Peterson StroboClip HD – Precise Tuning on the Go

By: GroundGuitar Dan
Posted under: Gear Review

With the rise of smartphones, it’s hard to find a reason to go out and spend money on a guitar tuner. Why should you when you can install a phone app within seconds, and you’re all set.

Well, not all tuners are same. Some are better, some do the things others can’t, and some you should avoid at all cost. The Peterson StroboClip HD promises to be the one among those that are better than the rest. The tuner you could use for quick tuning, but also for precise intonation setup. A true do-it-all.

In this article, we’ll try and see what’s the whole deal behind this tuner. Premium always comes at a price, but is it worth spending five times more on this than on a Snark ST-8?

Peterson StroboClip HD Review

Peterson StroboClip HD on a Fender Stratocaster Headstock.
Peterson StroboClip HD clip-on guitar tuner.

The Box

Peterson StroboClip HD clip-on tuner comes in a simple white box, and the tuner itself is packed in a cellophane bag. The battery comes in separate smaller sealed bag and you have to install it yourself.

Peterson StroboClip HD guitar tuner unboxed on a table.
Peterson StroboClip Unboxed.

The process of installing the battery is not without faults. You have to unscrew the circular cover on the back of the tuner, which isn’t that easy to do. The slotted battery pocket on the Snark ST-8 seems like a better approach, but it’s not such a big deal. You don’t have to do this that often anyways.

Peterson StroboClip HD sitting on the back, showing the battery slot.
Battery installation.

The adjusting arm on the back is very stable and robust, but somewhat limiting in motion. A ball joint feels like it would be a better option, but Peterson may have a valid reason for not going that way. In any case, with this current mechanism, you sometimes get in a situation where you don’t know if you can move the tuner or not. You’ll often be questioning whether you’re on the brink of breaking it.

Peterson StroboClip HD's adjusting arm.
Adjusting arm.

On the top of the tuner, there are three buttons. One is for turning the tuner on (long press), and for the setup menu (short press). The other two are simple plus and minus buttons for navigating through the menus.

The buttons on the Peterson StroboClip HD.
On/Off button in the middle has a distinct surface, to avoid confusion when using the tuner in the dark.
Clamp size on the Peterson StroboClip HD tuner.
Clip opens up to around 3cm, or 1.18 inches. Count on slightly less than that just to be on the safe side.

Menus, Sweetened Tunings

The menus on the Peterson StroboClip are very straightforward. While the tuner on, you tap the middle button and you’re in a menu that Peterson calls “sweetened tunings”. In short, these are presets for popular alternative tunings.

On the display you only get a shortened name of the preset, so you’ll need to use a manual. For example, bFE translates to Buzz Feiten Tuning System for electric guitar. But, once you familiarize yourself with the names, the things of course become much easier.

For most of us, these presets are more cool and nice to have than they are practical. I tried tuning my classical to standard tuning, and then to Peterson’s custom tuning for classical guitar. I couldn’t tell the difference at all. For trained musicians, these will likely be more useful, but for the rest of us, they are just that extra thing to try out and play with. I certainly wouldn’t call this the main selling feature of the tuner.

Peterson StroboClip HD's additional menus.
StroboClip’s side menus.

When you press the button the second time, you’re going into the menu for capo tuning. To be honest, this option is only practical for tuning your guitar few steps up or down. Ignore the whole capo thing. I tried tuning with the capo on, but every time I removed the capo and checked the tuning, things were out of whack. Especially the top three strings. I’m guessing the wound strings get stuck against the capo, and when you remove the capo, it messes the whole setup. This may be due to the the type of the capo – mine has a rubber bottom, but it’s an unnecessary option anyways.

The third press of the button brings you into the pitch calibration menu. This tuner allows you to change the pitch from 390 to 490hz. The standard pitch is of course 440hz, and most of us who stick to the guitar will stay on that value.

The Display

The display on the Peterson StroboClip HD is a mile above any other clip-on tuner on the market. Nowadays we’re all spoiled by OLED screens on our mobile phones, and let’s be clear, this screen is nowhere near that. This is older technology. But, it’s completely backlit, and way more detailed than an average tuner screen.

This makes the StroboClip a rare tuner that’s usable in every environment. It works inside and under normal amount of light. Under direct sunlight, you have to struggle a little and change the viewing angle, but it’s definitely still useable.

Peterson StroboClip HD's display outside on a direct sunlight.
Peterson StroboClip HD perfectly useable under direct sunlight

Performance, Accuracy

I tested this tuner against a phone app, a Windows app, and the Snark ST-8. The impression is that the StroboClip is the most reliable of the bunch. You feel most confident that the note is on point, whereas with the phone app you feel like – alright, it’s good enough.

One notion to point out is that it takes a little longer to tune your guitar on a StroboClip than on a standard chromatic tuner. This is because strobe tuning is different. It shows even the smallest deviation from the desired note. This extra time you simply spend on making the strobe pattern stationary, on tuning the string perfectly. It’s a heavenly feeling to make that thing finally stop spinning.

Peterson StroboClip HD, Snark ST-8 on a classical guitar headstock. Tested against the TB Strobe Tuner and GuitarTuna.
Peterson StroboClip HD tested against a Snark ST-8, TB Strobe Tuner (Windows), GuitarTuna (Android).

When compared to the TB Strobe Tuner, which is a Windows app, StroboClip still felt superior. One thing that I found weird is that the two tuners disagreed on how my G string should sound like. I couldn’t find an explanation for this. I even tried different guitars, but couldn’t get them to agree on this particular string. What gives?

Anyways, to conclude, Peterson and Snark ST-8 showed the same notes, but the former allowed for more precise tuning. The phone app lagged behind every other tuner. The Windows app seemed almost on par with Peterson, but there’s an obvious minus to this method of tuning. You’re tied to your computer/microphone.

To see how StroboClip compares to these tuners in real-time see Snark ST-8 vs Peterson StroboClip vs GuitarTuna (android) vs TB Strobe Tuner on YouTube.

Verdict

Pros

  • Top notch responsiveness and accuracy.
  • Large fully backlit display.
  • Optional alternative tuning presets.

Cons

  • Adjustment feels limiting in some situations.
  • You use the same button for On/Off and to access the menu. Long press for turning the tuner off sometimes feels tedious.

Ignoring the price aspect, StroboClip is the best clip-on tuner on the market right now. Everything is there, the whole package. The build quality is good, accuracy is top-notch, and the display is better than on any other tuner out there. So, for those of you who want the best, this should be enough.

But, taking the price into consideration, the verdict changes somewhat. This is still a better tuner, but a Snark ST-8, costing five times less, has a way better value to cost ratio.

...
Peterson StroboClip HD

$69.99

All prices are either MSRP or taken at the time of publishing.

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This page is part of GroundGuitar’s Official Gear Guide

Reviews, gear recommendations.