Snark ST-8 and ST-2 All Instrument clip-on tuner review
Snark have a range of guitar tuners well-known among musicians for their simple design and accurate tuning. Today we’ll look at two of their designs: The ST-8 All Instrument Tuner and ST-2 All Instrument Tuner. You can pick them up for $15 and $13 USD respectively. Despite the low price tag I found both worked great for guitar and bass tuning.
ST-8 vs ST-2 features
There’s only minor differences between the ST-8 and ST-2 designs. The most notable is that the ST-2 has both mic and vibration tuning modes, while the ST-8 only has vibration. However, the ST-8 has the advantage of a larger tuning indicators, so it’s a bit easier to see on stage.
If you want greater accuracy you could also look at the ST-8HZ tuner, which increases the rating to 1/10th of 1 Hz accuracy. Honestly if you are a real stickler for tuning accuracy you’d be better off getting a pedal tuner though. We recently reviewed the TC Electronic Polytune 3, which can tune more precisely than any clip-on I’ve used.
Snarks accurate for standard tuning
Both the ST-8 and ST-2 can tune a guitar or bass in E standard quickly and accurately. They can also tune guitars in drop tunings easily, right down to drop A. They struggle with drop tuned basses however. It’s frustrating to tune a low B on a bass guitar with a Snark, as the tuner can’t seem to decide if the note is in tune or not. I’ve tried several budget clip-on tuners and none of them were any good at low bass tunings though. It’s also worth mentioning you can get around this issue by tuning to the 12 fret harmonic rather than the open note.
Pitch calibration options
Both models allow to you alter the pitch calibration from 415-466Hz. It’s difficult to accidentally change the pitch calibration, which is handy as it’s annoyingly easy to do on some tuners. Personally I’m not a fan of pitch calibration as it’s just one more thing that can go wrong at a gig, but some players will no doubt value the feature.
If you are planning to use the Snark purely as a clip-on tuner, I’d recommend the ST-8 over the ST-2. The mic mode isn’t any more accurate than the vibration mode, so there’s no reason to use it while clipped onto a guitar. It would only be useful as a vocal reference or to tune instruments that you can’t clip it to. Onstage you also need every bit of help you can get to see under the lights, so the simpler visual layout of the ST-8 is an advantage.
Easy to position on the headstock
The Snark tuners are easy to position as the display screen arm can be swivelled around 360 degrees. This allows them to be used on both the front and rear of the headstock. Unfortunately the protruding arm also means the Snark can get knocked around a bit in a gig bag. Nonetheless I still like the design as the 360 degree movement is so useful that it’s worth it.
My singer used the Snark ST-2 almost daily for her performance course, and after 18 months the display had become damaged. Admittedly she didn’t take the best care of it during that time. I doubt any other tuners at this price-point would have fared better, although perhaps a more low-profile tuner would have been less prone to knocks.
Both the Snark ST-8 and ST-2 are great clip-on tuners. Having recently tried out a number of budget clip-on tuners for our tuner shootout, I found the Snark tuners performed better than all the competition. Unless you regularly play down-tuned bass guitar, both tuners will serve you well in any situation.