The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Guitar Tuner + Review
If you like browsing long lists in search of the best guitar tuner, then this is the article for you! If you don’t, we’ll tell you straight away that we found the Snark SN-5 to be one of the best picks out of all the many many products we’ve researched. The guitar tuner reviews we’ve looked through have mainly praised it as convenient and easy to use. It’s just a little bit bigger than a pocket watch, and it clips to the headstock of your guitar, so there’s not much effort to put in there. The display is easy enough to see in a dark room since it will be close to your face, and it uses both lines and colors to let you know the tone of most any vibrating musical instrument. As it relies on a piezo sensor, it won’t be affected by background noise. If you want something more rugged that won’t make the whole audience partake in the guitar tuning process, then the KLIQ TinyTune would definitely do the job.
Our Top Choice
The product is reliable and accurate within 5 units. It is easy to use even by those who lack experience in the field. Thanks to the clip-on design, you can easily attach it to the stock of the guitar for an accurate reading. The round and colored display was highly appreciated by customers who also claimed it is intuitive and easy to read.
The main downside of this guitar tuner is that it lacks a metronome button, making it almost impossible to be used by students or beginners.
It can be easily attached to your guitar and helps you correctly tune your musical instrument in just a few moments.
It only weighs 4.3 ounces and comes in a small hard casing for extra portability. According to some of the customers, the item is accurate and can offer drop or flat tuning below the standard pitch with up to four semitones. It can be used with numerous guitars and basses, all electric or acoustic-electric. The display is large and easy to read.
Some customers say the tuner is not that accurate, while others claim it can cause a big hissing noise. We suggest you give it a try before purchasing it.
Affordable, lightweight, and easy to read, the tuner is great for those who want to make sure they sing accurately.
Also To Consider
Compact and lightweight, this tuner is easy to use and accurate. Thanks to the clip-on design, it can easily fit your guitar or bass. The ace pitch function allows it to flat tune up to five semitones, while the stream mode adds versatility. The customers also appreciated the robust design that is resistant to scratches and shocks.
Since one product can never please all of its users, some of them complained about it not being as accurate as advertised. The tuner is also quite slippery.
The main benefit of this Boss tuner is that it’s not as sensitive as others, so it might be worthy of your attention.
18 Best Guitar Tuners (Reviews) in 2020
We’ve looked through a lot of reviews of guitar tuners and made a wide selection from what’s available for sale. You’ll find good guitar tuners, cheap guitar tuners, popular and obscure models and anything in between below. Like the alma mater abstract entity of the free market to a libertarian, our list will provide.
- 1. Snark Guitar, Bass and Violin Clip On Tuner
- 2. KliqTinyTune Tuner Pedal for Guitar and Bass
- 3. Roland BOSS TU-10 Clip-On Chromatic Tuner – Red
- 4. Korg GA-1 Guitar Tuner
- 5. Korg GA40-BK Guitar and Bass Tuner with Output Jack and Folding Stand
- 6. Boss TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner
- 7. Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Pedal Tuner for Guitar & Bass
- 8. D’Addario PW-CT-17BK Eclipse Tuner
- 9. Planet Waves PW-CT-12 NS Micro Headstock Tuner
- 10. Boss Tu-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal
- Yearly Guide & Report
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Best guitar tuner brands
1. Snark Guitar, Bass and Violin Clip On Tuner
This one gets top grades for popularity, as it is one of the best selling models out there. It is inexpensive, reliably accurate within 5 units and very easy to use. As a clip-on model, you’ll only have to attach it to the stock of the guitar to get a reading.
Its round, multicolor display is highly appreciated as it’s easy to read and intuitive. With some very sharp contrast, it won’t be hard to make out even in the dark or through any smoke. It shows all 12 chromatic tones and it has quite a deal of range (“if it vibrates, you can tune it”, as one user put it).
It lacks a metronome button, however, but this won’t be an issue unless you’re a beginner student.
Its sensor is sensitive enough to work through padding, which the Snark SN-5 has plenty, so the guitar won’t get scratched by the hard plastic. Its casing looks very likable, with a great deal of personality but with a worryingly thin neck.
The item is available in three color choices, including blue and red, to perfectly match your guitar and add some style.
The clip-on design is easy to attach to the guitar and won’t fall easily, ensuring increased portability and versatility every time you use it.
The full-color display rotates 360 degrees to provide 100% visibility no matter the angle and the position of the tuner.
Thanks to its unique design, it can be used on both the front and the back of the headstock, meaning it accommodates both left-handed and right-handed players.
It is designed to work mainly on wooden music instruments so it may not help you tune a brass instrument.
Keep in mind that the product doesn’t come with an automatic shutdown function but there is an On/Off button you can press every time you’re done using the tuner.Buy from Amazon.com for ($12.96)
2. KliqTinyTune Tuner Pedal for Guitar and Bass
This is a pedal tuner that comes in a surprisingly small hard casing and weighs only 4.3 ounces. That is not its most well-liked feature, however, since it offers a great deal of accuracy and range.
According to the manufacturer specifications, it has a +/-0.5 “cent” accuracy and can provide drop/flat tuning up to 4 semitones below standard pitch. The reference pitch calibration is between 430 and 450 Hertz.
The relatively large display is easy to read out in full color so you won’t be squinting your eyes even if a bit nearsighted. It’s got 3 buttons, two for navigating between functions and a big one that mutes the signal when the tuner is engaged. What this means is that you won’t be treating the audience to a cacophony while tuning your instrument.
Judging by what various consumers have commented in regards to this model, it can be used on a lot of types of guitar or bass, all of them electric or acoustic-electric, of course.
