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Picture taken from amazon.com

Picture taken from amazon.com

Here’s a tiny review for a tiny device: The D’Addario NS Micro Tuner. Here goes: if you tune your instrument in a noisy place, forget about using this tuner. There are better tuners for a far better price.

Why the snarky review? I haven’t many good things to say about it, because I’m rather disappointed. Having reluctantly abandoned my TC Polytune after migrating to a four-pedal Pedaltrain Nano setup, I’ve been relying on clip-on tuners to tune up in between songs. I decided to try this one out, given its low profile and tiny footprint.

The NS micro clips on handily enough to my guitar headstock, and held fast even after some very vigorous shaking about (all for the sake of experimentation, of course). Plastic enclosure doesn’t inspire confidence in durability, but is par for the course at this price point. Very unobtrusive, stays out of the way of hands and tuners. In a quiet room, works as advertised, although there was a noticeable lag in pitch detection. An omen of bad things to come, perhaps. Tuning resolution was limited to about 6 steps. Chromatic range means you can do alternate tunings – but didn’t try that out because I don’t usually do alternate tunings. Display seemed a tad dim.

Took the NS micro out to a rehearsal. Bad news: the NS micro tuner is totally unusable in a noisy rehearsal room. The NS micro could not detect a single note, not even the strings closer to it. Changing its position on the headstock didn’t help. I had to get the room whisper-quiet before the NS micro could do the job. This is not always possible in rehearsal, when bandmates tend to noodle around between songs (and we encourage that because great ideas tend to come out during noodling sessions). I reckon its touch and go for live performances, especially in crowded and noisy venues as well. This is a major, major deal breaker.

Thankfully, I brought along my Snark clip-on (SN-2 All-Instrument). I whipped it out, perched it on the headstock, turned it on and hit my low “E” – voila – the Snark did the job with complete ease even as my band was ripping through a mad improvisation at full volume. It detected every note, brought me back to concert pitch in record time.

The Snark stayed on the headstock, the NS micro went into the gig bag.

Compared to the NS micro, the Snark SN-2 does a far better job, for half the price, with double the sensitivity and resolution (A whopping 28 steps, vs the NS micro’s palty 6) and a noticeably brighter display (not to mention bigger, but that’s not a fair comparison). No doubt the SN-2 has a much larger footprint and can look a bit unwieldy – not forgetting that its size means you have to clip it right at the end of the headstock, nicely obscuring the brand name for your fancy expensive axe and keeping audiences from fully appreciating the majesty of your branded guitar. which is probably a deal-breaker if you’re into that sort of thing. But it clamps on to your headstock with the tenacity of a rabid dog, it’s as sensitive as an emo musician (do those still exist, by the way), and almost as bright as Stephen Hawking. Even if you use a pedal tuner, the Snark is cheap enough that you can still pick one up as a backup to your fancy-pants strobe tuner, or to use offstage for pre-show string changes and tune-ups.

So… Anyone want to buy a lightly-used D’Addario NS micro tuner?

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