How To Choose The Best Guitar Tuner.
After shopping for a guitar, buying a tuner seems very un-glamorous, but it’s essential. With our in-depth guide, we can narrow down the choice. What is best for you, and what type of guitar tuners are best in certain environments.
Types of Guitar Tuner Explained
Non Chromatic: Designed to tune a guitar in the conventional EADGBE. Costs less than the others for this reason.
Chromatic: Will show tuning accuracy relative to the nearest semitone. This allows you to tune to alternative guitar tunings. It’s good for players who like to explore other avenues. You can also tune instruments other than a guitar. Some guitar tuners have a built-in metronome, this is great for improving your timing in various styles of music.
Clip On Tuners: Clip on guitar tuners have a built-in microphone. Once you’ve clipped the tuner on the guitar headstock you can start to tune. It detects the pitch from each individual string from the vibration. Measures the pitch and has an onboard strobe dial. Great for acoustic guitar players giving quick and easy use. Can be used on electric guitars too.
Pedal Tuners: Generally powered by a 9v power supply and plugged into your guitar with a jack. The pitch is measured via the signal coming through the cable. For gigging guitarists and sound engineers. Most accurate. Again, the needle is a strobe type with lovely flashing colors.
Polyphonic: These allow you to tune all 6 strings at once rather than the conventional, one string at a time. Comes in Pedal Tuner and Clip form. Visual strobe needle. This is a fairly new technology. Impressive.
Quick Glace Best Guitar Tuners
- 1. KLIQ UberTuner – (Best Clip-On)
- 2. Snark ST-2 Multi-Instrument – (Best Budget)
- 3. BOSS Tuner TU-3 (TU3) – (Best Pedal)
- 4. Donner Dt-1 – (Best Budget Pedal)
- 5. TC Electronic PolyTune 3 – (Best Poly Pedal)
- 6. TC Electronic PolyTune Clip – (Best Poly Clip)
- 7. KLIQ MetroPitch – Metronome Tuner (Best All Rounder)
What Type Of Tuner Do I Need?
‘The Clip On’ Microphone tuner or Metronome based guitar tuners are perfect for the home player. Quiet surroundings, easily clipped on and off. A metronome can help beginners and intermediate players.
Acoustic Guitar, Live Guitarist
‘Pedal Tuner’ for silent interval song tuning. Built like a tank, and you won’t need to keep plugging the clip on and off, unlike the home guitarist.
Band Scenario/Gigging Guitarist
‘Pedal Tuner’. Quick, accurate tuning between songs with just one click with your foot. Tunes in complete silence. Pedal Tuners can take a beating and still function for years. If your gear is in and out of a van this little unit will outlast everything else. Strobe light visual in dark situations and outdoor gigs.
‘Clip On Tuners’ for home use, with strobe tuner for accuracy. ‘Pedal Tuners’ for live use. Same as Guitarist.
In The Studio
High-end quality strobe or pedal type guitar tuners (tc electronic polytune 3). You don’t want to be out of tune on record! Buy a quality tuner, it’ll be worth it.
Sound Engineer/Guitar Tech
Strobe based guitar tuners for spot-on tuning accuracy. Need the best gear if you’re getting paid.
‘Clip On Tuners’. Can be shared with students. Can also use the visual strobe effect as a learning tool. It goes without saying it’s best guitar practice to learn how a tuner works. With a visual strobe mode, it’s very easy to understand.
What Are The Advantages/Benefits?
Considering how often you’re going to use a guitar tuner, it makes sense to invest in a good sturdy accurate one. If you’re playing to an audience or a group of friends, you only get one chance to tune-up. If you start playing and you’re out of tune, it may throw you off course. Stopping and re-tuning can look unprofessional and may wreck your confidence. The old saying is “you buy cheap, you buy twice”. Being correctly in-tune is a very important element before playing an instrument.
What About Smartphone App Tuners?
Phones can literally do everything these days. I’ll be completely honest, I’m not a fan of the phone guitar tuner app. Why would you use a phone to tune a guitar? It’s like using your shoe to knock a nail into wood. It might work, but not very well.
Phones aren’t designed to tune your guitar. The microphone on a smartphone is optimized for speech, not music. Although some tuners use a microphone to pick up the pitch of a string, they’re designed to cut out ambient noise.
On the other hand, tuning apps do work to a certain extent. If you’re starting out on guitar, learning to tune properly is essential.
Where Does The Pedal Tuner Go On My Board?
First! To receive the strongest signal from the guitar, your pedal needs to go first in the chain of pedals on the board. This gives you the most accurate tuning. Putting other pedals before the Pedal Tuner weakens the signal.
Keep your pedal clean, especially the jack inputs/outputs as they can get dirty and scratchy.
Our 7 Best Guitar Tuners of 2020 Review
- Pros: Large Clear Bright Display, ‘In Tune’ Circle, Tunes Additional Instruments, Quick Visual Note Indicator. Large Strong Clip.