The pedal is designed with simplicity in mind so it can be easily operated even by newbies. There aren’t any confusing modes, hidden buttons on the sides or features that shouldn’t belong to a pedal tuner. All you have to do is plug it in, tune it up, and start playing your music!
It features a rugged aluminum case and quality electrical components on the inside that will last you many years from now on without breaking.
The TinyTune is designed to fit on any pedalboard and, thanks to its fast and accurate features, you won’t spend more than a couple of minutes tuning your guitar or bass.
Another feature that we liked about this model is the large color display that provides excellent visibility in all lighting conditions. So, no matter where you are, you can rest assured the pedal will work great.
Keep in mind that the tuner won’t work without power and it might also alter the tone of your guitar.Buy from Amazon.com for ($29.99)
3. Roland BOSS TU-10 Clip-On Chromatic Tuner – Red
This is another small and easy to use clip-on model, this time from the famous manufacturer Boss. It can take readings out of pretty much any type of guitar or bass, as long as the stock is thin enough to fit between the clamps.
For such a small and compact model, it does quite a lot. It can flat tune up to 5 semitones with the ace pitch function and it also has a stream mode for some added versatility.
It is also surprisingly robust, and users have compared it favorably in this respect to the far less expensive Snark, so you really won’t need to worry about dropping it.
Another interesting feature is the true-color display that offers a significantly wider color palette than most models out there. This unit comes with a reflection display function that makes it easier to see in low light conditions.
Why stick to a dull product when you can have one that perfectly matches the color and style of your electric guitar or bass? The tuner can be purchased in five different tones, including silver, blue, red, and brown.
The clip-on feature allows you to easily attach it to any guitar and keep it there at all times without worrying about it falling off or feeling too heavy or uncomfortable when using your guitar.
Apart from the stylish design, this tuner is equipped with Boss high-performance features derived from the company’s famous tuners, including a Stream mode, Accu-Pitch, and flat tuning up to 5 semitones.
The true color LCD offers a full, multi-color visual experience while the reflection-display function increases visibility in all lighting conditions.
The LCD might need improvement as it is incredibly bright from certain angles, making it uncomfortable to use in the long term.Buy from Amazon.com for ($56.91)
4. Korg GA-1 Guitar Tuner
Another one from a big name brand, this Korg is an versatile tuner that can be used with either a bass or a guitar. It is also surprisingly inexpensive, so it might make a good choice for start-up bands that don’t have much of a fund for purchasing equipment.
It has a wide array of functions, including a Quinta Flat Tuning mode, which lets you tune between 1 and 5 semitones flat. It can also produce a reference tone with an internal speaker.
The digital display shows a needle, which many users that are used to older tuners find very intuitive and helpful. However, this is only in black and white, but you really shouldn’t expect much more for the price. After all, the cost must be cut from somewhere.
The manufacturer specifies that its range for guitars goes from 7B to 1E and it can be used on 7 string models while the range for bass (that can be selected for by pushing a button) goes from Low-B to Hi-C.
The product is made of high-quality materials that will resist wear and tear.
The ultra-compact design is lightweight and easy to use for all guitars and basses.
Unlike other tuners specifically designed for electric guitars only, this one can even hear acoustic guitars, allowing you to enjoy a similarly tuned performance, regardless of your choice of musical instrument.
It features a high-precision LCD needle-type meter for stable and easy tuning.
Other great features include a pitch reference tone and Quinta-flat tuning.
Keep in mind that this is not a chromatic tuner, which makes it harder to use.
It may work well for acoustic guitars but it does take a long while to pick up the strings of acoustic bass and is also easily distracted by ambient noise. If you want to tune your bass, we suggest opting for a more accurate device.Buy from Amazon.com for ($16.95)
5. Korg GA40-BK Guitar and Bass Tuner with Output Jack and Folding Stand
Despite being similar to the GA-1 also covered in this selection, the GA40 has a significantly larger display and a stand on the back so it will stay at an angle when placed on a surface. This is done in order to increase its visibility when placed on the ground near the amp, since this model has a jack that allows it to be connected with the rest of the setup for use while you play.
It basically has the same range as the GA-1 and while no speaker is apparently present, the manufacturer mentions a reference tone. The Quinta flat tuning function is also there and allows for flat tuning between 1 to 5 semitones.
It can be switched between a guitar and a bass mode, and it can handle 7 and 6 string instruments respectively. If no tone is detected for 20 minutes it automatically shuts down to save on the zinc-carbon batteries which should offer 85 hours of continuous use.
The display has the same graphics as the GA-1, meaning it shows a rotating needle pointing at a scale. This system is generally considered to be the easiest one to read.
The product is available in an ultra-compact design that makes it lightweight and easy to attach to your guitar or bass without feeling uncomfortable.
The large, high-precision meter type display provides stable and accurate tuning indications and is easy to read, even by newbies.
It is designed to support tuning of seven-string guitars and six-string basses, both acoustic and electric.
The built-in high precision microphone will pick up even the lowest notes, so you can easily use it on various music instruments without worrying about noise interferences.
Keep in mind that the tuner only uses the Anglo-Saxon system with letters instead of musical notes from “do” to “si”, so you need to be acquainted with this system if you want to make use of the product.
We also consider the tuner needs improvement in the field of temperament settings. You cannot adjust the intervals on this device so you’re stuck with the standard option.Buy from Amazon.com for ($17.5)
6. Boss TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner
This chromatic tuner from Boss is in a whole different price range to the ones we’ve looked at so far but delivers quite a bit of functionality for it.
