10 Best Guitar Tuners for Harmonious Strumming
Music Authority may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
What’s the most important thing to do once you’ve bought an ideal guitar? Yes, you guessed it right - tuning your instrument perfectly. Even the best guitars will not sound amazing if not tuned well, and the practice isn’t a one-time affair. Guitars need to be tuned every time you decide to play. So, it is evident that investing in one of the best guitar tuners is highly crucial.
We’ve tested a variety of guitar tuners and chosen our top 10 tuners for you. The factors that we considered are display, tuning accuracy, portability, price and tuning range. So dive into our list to find out more.
KLIQ Metro Pitch
TC Electronic Polytune 3
Planet Waves Universal
Dual-mode operation for tuning
Peterson Strobo Plus
512-pixel strobe HD display
Great Response Meter
Accu-Pitch sign function
All about the model
At the top of our list with an acoustic tuner which has a frequency range tailored to suit bass guitars. Snark SN5X has a full color, bright and easy to read display. This means that you can easily use it even in darker venues like clubs. Since it is highly versatile, you can place this clip-on tuner on either the front or back of the headstock of your guitar. Besides, this tuner rotates 360 degrees which means you can read the numbers on the display from any angle. Snark has embedded a fast, high-quality micro-processing chip in this model, which ensures the efficient functioning of SN5X.
To make it ideal for practice sessions for beginners and professional players alike, this tuner has a built-in tap tempo which makes picking up tunes on your guitar quite easy. Being highly durable, SN5X has spring-loaded jaws, rubber pads, and a strong clamp, so that it stays fastened to your guitar even as you deliver a rocking performance. Since it is a clip-on tuner, it tunes your guitar by picking up and making use of vibrations as you play. What’s great about this feature is that it can tune your instrument even when there’s noise around. The only flaw about Snark SN5X is that its body is made of plastic which might not be pleasing to the eye.
What we liked is its automatic shut-off feature that switches the tuner off after 2 minutes of inactivity and helps increase the product’s battery life. So, during your jamming sessions, your tuner won’t be discharged even if you forget to switch it off.
2. KLIQ Metro Pitch
All about the model
This versatile pocket-sized tuner is a metronome, tuner, and a tone generator - all in one value package. Being highly portable, KLIQ Metro Pitch comes with a carrying pouch and can be easily carried to your gigs and practice sessions. Metro Pitch is great for musicians on the go. Apart from being high on portability, this tuner also has a wide range of frequencies (A0-C8), multiple timing modes, transposition settings, and pitch calibration, which makes it suitable for all instruments.
So if you’re a budding musician or even a trained one who likes to play multiple instruments, then investing in this tuner will serve multiple purposes. Like a metronome, Metro Pitch offers 30-250 beats per minute, tap tempo, a variety of beats, and rhythm patterns which enables you to improve your timing in different musical styles. For a tuner that’s so inexpensive, this model has a tuning precision of +/- 1 cent which makes it an excellent digital guitar tuner. What’s more, is a clear LCD screen to provide good display and a built-in kickstand along with a carrying pouch. You also get a 3- year manufacturer warranty on this tuner. On the downside, KLIQ Metro-Pitch can only produce one rhythm at a time. Therefore, you cannot play in polyrhythm with this metronome.
A feature that stands out for us is its JOG Dial using which you can easily dial in your desired tempo and even choose different modes like Chromatic Mode C, Guitar Mode G, Bass Mode B, Violin Mode V, and Ukulele Mode U. Additionally, you can use the JOG Dial to change the calibration value (reference pitch) in 1 Hz increments. You can also make swift pitch selection in Tone Generator.
3. Korg Pitchblack
All about the model
Korg Pitchblack chromatic tuner is highly durable, being made of die-cast aluminum. A black-out finish brings about increased contrast and visibility to the tuner. Featuring an easy to read display with green lines on black, the backlighting makes the tuner easy to operate even in the dark. Despite a spacious display size, the overall frame is quite compact which makes the model well-designed. Also, an indicator on the display tells you if the instrument is tuned sharp or flat.
There are 4 modes on the display, namely meter, full strobe, half strobe, and mirror. Just choose the one according to the mode you want to play in and begin strumming. Furthermore, Pitchblack operates on battery but it also has an optional AC operation. For pedal board convenience, it has a 9 volt/200 milliampere cascade output. What’s more, is a wide detection range of E0-C8 (20.60 Hz-4186 Hz) along with a calibration range of 436 Hz-445 Hz. This means that you can tune your instrument to a variety of frequencies. On the downside, the tuner is a little heavy compared to other lightweight tuners on our list. So, it ranks low on the portability factor.
One of its features that impressed us is its true Bypass which ensures the preservation of tonal clarity. In addition, you don’t have to hear the sound while tuning your instrument which means you can easily tune even in a noisy environment. Once the tuning is done, the tuner does not need to be disconnected from other pedals because it does not let the additional circuitry alter the signal and lets it pass through smoothly.
All About The Model
Next on our list is an extremely lightweight tuner which can be easily clipped onto your guitar with a universal mounting clip and can discretely hide behind the headstock. The D’Addadrio NS Micro it is highly compact and can be stored in your instrument case so that you can carry it with you for gigs or practice sessions. You can use this tuner both for acoustic and electric guitars.
It also offers a wide calibration range of 410Hz-480Hz for a crisp performance. In terms of display, it is easy to read with a tricolor, a backlit screen which shows a note in red when out of tune, yellow when close to the set tune and green when in tune. The tuner has a special auto-off function which switches off the tuner when not in use. This means that the NS Micro’s CR2032 battery can last really long.
