Posts Tagged ‘peterson stroboclip’


Fender FA 135 CE Concert Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Summary: Part of the Fender Classic Design series, this lower-end model is a real surprise; especially in the sound department. Nice, low action, and a great feel. If you’re looking for a starter guitar or getting your child his or her very first guitar, you can’t go wrong with the FA 135 CE.

Pros: Some reviews have questioned the build quality of this guitar, but I’m very impressed with how solid this guitar is built. The guitar stays in tune and playing it is so, so easy. And for a smaller concert size guitar, this has a very rich sound; it’s quite unexpected.

Cons: The only nit that I have – and it’s really just a nit – is that the tuners are bit fast for my tastes. Fine tuning is a little challenging at first, but it’s easy to get used to.

Price: $179 street


  • Laminated bass wood sides and back
  • Laminated spruce top with X-bracing reinforcement
  • Nato wood neck
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • Compensated rosewood saddle
  • Single cutaway
  • Fishman Ion-T Preamp with built-in tuner

Tone Bone Rating: 4.75 ~ For what it is, I can’t help but give this guitar a great rating. Fender really surprised me with this guitar!

My 12-year-old son has been taking Ukelele lessons for a couple of years, and after he finished his last lesson, he came out and told me that he wanted to start playing guitar. His teacher, Michael, had accompanied him out of the lesson room and told me that he was ready. And since his birthday was coming up, I thought I’d get him a new one, as opposed to fixing up one of my old ones. My thought is that just like my dad did for me, I’d give my son a brand new guitar for his first one.

So today I went to Guitar Center and spent a couple of hours in their acoustic room evaluating all sorts of acoustic guitars. I didn’t want to spend over $200 for this guitar, but luckily, as a big-box retailer, Guitar Center has a pretty wide selection of “value” guitars. I tried guitars from Mitchell, a used “Little Martin,” several Yamaha guitars, and even a Gretsch.

The Little Martin was impressive and solidly built and was at a great price of $189, but it wouldn’t be available until Wednesday due to some city ordinance about a waiting period for used guitars. I needed a guitar today. So I sat in the acoustic room, and my gaze fell upon the Fender. I immediately thought to myself that it looked really nice. But, the thought also occurred that it was a Fender acoustic, and my previous experiences with those haven’t been all that good.

But in spite of my preconceptions, I decided to give it a try and was immediately surprised by the tone of the guitar. For a smaller-body guitar, I wasn’t expecting much sound-wise. But this had a sweet, gorgeous, rich tone. It completely took me by surprise. Then I started playing it, and thought, This couldn’t be a Fender acoustic! It sounds and plays way too nice – especially at $179!

Folks, this guitar is a sleeper, and it reminds me of the experience I had with my Squier Classic Vibe Tele. Great sound, great playability at a SUPER-affordable price!

Fit and Finish

The build quality of this guitar is awesome, just like my CV Tele. There are no uneven paint lines, and all the seams are clean and straight. The neck is straight, and the action is set up low, though it does raise just a little bit in the higher registers; but it’s not so bad that it’s not playable. This is a great guitar for fingerstyle playing, but even strummed, there’s no buzz. But more importantly, the setup is perfect for a beginning guitarist like my little boy.


Quite frankly, the main criterium for choosing a guitar for my son was playability. I could live with a guitar that had only okay sound just as long as it was easy to play. The frets are medium wire. Not great for bending and vibrato, but hey! This is a beginner’s guitar, so that’s not a big issue. The spacing is great between the frets as this is a shorter-scale guitar. For a seasoned player, this guitar plays with ease. For a beginner and a young player at that, the short scale will help them build up confidence.

How It Sounds

For a low-priced guitar, the FA 135 CE is amazingly articulate. As expected, it has a bit brighter voice as compared to a larger body guitar. But it has some nice sustain, and the spruce soundboard resonates with a surprisingly rich tone. Projection is great with this guitar due to the X-bracing under the top to provide stability and to help with projection. What also surprised me about this guitar is that it’s louder than I expected.

Tone-wise, as for me, I prefer a brighter-sounding guitar. While I liked the Little Martin, doing an A/B with that vs. the FA 135, it was as if a blanket was put over the Martin. The sound was much warmer and a bit too subdued for my tastes. That guitar projected very loud, but it would get lost in the mix when played with other guitars. This shouldn’t happen with the FA 135 CE.

