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Planet Waves NS Mini-Headstock Tuner

By Mandolin Cafe
September 20, 2011 - 6:15 am

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Planet Waves NS Mini Headstock Tuner in use on a mandolin

Planet Waves NS Mini Headstock Tuner in use on a mandolin

Farmingdale, N.Y. — Designed in cooperation with renowned inventor Ned Steinberger, the new NS Mini Headstock Tuner allows musicians to take advantage of an exceptionally low-profile design, highly-sensitive piezo pickup and super-bright back-lit display.

It's no longer necessary that your audience need view the tuner attached to your mandolin, guitar, electric bass, banjo or other stringed instrument, or to even know you're using an electronic tuner.

The miniscule design allows the tuner to hide effortlessly behind the headstock, concealing it from your audience and allowing it to remain mounted on the guitar inside most cases.

Featuring a 360 degree swivel mechanism and adjustable padded clamp, the NS Mini offers optimal viewing angles and maximum positioning flexibility. As a result, the NS Mini is equally at home on left and right-handed instruments as well as on small and large headstocks, making it the ideal choice for the widest variety of players and instruments.

Compact, low profile design
Concealed from your audience
Chromatic tuning automatically senses the note
Easy-to-read, multi-color display works
Works in well-lit or dark environments
360 degree swivel
Optimal right or left-handed viewing
Durable ratchet system for secure placement
Ultra-sensitive piezo pickup
Quick response and highly accurate tuning
Fits safely in cases or gigbags
Choose to display notes as sharps or flats
Adjustable calibration: 430hz - 450hz
Automatic shut-off after 10 minutes
Size: 1" x 1"
Weight: .3 ounces
Battery: Lithium ion (included)
Suggested retail: $19.99

Introducing the NS Mini Headstock Tuner

Additional information:
Purchase: From


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Reader Comments

Joe Parker
September 20, 2011 03:42 PM
Scott,is that your Nugget with this tuner attached? If so,would you care to offer your feedback?
Scott Tichenor
September 20, 2011 03:57 PM
It's one of them. I have two, both Ferns smile.

Disclaimer: Planet Waves is owned by D'Addario and they support this site with an advertisement. That said, the reason I like this tuner is the size (and it works well on mandolin) and how it stays out of the way. I'm not someone that likes my tuner being a part of the visual picture when I'm performing. This tuner is amazing in that it's almost invisible and the entire display can be hidden behind the peghead. Handy for when I'll be in the local Nutcracker orchestra this winter in the pit. The actors on stage don't need to see my tuner display, nor does the audience. Was just up at Mass St. Music here in town and was showing the guys in the repair shop. They dug it.

Only possible down side is the clip. Although it's padded, I think if you left it on all the time like some people do that it could potentially mar the finish but I can't be sure of that. With me it's not an issue so not so concerned.
Joe Parker
September 20, 2011 04:54 PM
Thanks for the info,Scott!
September 20, 2011 10:14 PM
I'm already trying to decide what to charge to repair finish damage from clip-on tuners, if I'm still doing repair work in 5, 10, 20 years when half of the used instruments will have worn peghead finish. I wonder if there's a better way...
September 20, 2011 11:02 PM
Leave it to Ned, always building a better mouse trap. I had the great pleasure/honor of working for NS for a couple years around the turn of the century and was always impressed with his designs. A true pioneer and gentleman.
Scott Tichenor
September 21, 2011 07:27 AM
I should add I don't mean to indict the materials used in the clamp. They're fine. I think any tuner if you leave it clamped to your instrument for weeks at a time is going to ultimately mar the finish. Think about it. Musical instruments with any kind of finish are subject to damage and aren't made to stand some type of foam/plastic/rubber pressed against the instrument for extended periods. Anyone remember those plastic Martin guitar cases from the 70s that had a nice pad near the face of the instrument near the end-pin? Great case for the time, but after awhile all of those guitars (mine included) grew a big four inch square on the face of the instrument that was a different color than the rest of the instrument simply from being in the case and having that pad pressed against it. Unsightly. Each to their own. I remove tuners from an instrument when it isn't being played. So the video where the guy says "buy one for every instrument and leave them attached" isn't advice I recommend. That's marketing, not product information.
September 21, 2011 07:30 AM
How accurate is the tuner in comparison to the Snark (or other comparable model that has been praised for its accuracy)?
Scott Tichenor
September 21, 2011 09:11 AM
Just so everyone knows, I am a user of this product, not a reviewer. I have no interest in reviewing products online but on occasion I will mention when I really like something. I do not have a science lab full of equipment to measure product performance nor do I attempt to compare against other products which I haven't used (Snark, for example). I'm using this product because 1) I like the profile, and 2) it works, ie., it tunes accurately and satisfactorily to my needs in rehearsal and performance--and I've now had the opportunity to do both. I had a popular tuner recently that gets discussed here from time to time that I ended up tossing in the trash because it wouldn't work most of the time on mandolin and when it did, it did so poorly. I've used other Planet Waves tuners for years and think you should expect this tuner to perform similarly.
September 21, 2011 09:26 AM
Holy ([SIZE="1"]fill in the blank[/SIZE])! Look how small that is - and it's almost all display. Now I feel foolish spending $50 on my IntelliTouch, though it has served me well for 15 years and was the latest/greatest thing when first introduced. It could well be that when the current batteries run out I'll be making a change. Glad to hear about this!
Ted Eschliman
September 21, 2011 12:19 PM
It's not usual that I disagree with Scott publicly, but I personally leave the NS Mini tuner on my mandolin, even in the case. It's one of the features I do like about it, that I don't have to keep looking for it in the case, or whatever instrument I might have left it on. As far as marring the instrument, if that were a concern, a tiny piece of masking tape between the clamp and headstock might give a little aesthetic security, but the weight of these is so small (less than an ounce), it doesn't take much to hold it on. There's little pivoting going on as with competitive tuners, so once you've found the optimum place to set it, no movement at all.

