Peterson Stroboclip HD - REVIEW

18 Jan 2020

Peterson Stroboclip HD - REVIEW

Not a ukulele instrument review this week (would be lost in the noise of NAMM posts), but an accessory of the sort that pretty much every ukulele player will have in their gig bag. A clip on tuner. This one is the Peterson Stroboclip HD.

Peterson Stroboclip HD Tuner

First off, regular readers and viewers of the Got A Ukulele YouTube channel will know that I already use a Peterson tuner, and have been referring to it a lot in videos of late to try to quell the number of people who don't realise that intonation issues are different from the ukulele not being in tune at the nut. I have always tuned review instruments at the nut with a strobe tuner and so if you hear any notes out of tune when the ukulele is played, that is down to intonation issues arising from setup, poor build or strings not being fully settled due to the short turnaround I have on loaned instruments. Anyway, this HD model is an update to my original Peterson strobe tuner which I reviewed as far back as 2012! I thought it was about time I upgraded to the newer model!

Back to basics first. Clip on tuners. They are all the same aren't they? You clip them on, you pluck a note and a needle registers the note.. that it isn't it? Well no actually. Firstly, not only do standard needle type tuners differ quite wildly in accuracy (and I have seen some woeful examples in the sort that come bundled with cheap Amazon ukes where you can even hear with your own ears that they are way off), but the needle type displays (Snarks etc) differ quite significantly from a strobe tuner too in the way they display the readout. A strobe method of tuning uses a rotating disk marked with carefully placed  segments which, when spun at certain frequencies, gives the appearance on the eye that the disk has become static. It's the technology people of a certain vintage may recall on the edge of vinyl turntable platters. You adjust the speed of the platter and when the markings appeared to become still in a fast flickering light, you knew you were precisely at either 33 or 45rpm. For those who are not vinyl junkies, it's the science behind watching a spinning car or bicycle wheel and the wheel appearing to slow, or even go in reverse on tv - where the frequency refresh of the TV can sync with the rotation of the wheel. The technology was also used in a range of desk based mechanical strobe tuners which cost eye watering sums but were the staple of serious guitar techs for hyper accurate tuning measurements on the bench. Incidentally, Peterson, the brand behind this 'clip on' still make mechanical strobe tuners if you have $1000 plus to spare!

To be clear though, this is NOT a mechanical strobe tuner and doesn't cost $1000 either! Instead, these use an LCD representation of the mechanical spinning wheels to do the same job. In fact it's all about the display really, because by representing frequency in this way can be much more precise than a needle display ever can. Regular clip on tuner makers are usually a little coy about how accurate their readouts are, but it seems to be accepted that something like a Snark will be accurate to no more than +/- 1 cent. That isn't a failing of the tuners themselves, but is actually down to the limitation of the LCD display in showing a readable needle on a screen. They just can't be any more accurate because of how they display the readout and because of that, despite a needle turning green and registering being in tune, there is quite a bit of 'slack', either sharp or flat of the note you are at which would also register the same 'green' reading. Some of those giveaway tuners I refer to are even worse as they use large blocks of colour to represent tuning rather than a 'needle' meaning that 'in tune' can actually cover an even larger range. I'd wager they can only display something more like 2-3 cents accuracy, if that. The Peterson Stroboclip on the other hand suggests it can display accuracy to +/- 0.1 cent. That's quite the improvement and I can categorically state now that since I had the original Stroboclip it has been, hands down, superbly accurate.

Peterson Stroboclip HD Tuner back

So a recap of how this works. Like any other tuner you clip it on the headstock, turn it on and away you go. The screen shows a representation of the spinning strobe wheels and they just look like a blur until you get closer to a recognised note. You then fine tune the uke and the wheels appear to slow down until, when bang in tune, the blocks appear to stop dead. If the blocks are moving to the right, the note is a little sharp, if they are moving to the left, the note is a little flat. The faster they are moving, the further away from the desired note you are. It's actually really intuitive when you use one despite being 'different' and they work well. Very well indeed. And it's really quite pleasing to see the blur slow down as you get closer!