It has a flat tuning feature that can work up to 6 half-steps, and an accu-pitch verification with an audible beep. According to the manufacturer, this item also has a headphone amp, with a speaker simulator that is useful when monitoring effects.
There’s a possibility to select either one of the 3 available tuning modes, meaning guitar, bass, and chromatic, so you will get quite a deal of use for your money. It also lets you set it to silent for when using it on stage.
It can essentially be used with any string instrument, whether acoustic or electric, including harps and pianos.
The reading is shown on a needle-style LCD display, which has gained great appreciation for how accurate and easy to see it is especially when compared to other models in the same line.
You get to choose from two options of the same model – the classic version of the tuner or the one with an integrated metronome that is mainly designed for newbies.
No matter the version you choose, you’ll receive the same high-quality provided by all BOSS devices, including the brand’s famous needle/LED indicators for fast and accurate tuning.
It is equipped with a series of useful features, including a Flat Tuning of up to six half steps, Accu-Pitch with an audible beep, and a built-in microphone to easily pick up acoustic instruments and help you tune them.
The battery-saving Auto-Off button detects whenever the tuner is no longer used and turns off the device automatically, saving energy and making your life easier.
Tuning with a sound might become annoying, especially when you’re on stage, ready to start a new gig. To set the Silent mode, you need to consult the manual and follow the instructions step-by-step.Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.99)
7. Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Pedal Tuner for Guitar & Bass
This pedal tuner from Korg offers an impressive array of features that are sure to come in handy for a guitar or bass player. One of the most interesting of these is the true bypass it allows so that you won’t actually need to hear the sound while tuning the instrument.
Once the tuning is done, the Pitchblack doesn’t need to be disconnected from the other pedals because it allows the signal to pass through without getting altered by any additional circuitry.
It provides quite a generous array of tuning ranges, from E0 (which is 20.60 Hz) to C8 (4,186 Hz) and lets you adjust the calibration between 436 and 445 Hz. A handy indicator on the display tells you if the instrument is sharp or flat.
Another thing about the display is its remarkably large size, despite the overall compact frame of this pedal. This screen is easy to read from any angle, with its green lines on black and what with it being backlit in order to be operated in the dark.
The product is sensitive enough to pick up even the lowest sounds, allowing you to play anything from e0 (20.60 Hz) to c8 (4186 Hz), meaning it represents a good acquisition for all musicians, regardless of how much experience they have in playing the guitar.
The light-emitting surface is viewable in all lighting conditions, including in broad daylight, stage light or complete darkness, which makes the tuner a great choice for concerts and rehearsals in your parents’ basement.
It is made of tough aluminum that won’t break, chip or corrode, and features an easy-to-read LED meter.
The tuning guide indicates if the instrument is flat or sharp, ensuring increased accuracy in all situations.
Keep in mind that this tuner doesn’t come with an On/Off switch, so you must insert a valid input jack into the socket of your device that will determine the tuner to switch on and light up.Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.99)
8. D’Addario PW-CT-17BK Eclipse Tuner
This is a very easy to use clip-on unit as the head can swivel in any direction to allow the best viewing angle. In addition to this, it’s worth noting that the mode can also be mounted to both the front and the back of the headstock.
As all of the other items of this type, it can be employed on any string instrument as long as there is a spot for the clamps to adhere to.
It has been commented that the monitor is very easy to read out, even from sharp angles, and it is relatively large for the object’s tiny size, taking up most of its body. The lines used for marking are color-coded to indicate whether the instrument is sharp or flat.
A nice touch from Planet Waves was to include a battery with their item, namely a CR2 that this tuner uses to operate, meaning you can turn it on and use it straight out of the box.
Why settle for a dull product when you can pick one that speaks volumes about your music and personality on stage? This tuner is available in various colors, ranging from black and blue to red, green, purple, and more.
It provides quick, accurate tuning and is easy to read even by newbie musicians.
It features a full-color display visible in all lighting conditions and angles, eliminating glare and reflections, including when exposed to a bright source of light.
The clip-on design allows you to easily attach the tuner to your guitar and keep it in place while performing your part.
You might not be pleased with the overall contrast of the LCD screen. It is hard to read a navy blue bar on a black background, so you’ll end up spending more time trying to find the right tuning for your guitar. Unfortunately, you cannot adjust the screen’s brightness.Buy from Amazon.com for ($12.94)
9. Planet Waves PW-CT-12 NS Micro Headstock Tuner
Another midget sized model, the digital display on this D’Addario option is relatively small, but easy to read since it uses green as well as red and yellow markings on a black background. Not all of it might fit, however, so there is an option of switching between display modes via a number of buttons conveniently placed on its head.
What else makes the display stand out from the crowd? The color coding signals whether the guitar is in or out of tune or is close to being in tune.
There’s also a button that lets you turn on the metronome, which should find a lot of use in the hands of a beginner.
You can place it both on the front or the back of the headstock thanks to an adjustable ratchet mechanism and the screen being reversible. It can’t be used with virtually any instrument that vibrates, as long as there is a convenient place for it to be attached to.
The product uses the latest technologies to help you tune your guitar faster.
The built-in piezo transducer picks up the instrument’s vibrations rather than sounds, meaning it is more sensitive and will identify even the slightest movements of the cords to deliver a fast response and improve accuracy.
The tri-color reversible backlit LCD screen allows you to easily tune your instrument in all lighting conditions, even when it’s dark outside.
The NS Micro also features a 360-degree swivel mechanism that allows you to mount the item both in front of and behind the headstock, so it can accommodate both left-handed and right-handed players.
It is delivered with a battery that will last you for hours, while the auto-off function will preserve the battery and turn off your tuner after some minutes of no signal.
