Ease of Use: Whether a guitarist has been playing for 1 year or 100 years, one of the essential tools in their toolbox is a reliable tuner. Check out the picture of any celebrity guitar player's pedal board, and you almost always see a tuner right upfront in the signal chain. For many years, the king-of-the-hill has been the Boss TU-2, which earned its reputation, but over the past few years there have been more and more entrants into the field. Planet Waves has now added to their lineup of tuners with the Tru-Strobe Pedal Tuner.
This is a very easy to use pedal. By default, it's set to recognize standard tuning (A440). You can either power the pedal from a standard 9v connection or install a 9v battery in the compartment underneath the pedal. You press the footswitch to activate the tuner, after plugging a guitar into the input jack. The Tru-Strobe uses a neat display, where the string you're trying to achieve is a circle, and the actual frequency you're hitting is a flashing strobe, which plays faster the closer you are to being in tune. When you hit the exact frequency you need to reach, the rings match, and it then appears that the display is solid/static, meaning you're done and can move onto the next ring.
While it's a cool effect to see, I will admit that I found it disconcerting at first, compared to the linear left-to-right display you see on most other tuning devices. I compared this pedal next to my Korg Pitchblack pedal tuner, and I still found myself tuning slightly faster with the Korg, but not by much.
Unlike most pedal tuners, the Planet Waves Tru-Strobe Pedal Tuner supports the Buzz Feiten Tuning System, as well as including presets for drop tunings as well, making this a very handy and accurate tuner for people who play in multiple tunings, or have several differently-tuned guitars on-stage at one time. Metal players who shift between Drop C, Drop D and Standard depending on the song would truly appreciate this pedal. // 7
Sound: The Tru-Strobe claims to be true bypass, and it certainly sounds like it is. I noticed no additional hum or noise of any sort introduced in my chain when listening to my pedals without the tuner, and then adding it into the chain. Enabling/disabling the pedal created no noticeable clicks or pops.
More importantly, the accuracy seems dead-on. I'll admit that I cannot hear whether a note is at perfect pitch. That said, once you get used to the display mechanism on the pedal, I found it to have a tighter window at which it will say that a pitch has been reached. Comparing again to the Korg Pitchblack, I find the Korg unit to have just a bit more slop'. It is hard to tell if the variance matters in real-world applications, as both pedals seem more accurate than many other popular pedals, but if you're considering the Planet Waves pedal, you will be happy to know that it is hyper-accurate. // 10
Reliability & Durability: The box for the Tru-Strobe Pedal Tuner is deceptively small. When you pull the pedal out, you notice that it has heft and weight, and the build quality is solid. The construction of the pedal, LCD display and buttons are all very tough and solid, and I was able to jump up and down on the pedal a few times without causing it any harm. The pedal uses an actual swivel pedal, like most Boss-style pedals. Some people prefer a metal switch that clicks on or off, compared to a pedal, but I actually find this type of pedal a bit easier to use and see no reason why it won't be just as durable over the long haul. // 10
Overall Impression: While the Planet Waves Tru-Strobe Tuner Pedal does have a cool, original way of displaying your tuning accuracy, it might be confusing at first for some players. Also, as a minor point, the pedal might not strike everyone as being incredibly attractive' or cool' looking. That said, once you get used to it, I found it to be extremely accurate, and was struck by the bright display, which I can easily make out in a dark room (or on a dark stage!). The true-bypass wiring is also to be appreciated, as many players nowadays strive to reduce as many buffers as possible between their guitar and their amp, in order to keep their tone as pure as possible. Supporting drop tunings and the Buzz Feiten Tuning System add a lot of versatility, and the handy 9v power pass-through helps simplify the cabling for those of us with crowded pedal boards. // 8
- Shekhar Dhupelia (c) 2010