If you’ve read up on electronic tuners then I’m sure you know that strobe tuners are the most accurate tuners in the world. You can’t get any closer to perfect tuning electronically than with a strobe tuner. I have an excellent Peterson 490-ST Strobe Tuner that cost me around $750.00 to buy. I use that tuner at home to tune my piano and setup my guitars. I certainly don’t haul it around to gigs with me. What if I told you you could get a strobe tuner for $14.95?
I’d like to tell you about the Planet Waves S.O.S. Guitar Tuner and the S.O.S. Bass Tuner. This little tuner is shaped like a guitar pick. In fact it has a little pick tip on the front of it. The way it works is by pulsing two out-of-phase LED lights onto your guitar string. The reflected light will rotate on the string to let you know if your guitar is out of tune. It’s a very easy device to use, you simply select the pitch of the string you’re tuning E-A-D-G-B-E, pluck the string and point the tip of the tuner at the string. You then tune the string until the two lights shining on the string stop rotating. Your guitar will be as in-tune as a $750 strobe tuner can make it.
There are some advantages to using the handheld strobe tuner versus a regular electronic tuner. I play in a club that has very bad electrical interference that my guitars pickups will turn into an audible signal. This electrical noise makes it very hard for my electronic tuner to track the pitch. With the Planet Waves S.O.S. Guitar Tuner I can tune without any electronic noise interference because it simply uses reflected light. This is also handy for the live musician when tuning an acoustic guitar on a noisy stage as the tuner will be unaffected by the external noise.
There are some drawbacks to the S.O.S Guitar and Bass Tuners. I found that it took some practice to get good at tuning with it. Also, if you’re in bright light then the reflected pattern can be difficult to see. The tuner is not chromatic so you can only tune E-A-D-G-B-E with it. You also can’t use the guitar tuner for bass or the bass tuner for guitar because they are programmed to pulse the light at very specific frequencies for guitar or bass.
For the low price, it’s not too hard to live with these drawbacks. Having an S.O.S Guitar Tuner in your guitar or bass case is a cheap way to insure you’ll have extremely accurate strobe tuning whenever you want it.