- Cons: Tiny Buttons. Not Very Robust.
The Kliq Uber guitar tuner looks like just about every other clip on the market, but it’s not. The large LED screen responds quickly with the string being plucked. It has a simple ‘In Tune’ feature on the screen when you reach the correct pitch. Great for beginners. The large screen can be positioned in any direction you like and visible in dark gig scenarios (so no more squinting). Since the tuner detects the pitches directly from your instruments’ vibrations, ambient room noise will never get in the way.
The Kliq Uber Tuner has five different tuning types for chromatic, guitar, bass, violin, and uke, and adjustable pitch calibration from 430-450 Hz. Uses the flat 3v CR2032 instead of the bulky standard 1.5 v batteries. The Grip is stronger than the competitors in this market yet has rubber pads to protect the headstock of your guitar. A super little clip on chromatic tuner.
Perfect for: Beginners, The Home Guitarist, Children, In The Studio, and Tutors. Also comes in a fetching silvery-white and an ‘Eco’ model which includes rechargeable batteries.
I just love the name of this tuner…Uber!
- Pros: Child Friendly, Simple To Use, Tunes Additional Instruments. Easy Clip-On. Accurate.
- Cons: Questionable Plastic Casing. Short life span
Snark ST 2 is extremely popular and affordable. My ‘budget’ clip-on winner.
High definition color display. Is able to tune guitar, bass, ukulele, and violin. Lightweight construction, easy to maneuver the display around 360 degrees. I like that the Snark ST had soft controls and clear, bright display gives children the ability to use it. The body is made of plastic but the design is nice and doesn’t feel cheap. As the clip has foam pads attached I would avoid using them on vintage or nitrocellulose guitars. Fully Chromatic takes a CR2 flat battery. Tunes accurately, great budget all-rounder. The Snark ST comes in 5 Styles which are slightly different depending on what instrument you need to tune. Sure there are more accurate tuners available, but this is a great starter product that will do the job with no big issues.
Perfect for: Beginners, Children, Home Players.
- Pros: Fast Accurate Tuning. Popular Industry Standard. Mutes all other sound in 1 click. Clearly visible in dark rooms and outside usage. Rugged build.
- Cons: High Battery Usage.
Rumors have it the material was taken from Tanks to make The Boss TU 3 Stompbox. Just joking, but history has proved these bad boys are very difficult to wreck.
The Boss Chromatic Tuner has been in the market since 1983 but the compact, hard-shelled version since 1998. There is a reason why they are still selling all these years later. They are the best guitar tuners for electric guitar.
This is a guitar and bass tuner with unique high brightness mode perfect for outdoor gigging. 21-Segment LED Metre is clear and extremely precise. Supports easy drop tuning and has a guitar and bass mode. Provides you with a visual verification when tuned correctly to pitch and arrows to show you if you’re sharp or flat. Also, this is your go-to pedal if you have a 7 string guitar or a 5 string bass. With one click with the foot, the sound is muted so you can tune in complete silence. It’s difficult to find any flaws.
Comes in 2 more models: The ‘Compact’ and the top of the range ‘Waza Craft’ Tuner. Takes a 9V power supply.
Perfect for: The Home Guitarist, The Acoustic Live Guitarist, The Band Guitarist, Studio Guitarist, The Bassist, The Sound Engineer and people with heavy feet!
- Pros: Easy to Use, Accurate, Quick Tune, Compact , Great Value.
- Cons: No Means To Use A Battery To Power. Longevity Varies. Cannot Use With Acoustic Guitars
Donner DT-1 is a compact durable chromatic tuner pedal. It’s perfect if your board is getting cluttered. It’s a lot more subtle in color than the Boss TU 3 Tuner. The LED screen is easily read and shows up nicely in sunlight and dark gigging scenarios. Offers true bypass and mutes the signal chain, just like The Boss TU-3. The controls are very basic. Once you activate the tuner, the amp cuts to silence. If you’re out of tune the display will present a red-colored note, on reaching the correct reference pitch, the display turns green. It’s that simple! Tuning range: a0(27.5Hz)~c8(4186hz) Tuning method: auto
I wouldn’t recommend this for alternative tuning and the longevity of this product is questionable. All in all, it’s an amazing product for the cost, the best in the budget pedal category by a mile.
Perfect for: Beginners, Home Players, Acoustic Live Guitarist, The Band Guitarist. Bassist
- Pro: 3 Tuning Modes Available. Tunes All 6 Strings Simultaneously. Super Accurate. Visible LED Lights In Outdoor Conditions. Buffer Option. Easy To Use
- Cons: Can Use A 9v Battery To Power, But Only Lasts A Matter Of Days.
The TC Electronic Polytune 3 was introduced in 2010, the original Polytune forever revolutionized the way musicians tune their instruments.
