a very wide field of application, among everyone from jazz players to rock performers to orchestra members. The CP10, though, was developed exclusively to detect the pitch created by woodwind, brass, and stringed instruments.

An ultra-strong and flexible aluminum and stainless steel arm extends from the durable ABS plastic body of the CP10 down to the strong and beefy little soft rubber-covered ABS plastic clip. The dual ball-and-socket design of the arm gives it true 360° movement so you can position it exactly where you want it. The clip clamps securely onto your instrument while rotating, rubberized tips protect your instrument. The clip also opens to a surprisingly wide angle—so wide it can grip the diameter of some wind instruments, such as the neck of a saxophone. It clips easily onto wind instrument bodies and bells, and stringed instrument pegheads and bridges. The body of the CP10 holds the microprocessor and DSP software that feel the instrument vibrating through the arm and turn the vibrations into a pitch reading.

Smooth operator

Once you've got it in place, operating the CP10 is a cinch. There are only four buttons to push, and one of them is the power button, so there are only three choices once you have the unit turned on: the A-ref, enhar, and trans buttons. The trans (transpose) button switches from displaying notes in Concert Pitch to B flat, E flat, or F tuning, so it accommodates nearly everything. Enhar allows you to see accidentals as sharps or as flats. The A-ref button switches the internal reference point for pitch between A=440, A=441, and A=442.

The CP10 reflects the tuning reference at the bottom of the display and continues to show the entire time you are using it, so you know you have the right pitch. The 441 indicator always displays in the left lower corner of the LCD, 440 at the bottom center, and 442 in the lower right corner. The main part of the display consists of a letter representing the note being played and six arrows—three arrows to the left (flat) and three arrows to the right (sharp)—that indicate the pitch of the note. The LCD is very clear and legible, so reading it isn't a problem.

Since the CP10 doesn't operate on sound waves, it doesn't get confused by ambient noises. Even in the middle of the orchestra pit or band room, you can be sure you're getting an accurate reading, making you that much more confident in your intonation. When it's time to play you'll know every note is spot on.

Not only can you trust the CP10, but it's a lot of fun to use, so you want to use it. At less than two ounces, you can clip it anywhere on the bell or headstock of your instrument without worrying about the weight throwing you off your game. I was drawn into perfecting my pitch in a way I never had been before, with the CP10 clearly showing me the effect of every embouchure and air stream change I made. The visual and aural feedback even made correcting bad pitch really cool and satisfying. I also noticed when testing the CP10 that it seemed to respond quicker and surer in some areas than others. Dead spots in the instrument, perhaps? I just moved the CP10 around a little until I found a spot that worked well, which wasn't hard and didn't take long.

Every aspect of the CP10 is easy to use, precise, and flexible enough to accommodate anyone's needs. It should make its way into the instrument case of every beginning student, and any intermediate or advanced players who need quick, easy tuning and intonation.

Features & Specs

  • Intonation training tool
  • Vibration-fed tuner
  • Handles brass, woodwind, and stringed instruments
  • Displays in Concert Pitch or transposed for Bb, F, and Eb instruments
  • Displays accidentals as sharps or as flats
  • ABS plastic body
  • Aluminum arm
  • Stainless steel ball joints
  • 360° rotation
  • ABS plastic clip w/rubber tips

Tags: Tuners Woodwind Instruments & Accessories Brass Instruments & Accessories Orchestral Strings & Accessories

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