Peterson StroboPlus HD Tuner Mini-Review + Zirconium Bar

Here's a short review of the Peterson StroboPlus HD tuner based on my personal experience at home in my studio. You can read all the published details and download the user manual on the Peterson Web site so I won't repeat all the specs here. I purchased my unit from Sill Music Supply in April of 2013 so it's an early build unit. You can see that it comes in a neat package which includes a high quality semi-rigid foam interior surrounded by cardboard. The front lip of the cardboard container has magnetic latches that hold it closed! They are embedded into the packaging and have that "Apple" packaging vibe feel kind of like the flip cover on the Ipads.

Peterson StroboPlus HD Web Site

The StroboPlus HD is really an amazing tuner! It's a major step up from the StroboFlip in many ways. The strobe screen is much larger and brighter. The strobe has two concentric semi-circles which IMHO is a lot simpler to read that the old StroboFlip's 4 vertical strobe bars. The tuner locks in fast and if your instrument's pitch is stable, the bars settle quickly and stay put. I used this to tune my 5 string fiddle, 4 string bass guitar, 6 string Telecaster electric, 6 string Ovation acoustic (unplugged and using the StroboPlus HD built in mic) and my 10 string MSA Legend pedal steel guitar (E9th only so far). In every case it tuned faster and was easier than the StroboFlip to interpret the readout. Keep in mind that the StroboFlip is quite a great tuner but this one is just that much better. I used the built in tuning sweeteners in all cases. For pedal steel E9th I used SE9 for the open tuning and SP9 for the pedals. I was prepared to detune the fiddle 9 cents, detune the bass guitar a bit and customize the pedal steel settings until I found that all the instruments played in tune nicely with each other using the built in settings. I am pretty fussy about tuning but found that with the usual amount of care, the stock tunings worked great. The "usual amount of care" includes tuning the 6 string guitar string, bending it a bit, retuning it again etc. for get the slippage over the nut where it would be after a few bends during normal play. For the pedal steel it includes tuning a string, bouncing the pedal that raises or lowers the string. then retuning it until it is tuned to pitch after a normal pedal/ knee lever cycle.

I had a chance to try and return a Sonic Research Turbo Tuner for 7 days prior to using the StroboPlus HD. The Sonic is more compact and also features the ability to have multiple settings for the same pitch within the same sweetener. So the 1st string open F# can be set to a different pitch that the F# obtained on the E9th string 4 by activating the 3rd floor pedal. Overall I prefer the StroboPlus HD over the Sonic. The StroboPlus HD has the USB port for upgrades, charging and downloading/ uploading tunings which the Sonic lacks. The Strobo Plus also has a bigger, more stable display and costs about $50 less at this point in time.

There are a few minor flaws with the StroboPlus HD that are not really a big deal. I found that the standard USB plugs on my Samsung home and car chargers did not fit the tuner's jacks very well. They are pretty much standard cords that work with all my devices but they don't stay seated in the tuner's jack very well. You can see in the pics below that the USB cord that comes with the Strobo has a longer metal connector on the tuner side. It's snout measures 0.300" so it's a bit longer than most cell phone connectors when it comes to depth of insertion. The Samsung home charger USB cord has a 0.200" snout and the Samsung car charger snout measures 0.225". The length of the StoboPlus HD USB cord is a bit short for my liking as well. It's about 32.5" long whereas the Samsung AC charger cord is 58.5" long and the standard Ipod cord (a popular cord that uses a different device connector but included for reference) is about 40.5" long. See the cord comparison picture below with the Strobo cord connector on the left. Another minor gripe is that the Mode, Start, Preset etc keys are not backlit or highlighted in any way (such as white paint text) or otherwise denoted on the screen above. They are impossible to see except in fairly bright direct lighting. This will become a very minor thing, I believe, once I get the key functions memorized. One last small annoyance would be that having to hold the ON/OFF key for two seconds is about twice as long as is needed and it seems like forever after you use it a few times. Perhaps a microcode fix to trim that back to 1 second?

No USB Port Handy For Charging? No Problem!

Here's a link to a typical AC powered USB charging cord that you can use as advertised or swap in your Peterson USB card with the longer device snout:

AC USB Power Cord on

Here's a song that I recorded in my home studio using all stock StroboPlus HD settings for rhythm guitar, bass guitar, pedal steel, fiddle and 6 string electric guitar. ToonTrack's EZDrummer and EasyKeys were used for the drum and piano parts. Overall I am pretty pumped about this new tuner! It will save me time tuning up and the ergonomics of it make me look forward to using it.

If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do Me Right) - CLICK HERE To Listen!

As a side light, I also used a zirconium bar on this recording and included a few pics of it below. It's a bit lighter than my BJS bar and they are both 3 3/8" long and 15/16" in diameter. The zirc is an excellent bar! I feel the zirc is slightly more slippery against the strings than the chrome BJS bar and has a small amount less sustain. Either bar is a really great product and I know users that prefer one over the other. I intend to keep both and will migrate to using the zirc on my dobro and on steel when I need to move the bar a bit quicker on faster songs.

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