The product seems quite sensitive when it comes to loud environments, so we don’t suggest using it for live performances on big stages.Buy from Amazon.com for ($12.29)
10. Boss Tu-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal
The TU3 has been around for a while and has gained an almost incredible amount of appreciation from its fans. This chromatic tuner pedal is said to work as well as advertised given that it is extremely reliable and tough, while also very accurate.
The display screen uses LEDs so it is significantly bright and easy to see even under direct sunlight. Furthermore, it will glow naturally in a purely lit environment.
The note is displayed on a smaller, separate screen. Like many models from the manufacturer, it has an Accu-Pitch function, which lets you know when the tuning is complete through a visual sign.
With a chromatic mode, it has quite a deal of range, and it works on a bass as well with guitars. There’s also the possibility of flat tuning by switching to the aptly named Guitar Flat mode, which will allow drop tunings of between 1 to 6 semitones under standard pitch.
Unlike many other similar products, this one from Boss features a 21-segment LED meter with brightness control. The high-brightness mode improves visibility outdoors, allowing you to easily tune your guitar even in broad daylight.
The AccuPitch sign function delivers visual verification when tuning is complete, helping you easily start playing your guitar.
Another feature that not many products come with is the “auto-mute” which makes the tuner go silent whenever it is turned on. This is perfect when playing on stage, in front of big or small crowds.
The new TU-3 incorporates a convenient note name indicator that displays notes of 6-string basses and 7-string guitars.
The product might not accurately tune lower-intensity notes like low E so we suggest giving it a test before using it for live performances.
The battery drains down quickly, after just a few hours, so make sure you always have replacements.Buy from Amazon.com for ($95.68)
11. Yamaha GCT1
This small and portable clip-on tuner can be used with any string instrument as long as (repeat after me now) there’s a narrow enough space for the clamp to latch to. This alternative also has some padding for a tighter fit and to keep any unsightly marks off the instrument.
It is a chromatic tuner but it also has presets for guitar, violin, bass, and two types of ukes. It offers quite a deal of functions and it’s even been compared to significantly more expensive tuners in this regard. However, the screen appears to be monochrome, so there’s no color coding.
Functionality is not the only area where it does well against pricey models; the same goes for accuracy, where it has been tested to give the same readings as tuners which are accurate within 0.1 cents. It also does a good job in recognizing low notes for bass, and it ranges between A0 and C8.
Lightweight and affordable, the new Yamaha GCT1 features an easy clip-on mounting system that allows you to place it on your guitar in just a couple minutes. It is resistant and will stick to the instrument for as long as you want it to, delivering hands-free tuning.
It uses the latest technologies in the field so it allows you to tune your instrument by vibration, without requiring any leads.
Unlike other similar products that drain after only a couple of hours, the powerful battery used by this device ensures up to 30 hours of continuous use.
The auto power-off function will detect when the tuner is no longer used and turn it off automatically, preserving battery life.
Although lightweight, this Yamaha tuner is bigger than other similar products using a clip-on mounting system, so it may cause an unnatural hand and arm position until you get used to it.Buy from Amazon.com for ($12.79)
12. TC Electronic PolyTune
TC Electronic have designed this little clip-on tuner to be a looker, with a sleek shape that’s reminiscent of Apple products. But that’s hardly all there is to it, as it uses an innovative Polytune technology which allows for all 6 strings to be tuned simultaneously.
This is obviously a very useful thing to have, especially during gigs, as it should significantly cut down on the time required for tuning. Furthermore, it boasts an incredibly accurate 0.02 cents in the “strobe” mode and a rather unimpressive 0.5 cents in chromatic.
It has an adaptive display that is extra bright it will be easy to read on sunny days, regardless of angle. The head can pivot to a large degree (apparently only on one axis) so it can be hidden behind the stock when playing in front of an audience.
All this innovation and quality comes at a significantly higher price tag compared to similar units, but it’s still cheaper than most pedals.
Equipped with a clip-on feature, the product can be easily mounted on any type of guitar, acoustic or electric, and helps you easily tune it.
It features a large and easy-to-read display with adjustable brightness to help you read it in all lighting conditions, including outside.
The polyphonic tuning feature allows you to tune all six guitar strings at once, significantly reducing the time you spend on the process.
The adaptive screen provides the perfect readout regardless of where you place the clip, which also caters to the needs of both left-handed and right-handed guitarists.
The product is set up for standard tuning – EADGBE – and cannot be programmed to store additional tunings.
The batteries tend to drain quite fast when using this accessory so we always recommend having spares, especially if you’re planning to host a big gig. As some people might notice, batteries won’t last more than a couple of hours if the tuner is used heavily.Buy from Amazon.com for ($70.89)
13. Roland TU01
This little clip-on tuner from Roland uses some of the same electronics found in the Boss TU-3 pedal so it should be fairly accurate and reliable. Furthermore, it offers quite a deal of versatility and even has separate modes for guitar, bass, and ukulele as well as the traditional chromatic one. There’s also a reference pitch function set to 440 Hz for A.
Even by the standards of its class, the size of this item is remarkably tiny, so it can easily be carried even in a tight pocket. However, the screen is reported to be easily visible from any angle, which might not even be necessary since its head can turn and pivot to a significant degree.
Many users note that this unit provides great value for the price and it also comes with its own CR2032 battery, which is a common design that’s easy to find in nearly all retail stores. The auto off function is a nice extra, too, given that it can preserve battery life.
Benefiting from the exquisite quality of the Boss products, this tuner is not only affordable but very effective too.
It features different tuning modes for guitar, bass, and ukulele, which makes it versatile and a smart investment for all players, regardless of how experienced they are.