The Stroboclip tuner comes with some features that other tuners offer such as an ability to adjust the reference frequency for the note of A away from the normal 440Hz, and also a drop tuning / capo adjustment (which basically allows you to take the reference notes up or down by a half step as if you were moving a capo up and down the neck), but it also comes with the extra feature of the 50 Sweetened tunings as the original did. Sadly, out goes the 'sustain' setting which I did use and found helpful to hang on to the last note it registered with less than clear strings. Maybe this one will hang on to notes better on it's own. Only time will tell.

The sweetened tunings are a set of pre-programmed, micro adjustments to the prescribed notes to be tuned at the nut for a dizzying array of instruments. Guitars, mandolins, banjos, cellos, lutes, Buzz Feiten tunings, you name it. Oh, and the ukulele of course.  They are 'sweetened' on account of the fact that any fretted stringed instrument uses an imperfect tuning method called 'equal tempered tuning'. Because of the way musical frequencies work and the fact that frets are straight and not moveable, a ukulele (or a guitar etc) is tuned in a way that creates a small 'fudge' between notes that works best on the ear over the whole neck. Equal tempered tuning divides the octave into 12 equal semitones. It's basically a pragmatic system to make the notes fit logically, but in reality a ukulele tuned GCEA is actually a microscopic amount 'out' with those notes. It's why you will often see professional stringed instrument players only use a clip on to get in the right ballpark, but then use their ears to get to a final tuning that 'sounds right'. Because of the accuracy of the Peterson, it can work to those 0.1 cent minor tweaks, and the sweetened uke tuning does indeed sound nice. Is it essential? No of course not, but it's a nice fun addition, and one that people recording very accurate pieces might benefit from. Saying that of course, if you are recording at that level of proficiency, you are probably going to use your own ears to make those final micro adjustments anyway! Professional musicians don't tend to tune to frequency readouts! Still, it's a fun function.

Peterson Stroboclip HD Tuner on ukulele

Design wise this updates the original silver box into a sleeker more modern looking clip in black and looks a lot better for it. It's powered by the same CR2032 cell battery, which if it lasts like the original, will last for ages and ages. The buttons are still a bit fiddly, and the clip is still plastic ( and though that was a complaint of mine on the original, it HAS stood up to use just fine) and the clip is still nicely padded. The swivel attachment is far more useable now with pretty much every angle you could want being easy to create. But the real positive change is the screen clarity. The original used a black on grey LCD with a very dim backlight which in some lighting (bright or dark) could be hard to make out.  As I said back then, it wasn't so much the tuning boxes that were hard to see (though they could be), but it was a pig to make out the other settings displayed on the screen. The Stroboclip improves that dramatically with a high definition, bright orange on jet black display. It's a huge improvement on the original. The representation of the boxes is also far clearer and smoother. Whether that is on account of the colour change I am not sure, but it's definitely easier to discern which direction the blocks are moving when you are out of tune. It's bright and very clear to read.

It's still a more serious price than most other tuners though at about $60 in the USA and £50 in the UK, but that has dropped a little compared to the original model. I say 'serious' but on reflection I wonder whether it really is. When clip on tuners first arrived in the music world they were double (or more) the price of this one. I recall buying one of the first Intellitouch tuner clip ons in the early 2000s and it cost me over £100. It was a revelation, but then, before they were invented we used pedal tuners with mechanical needle displays! The trouble today is that we have been spoiled with ultra cheap offerings (or free tuners). As I say though - the quality and accuracy of those really can leave a lot to be desired. Still, Snarks these days are about £15 and some other brand names can push clip ons up to about £20, but they are all still considerably less than the Peterson. Still.. I've never personally found Snark that accurate.. so there you are.

However considering most people use tuners every single day and probably go through cheap ones that break multiple times, maybe investing £50 in one that gives this sort of accuracy makes total sense?  I actually think so. It's the cost of a few packs of strings or a few coffees  and speaking personally, I would not be without one.

