Thursday, September 29, 2011

Snark SN-1 Tuner Review


I promised last month to do a review of the Snark SN-1 guitar tuner, which is my favorite of the new crop of clip-on instrument tuners. This tuner is designed to be used primarily for guitar or bass, but Snark has other tuners that can be used for other instruments.

The Snark has the same features of the other tuners I have tried; it has a nice clamp with padded jaws to hold it in place, and uses the instrument’s vibrations to determine the state of tune. Like the others out there It is also simple to use and has an easy to read display.

The SN-1 has more to offer, though. Instead of a simple swivel, it uses a ball joint so you can adjust the head to whatever angle is best. The display is also more colorful (and useful) than its competitors, and is quite a bit larger because they put most of the buttons on the back and side. These switches are for pitch calibration, the metronome and two arrow keys for adjustment.

Metronome and pitch calibration? I’m sold! The metronome is pretty basic, but works great for me to provide a basic visual beat for practice. The calibration is adjustable from 415 to 466 Hz; accuracy is tight at +/- 1 cent. And lastly this Snark tuner has is the ability to either flat tune or transpose. That is a lot of features for a small (and inexpensive) package.

The SN-1 uses a 3V lithium battery, which is accessed through the bottom of the case. I have not killed this one yet, but it is a common size and they are

Inexpensive is a good word for this tuner, too. The list price on the SN-1 is $29, and I easily found them online for under $15, which is a good price for what you get.

So, I plunked down my hard-earned cash and bought one. Unfortunately, the first Snark I bought was dead on arrival, which was a bad way to start our relationship. I returned it for one that did work, and it works very well.

The tuner responds quickly when a string is plucked, and the color display makes easy to tell quickly whether a string is sharp or flat and by how much. There is no external microphone, so it has to be attached to the instrument to work, but at this price point I am ok with that. I do not have a high-zoot tuner to compare it to, so I cannot vouch for their accuracy claims.

The metronome works fine and is not too hard to adjust. The markings for the buttons are pretty small, and as I get older it gets harder to see stuff like that, but that is not the tuner’s fault.

So, the Snark SN-1 is easy to use and has plenty of features that you will not find in the other clip-on tuners that are available today. It is a winner and well worth the $15.


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