Peterson’s SP-1 is a good choice if you want an accurate, flexible, internet connected and programmable strobe tuner

By Stephen Pate – I am a big fan of Peterson strobe tuners. They are accurate, generally easy to use and even have a version for Android phones, iPhone and iPad.

The 2013 release of Peterson SP-1 StroboPlus HD Programmable Strobe Tuner adds the ability to customize almost everything on the tuner, store the customized tunings on the internet and your computer in a smaller form factor at around $120 retail.

The SP-1 also continues Peterson’s love of long technical names for their products.

Peterson SP-1 StroboPlus HD Programmable Strobe Tuner

Peterson SP-1 StroboPlus HD Programmable Strobe Tuner

The big ace-in-the-hole for Peterson tuners is the tuning strobe wheel and .1% accuracy, both of which are wonderful and sometimes over-rated.

Strobe wheels show you how much the instrument is in or out of tune by spinning two strobes clockwise or counterclockwise,  indicating sharp or flat tuning. Anyone who tunes with a strobe will curse and bless them since it can be tricky to get the strobe to stop. You adjust it one way and it will overshoot then tune back and it undershoots.

Practice makes perfect but sometimes when you’re in a rush, grabbing a $10 Snark SN-1 Tuner does almost as good a job. If you record, the Snark is not accurate enough in group playing.

The strobe is demonstrating that guitars are notoriously hard to get in perfect tune due to string stretch, how hard you pick or strum the strings, and all the mechanics from the bridge to the tuners.

Achieving .1% accuracy is better than the old 2%-3% of older tuners but it is an elusive goal.  Your trained ear is the best judge of being in tune or not.

All that being said, I use a Peterson VSS-C Strobo Series Stomp Classic Tuner everyday in my studio for practice. The upside of the Stomp Classic is it’s built to withstand stage conditions, like being stomped on. The Stomp Classic has a balanced/unbalanced out with padding and ground lift. The downside is the Stomp Classic costs $70 more than the SP-1.  and is not programmable nor does it connect to the internet for updates. Correction (from @PetersonTuners) – The Stomp Classic can be used with Peterson Connect and be programmed.

Peterson SP-1 StroboPlus HD Programmable Strobe Tuner

The SP-1 is a smaller form factor tuner that is not meant for the floor or your pedal board. It can sit on a table, desk or mount on a mic stand.  It’s made of a rubberized plastic and has a huge strobe and dial that make it easy to read in bright light.

The strobe and string note are easy to read but all the other information like which program you select and the various parameters will require close up viewing.  That would not be a demerit since you are likely to place it on a flat surface or on the mic stand.

Reading the display is about the same as the Stomp Classic. From standing height, the only things I can see are the note and whether the strobe is stationary or moving.

Watch the GearLaunch video which explains most of the SP-1’s features.

After you see the video you get an idea of the flexibility and complexity of the SP-1.  Personally, I don’t need to connect a tuner to the internet but you may like that feature.

If you like to tinker with tuners, then the SP-1 may up your alley. The SP-1 is outselling the Stomp Classic and the Peterson SC-1 Strobo Series StroboClip Guitar Tuner on Amazon.com. That probably has to do with price. The SP-1 more rugged than the Peterson clip-on but less expensive than the Stomp Classic.

Amazon.com user reviews are generally all praise except one person who didn’t like to re-charge the battery every 2 weeks and wanted to see how many cents he was out. I would say he hasn’t gotten used to paying attention to the strobe movement versus reading on-screen text. The Stomp Classic has no negative reviews because there is nothing to complain about.

Since Peterson corrected me on the Stomp Classic, I will have to learn what it can do with Peterson Connect.

In Canada, the SP-1 is available from Long and McQuade priced at $125.

Follow me on Twitter at @sdpate or on Facebook at NJN Network and OyeTimes.