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Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 495
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Sunday, August 21, 2005 - 4:36 pm:   Edit Post

Strobe tuners came up several times in a discussion on intonation, and rather than hijack that thread (more importantly, to stay on Dave's good side <g>) I thought a separate thread might be a good idea. There are also some relevant comments in a more general discussion of tuning techniques from about a year ago - apparently before SOM picked up his Peterson.

Picking up where we left off, son_of_magni was saying,

"The VS-II is a digital model. I've never used them but I have my doubts that they are as good as the analog type. Mine is a Peterson R450 which I really like. Peterson is probably the preferred brand in general, though I think the old Conn's are just as good."

I was a bit skeptical of the digital display myself, but not after trying it. I'm delighted with my V-SAM, though I haven't tried one of their higher end models for comparison.

They claim the same accuracy (1/10 of a cent) for all their tuners, and I see no reason to doubt it. I just did a little experiment. I started holding my bass (not strapped) in close to playing position, with the surface of the body perpendicular to the floor, but the neck horizontal (3:00). While playing an open string, and rotating the body around the neck axis by less than ten degrees, I could clearly watch the display go sharp and flat just by virtue of gravity pulling on the neck. Seriously - that's like just leaning backward or forward a little. Try that with your typical needle tuner, or even a Korg rackmount (with 1 cent accuracy).

I think they did a superb job of implementing the display, and find it very easy to read. There are some comments out there from people who claim it's hard to use, takes them forever to "chase the strobe" - and all I can conclude is that they just haven't adjusted to how incredibly sensitive it is.

You can buy a new VS-II or V-SAM for $220-240 (same tuner, but differences in other features), but if you want a non-digital display or maybe a rack mount unit, then it's a pretty big jump to $450 or more. You'd also need one of the high end models for stretch tuning of pianos, though I think (not certain) the VS models may come with more built in tunings for guitarists and such. Depends on your budget and needs.

If you consider either of the VS models, take a careful look at the feature differences - you have to dig pretty deep to find all the details. Aside from the obvious stuff (SAM has metronome and tone generator features), as I recall the II had an inline tuning mode with bypass that the SAM does not.

The thing that swayed me to the SAM is that when you set the reference pitch, e.g. to A=440, then A stays at 440 as you switch to different tunings or temperaments. In contrast, the II sort of figures out where C would be relative to your selected reference (I forget what temperament it uses), and then holds C constant as you change tunings/temperaments (i.e. A does not remain at 440).

They did this because a lot of people who use weird (er, alternate) tunings seem to prefer it this way, but that's not what I wanted. Your choice.

My only negative comments are that the manual is poorly written, and the user interface could perhaps be a bit more intuitive (aside from the strobe display itself), so it takes half an hour or so of experimenting to figure out the controls. Also, some of the buttons feel a little cheesy.

But once you get past that, it works great. It locks on fast, even to an open low B, and is arguably fast enough to check your intonation while playing in real time (not that I've done so). I also got great support from them in arranging the exchange through my local dealer, and if you're really into arcane tuning details they host a fairly active discussion group on their site.

Username: jeffrey

Post Number: 5
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2005 - 6:46 am:   Edit Post

They have a stomp box model now called StroboStomp. Looks pretty slick!

Username: beelee

Post Number: 75
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2005 - 8:32 am:   Edit Post

I purchased a VS- I about 3 years or so back for a portable unit ( I have a Korg DTR-1 in each of my racks) , I also have a Korg DTM-12 ( that has a metronome and several octaves of pitches).

I've haven't gone into the menus or used it for setting intonation yet, but it works quite well for tuning my standard and extended range basses, Chapman Stick too ( it has a built in mode for stick tuning I've not tried yet as well) I am very pleased with it.

But there is IMO one minor flaw in its design, the rotary encoder knob. The knob has a plastic shaft and sticks up and could be easily broken off if dropped or bumped, it should have been recessed or 4 buttons instead of a knob.

I really take care of all my gear, but somehow the knob broke off, I had it on top of my super redhead with the rubber leg out so the VS-1 would stand up and from the vibrations the leg closed and it lay flat ontop of the amp ( did not fall off the amp at all) I had looked over and saw it was laying flat and the knob was off ( I thought it just popped off, but it was a clean break)
tried to glue it ( you know how trying to glue plastic is sometimes) wouldn't hold.

I called up Peterson to have it repaired and they were the BEST, what customer service !! even tho it was out of warranty, they repaired it for free, I just had to pay shipping to them, round trip was less than 2 weeks.

I'd get another one.

Senior Member
Username: kmh364

Post Number: 1007
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Monday, August 22, 2005 - 10:29 am:   Edit Post

I dig my Peterson V-SAM. The strobe is very accurate (i.e., I've duplicated Bob's experiment...just laying my bass flat on my lap caused it to go slightly out of tune as clearly shown on the virtual strobe display). I also like the metronome which is perfect for timing training which is part of any semi-serious musical instrument study (i.e., I use it for my guitar lesson practice), and the mic and/or tone generator make it easy to tune any acoustic instrument.

I do have some peeves with the thing, though. The unit is rather cheaply made...it really needs that blue rubber shock-absorbing slip case. Mine broke after two months when the cheap PC-mount speaker went bad. I didn't drop the unit, mind you, but it failed while I was using it as a metronome. Peterson repaired it gratis under warrantee, but I still had to pay to send it back and be without it for a couple of weeks (it's my only tuner). Also, despite the relatively high price, it's not made in America (no insult to anyone intended, I just like to buy American as much as I can to do my part to support American labor).

Just my $0.02
Senior Member
Username: poor_nigel

Post Number: 516
Registered: 7-2003
Posted on Thursday, August 25, 2005 - 1:47 am:   Edit Post

Quick tip - "people who claim it's hard to use, takes them forever to "chase the strobe""

If you are just using your Peterson strobe on stage to quickly tune up, just 'tune' the 12th or 24th fret harmonic of each string, and the process will be greatly sped up, especially for five-string basses. I think you will find that you are in great tune for so little effort doing it this way.
Note: For setting intonation at the bridge, I would not consider anything other than a quality strobe unit. $0.02

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