Quick Demo

Here’s a quick demo I recorded just before posting this review. Sorry for the sound quality – and background noises – as this was recorded using my MacBook’s built in microphone, my new puppy was being a little playful across the room… 🙂

Preamp Test

As mentioned above, the guitar comes equipped with a Fishman Ion-T preamp. It’s a pretty simple preamp, so I thought I would give it a whirl. It’s not a bad preamp as preamps go, but it’s nothing special. In fact, its output is only okay. In order to record, I had to peg the guitar’s volume and add a lot of gain on my audio interface. Not a big deal. What was important to me was if I could get a good enough guitar signal to use the guitar in a song.

I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the result. I didn’t have to tweak the EQ at all. Of course, I did some production processing, but that was the point of the exercise, which was to see if I could get a good, mixable acoustic guitar sound from a plugged in guitar.

Overall Impression

I love this guitar! Who cares if it was manufactured in China. I have to commend Fender for finding an overseas manufacturer that does a great job at building guitars. The build, play and sound quality of this guitar have far exceeded my expectations. I think this is a guitar that my son will enjoy for years to come!

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5 Tone Bones - Gear has stellar performance, value, and quality. This is definitely top of the class, best of breed, and it's a no-brainer to add this to your gear lineup!

Peterson StroboClip HDTM High Definition Clip-On Strobe Tuner

Summary: Peterson is the pioneer in strobe tuning and this new version of the highly-acclaimed StroboClip is a huge improvement over the original StroboClip which, in my opinion, just couldn’t be beaten. But add to that a larger, high-definition, and a high-contrast screen, then throw in a high degree of accuracy, then add Peterson’s unrivaled “Sweeteners,” what’s not to like?

Pros: I said pretty much everything in the summary. This thing just works and it’s accurate – very accurate. But it’s really the Sweeteners that have always sealed the deal for me.

Cons: None for me as I used the original for a long time (until some a-hole stole it at a gig), but using a strobe tuner will take a newbie a bit of time to get used to. But that shouldn’t discourage anyone.

Price: $59.99 street


  • 0.1 cent accuracy
  • 50+ Sweeteners for different kinds of instruments – thank goodness the guitar ones are first. 🙂
  • Comparatively larger, HD, backlit LCD readout.
  • Tuning Range: C0 to B6 (very wide)
  • Concert Pitch Range 390-490Hz

Tone Bone Rating: 5.00 ~ After my original StroboClip got stolen last year, I went with a cheap Snark tuner. It did the job okay, but there was always something special about the sound of a guitar tuned with my StroboClip. It just sounded better. And with this updated, upgraded version, I’m a very happy camper!


What could be so special about a tuner?

Believe me, not all tuners are made the same. An accurately tuned guitar can make the difference between sounding just okay and sounding incredible. So it stands to reason that the more accurate your tuning, the better you’ll sound. So tuner manufacturers have strived to get as accurate as possible, getting into the tenths of a cent (or even the hundredths of a cent). The StroboClip is super-accurate at 0.1 cent, which is pretty incredible. And that’s great – you might be thinking that at this point, there might be a “but” in there… Yes, there is…

As James Taylor puts it, because of how guitars are constructed, and how the strings vibrate, the actual sound that they produce when plucked is not actually in tune if you tune the strings to their exact tuning. According to JT, strings will ring a little sharp, so he actually tunes each string down a few cents per string – not evenly – as each different string requires a different adjustment.

And this is where Peterson tuners have always stood out. They’ve gone to great lengths studying the actual sounds that come off a stringed instrument and have come up with special tuning algorithms for different types of instruments that they call “Sweeteners.” A Peterson rep shared with me that for their acoustic Sweetener, JT’s tuning influenced their algorithm. Hey! If it’s good enough for JT…

In any case, the Sweeteners are extremely subtle, but the first time I used a sweetener for a recording, I noticed that my guitar just sounded better. The difference is like wearing a nicely shined pair of shoes. People don’t necessarily know that you’ve shined your shoes, but they notice that you look a bit sharper. That’s the best analogy I can come up with for Peterson’s Sweeteners.

