Saturday, January 19, 2013

Peterson VS-F Stroboflip Tuner Review


I have tried oodles of electronic tuners over the years, and have settled down to mostly using my Boss tuners. But I have been impressed with Peterson’s products before, so I decided to try their VS-F Stroboflip. When I saw that they were selling for $235, I figured I had better check one out to see if they could possibly be worth that much money.

Old-school mechanical strobotuners use a spinning wheel that shows different octaves and the strobe effect of the tuner will make one row of the wheel appear to stop for the octave that is being played, while the overtones for other octaves will move about depending on how far they are out of whack. The advantages of this are incredible accuracy (within 0.1 cent), along with an intangible coolness factor. The Peterson VS-F Stroboflip simulates this effect with a nice bright LCD display that is a little simpler to look at and more complicated to use.

The tuner is compact, measuring 3½ by 3½ by 1½ inches, and it weighs in at a little more than ½ pound -- it is certainly a compact package. The plastic chassis is disappointing at this price point, but it does include a mount so you can attach it to a mic stand or music stand, a clip-on tuning pickup, batteries (3xAA), an AC adapter and a 40-page owner’s manual. Though it is plastic, it has a somewhat sturdy feel and Peterson backs it with a 1-year warranty, which surprises me because their other products have a 3-year warranty.

This tuner has ¼-inch input and output jacks, as well as a built-in microphone on the face. Unlike their newer tuners, there is no USB port for installing new presets.

Peterson has made this tuner much more complicated by adding 34 preset temperaments and sweeteners. These are specific profiles for specific on instruments such as guitar, violin and viola, as well as for instruments fitted with the Buzz Feiten Tuning System. These take into account the string deflection and unique harmonics of the instrument to make tuning as accurate as possible. I have no use for these presets and thinks Sweetened Tunings is a terrible name, but guys who have OCD about tuning probably love this stuff.

The specs of this unit look ok on paper, with a tuning range of 16Hz to 3600Hz. Accuracy is guaranteed to be within 0.1 cent, and A 440Hz is adjustable from 390Hz to 490Hz. As far as I can tell, the Stroboflip delivers on these promises, and it was easy for me to use for conventional tunings. It did not add noise to my signal chain when put in my effects loop, and when I tried the tuner pickup it worked well too. The display is bright enough for most any environment, and it was able to pick up and hold notes better than any conventional needle-type digital tuner I have used. It is a nice tuner, though guitarist may want something beefier and simpler for stage use.

the downsides of plastic construction, a short warranty and oodles of programs that I do not need are enough to make me not want to buy this tuner. Many guitar players would agree, though it might the extra features might be a bonus for other musicians. So, if you are a guitar player that really wants to buy a strobotuner, skip the Stroboflip and go straight to the Peterson VSS-C Stomp Classic Strobotuner. It is cheaper ( around $200), is much more durable, has a three-year warranty and can also be used as an active DI box.


1 comment:

  1. One of those sits on my bench, Rex. It covers about 80% of the capabilities of the much more expensive 490st, and with a little practice gets fairly easy to use. I wouldn't consider it a complete replacement for the rack tuners for continuous shop use, though.