Earlier this year, I reviewed a combination digital tuner and DI in a floor pedal format — the Sonic Nuance TDI [Tape Op #118]. It’s a very nice device that solves some stage and studio problems quite well. But I mistakenly thought it was the only tuner pedal / DI combo pedal that existed. Well, I’ve got egg on my face, as I received a friendly email from the folks at the legendary Peterson tuner company, letting me know that they too make a tuner/DI pedal. In fact, an earlier version of it, the StroboStomp2 [#63] was reviewed in Tape Op about a decade ago.

Peterson’s new version is called the VSS-C StroboStomp Classic Tuner, and it’s a gem. Super well built, the Peterson pedal is based around the classic look of the iconic Conn ST-11 StroboTuner’s “spinning wheel” display. If you’ve never used this type of tuner before, it can be a bit tricky to get used to, due to its hypersensitivity. But once you get the hang of it — and how accurate it can be (1/1000th of a semitone) — it’s hard to return to less detailed alternatives.

The basic ins and outs, as expected in this kind of device, include 1/4’’ I/O, and a balanced mic-level XLR output with a little roll-bar for protection. There’s also a USB port, for loading custom tunings (and for firmware updates), as well as a standard coaxial 9V power jack.

The VSS-C is quite intuitive to use, right out of the box. There’s a three-position pad and ground lift switch — pretty standard for a DI. The true-bypass foot pedal engages the tuner and mutes the output — sensible. And there’s a handy 3-way Mode switch, for selecting between signal muting variations.

Many quality digital tuners offer alternate guitar tunings, such as Drop D or Open G. And they can usually calibrate A 440 to something flatter or sharper. The VSS-C can do all of this and a lot more. There are more than 20 tuning options, such as DADGAD and various steel guitar tunings, as well as “sweetened” (non-equal temperament) variants of these. There is room to store custom tunings, and as mentioned before, more can be transferred via USB. It’s all very handy, and as basic or as deep as you care to dive.

Thoughtful design details include a “no wire” drop-in battery compartment — easy and worry-free. Pedalboard mounting grommets are built in, for those who use that mounting technique. And the footswitch itself employs a heavy-duty spring that “feels” great, providing just the right “stomp” resistance.

The DI aspects of this box — transformerless, electronically balanced — sound stellar. There’s plenty of headroom and sparkle, and it’s perfect for bass or guitar DI chores.

With its super-accurate tuning and high-fidelity DI output, the Peterson VSS-C tuner/DI pedal, at about 200 bucks, would be an ideal addition to any studio’s utility cabinet, and would certainly make tons of sense in the front of a bassist’s or acoustic guitarist’s live pedalboard.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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