Snark ST-8 – The Little Tuner That Could

By: GroundGuitar Dan
Posted under: Gear Review

Ever since the release of the SN line tuners, Snark been has been on top of the budget tuner game. With the updated ST line, they promise better performance provided by the new processing chip, better display, and a tighter clip. All this while still keeping the original design, which is unmistakable for any other tuner on the market.

Snark ST-8 Review

Snark ST-8 clip-on tuner clamped onto a headstock.
Snark ST-8 Clip-On guitar tuner

The Package

The package that the Snark ST-8 comes in is good enough. Considering the price you pay for it, you don’t expect this small bag that the tuner comes in, and the cardboard box although cheap looking is painted on both the inside and the outside. You’d think Snark would save a few cents on all that yellow paint.

All in all, folks from Snark packed everything very neatly. The tuner also comes with the battery installed. You simply pull out the plastic slip, and the tuner is ready to use. The manual is there if you need it, but the tuner is straightforward enough for it to be unnecessary.

Snark ST-8 clip-on tuner unboxed.

The Tuner

The first impression that you get of the tuner is that it is very small. While looking at the photos online, one does not get the impression of just how tiny the Snark ST-8 is. To put things into perspective, the head measures only 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter, and the display area can be obscured completely by a single guitar pick.

But, this is definitely a plus, as you wouldn’t like something huge and bulky sitting on you headstock.

Snark ST-8 close-up.
Snark ST-8 from the front.

The body of the ST-8 is covered in rubbery plastic, the sort of you’ll find on many gaming mice for computers. It does look very neat while new, but one has to wonder how durable it is long-term. Also, it’s like a magnet for every piece of linen and dirt flying around in the air.

The overall impression is that this doesn’t feel like a cheap piece of gear. It feels like something you paid way more than $15 for. The exception to this is the rubbery buttons on the back, which are just squiggly and uncomfortable to use.

The buttons on the Snark ST-8 tuner.
Snark ST-8 from the back.

The arm that holds the unit itself is highly adjustable. Both the top and the bottom ball joints enable you to rotate the “head” freely, and there’s no stopping once you reach a full circle.

The grip of the ball joints is somewhat loose but strong enough for the tuner to stay in a place once you’ve adjusted it. The bottom part of the clip itself has a click-clack grip, which means that it will automatically adjust to angled surfaces.

The clip opens up to around 0.9 inches or 2.3 centimeters, but to be on the safe side, count on it until around 0.8 inches/2 centimeters.

Features and Display

To power up the tuner, simply press the big Snark button on the front. This puts you right in the standard tuning mode.

On the back of the tuner, there are three buttons. You use these for pitch calibration, other than the standard 440hz. The little circle button activates the mode, and up and down arrows you use for moving the range up or down.

The small button that you see on the side of the body is for activating the metronome mode. As far as the features go, this one is definitely a gimmick. Your only reference in metronome mode is this blinking heart symbol on the display. A proper metronome should always give out a sound cue, as one cannot always be looking at the display. Furthermore, in sunlight, seeing the heart symbol becomes a challenge by itself.

The metronome mode on the Snark ST-8 tuner.
Snark ST-8 in Metronome Mode

The display on the Snark ST-8 performs decently, that is until you bring it under direct sunlight. Once under a direct light source, the light-up parts of the display become indistinguishable from the black space surrounding them. This is the only really disappointing part of this tuner.

You can see in the photos below the difference between Snark and the Peterson StroboClip. It’s obvious that in the sunlight Snark’s display doesn’t stand a chance. But, in the dark and inside, count on it to look amazing. Anything other than strong direct light should be alright.

Snark ST-8 and Peterson StroboClip HD compared inside.
Snark ST-8 vs Peterson StroboClip HD under moderate light. Comparable performance of the displays.
Snark ST-8 and Peterson StroboClip HD compared under direct sunlight.
Snark ST-8 vs Peterson StroboClip HD under direct sunlight. The display on the Snark is on yet you can’t see a thing. StroboClip, on the other side, is still completely useable under the same conditions.

Accuracy

To measure the accuracy and the dependability of the Snark ST-8, we’ll compare it to a phone app, a computer app, and a premium guitar tuner.

For a phone app, we’ll use GuitarTuna, which seems to be among the most popular on both the Android and the iOS store at the time of writing this. Important to note here that we are not at all affiliated with this app nor its developers.

For the computer program, we’ll use the TB Strobe Tuner, and the guitar will be played through a Fifine K669 USB microphone. This is a budget microphone priced at around $35, and the software is free to use for anyone with a personal computer and a mic.

Finally, for the premium tuner, we’ll use the Peterson StroboClip HD, which is five times more costly than the Snark ST-8.

Peterson StroboClip HD, Snark ST-6, GuitarTuna, and TB Strobe Tuner compared to each other.
Peterson StroboClipHD vs Snark ST-8 vs GuitarTuna (Android) vs TB Strobe Tuner (Windows)

Results

In the comparison, each tuner pretty much agreed on each string, except for the G. For some reason, on my classical guitar, the results were all over the place. Snark and the phone app locked onto a note which StroboClip thought of as sharp, and the TB Strobe Tuner as flat.

On a different guitar (electric), Peterson and Snark agreed clearly, but the TB Strobe Tuner thought that the note is sharp.

In the first case, the G note didn’t read correctly likely because the two clip-on tuners were attached to the headstock at the same time. Testing each one separately showed more consistent results between the Snark and the Peterson.

All in all, the test showed what was already expected. Snark outperformed the phone app, but was less precise than the two strobe tuners. Also, Snark felt the quickest out of four, especially on an electric guitar. It struggled on a classical, but this may be due to the guitar itself.

The overall impression is that the Snark is the one to use for quick tuning, Peterson for precise tuning, and the phone app if no other option is available.

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

Verdict

With the Snark ST-8 you feel like you get more than you paid for. When compared to the Peterson StroboClip HD, although five times cheaper, Snark certainly doesn’t feel five times worse. It’s a proper little tuner, and it is recommended to anyone on a budget.

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Snark ST-8

$19.99

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.