Polyphonic, chromatic, strobe, and a variety of altered tunings; adding an onboard bonafide buffer to preserve your tone over long cable runs and pedal board signal paths. This is the next level when it comes to guitar tuners. Being able to tune all 6 strings at once is so much quicker for the live guitarist. The Display comes with 100 ultra-bright LEDs that provide clear visibility even in broad daylight. The onboard ambient light sensor dims its display on dark stage floors so you don’t scorch your retinas every time you look down at your pedalboard. Unlike some brands that have gone way over the top with brightness. With Super accurate tuning (within accuracy 0.1 cents) you really are paying for something special. The TC Electronic Polytune 3 is the future of the guitar pedal.
Perfect for: Home Guitarist, Acoustic Live Performer, Live Band Guitarist, Studio Guitarist, Bassist and Sound engineer/Guitar techs. Takes a 9v power supply.
- Pros: High-Quality Stainless Steel Clip, Tunes All 6 Strings Simultaneously, Super Accurate. Ease Of Use. Slick looking
- Cons: Uses A Lot Of Battery, Shallow Buttons Difficult To Access
The TC Electronic Polytune Clip has the most elegant design I’ve ever seen on a clip-on tuner. That being said, it’s well built and reliable. Just like its pedal model, the Polytune Clip is ultra-bright and easy to read the display screen. It doesn’t matter what orientation, the clip provides a near-perfect readout. You can also tune with your capo ON, this is something I was taught NOT to do, yet this is the first clip on tuner which is good enough to give you a correct reading. It tunes all 6 strings simultaneously and is super accurate like the pedal version. Chromatic ( +/- 0.5 Cent) and extra accurate strobe tuner ( +/- 0.02 Cent). Literally instant tuning at your fingertips. A real top-notch quality performer.
Perfect for: Beginners, Home Guitarist, Acoustic Live Performer, Band Guitarist, Bassist, Guitar Tutor, Studio Guitarist. Studio Guitarist and Sound Engineer.
- Pros: Includes Tuning Frequencies Between 410-480 Hz. Tap Tempo Metronome. Tunes A Wider Range Of Instruments. Small and Compact. Slick Build And Range Of Colors. Impressive Range Of Tuning Modes
- Cons: Lots Of Programmable Features. Battery life short.
Another Kliq model, but this proves they know what they’re doing when it comes to guitar tuners. The Kliq MetroPitch is very accurate and is surprisingly quick. I like the fact that you can tune to the 432 frequency. The Boss TU-3 can’t do this (only goes down to 436).
One special benefit of the Kliq Metropitch is you can check if pre-recorded music, chimes, and other musical instruments claiming to be precision tuned to 432 are actually tuned to that frequency. (The 432 music frequency has soothing and healing benefits that music tuned to 440 doesn’t have.)
It’s a 3 in 1 device: Combines a Tuner, a Metronome, and a Tone Generator, all housed in a pocket-sized device. It also boasts a wide range of A0-C8, various tuning modes, transposition settings, and pitch calibration. So whichever instrument you play, it’s got you covered! The Tap Tempo Metronome has a broad range of 30-250 Beats Per Minute and various beats and rhythm patterns, this metronome will improve your timing in a rich variety of musical styles.
This can be used when performing live but personally i wouldn’t, as it doesn’t stay still when plugged in, it kinda slides on flat surfaces. If you were to pull it off an amp and break it you may be in big trouble. Definitely my favorite outsider as it can do so much. If you play many instruments, this is your next tuner.
Perfect for: The Multi Musician, Home Guitarist, 12 String Guitars, Bassist, Guitar Tutor, Studio Guitarist, Sound Engineer.
Best Guitar Tuner: Winners
Depending on your guitar situation and budget, I would strongly recommend buying a tuner of some quality. In my experience, they last longer than the lower-end tuners. You’ll end up getting your money’s worth. There is no ‘best guitar tuner for beginners’ as they all do a very similar job.
What is the most accurate guitar tuner? Here is the very best, for 3 different tuning situations:
Best Guitar Tuner Pedal
Our recommendation is the: BOSS TU-3 Chromatic Tuner Stompbox (TU3). The basic version of this pedal has been around for so long. There’s no match for a product that’s proven to be outstanding and lasted the test of time. Built like a tank, The Boss tuner is an essential pedal for the gigging guitarist. My vote for the best guitar tuner pedal.
Best Guitar Clip On Tuner
If you’re in need of a clip-on for home playing or acoustic performance, then the TC Electronic PolyTune Clip is a fantastic piece of modern equipment. It is streets ahead of the competition. Being able to tune all 6 strings quickly, and at the same time is outstanding. This technology is very smart and worth stretching your budget for.
Best All Round Instrument Tuner
The KLIQ MetroPitch tunes a wide range of instruments so efficiently it’s difficult to ignore. With a built-in metronome to help you stay in time. This is great for kids, intermediate players, and professionals. At such a good price from such a solid company, it cannot be overlooked. This fulfills the needs of the multi musician.
I hope you’ve gained some useful knowledge with our review of the best guitar tuner. If you stick with one of the three winners above, you’ll be absolutely in tune all of the time.