Unlike other products that run on batteries, the new TU-01 boasts a more powerful Li-Ion battery that allows you to run the tuner for up to 25 continuous hours. Moreover, the auto-off function will automatically shut down the tuner when it is not in use to preserve the battery life.
Other features include a clip-on design that allows you to easily mount the device on any type of guitar, as well as an adjustable screen for different viewing angles that also folds down to ensure easy transportation and storage.
Although not a manufacturing flaw, the battery may be completely flat by the time you order and receive the tuner, so be ready to change it immediately.Buy from Amazon.com for ($19.99)
14. Korg SHPRO
Also known as the Sledgehammer Pro, this headstock tuner from Korg impresses at first sight with its unique design (the head is basically a small tube) and 3D display. This model can be set to 3 modes and it seems to be very bright and easily visible both in the dark and on a sunny day.
There’s a pair of shuttle switches on the sides of the tube that can be used to switch between modes. This makes operating the Sledgehammer with only one hand substantially easier, and means you can work on the tuner at the same time you’re hitting a chord.
It has a regular tuning range between A0 (27.50 Hz) and C8 (4185 Hz) but accuracy is where it hits out of the ballpark, with an impressive 0.1 cents to set it apart from other items of its type.
The battery life is not all that dandy, however, with only 14 hours for a CR2032, so you might want to have an extra pair around, which might only set you down around 1 dollar.
The product features a cool and elegant design. It is lightweight and versatile, providing excellent tuning quality.
It represents the ideal upgrade for the UHS-II SD-card compatible cam recorders and cameras.
The 3D visual meter provides excellent visibility from all angles, reducing glare and reflections.
The clip-on design ensures easy mounting in just a couple of minutes and will remain attached to your guitar or bass as long as you need it.
Although extremely efficient for electric guitars, we don’t recommend using the tuner on an acoustic one as the reading may not be as fast and accurate as you would expect.
Make sure to carefully read the instructions on how to insert and remove the battery whenever it needs to be replaced. That catch is that you have to push on the body of the tuner to release the battery tray as it may not come down without a fight so prepare extra strength.Buy from Amazon.com for ($19.55)
15. Snark SN1 Guitar Tuner
Available in a bright shade of blue, this tuner is an excellent choice for guitar players who want to improve their playing techniques and make sure they always stay in tune. It is lightweight and extremely portable, so you won’t even notice it when you attach it to your guitar thanks to its clip-on design.
The display rotates at 360 degrees, which makes it easy to read no matter how you choose to play your guitar. Also, the bright LCD screen ensures perfect reading in all lighting conditions.
The product features a frequency range tailored for basses and guitars, as well as a high sensitivity vibration sensor to immediately tell you when you’re out of tune. What we also liked is that you can use this tuner as a metronome as well, enhancing your practice routine and helping you to perform better.
The Snark SN1 is delivered with a protective pouch to keep it away from dust, debris, dirt, and humidity.
It is lightweight and flexible, making it the perfect accessory to attach to your guitar so you’ll always stay in tune and in tone.
The clip-on design allows you to easily put it on your guitar while the 360-degree rotating screen ensures maximum visibility no matter your position.
The LCD screen is bright and displays powerful contrast colors so you’ll have no problem reading the tuner in all lighting conditions, even when you’re playing outside in broad daylight or dark rooms.
It works great with all types of string instruments, from acoustic guitars to basses and ukuleles, as long as you can attach it to them with the clip-on technology.
The product is made of plastic so the clamp is prone to break sooner or later. If you’re looking for a heavy-duty and durable item, the Snark SN1 might not be the right choice for you.Buy from Amazon.com for ($13.85)
16. Fender FT-004
This Fender piece uses a very interesting way to let you know if the right tuning has been hit. The monochrome screen is usually blue, but when the perfect pitch has been achieved, it turns into a bright green.
Like most any other model of its type it has multiple mode settings, which automatically adjust it for guitar, violin, bass, and uke, as well as a chromatic function for everything else, including drop D basses.
Some people even use it for electric guitars without plugging them in. Speaking of electricity, this uses a regular 3V 2032 crt, which is included with the item upon purchase.
It’s reported to be significantly accurate and gives highly precise reading through a needle pointing at a scale on the display. It is also quite affordable, and seems to be popular as an inexpensive and easy to use alternative to the pedal tuners used mainly in large gigs.
Compact and extremely lightweight, the product can be easily attached to any guitar thanks to its quality clip-on feature. Moreover, the clamp is wider than what you would normally find on the market, allowing the tuner to better stick to the guitar.
The built-in vibration sensor is more accurate than a regular sound sensor, providing great tuning even in noisy areas.
The LCD screen comes with an easy-to-read needle design that shows white when your guitar is out of tune and bright green when it’s ready to use.
The head tilts for easy viewing from different angles.
Although we liked the overall quality and construction of this accessory, we reckon that the device is slow at tuning. It does pick up every note but it will take a while, especially if you use it on an acoustic guitar.
Perhaps a full-color LCD screen would be easier to read and understand.Buy from Amazon.com for ($9.99)
17. Groovy Center Real Tuner Chromatic Clip-On
Available in two color options, this professional tuner will always help you stay in tune and enhance your live performances, whether you’re practicing or playing for a crowd. The stylish and elegant design works perfectly with all types of guitars, while the bright full-color display is easy to read.
The screen also rotates at 360 degrees to ensure maximum visibility no matter how you choose to hold or play your instrument. The device is made of durable materials and the clip-on design allows you to easily attach it to your guitar in a matter of seconds. It represents a wonderful music accessory that delivers great precision, accuracy, and sensitivity.
