The first I saw the Batt-O-Meter was while reading a copy of Bass Player Magazine. The ad features none other than Victor Wooten representing the product. My first thought, “Ay yi yi, the economy MUST be headed for the worst if Vic is worrying about battery life!” Then I got the product and realized, yes it does tell you how much juice is in your battery without the painful classic of “Licking the 9 volt”, but it is also a great piece that will save you time in trouble-shooting your gear so you can get closer to forgetting about your gear altogether and just…PLAY MUSIC.
The Batt-O-Meter is another genius idea from Keith McMillen Instruments. The device will tell you the voltage of your battery and an estimation of how many hours of life it has left. In my opinion what sets this unit apart is the built in 1/4″ plug. It saves you the hassle of having to open up the device to see if it the current battery is good or sending out any signal.
Check 1 2.
Two examples I thought of right away when I opened up the product to test were: effects pedals and active instruments. If you read the instructions of either of these products they say right on the package: “Do Not Leave Plugged In”. What always happens? That’s right, the phone rings, you set your instrument down just to comeback 3 hours later to realize all your gear is still plugged in and you’re thinking your next stop is the battery aisle at Walmart.
I was interested in putting the Batt-O-Meter in action to see if I should actually be losing sleep over leaving my gear plugged in. Here are my results:
1. DOD’s Yngwie Malmsteen YJM308 Overdrive Pedal. This is an awesome little box that for $30 creates the sounds of the vintage DOD preamp that are becoming harder and harder to find. I love the sound from this, but this pedal has 2 flaws: 1) It has no LED light to indicate if the pedal is on or off and 2) There is no easy access battery compartment. You need to unscrew all 4 screws on the back panel to get to the battery.
I plug the Batt-O-Meter into the input jack of the pedal and it shows me first the battery is giving out 9.89 volts and that I have 126 hours of battery life left. I bought the pedal in June and have casually used it since then.
*Please note my “Rockstar Engineering Skills” To be able to snap a photo of the product in action I used a hair band and a pickup switch selector tip from a Strat to hold the Test Button in place.
2. My Schecter Stargazer bass. It actually has a really convenient battery compartment, but I always find myself unplugging it the second I’m not playing it to preserve battery life. If you don’t mute your amp this usually involves a loud POP from my amp, which is NOT good for your speakers! Well, OK I bought this bass used, left the battery in it, played a handful of gigs and practices with it and it reads I have over 999 hours left of battery life! (999 is the gauges top read out)
Conclusion of My Tests:
9 volt batteries last a long time! One thing to point out, some active instruments are not as user-friendly. A common mod to Fenders is to swap the stock pickups for EMGs. Then the circuit or pickups will need a 9 volt. The most common and inconvenient spot for a battery is under the pickguard. 20 minutes of loosening the strings and unscrewing the guard…or 30 seconds with the Batt-O-Meter?
If the Batt-O-Meter hasn’t earned its keep in your mind yet; Got a drawer full of “mystery batteries?” With use of the + and – terminals on the side of the Batt-o-Meter and the tip of the 1/4″ plug you can test any 9 volt, AA or AAA standalone battery. Great way to clean up shop without throwing out good batteries. I’ve noticed I can take the “dead” batteries from my digital camera and get a couple weeks out of them in my wireless mouse. The Batt-O-Meter allows you to test Alkaline, Rechargeable, and Carbon Zinc batteries. A quick Google search, the device can be had for around $25-$30 and is supplied by most online music gear shops.
Street Price: $25-$30