Design Director:Andrew Seles
Designers:Bill Salvador, Hsin Chen, Rob Goerke
When Fender Digital sought to design and develop its first product offering in 2016, the obvious choice was a guitar tuner. There was no shortage of tuner apps in the app stores at the time, but there was an opportunity for differentiation. Market research had shown that 45 percent of the guitars sold in a year by Fender go to new players — and 90 percent of those beginners abandoned the instrument within their first 12 months of playing. We took these data points to heart in our product design efforts, seeking to demystify some of the intimidating, technical aspects of tuning a guitar, particularly for the first time.
Most tuning apps seek to mimic analog tuners with complex skeuomorphic interfaces. We decided to forgo the display of cents and pin-point tuning needles, instead simplifying the UI to simple large shapes and added plain english tips for the user to guide them towards the perfect pitch. The idea was to remove distractions and not have a user get hung up on the impossibility of landing on “0 cents” difference. While the UI was deceptively simple, under the hood, the tuner was developed to provide professional precision.
Fender Tune also includes a “manual” tuner, using samples of real Fender instruments for users who wish to tune by ear. Rich, skeuomorphic illustrations of electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass and ukulele were created to leverage the brand identity wrapped up in the beautiful physical products Fender produces.
Tune quickly became a five-star app and as the user base for Tune grew over the first couple of years, the product team identified further opportunity to serve intermediate and advanced players. The design team created modules for chords, scales, metronome and practice beats. A “pro” tuner was added, layering in a more traditional tuning interface which exposed additional features for advanced players such as reference pitch and cents tracking.