Another positive aspect of this tuner is that you’ll get to access all its functions on the Front Panel easily as there are no hidden buttons on the sides you should know of. It is suitable for both newbies and professional musicians.
The item is lightweight and easy to attach, in less than one minute, to any type of instrument, thanks to its clip-on design.
It features a big, bright screen that is easy to read in all lighting conditions, no matter if you’re playing outside or inside, in a dark room.
Moreover, the screen can be rotated at 360 degrees so you’ll always know when you’re going too flat or sharp, no matter how you choose to carry and use your guitar.
It delivers improved sensitivity, accuracy, and precision, which makes it a useful tool for all types of musicians, professionals or beginners.
You can tune it to any frequency between 430Hz and 450Hz but it comes set by default at 440Hz.
It may be suitable for all types of string instruments, including guitars, violins, cellos, banjos, and ukuleles but you’ll have to learn how to tune it on your own as the instructions won’t show you.Buy from Amazon.com for ($19.95)
You should also check out…
18. Roadie 2
One of the best things about this tuner is that you can use it with virtually any type of stringed instrument, whether you play the banjo, the uke, or the guitar. It is compatible with your smartphone and it provides you with the info you require via a companion app that uses Bluetooth to do its job.
Compared to some of the other options we have showcased here, the Roadie 2 works quite differently. It has been equipped with a built-in vibration sensor that makes it possible for the device to deliver crisp tuning even when the environment is particularly noisy. It goes without saying that you wouldn’t get the same advantage with tuners that only come fitted with a microphone.
Something else that makes this model stand out from the crowd is its capability of giving you the info you require in a matter of just 30 seconds. What that means for you, as the end-user, is that you will waste no time and you’ll be able to get back to your practice or live session comfortably and conveniently.
Most guitar players know that legends like Jimi Hendrix used to tune their guitar according to their own preferences and not based on whatever everyone else preferred. You can do the same if you decide to go for the Roadie 2 because it can actually tell you what note you’ve found and it saves that tuning for you so you can use it later on.
Finally, re-stringing your instrument is made effortless by the automatic winding feature that this product comes with.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129)
Yearly Guide & Report
At first glance, finding a good guitar tuner might appear to be a difficult task since there are a lot of specifications and features to look into. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, since even if you’re an absolute beginner there are a couple of things to look at to ensure a good purchase. So, what’s there to know before finding the best beginners’ guitar tuner?
The clip-on tuner
There are 3 main types of tuners, each one offering a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. We’ll starts with the clip-on variety since this is the most widely used.
Clip-on tuners are very easy to employ by just attaching them to the stock of the guitar with the small spring clip. The reading is taken from the vibrations generated in the instrument once a string is hit using a piezoelectric sensor. Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t named after an Italian inventor (the effect it uses was discovered by the French Pierre Curie in the 1880s) but the prefix piezo comes from Greek, meaning to press and to squeeze.
Since there’s no microphone involved, background noise won’t affect the tuner’s accuracy, so other band members can tune their instruments at the same time. This means the whole process will go a lot smoother and will be a deal easier on the audience, since I’m sure many of you remember gigs when band members had to wait on one another for minutes on end while one of them was “delighting” you with apparently random noises.
This is a small device, and even the best clip-on guitar tuner won’t be that hard to break if treated improperly, so don’t go around dropping it. The display, which is mostly digital for this device, won’t be that big either, but this is less of a factor than with other varieties since it will stay fairly close to your eyes.
The acoustic tuner
While a good clip-on can be used to tune most any bass and guitar, the acoustic version has a great deal more versatility. This uses a built-in microphone to listen to the tune of your guitar or whatever and help you make the necessary adjustments.
While generally more expensive than the piezoelectric variety, it can provide great value for its price since it can be used by all band members. This might often be the case, as an acoustic tuner is prone to reacting to outside noises, like those coming from the drum set, and give out a “false” reading.
Most of them use digital displays right now, but needle varieties are still around. A lot of models simply display a needle on a liquid crystal screen.
The pedal tuner
These are sturdy and reliable since the guitarist will literally be stepping on them when tuning. You might want to look into these if you know yourself prone to dropping things for whatever reason.
Of course, more bulk and weight will come with this extra toughness so these won’t make the best choice for those that like to travel light. Furthermore, the luminosity and clarity of the display will always be an issue with this type, for fairly obvious reasons.
The best guitar tuner pedal can be a deal more accurate than anything else you’ll find out there, and that’s why big name brands tend to go for this variety. However, if you’re after the best classical guitar tuner you might as well pass on this one, since it can only be used with pick-ups and acoustic-electrics.
Some basic things to consider
The display quality is an often overlooked, but important factor. Not all gigs will provide the same lighting you get in your rehearsal room, so look for one that is backlit especially if you’re going for a pedal type. Needles are considered more intuitive to read but displays can usually provide a clearer picture, especially if they’re in color.
Accuracy is just as important as you need it to be, since if you’re playing real punk (as opposed to the sunny… stuff bands like Blink 182 are putting out) you won’t really need for the tune to be that recognizable as if you were doing Codeine covers. The tuner will measure something called semitones and this will be displayed on a scale in cents or in units of frequency (Hz). Good tuners will generally have an accuracy of +/- 0.1 cents.
The tonal range it can measure is important especially if you plan on using the tuner with multiple instruments, so if you decide to invest in an acoustic one always look for this specification.
You can also use a smartphone to tune in your string instruments, and the best bass guitar tuner app can often provide readings that are as good as those coming from a regular tuner.
Depending on your years of experience, you may also opt for one of these three categories when looking for the best guitar tuner.