I noticed it especially with recording my acoustic guitar. With standard, equivalent tuning, it sounded okay but tuned with the ACU (acoustic) Sweetener, it just seemed to ring so much better. That said, you have to get used to the sound because up close, it might sound a little off. But when I listened to the recording, wow! It was truly a revelation.

Fit and Finish

All Peterson products are built rock-solid. And even though they’ve gone with a plastic body, it doesn’t feel at all cheap.

The kicker for me is the comparatively large screen to other tuners. Damn! That thing is readable! And with the higher number of pixels, the readout is super smooth. And for my aging eyes, I love it!

The clip’s springs are pretty tight, but not so much that you can’t squeeze the clip open, and combined with the silicon pads will ensure that the clip stays put on your headstock.

Ease of Use Tuning with a Strobe Tuner

It has three buttons. The middle turns on the unit and acts as the menu selector. The + and – buttons scroll through choices. Doesn’t get much easier than this.

Tuning with a Strobe Tuner

I have to admit that the first time I used a strobe tuner, it was a little weird. I was so used to seeing a needle sweep over a gauge. With a strobe tuner, what you get is a checkerboard pattern that sweeps left and right to indicate the sharpness or flatness of your string. If it moves clockwise, the string is sharp and vice-versa if the string is flat. When the string is in tune, the checkerboard stops moving. The bigger screen really helps.

But there is a bit of a trick to tuning. You have to get used to moving in much smaller increments than what you might be used to. Also, the tuner is so sensitive that once you make an adjustment, you have to remove your hand from the tuning knob because the slightest pressure will affect the tuning. But believe me, once you get used to tuning this way, it’ll become second-nature.

One feature that I didn’t mention is the Drop/Capo setting. If you drop your tuning or use a capo, you can get into the Drop/Capo mode, set the number of semitones you’re going up or down, and then tune accordingly. That’s a really powerful feature, and as I often use a capo, knowing that my strings are all in tune with the right compensations for each string is comforting.

Overall Impression

You can probably tell based on the rating I gave and the review, I love this tuner! I know that Peterson’s marketing push is for the HD screen, but to me, this tuner has always been about the underlying technology. It’s second to none. But I do have to say that the larger screen is simply awesome!

At $59.99, it’s not a cheap tuner, especially compared to something like a Snark 2 that you can get for under $25 (I got mine for $21 on sale). And you know me, I’m not one to say that just because you pay more for something, it’s better. But in this case, it’s totally worth the extra money.

You might be wondering why I might be so excited about this. After all, it’s only a tuner. But once you tune with a Peterson tuner and hear the difference in your sound, you’ll become a believer.

What About Other Strobe Tuners?

The only one I can think of is the Turbo Tuner with an amazing .02 cent accuracy; yes, you read that right. But as I said before, while extreme accuracy is great, what makes the Peterson technology stand out to me are the Sweeteners. They really make a difference. And at some point, I’m wondering if our ears can actually hear the difference between 0.1 and .02 cent. I’m not so sure. It’s almost like a tube amp. The more gain you throw at a tube, the less effect it’ll have on volume. But to each their own. If extreme accuracy is your thing, that’s awesome. And that’s the beauty of having so many choices out in gear land. There’s bound to be something to please any taste.

For me, that taste is the Peterson Sweeteners!

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I just did a review of this awhile ago, but I thought I’d go into a bit from an actual usage perspective.

As I reported in my review, I took it to my weekly solo acoustic gig, and it worked fantastically. I also took it to my Sunday church gig and used it on another guitar: My Fender Stratacoustic, which is a really tough guitar to tune. I also use it regularly in my home studio and it works flawlessly.

Okay, I know. It’s just a tuner. However, what I find so special about it is that it’s the first clip-on tuner I’ve used that is really accurate. Plus, it has Peterson’s sweeteners built in, and to me, the sweeteners make all the difference in the world. Sweetners are minute adjustments to the tuning so that chord intervals sound, well, sweeter. Guitars are generally built to even temperament; that is, they’re set up so that each string is tuned to an exact frequency.

The idea behind the Peterson tuning sweetners is that even temperament is fine until you play chords. We’ve all been there. Tune up the guitar with a standard tuner like a TU-2. The tuning sounds fine. Then you play a chord, and you have to make adjustments so the chord sounds good. The sweetners take this in to account, and instead of tuning to the exact pitch frequency, tune a little off to account for presses on the strings. The result is that when you tune with a Peterson tuner, you rarely make post tuning adjustments. Very cool.

