I am a new Luthier and I have been getting by with inexpensive chromatic tuners. Korg or Boss. What kind of tuner do the pros use and why? I see a lot of Luthiers and builders use Peterson strobe tuners that are around $200 the blue ones... What will work. I need many tools still so I dont want to drop 2bills or more on a tuner if it is less then a requirement.

Views: 1560

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I used the Boss TU-20 for years and finally switched to the Peterson about 6 years ago, I'll never go back. The peterson makes intonation so much easier. I've added a Snark clip on to the arsenal for quick tuning but the Peterson comes out when I need accuracy across all spectrums.

Eric what kind of Peterson do you have? I know they have a variety of tuners ranging from $50 to like $3k.

Luke, mine is an early model Virtual Strobe #VS-1. I bought it second hand from my friend Thomas James and it's worked wonders for me. There may be something better out there but I just haven't needed it yet.

I have a variety of tuners, regular & clip-on. None of them the high end luthier types though.

Not a 'pro' tuner, but one of the best affordable tuners ($3.99!) I have found is an app on the iphone- 'cleartune'. Check it out. I find it is very accurate (more accurate than any other consumer level tuner Ive owned) works well in the shop, has adjustable needle damping. I would have never thought to trust an iphone app as a tuner but after trying a friends out, I was quite impressed and got it right away. Its my go-to tuner now for general setup, checking intonation,etc. I am not affiliated with cleartune, just a happy customer.


More tuners than I need are lurking-around the shop. Some cheap, some good... but they all seem to have their place. The older Peterson VS-1 (probably just like Eric's) only gets used for critical stuff, as I find it too persnickety for general use... but that's just me.  

Big fan of the Snarks... cheap, accurate, easy to use and lots of 'battery mileage'. That new Peterson StroboClip for about $70 looks real promising!  Might have to treat myself someday...

Passed-up a chance, years ago, to get one of those old vacuum tube Conn Strobe Tuners. Probably just as well.


You may want to check with local schools and/or universities.  Many have the brown in a metal case "true strobe" Conn/ Peterson tube type tuners just laying around collecting dust.  An offer to take them off their hands for free might be accepted. You'll likely have to get them re-calibrated.

Also, remember to set the intonation while the guitar is in its playing position (on its side). That's an important step that even many experienced tech's overlook. It truly makes a difference.

Happy hunting....and tuning :-)

The Peterson iPhone app works great. They also sell a cable that adapts a 1/4" cable to the iPhone. App also works with iPod touch and iPad. I use the strobo flip but will probably just switch to the app when the strobo flip wares out.

Ditto on the Peterson app - it's really easy to read on an iPod!!

Seems like a bit of "me too" here as we see the usual suspects line up:  Peterson VS-1 for mapping and measuring intonations and showing customers just how their instrument looks all around the fret board and why they may not be able to play accurately in certain places / what needs to be done  etc etc and the latest Snark  SN-8 for general tuning and stage tech work.   Best thing for stage work - no power chords, no instrument cables, clip on vibration or microphone sensor, stick em in your pocket, afford to lend them or lose them....I thought they were a bit of a toy until I used them and then it made a lot of sense.

The SN-8 has faster tracking, dead accurate dispaly and is a much better and brighter display than all the other Snarks I've used and they are about $14 from Elderly (and many others)  from whom we buy in bulk. The reason we buy them in bulk is that so many of our customers ask(ed) about what they are and why we use them that we now sell them.  I could go on but, these are seriously good things.


I use an A tuning fork attached to a box. I rigged up a piano key and hammer mechanism so I can strike the fork by touching the piano key. The fork rings long enough for me to tune all 6 strings several times. For intonation on electric setups I measure first to get close and then use a Peterson 490 ST Autostrobe. I like it better than my old Peterson 420 cause you do not have to change the knob for each note.

I have attached a photo

Would love to have this set up, but only to look at and watch operate, as my old ears just ain't what they used to be. Electronic and digital for me , at least until the eyes go (well on their way already).

Here's another vote for the Peterson Iphone app called StroboSoft.  It's fantastic, no frills, accurate as can be, always with me anyway so no extra baggage and super cheap too, something like $10 IIRC.  I also bought the cord for the app so I can plug electrics into my phone and see what's happening with them.

We have the big honking Peterson Strobe tuner too but it's more for show than anything else since the StroboSoft Iphone app works so great.  When I purchased the Iphone app we checked it against the $200+ Peterson strobe tuner and they both read the very same no matter what we threw at them.

We also have Peterson's latest and greatest StroboSoft for the Mac complete with rectum analyzer for those occasional difficult customers...

Bells and whistles and blinking lights are cool and may impress the unknowing but at the end of the day, beginning too I love my Peterson IPhone app.


© 2022   Created by Frank Ford.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service