Last Xmas I was fortunate enough to unearth a crazy looking new Snark clip-on tuner beneath my tree. Now that I’ve had it for a couple of months I thought it was high time to write up a little review on this excellent piece of kit. We don’t have to talk about left handed guitars ALL the time do we? ;)
The Snark tuner is currently available in two different flavours – the blue SN1 is optimized for guitar and tunes via vibration only, whereas the red SN2 is a general purpose model and can tune any instrument by vibration as well as via its built-in microphone. I have the red SN2 model, not so much because I wanted the extra versatility but because the SN1 is very hard to find within the UK. Conversely, the blue model seems to be the most readily available choice in the USA…strange!
The design of the Snark is quirky, it has a very modern, curvy aesthetic but somehow also manages to appear almost retro styled at the same time. The clip is a strong, well-made affair and has rubber pads to ensure that it won’t damage your guitar’s finish.
Once clipped onto your guitar’s headstock the display head can be pivoted and rotated from two separate points in order to allow you to position it at an easily readable angle. The display itself is large and well lit to allow for comfortable reading. A limited range of vibrant on-screen colors makes the unit superb for dimly lit environments. The tuner is powered by an easily replaceable 3V lithium battery which should really last you forever due to the Snark’s clever power saving features.
The Snark also has a nifty little transpose feature which allows you to tune normally when using a capo. For example if you have a capo at the first fret the lowest note on the E-string would become an F, however through using the transpose feature on the Snark it will read out the note as an E, allowing you to tune as if in standard tuning. This is obviously also handy for straightforward tuning on drop-tuned guitars. The Snark also allows you to change the pitch reference to anywhere between 415 and 466Hz.
The final trick up the Snark’s sleeve is the built in metronome. The tempo of the metronome can either be set by tapping the required timing or via the up/down buttons on the back of the unit. Unfortunately the metronome has no audio and is a visual reference only, but it’s still a nice little extra to have. Great for songs where you don’t have the drummer to play along with!
Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…
As far as I’m concerned a tuner such as this one should satisfy three separate criteria – it should stay put, be accurate, and it should be easy to use in a dimly lit gig venue. The Snark scores highly in all categories.
Once on, the rubber feet on the clip ensure that the Snark is going nowhere. The clip is tight enough for the unit to remain firmly clamped in place, but not so tight that it will damage your guitar.
The vibration tuner works perfectly and the in-built microphone is also very accurate. The ability to tune silently via vibration is obviously a great feature for live performances where the audience don’t want to hear you while the vocalist is getting them pumped up between songs.
The Snark is also excellent in poorly lit locations. For the sake of extreme exaggeration I clambered into a pitch-black cupboard and was easily able to perfectly tune my guitar in complete darkness. The single, large power button on front is easy to locate and the bright, colourful screen is easily readable. Check it out in action on my Vintage V100 below!
The Snark tuner is a fantastic little unit and I am thoroughly impressed with it. It’s the ideal gadget for tuning acoustic instruments as well as for tuning silently on stage with easy readability. Plus it looks super cool clamped onto the end of your guitar! My only niggle was the lack of audio on the metronome which would be nice for use in quiet areas, but as this is really designed for live use this isn’t really much of an issue. Overall I’d say that if you need a tuner for gigging with or for other live situations this is an excellent choice – at only $15-$20 you cannot go wrong!