Chromatic clip-on tuners could act as the best guitar tuner if you’re a beginner. The word “chromatic” refers to the fact that the tuner will only identify one of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale in Western music. The device is useful but you’ll have to play one note at a time to tune.
Clip-on tuners are usually chromatic and represent an excellent choice in terms of convenience and affordability. Thanks to their design, they can be easily attached to the guitar and help you stay in tune every time you play. Besides, clip-on tuners feature large screens with a 360-degree view so you can easily play your instrument in all positions.
A polyphonic tuning means you get to play all the guitar’s six strings together with a display showing how in or out of tune all the strings are at once. Polyphonic tuning might take a while to get used to but it is a much smarter choice for those who are looking to tune their instruments faster.
Polyphonic tuners are mainly equal to the previously mentioned pedal tuners and represent the latest addition on the market. They are also designed for professional guitarists with complex on-stage needs.
Unlike polyphonic tuners and chromatic devices, strobe tuners are mainly designed for experienced guitar players and professional musicians. They are the most accurate out of all these accessories, a characteristic that is also reflected by their high price.
Although a strobe guitar tuner is not necessarily affordable, it is deemed as the best guitar tuner on the market and guitarists swear by it.
As we mentioned earlier in this buying guide, there is a fourth category of tuners. Since we live in the 21st century, it was only normal that there would be an app for it too. Although they won’t compete with a regular guitar tuner and won’t go anywhere near the best guitar tuner on the market, most of the apps developed for smartphones are free to use.
A guitar tuner app is fun and simple to operate but it won’t compete with professional devices such as true bypass pedals or clip-on tuners.
Difference between chromatic and non-chromatic tuners
In your quest for finding the best guitar tuner, you will read a lot of information that you’ll have to understand. A non-chromatic guitar tuner is designed to only tune guitars with the conventional EADGBE tuning.
This means that the guitar tuner tunes each string of the instrument and will tell you how sharp or flat it is based on the corresponding note. On the other hand, a chromatic guitar tuner will tune relative to the nearest semitone.
The best thing about a chromatic guitar tuner is that it can be used with other musical instruments, as well as with other tuners. Therefore, it is more flexible and versatile. And, if you opt for clip-on tuners, you’ll also get enhanced portability due to their light dimensions.
This feature depends on the type of guitar tuner you’re opting for. True bypass pedal tuners are usually powered by an external source of electric energy, which means all you have to do is plug them in. The true bypass is suitable for guitarists that use a limited amount of pedals, usually three or four, to amplify their sound.
Also, a true bypass pedal sends a signal that remains “intact” after it passes through the effect pedal without losing the strength or the frequency of the sound.
On the other hand, clip-on tuners may not be suitable for polyphonic tuning but they are more versatile and easy to attach to your instrument. They are operated by a battery, so it’s important to pick a device with either rechargeable batteries or prolonged battery life to ensure you won’t get cut out in the middle of your rehearsal or live performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know if my guitar is tuned?
You can be the best guitarist in the world but if your music instrument is out of tune, you will sound bad. And, believe us, you will easily tell if your guitar is out of tune when the sound it delivers is not the one you played.
Luckily, tuning your instrument has become a lot easier thanks to electric tuners as these devices are fast and accurate. The interface of these products is similar, regardless of the brand, model, and functions.
When you pluck a note, the tuner will show you on a screen the note you played. Look at the screen of the device and you will see a needle oscillating, telling you exactly how far you are from sounding right. If the note is too low or high, you will see a light on the screen. Once you get it right, the needle will remain in the middle.
Q: How do I use a guitar tuner?
As we previously mentioned, electric guitar tuners are the easiest option on the market as they can be read by all players, regardless of their level of expertise.
But before knowing how to operate such a device, you will need to spend some time and identify the different types of tuners. The most accessible option is the clip-on tuner that can be easily mounted on your guitar and will tell you how far you sound from the right key intensity.
Keep in mind that some products will only work if they are plugged into a special jack, while others come with a built-in microphone to help you tune acoustic guitars or basses. Similarly to what we already described, most tuners will only need to be turned on to start working. Once you play a note, it will show on the tuner’s screen, while the needle will tell you how far you are from sounding accurate.
Q: How often should I tune my guitar?
The answer depends on various factors, including your level of expertise. If you just picked up the guitar, you will probably have to tune your instrument every time you play as your intonation may be poor. In time, your “musical ear” will improve and you’ll have a better understanding of how each string should sound.
Humidity, playing style, temperature, and the type of guitar used are only some of the factors that might interfere with the instrument’s playing capabilities, so you need to pay close attention to them and tune your guitar as often as necessary.
Other special “occasions” might also impose tuning your guitar – when you drop it, whenever you’re traveling, when you’re using a capo, when you bend the strings too much or if you don’t play regularly.
Changes in climate and humidity may also affect your guitar, so remember to tune your instrument whenever you’re reaching a new destination or get back home. Some states like Louisiana, Alabama or Cali are known for their high humidity which may affect the quality of your guitar playing, regardless of how good you are.
Q: What is the difference between chromatic and guitar tuning?
Another question that newbies need to find the answer to is the difference between chromatic tuners and guitar tuners. The easiest explanation is that chromatic tuners can tune any type of instrument, including acoustic ones if they come with a clip-on option, while standard tuners only allow you to tune to standard.
Regular guitar tuners or non-chromatic ones will only recognize the notes of the guitar for standard tuning, meaning EADGBE. These products are more affordable but lack many functions, making them difficult to use and master.
