image of a Conn Strobo-Tuner

Gaze Upon My Conn Strobotuner

Man, I dig old stuff.  Vintage gear just has a vibe about it.  The Conn Strobotuner is no exception.  With its vacuum tubes, and glowing dials and knobs, it looks like something out of a 1950's era laboratory.

I am the proud owner of a Conn Strobotuner ST-4 (see the photo above), which not only makes me a better person than you, but also gives me street cred if I ever wind up at Joe Bonamassa's house.  I've had this thing for years.  I think my dad had it for quite awhile before I did.  It still works, too! 

So, what is it?

Well according to the Conn Corporation, of Elkhart, IN:

The STROBOTUNER is an electronic instrument giving an accurate visual indication of the frequency of a sound or an electrical signal. It compares the frequency to be measured with internal frequency standards based upon the equally tempered musical scale but can be used to measure frequencies in any scale.

By stroboscopic comparison it indicates if the frequency being checked is sharp, flat, or in tune with the reference standard.

The range of the STROBOTUNER encompasses seven octaves or 84 half-steps in the musical scale. It ranges from C1 (three octaves below middle C) to B7 in ordinary operation. Its useful range actually extends beyond these limits, however, as explained in the instructions.

The go on to suggest this fine piece of technology is best suited for measuring the sharpness or flatness of tones that might be produced by a variety of instruments, including but not limited to:

  • Bands
  • Orchestras
  • Vocal Groups
  • Individual Performers
  • Piano Tuners
  • Organ Tuners
  • Your Wife's Nagging

Long story short: its a very precise tuner.

And its way cooler than that little box you have on your pedalboard. You can still find them all over Ebay, and they seem to have somewhat of a cult following, that includes Neil Young, who apparently them on the 1978 Rusted Moon Tour, and I've seen evidence that he still uses them, at least occasionally, today.

So, if you're a guitar nerd like me, run out and get a Conn Strobotuner and put it in the living room.  It will make you a better person.

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