Quick Robin, to the Batt-o-meter!

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batt-o-meterMid-service dead guitar batteries are now a thing of the past!  You know how it goes, halfway into the worship set, the acoustic guitar stops sending a signal.  Could even be a battery-powered effects pedal.  The problem with getting musicians to check their batteries is many times associated with the fact they need 1) to take out the battery and run it through a tester and 2) the battery is not easily accessible.  Now you and I can test these batteries without touching them!

The truth of the matter is that instrument and gear battery monitoring and replacement should be the responsibility of the musician.  And an equal truth is that is doesn't always work that way.  Welcome the Batt-o-meter.

This battery tester reads the hours of life remaining in the battery without removing the battery. Plug it into the 1/4" input on most instruments and effects pedals to test the life remaining.  You can test different battery types using a switch for alkaline, rechargeable, and carbon zinc batteries.

The batt-o-meter shows both volts and hours remaining.  Either give you what you need, right?  Well, that's where we get into a few negative reviews such as this one;

My other battery gauge showed the old battery as dead (so does testing it on the side of the batt-o-meter). I put a new battery in the pedal and tested it with the Batt-o-meter. It now shows 500 hours remaining. Apparently, 73 hours remaining is not really 73 hours. 73 hours remaining on the Batt-o-meter is a nearly dead 9 volt battery.

I talked with the manufacturer. This is a known problem and is why their meter reports both voltage and life remaining. In my case, the 9 volt battery was showing 6.25 volts and lots of hours of use remaining. 6.25 volts is not enough to power the device and is a secondary indication of a worn-out battery. The hours remaining is wrong. Oddly, testing the same battery on the side of the unit gives a better indication of life remaining; it shows the PERCENT life remaining accurately – it reads zero.

There are two primary reasons I'm posting this article on the Batt-o-meter;

1. It's a tool you can keep handy to test batteries before any guitarist or bassist takes the stage.

2. It's a tool, at a really affordable price (under $30), that you might see a musician using with mixed results.  As a musician, I'd be likely to look at "hours remaining" over voltage just because it's easier to think in terms of "how much longer can I use this battery.  Therefore, when you see a musician using one of these, make sure they know how to use it and explain the reason that reading voltage is equally important (if not more so) than just the time remaining.

Check out the batt-o-meter

Question(s): What tools do you keep handy? 

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  1. Josh Schultz says

    Looks like a great device…will need to pick that up when I go order some other stuff :)

    Nothing against sweetwater, but I did a quick search on who else sells it, and zzounds and musiciansfriend both have it for $20 if you go through them.

  2. Chris Schutz says

    Interesting device, I have to disagree with you regarding that the sound guy should be responsible for battery checks of any given musicians instrument or pedal. The musician should know his/her gear and be able to tech there own gear. Sound guys are not backline tech’s and generally have enough of a work load on a given day. I will say this I will always check the battery first if a distorted or poor signal from an instrument is present.

    Quick hint regarding Countryman TYPE 85 active direct boxes if they stop working or fail; open it up and check to see if there is a 9 volt battery in it and remove it. DO not replace the battery the DI will work just fine with out a battery in it. I have found more Type 85’s labeled DEAD that just need the battery taken out.

  3. Chris says

    Oh, just re-read my article and caught my error.  I've corrected it.  You're right, it's not the duty of the sound guy to check the batteries of the guitarist's gear!

    In practical application, I might consider it a tool kept for use by the musicians that I just happen to have handy for them.  :) 

    You are exactly right in that the musicians really need to take control/ responsibility of their gear (I topic I discuss in the Audio Essentials video).  The more time they spend on their gear, the more time you and I can spend doing our jobs. 

    Great tip on the 85's. 

  4. Adam says

    Going along with the signs that you are mixing a great band! they take care of their own instruments before showing up at the gig!