Originally, I thought I’d simply use the StroboClip in my home studio, but I’ve found it to be an invaluable tool for gigs. For instance, as the lead guitarist in my church band, I often do solos with a lot of bending which, after awhile, will make the tuning drift a bit. With my StroboClip, it’s simply a matter of turning down my volume, then doing a quick tune. Oh that reminds me! I totally dig the LCD screen for tuning. Even for how small the unit is, the movement of the checkerboard pattern makes tuning a lot easier than trying to nail it with a bank of LED’s.

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Peterson StroboClipTM Clip-On Tuner

Summary: A high-accuracy (0.1 cent) clip-on tuner! But it’s a Peterson Strobe tuner and that means tuning sweeteners. The StroboClip has several of Peterson’s sweeteners for different instruments, and these sweeteners ensure that your instrument(s) will sound great.

Pros: To me, the Sweeteners are what set apart Peterson tuners from the pack. But as far as the StroboClip is concerned, the clip-on is great for use in both the shop and on stage, and the fact that it is a clip-on makes it versatile enough to use on a variety of instruments. And with a metal enclosure, you can be assured of its durability.

Cons: None.

Features (from the Peterson site):

  • Smallest Multi-Temperament Tuner
  • 1/10 Cent Accurate
  • Smooth, Real-Time Display
  • Alternate Temperament Presets (Including Buzz Feiten Tuning System®)
  • Includes Eastern Temperament Presets
  • Drop/Capo Setting
  • Adjustable Key
  • 28 Exclusive Peterson Sweeteners™/Temperaments
  • Adjustable Concert A Reference: 400Hz to 490Hz
  • Auto Sleep And Power Off For Battery Saving
  • Low Power Consumption
  • Virtual Strobe™ Patented Technology

Price: ~$70 street

Tone Bone Score: 5.0 ~ I received this as a test unit from Peterson the other day, and used it to intonate one of my guitars, which I then used for a recording, and used it on-stage this evening. In all applications, it worked incredibly well. I have absolutely no complaints about this unit! So for studio, shop, or stage, this is a winner!

I dig Peterson tuners, and the fact that this comes in a clip-on makes it super-versatile; add 0.1 cent accuracy, and this is an absolutely fantastic tuner. I’m not really one to use a clip-on on-stage for guitar, even though I used it tonight to test it out, but for the studio, and especially for intonating guitars, I can see how the StroboClip will be an indispensable tool for me! That said, I am getting a ukulele pretty soon, so I’ll probably be using the StroboClip for that.

As I mentioned above, the thing that has always stood out for me about Peterson tuners in general are the sweeteners. I don’t know any of the mathematics behind the technology, but the best explanation I can give is that the Peterson tuners don’t just tune the string to the exact correct pitch. When set to a particular type of sweetener (for guitar and other instruments), certain calculations are made in the tuning algorithm to compensate for the type of instrument. The net result is that once you tune, your chords and note runs sound great!

Many tuners that just tune a string to the exact correct pitch, require some adjustment to get them completely dialed in. But with a Peterson strobe tuner, those minute adjustments are already done for you, so when you tune, you tune to the compensated pitch. That’s about the best explanation I can give without the technical knowledge. Just let it be said that once I’ve tuned with a Peterson tuner, my guitars sound so much better because they’ve been tuned with the guitar in mind. But the StroboClip also includes several other sweeteners for other instruments such as mandolin and ukulele, so it can be used to great effect with different instruments.

With respect to the physical act of tuning, it takes awhile to get used to tuning with a strobe tuner. Unlike other tuners where you either center a needle or LED, all Peterson strobe tuners use a moving checkerboard that speeds up or slows down depending upon how far off your tuning is. Right to left movement means you’re flat, and the converse for sharp. As a strobe tuner is super-sensitive, you have to get used to picking very lightly (I just use my thumb) to tune. But once you’ve gotten the feel for it, it’s very easy.

Tonight, I used it in my weekly solo acoustic gig. Amazingly enough, my Yamaha APX-900 stays in tune so well – never had an acoustic that did that – so the adjustments I made were minute to each string. But I do have to say that after tuning with the StroboClip, unlike other tuners like my venerable TU-2, I didn’t have to do any post-tuning tweaking.

