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:
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.
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