On the other hand, chromatic tuners will pick up any note you are playing and show you on a screen how flat or sharp you are relative to the nearest semitone. This provides increased flexibility, especially when we’re talking about alternate tunings.
Chromatic tuners come with a series of useful functions and are designed to meet the requirements of all guitar and bass players, regardless of their level of expertise.
Q: How do I keep my guitar in good condition?
If you want to enjoy the perks of playing your guitar for many years, you need to look after it constantly.
First of all, make sure to clean it from dust, debris, and any stains every time you use it and before putting it inside its case. The case should feature a strong and sturdy construction and should be thick enough to absorb shocks and protect the product from water, stains, and extreme temperatures.
Direct exposure to sunlight also interferes with the wood quality of a guitar and may make it sound off-tune.
Another way to protect your guitar is to use a special stand whenever you’re not holding it in your hands. Keeping it in a stand will prevent accidents and will also help you easily clean the instrument using a damp cloth.
Don’t forget to use special oils and lubricants designed to preserve the wood’s quality and look and also change the strings once in a while. Don’t go full rock and roll with it either so avoid smashing it after a good gig.
Best guitar tuner brands
The Danish company has been around for nearly half a century during which it expanded to produce a wide array of audio electronics, such as guitar effects, computer audio interfaces, and of course, guitar tuners.
Among these, the Poly Tune stands out as the world’s first polyphonic guitar tuner, which allows for all the cords to be tuned simultaneously. This is of great help in cutting short the time necessary for tuning, but it comes at a relatively high price. This is justified by quality, as TCE is recognized as a premium manufacturer.
The Long Island company is primarily known as one of the largest string manufacturers in the world, but their guitar tuners aren’s to scoff at either. They often sell their electronic tuners under the brand of Planet Waves, and these are often small and inexpensive items, designed to be easy to use and portable rather than extremely accurate.
They run both conservative and innovative lines with the Eclipse falling in the first category while the NS micro belonging to the other. This is an extremely compact model with a screen that’s small but easy to read.
The Japanese giant is one of the largest audio equipment manufacturers in the world and deals with making a wide array of products. They are mainly famous for their synthesizers, but they also offer a number of guitar tuners.
Probably the CA plug-in line of products is the most popular among these, and their defining feature is the use of a noise signal to simulate the desired pitch. Their tuners are generally inexpensive but offer an acceptable level of quality.
The AW line of clip-on tuners is known for the incredibly long battery life it can offer, nearing 100 hours of continuous use.
Kilq is a boutique manufacturer of musical instruments and accessories, and both the price and quality of their products are fairly high. They might not make the most inexpensive tuners, but few users find reasons to complain about anything else when it comes to a Kliq.
There are some accessible items among their products, however, like the Tiny Tune tuner pedal, which is also well appreciated for its compact size and high level of accuracy. The award-winning UberTuner clip-on might be on the opposite side of the spectrum in regards to price but usually gets top marks for reliability and accuracy.
It seems to be fashionable for manufacturers to provide instrument presets in their vibration operated tuners and Fender makes no exception. You can select between guitar, bass, ukulele, violin (!) and chromatic modes with the FCT-12, and between a range that goes from A0 to C8 and 430-450 Hz for the A4.
At a whopping 1.76 ounces, this item might as well be a pill and the audience is sure not to notice it on the stock since it’s also very small.
The screen reads fairly well and it’s backlit to be functional on a dark stage. It is also multicolored, with green signifying low pitch, red high and if the reading is in the middle it means you’ve hit perfect pitch.
The screen also turns 360 degrees so you can see it from any position, which will make it especially useful for violin players. There’s also a handy metronome included to help practicing students.
Unlike other similar models, the new FCT-12 allows you to choose from different modes, including guitar, ukulele, bass, chromatic modes, and even one for violins.
At just 1.76 ounces, the device is not only lightweight but also extremely versatile and easy to carry with you anywhere you go. Moreover, the small dimensions allow you to store it in the guitar case to always have it around when you need it.
The clip-on design ensures easy mounting in less than a couple of minutes.
The backlit color screen is big enough and provides easy reading in almost all lighting conditions, including on a dark stage.
Sometimes, the navy blue light won’t be very visible on the black background, which can make reading difficult, especially from certain angles.
Although the tuner is delivered with instructions, they might seem hard to read and understand, especially by inexperienced players.
If you’re after a budget pedal, this chromatic model from Donner might just do. It doesn’t provide the same high degree of functionality as models in the $100 range but it can be used for tuning to anywhere between A0 (27.5 Hz) and C8 (4186 Hz). Besides, it also has a strobe mode for increased accuracy.
With only one visible button, it is remarkably easy to use and at 7.8 ounces in weight will not feel like a brick in your bag either. It only has one large button that is used to switch between tuning and bypass mode.
Despite the price, it does have true bypass, meaning that the signal won’t get altered while passing through it. When tuning, it stays silent, like any other pedal out there.
It has a relatively small but easy-to-read display that uses white on a bright blue background. The note can be easy to make out but the scale and needle are “squished” against one of the edges.
This chromatic guitar tuner is suitable for a wide range of tuning options, delivering accuracy in just a few minutes. It is backed by a strobe mode to ensure clear reading.
Despite its market price, the tuner features a true bypass, meaning the signal will not be altered while passing through the device. As a result, all your sounds will be as clear, sharp, and on-point as possible, depending on your guitar’s performances.
One of the features that we liked the most is the silent mode that automatically activates whenever using the tuner, which is extremely useful when performing on a stage or in front of a tough crowd.
It is equipped with a digital display that is easy to read and uses white on a bright blue background.
The display is significantly smaller than what you’ll find in other similar devices, which makes reading difficult from certain angles.