As for the price of $70, it’s not cheap. But believe me, if you want a great tuner for studio or shop use, you could do a lot worse. I found it extremely useful for intonating my guitar last night. I have an old Seiko analog-style tuner that I’ve used for years for that purpose, but it has always required running a cable from my guitar. With the StroboClip, I just clipped it to the headstock. This also meant that I could keep my guitar plugged into my amp so I could hear what I was doing as well as see what the StroboClip was doing. So very cool!

All in all, this is a great little unit that I will most assuredly be keeping around for a long time!

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Peterson is at it again. I did a review on the Peterson StroboRack awhile back, and loved the unit, though as a pedal guy, the rack didn’t make much sense in a gig situation. I’ve seen the StroboStomp in operation, and that’s a cool unit. Now, Peterson has just released the new StroboClip, which combines the strobe technology Peterson is known for along with several “Sweeteners” for specific types of musical instruments, and provides 0.1 cent accuracy; all in a clip-on tuner! How cool is THAT!

True to Peterson build quality, the StroboClip isn’t made of cheap plastic. It is housed in a metal casing, so it should be quite durable, and the backlit LCD display should help a lot in making the tuning bars readable.

If you’re new to Peterson tuners, they use a pattern of left-right moving bars to indicate tuning. Movement left is flat, movement to the right is sharp. Once the bars stop moving, then the instrument is in tune. It takes a little while to get used to, but once you get the hang of tuning with a strobe tuner, it’ll be hard to go back to another type. I had trouble parting with the StroboRack when I had it, but also didn’t want to pay the price of a rackmount unit.

With the StroboClip, I might just be enticed to get one – especially for my solo acoustic gigs. My onboard tuner works okay, but it’s not as accurate as I’d like, and I oftentimes have to do some post-tuning tweaks to get it dialed in. But with a super-accurate tuner like the StroboClip, that might solve that problem.

I’ll hopefully be getting one of these units in for review, and I’ll do a full write-up on it. For now, here’s the press release from Peterson:



Unrivaled accuracy in a small package strobe tuner

Alsip, Illinois, USA – 8-6-2010 – Peterson Strobe Tuners has added a clip-on style strobe tuner to their Virtual Strobe™ series line-up. The StroboClip™ is designed for acoustic instruments and contains many new features not found in traditional clip-on tuners. The large strobe display maximizes the StroboClip’s screen area by moving the strobe bands horizontally, rather than vertically as in previous strobe tuner models, to guarantee easy viewing in various lighting conditions.

New and exclusive Sweetened Tuning® presets for banjo, mandolin, and ukulele offer dedicated settings for players of these instruments to facilitate tuning. A variety of other presets including Dobro®, lap steel, and settings for the violin family come standard in the StroboClip. Settings for eclectic instruments such as lute, bagpipes, and oud are also covered along with additional Eastern Temperament settings for instruments of the like.

The StroboClip also features an exclusive Sustain mode™. In Sustain mode, the StroboClip can be set to hold the tuning pattern for a short time after the note has decayed so that instruments with short voices, such as banjo and mandolin, can be tuned quickly and easily. For regular tuning, the Sustain mode feature can be turned off.

“Musicians have been asking for the convenience of a clip-on tuner that has the accuracy and real-time tuning of a strobe tuner for a long time,” says John Norris, Peterson Sales Manager.  “Many features with a low price point is what the target was and we feel we hit the mark with this product.”

The StroboClip is encased in a brushed aluminum shell to help it withstand the rigors of the road and the included cushioned, metal carrying case will keep it safe when not in use. Soft, rubber pads in the jaws of the StroboClip protect the instrument’s finish while providing a firm grip for maximum signal conductivity.

The MSRP of the StroboClip is $89.99 and it is now shipping. Visit www.petersontuners.com or www.stroboclip.com for more information.


About Peterson:

Peterson Electro-Musical Products, Inc. has been manufacturing strobe tuners since 1948. The Virtual Strobe™ series was introduced in 2003 followed by the first ever True Bypass tuner of any kind, the Peterson StroboStomp™ in 2004. The StroboSoft software tuner was released in June 2005.

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