You may have already read on Got A Ukulele my review of the Peterson Stroboclip Tuner - the excruciatingly expensive yet staggeringly accurate clip on tuner that the pro's adore.
The Peterson uses a strobe pattern technology on the display rather than a needle or red and green lights allowing you to tune much much finer than with normal tuners. Many clip on tuners are accurate to about +/- one or two percent, yet the Peterson claims to offer 1/10th of a percent accuracy. It certainly works very well and is satisfying to use.
The other day though I was browsing the iTunes App store and came across a free app download called Strobe Tuner Pro. I gave it a go. This is just a mini review, as really, there isn't that much to write about!
On opening the app you are presented with a simple looking screen. Top left shows the note that is being registered, top right in red is a large strobe wheel, and at the bottom 12 mini strobe wheels for each of the musical notes. The app uses the devices microphone input to register, and before you hit a note you will see that all of the wheels are spinning wildly in a blurry fashion (that I can't show on a photograph for obvious reasons)
To use a strobe tuner you adjust your tuning until the strobe pattern for the note you are looking for slows to a complete stop. Some of my older readers may recall this strobe pattern being used on the edge of record deck platters to adjust speed. It tricks the brain in to seeing a frozen image at certain speeds in a real strobe wheel - in the app it's simulated but works the same way - allowing for extremely accurate tuning. It's fiddly (as is the Peterson) but this is the stage of getting that 1/10th of a percent accuracy.
In this app, there is no dedicated ukulele setting, but I just left it on the Key of C option (though there are others for other tunings). But that is all irrelevant really as on the main screen are all of the notes you need to tune a ukulele whether in standard C tuning, or indeed any tuning. Just hit a string and use the smaller strobes at the bottom to to find which note you are closest too and then when you are near the note you need, use the main red screen and the plus or minus percentage in the top left under the note to fine tune.
So how does it stack up? Well I spent some time getting my Martin uke in tune with the Peterson. I then checked the settings with the app. Bang on. I then purposefully put the Martin out of tune and re-tuned with the app. Checked the tuning with the Peterson and ..... bang on.
Wow. The Peterson costs big bucks, but this app does the same basic thing just as well. Sure there are some downsides to using an app - it relies on quiet as it is using the microphone not vibration so perhaps only really suited to home or studio use. It's also not something that you can leave clipped on for tuning during a set for obvious reasons! It also doesn't come with the Peterson 'sweetened tunings' option but the jury is still out for me on those, but it's also incapable of having the tuning adjusted like on the Peterson which is a handy feature for when you want to be in tune with another instrument that is tough to re-tune (like a piano) - with this you can only be in tune with the App. Finally, it requires you to have an iPhone or an iPad and I know how divisive that whole topic can be (I have searched for an Android version but not found one as yet).
But, if you already have one of the Apple devices and use it for tuning, then this really is worth looking at - it's about as accurate as an App tuner can get and considering the high price of the Peterson, is getting you pro level tuning for nothing!
The app can be downloaded at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/strobe-tuner-pro/id473530418?mt=8