Acoustic instruments that are new or haven’t been played in a long time can sound flat and unfulfilling. Historically many blues artists would take a new guitar and leave it in front of their guitar amplifier for up to a year so that the guitar would vibrate and open up tonally. Dr. Herringbone’s Tone Traveler system is designed to help your acoustic guitar or mandolin have a played-in sound through technology.
The Tone Traveler package includes a speaker, charging cable and wall socket, and an android tablet to control the speaker. After charging both devices I attached the speaker through the guitar strings of my Martin acoustic down at the bridge and initiated the tone from the Bluetooth paired tablet. The Tone Traveler manual is very easy to understand and the tablet functions are intuitive in increasing the volume of the speaker. If you are only experiencing trouble with a few strings, then highlight those on the tablet or engage all of them as I did. The website’s recommendation is to leave the device on your guitar on a stand for five- or ten-hour increments in four different sessions. I would recommend putting it in a closet or room you don’t frequent since you can hear the speaker as it is working. On the tablet controls, you can choose from Mando, Guitar, or Tone, which sounds like a white noise generator but is geared toward each instrument.
Key Features: The tablet included with the Tone Traveler provides a lot of control of the string frequencies and the speaker is simple to attach.
Build Quality: The speaker and tablet are both well-constructed and the box that they arrive in is great for storage when not in use.
Hardware: Everything you need to use is included and very straightforward once you charge both devices and tune your instrument in preparation.
Pros: I was surprised by how nice the tablet is and how sturdy in almost a steampunk way the speaker is. For a vintage or new wooden constructed instrument, the Tone Traveler can increase volume and tone. Also compared to past devices the Traveler allows you to target strings and tones specifically and doesn’t just vibrate the instrument.
Cons: The only negative side is that the speaker is audible when in use on your instrument, so you probably don’t want to start using it in your living room as I did.
Verdict: The Tone Traveler by Dr. Herringbone, which is available in two different models —Duo with Mando and Guitar for only $229 or Trio, which includes Tone, for $269—worked on my guitar after only a few sessions. The technology and research behind it are sound, no pun intended, and the tablet and speaker work perfectly together. I hope they expand the software to include other stringed instruments in the future. The Tone Traveler delivers what it claims, and I was impressed.