My trusted Korg AT-120 tuner bit the dust, so I bought a new Peterson StroboPlus HD. It was pretty confusing at first – I had to read the manual to make any sense of it.

I play a D6th copedent tuned to meantone. My tuning numbers walk around the circle of fifths like this:

  F  +12.5
  C  +10
  G  +7.5
  D  +5
  A  +2.5
  E   0
  B  -2.5
  F# -5
  C# -7.5
  G# -10
  D# -12.5

Even after reading the manual, I didn’t feel comfortable creating a “Sweetener” using the buttons on the device itself. The user interface seems to have designed by engineers for engineers. 😮 The Peterson web site offers a better alternative. You can create a custom tuning there and download it into the tuner. Here’s what my meantone tuning looks like on the site:

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-7-36-57-pm

I was quite pleased with the visual symmetry. 🙂 Now for the test. I download my custom sweetener into the tuner. My strings are getting old, so I put on a set of GHS Cryogenic Boomers (available by the gauge from the SGF Store).  I tune up all strings, pedals and levers with the amp turned off. For the moment of truth, I turn on my amp.

It sounds wonderful! I’ve never been so in tune. Except… wait a minute… the A&B pedals sound a little off. Remember, this is like a C6th tuning moved up to D6th, with E9th pedals added. Even with the Korg, I always have to tweak those pedals a bit by ear. Is there a way to do it with the Strobe?

It turns out there is. I have the root D strings in tune, but I see that when I press A+B the strobe for D is moving slowly to the left. Cabinet drop! I adjust the A and B pedals to the same rate of leftward movement. Viola! Now A+B has the same sweet meantone sound as the rest of the guitar. It’s perfect. I’ve never been so in tune.

I give the Peterson StroboPlus HD very high marks for precision tuning. I’m still disappointed with the “human factors” aspect of the user interface, though. I worry about using a device that’s hard to fathom even after reading the manual. I don’t like depending on a web site to configure it, because web sites change over time.

One last thing: the unit has a rechargeable battery that uses a USB wire. Again, Peterson is relying on current computer technology to keep the device usable. I would have preferred good old AA batteries. They’ll never be obsolete.

That’s my review.

 

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