As far as the price of this being so ridiculously cheap compared to previous generation tuners, all I can say is I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my $2K, 300 pound television I bought five years ago when I replace it with a $900 8 pound flatscreen with better clarity. And don't get me started on five year-old cell phones.
September 21, 2011 12:42 PM
Quote from Ted Eschliman: ...a tiny piece of masking tape between the clamp and headstock might give a little aesthetic security... End Quote

Masking tape (and most other tape) relies on adhesive with plasticizers in it, and depending upon what kind of masking tape it is, the time it can be left on a finish without finish damage is anywhere from hours to days. This is especially true of lacquer, and new lacquer is the most susceptible. Masking tape (or tape of any kind) left on instruments has damaged a lot of finishes.
Whatever the rubber on tuner clamps is, it may or may not have plasticizers in it that may or may not damage instrument finishes if left on all the time, but it's something to look out for. Finish wear will eventually be a "problem"(?) on many pegheads from clamp-on tuners regardless of whether plasticizers damage the finish, whether the tuner is left on most of the time or whether it is clamped on and off a lot. In fact, wear may happen faster it the tuner is on and off a lot.
Inevitably, people will start asking luthiers "Is there anything you can do for this worn finish on the peghead of this mandolin I just bought?"
September 22, 2011 05:17 PM
Anyone have any experience with this tuner on a banjo headstock?
Uncle Bob
October 06, 2011 02:05 PM
Thanks for this product information.

Just got one today from Musician's Friend (with free shipping) and I love it! Works great on my Eastman - very easy to use and see. It's also alot more stable at zeroing in on the pitch of the strings, compared to other tuners I've used. Best tuner I've ever had!

February 25, 2012 12:30 PM
A small piece of felt would work in place of masking tape. Perhaps even card or paper, if felt is too high tech! No adhesive should be required for protection from a spring-loaded clamp fitting.
Michael Eck
February 25, 2012 12:50 PM
I'm with Ted. I put one on my F-9 about two months ago and it hasn't been off once -- in case or out. I play pretty hard and in public, so my gear gets either A) beat up or B) mojo-fied. I'm not going to sweat the small mark the NS might leave.
February 25, 2012 01:34 PM
Quote from sunburst: Inevitably, people will start asking luthiers "Is there anything you can do for this worn finish on the peghead of this mandolin I just bought?" End Quote

Or perhaps, inevitably luthiers will offer distressed F5s with strap wear around the scroll, finish wear on the neck, and authentic tuner clip wear on the headstock!

Actually the Martin owners have it worse with that delicate gold decal. Soon, they'll all read, "...artin & Co."
Ron McMillan
February 25, 2012 09:58 PM
I am only surprised that Planet Waves' competitors have taken so long to 'emulate' this mini tuner's primary advantages over the entire competition. Mine stays in position above the nut and behind the head, virtually invisible to anyone but the player. No unsightly gizmo attached to the top of the headstock (and potentially damaging the brand name/inlay that usually lives up there); no need to remove, store carefully and re-attach anytime the mandolin goes into its case because it fits perfectly without removal. Two major advantages that leave the competition in the shade.

Bob Borzelleri
February 25, 2012 10:28 PM
It seems to me that there are enough different finish formulations to suggest that an all incompassing answer to the question of finish damage probably does not exist. For me, the action of taking a small clip on thingy off my peghead when I am finished playing feels like cheap insurance.
February 27, 2012 10:09 PM
So, I just ordered a couple of these. I had the Planet Waves Chromatic Headstock Tuner and I really liked it, but I had two of them quit working on me. The display just went bad after a while. They replaced it the first time, but the second time I just didn't bother. I really liked the tuner, great features, easy to clip on, nice accuracy. It was a great unit while it worked. I've had the same problem with Intellitouch and TechTune, so maybe it's just me. I'm hoping this mini will stay working for me, but it's cheap enough that it's not a big loss if it goes bad after a while.

I wonder if it would work better and longer if I leave it attached?
John Flynn
February 28, 2012 05:31 AM
I keep one on the electric bass I play at church. It is a very handy device. I also own Snarks, Intelli's and an Intellitouch and I find the NS every bit as accurate and easy to read. I'll have to check to see if it affects the finish, although I would not care if it did. I'm planing to get a second for one of my mandolins.

One thing that did throw me about it at first, though, is that unlike other tuners the display seems to go nearly blank if its not sensing vibration. I thought it wasn't working at first. On most tuners, the display stays active even if there is no note being played. I called the music shop where I got it and once they explained it to me, I was fine with it. Great tuner.
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