Recently, I was called up by a piano owner saying that although her piano wasn’t tuned long ago, she wasn’t happy with it, so she called me. On site she explained that the piano was tuned by someone staring at his phone all the way, just following the needle, not interval checks, or anything.
I played the piano a bit, and to be honest, it wasn’t that bad. It just wasn’t that good either. Obviously no octave stretch, so the bass sounded a bit out of tune. The customer was very happy with my tuning, and reiterated that she had decided to call me because I was an aural tuner.
So. Electronic tuners, smartphone apps are good. But my experience is that they are best used as a safety net, to check your work. If you rely on them, and don’t listen, the result will likely to be questionable.
Sometimes I use them, I must admit. They speed up a pitch raise, and also they saved me a couple of times when I had to tune in a noisy environment. A hotel bar for instance with hoovering and the hissing of the coffee machine. Listen to your beats like that…
I do understand if people use them for speed, as we are all making money by tuning as many pianos as possible. But even with the electronic aids, keep listening. We are tuning an instrument for music after all.