Peterson StroboFlip

With its classic strobe tuners enjoying new leases on life via digital technology, Peterson has been able to introduce ever more compact models with features that would have been inconceivable in the pre-digital era. The company’s latest offering is the StroboFlip ($329 retail/$199 street), a flip-open device that features a large LCD screen and a number of smart functions. Powered by a trio of AA batteries (or the included AC converter), the StroboFlip comes equipped with 33 preset temperaments and tunings, and it can be programmed with up to eight of your own custom tempered tunings.

Despite its impressive capabilities, the StroboFlip is straightforward to use. Swing open the protective case and hit the On button, plug in your guitar or bass, pluck a string, and note which direction the four moving bands of the strobe display move. Upward indicates a sharp note, and downward a flat note. The strobe bands represent four different octave ranges, and the object is to get the leftmost band standing still. This can be a little tricky, as all of the bands are in nearly constant motion, and some patience and practice will probably be required if you’re used to the needle- or LED-style indicators found on most electronic tuners. For acoustic instruments, you can use the included Tuning Pickup, which clips onto the bridge, headstock, or bell (in the case of a horn) to provide better signal transfer to the tuner. A Pitch Holder mounting clamp is also provided for attaching the StroboFlip to a mic or music stand, rack case, or shelf.

Delving deeper into the StroboFlip’s functions, we find a Drop/Key button that allows you to lower your tunings without the hassle of learning new note names. In this mode, pressing the lower half of the up/down button lets you drop pitches in half-step increments to a maximum of two steps down (low C). Past this point, you enter the Capo mode, which recalculates the tuning for capoing at the seventh fret and every subsequent position down to the first fret. The StroboFlip also provides the ability to change the starting note of a temperament to any of 11 other root notes besides the standard C, and access a series of specific “sweetened” temperaments for electric and acoustic guitars and basses (with separate settings for 12-string instruments).

Furthermore, it works with basses and guitars utilizing the Buzz Feiten Tuning System, as well as pedal-steel, lap-steel, and Dobro tunings, and violins, violas, cellos, harpsichords, lutes, and bagpipes. The StroboFlip even has a r" jack for sending a reference tone to an amplifier for audio tuning, or to a software tuner for calibration.

The StroboFlip is probably overkill for most guitarists, and with an accuracy of 1/1000th of a semitone (which is about 30 times greater than most electronic tuners), the adjustments you make to your instruments have to be more precise. Some players may find strobe tuning a little too tedious for casual use, but if you’re committed to having your intonation and tuning as accurate as possible, the StroboFlip is a great way to get there.