Very highly recommended

9 out of 10


A really odd Stop Press this one. I had a comment on the video I did for this tuner by Steve Evans (thanks Steve) who advised that the Stroboclip can be connected to a Google Chrome extenson with a USB cable in which you can tweak the sweetened tunings and add others. Nah I thought, not on this little clip. Then I looked. There IS a port on it and you can indeed!. What's really odd is that it says NOTHING about this in the manual!!


1. Electric Guitar (EADGBE)
2. Acoustic Guitar (EADGBE)
3. Acoustic Guitar (DADGAD)
4. 12 String Guitar
5. 7 String Guitar
6. Bass guitar (EADG)
7. Guitar - showing string numbers instead of notes for 6 and 7 strings
8. Bass - showing string numbers instead for 4, 5 and 6 strings
9. Baritone Guitar

10. 5 string banjo
11. 4 string tenor banjo
12. Mandoline, mandola, mandocello
13. Dobro, half sweetened
14. Dobro, full sweetened
15. Perfect 5th intervals for 4 and 5 string fiddle

Buzz Feiten
16. Electric guitar Buzz Feiten
17 Bass guitar Buzz Feiten
18. Acoustic guitar Buzz Feiten
19. 12 string Buzz Feiten
20. 7 string electric Buzz Feiten

21. Lute
22. Ukulele in GCEA (use capo function for DGBE or other relative tunings)

Lap Steels
23. Lap Steel in A6
24. Lap Steel in C6

25. Violin in perfect fifths
26. Viola in perfect fifths
27. Cello in perfect fifth
28. Brass and woodwind in perfect fifth, fourth major and minor thirds

Historic Temperaments
29. Just minor intonation
30. Just major intonation
31.Werckmesiter III
32. Quarter Comma Meantone
33. One Sixth Comma Meantone
34. Kellner
35. Kimberger III
36. Pythagorean
37. Rameau
38. Valloti
39. Young

World Music
40. Drones / bagpipes
41. Uilleann pipes
42. Sitar
43. Oud
44. Maqam Rast
45. Maqam Suznak
46. Maqam Nairuz
47. Gamelan (C# D# F# A# B)
48. Gamelan (D# E F# G# A# B C)
49. African Pentatonic

50. Standard Temperament.

Peterson Stroboclip HD

Price - around £50 UK


Supreme readout accuracy
Great and improved clear display
Sweetened tunings are fun diversion, if non-essential


Time will tell if I miss the sustain setting..





  1. Very interesting and intriguing! What kind of batteries does this tuner use? Can you comment on the battery life? Some cheap clip-ons tend to eat batteries quickly.

    1. Not had it long enough to know, but I don't see much reason for it to differ wildly from the first model. I've had that since 2012 and changed the battery only twice. It takes a standard cell button battery (CR2032)

  2. This is my favorite clip-on tuner, period. So accurate it has a learning curve. I love the sweetened tunings.

  3. This is my favorite clip-on tuner, period. So accurate it has a learning curve. I love the sweetened tunings.

  4. Just bought one. It's good. Far more accurate than my previous ones. Very cool.

  5. Nice review Barry. I use this tuner a lot. From their website, I read that the UKE ukulele sweetener is based upon a concert scale ukulele. The length of the strings is used for the calculation of the sweetening. There is a different sweetener on the site that you can download and install on your tuner. But you have to use Google Chrome and I refuse to do that on my Mac. (It messed up my other browsers and kept trying to get me to use it as my default browser amongst other problems.) VERY nice people to work with. I bought a used Strobo Plus HD rechargeable tuner a few years ago and the were kind enough to change the ownership over to me. That's a great tuner as well. Larger desktop or stand mounted tuner with a larger display. You can plug it in using your instrument's pickup, like a stomp box, and and tune your uke that way as well as using the built-in mic or using a clip attachment with a chord. Great company.


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