Feel free to have a look at your tuner from any angle as it has a 360-degree swivel mechanism that makes its display visible even from the corners. Your ease of use is further enhanced by an adjustable padded clamp which gives maximum positioning flexibility. The NS Micro is one of D’Addario’s amazing creations since it is small, lightweight and least intrusive during performances. One of the flaws of this product is its accuracy which is not as good as other clip-on tuners.
A unique and accurate piezo transducer picks up the instruments’ vibrations rather than its sound and accounts for fast and accurate tuning response. This also means that you can tune your instrument even while you’re present amidst the chaos of a club.
5. TC Electronic Polytune 3
All about the model
If a highly versatile tuner is what you’re looking for, then TC Electronic Polytune 3 is an option you should seriously consider. Featuring multiple tuning modes which include polyphonic, chromatic, strobe and a variety of altered tunings, this tuner can be used according to your needs. This tuner has revolutionized the way musicians use their instruments.
You can quickly get in tune with polyphonic, chromatic, and strobe tuning modes. Choose the polyphonic mode if you want to tune all the strings at the same time for performing live. If you want more precision during your songwriting sessions, choose the chromatic mode. And when you finally decide to form your music and lay down tracks, choose strobe for high precision.
In terms of display, you get a 109-LED screen for greater tuning accuracy with an ambient light detector which enables clear readout in all degrees of brightness. But some feedbacks claim difficulty in reading the display in bright sunlight.
Investing in Polytune means, you get a value package as you gain access to accurate tuning and a high-quality tone tool in a single unit. When we talk about accuracy, this tuner does not disappoint. In the chromatic mode, you get 0.5 cent accuracy and as a strobe tuner, it gives you +/- 0.2 cent accuracy. The switchable bypass/buffer modes ensure that your signal integrity is optimized for different setups.
Even when you have not muted your tuner, the ‘always on’ tuning mode keeps the tuner switched on and it keeps detecting sound.
With an onboard Bonafide Buffer that helps preserve tone over long cable runs, Polytune 3 also guarantees zero signal degradation. Further, the buffer helps to automatically switch between polyphonic and monophonic tuning modes based on the number of strings you play.
6. Planet Waves Universal
All about the model
Planet Waves’ Universal is another chromatic toner for all acoustic and electric guitars you could probably consider. With its LCD and LED display, it’s easy for musicians to see the tuning of their instruments even in the dark. The built-in oversized note indicator ensures that you tune the guitar correctly. Furthermore, the tuner comes calibrated at A440 but can be tweaked by the user to any pitch from A435 to A445. Apart from being user-friendly, this tuner has a compact and sleek design which means you can easily store it in your instrument case and carry it with you while you’re on the move.
You also get a built-in microphone and ¼” input which makes the tuning of both acoustic and electric guitars easy. And if you’re in a place that’s too loud for the microphone to be used, then make use of the input to avoid disturbances from affecting your tuning. Planet Waves Universal is great for musicians on a budget who want a lightweight, portable tuner that does its job. Taking into account its flaws, we would say that the tuner is too simple and lacks advanced features which expensive guitar tuners possess.
What we liked is a dual-mode operation for automatic or manual tuning of pitches. So, whether you’re a professional musician adept at tuning or a beginner who needs help, the Planet Waves Universal tuner will address both the needs.
7. Peterson Strobo Plus
All about the model
If you’re looking for an exclusive strobe tuner, then the Peterson Strobo Plus is a model you should lay your eyes on. With true strobe 0.1 cent accuracy, the tuner is accurate to 1/10000th of semitone or 1/1000th of a fret. When it comes to accuracy, this tuner boasts of having an HD backlit display that can detect even the smallest pitch deviations. Also, it automatically displays note and deviation from the center pitch. And it also allows you to get an extreme tuning resolution due to the nature of its display.
Over 90 enhanced tuning offsets are available in the tuner for a variety of string, woodwind, and brass instruments. So, if you’re a musician who plays multiple instruments, this tuner will suit your needs. You also get an optional add-on function of a metronome, in case you want more from your tuner. All Peterson products give the same tuning feedback with their unique ‘spinning wheel’ strokes.
Additionally, a sensitive built-in electret condenser microphone and a ¼” input help you tune your guitar. So if the microphone isn’t suitable to use for tuning where there is a lot of noise, you can use the input.
In terms of battery, you can recharge this tuner with your computer or an outlet when it’s discharged, so you don’t have to spend extra bucks on batteries. User-friendly navigation, tone generation and headphone output to eliminate the noise around you are some of the additional advantages of buying this tuner.
As a bonus, the PetersonConnect feature lets you program your tunings and configure your tuner. Once you download the PetersonConnect program and register your tuner, it will keep sending you new updates and tunings every time you connect your tuner to the computer. You can also create your tunings and synchronize settings between different varieties of Peterson tuners that support the program. Combining a vast array of features, Peterson Strobo Plus is a strong contender on our list with the only drawback of being expensive and heavier compared to other tuners.
The massive 512-pixel strobe HD display of the Strobo Plus delivers a smooth, real-time response to even the minutest of tuning changes like no other display can.
8. Donner Dt-1
All about the model
We think the Donner Dt-1 is great for beginners looking for an inexpensive product This model is chromatic and suitable for a wide range of tuning. It features an LCD which shows clear results of tuning (A0-C8) along with LED light indicators, which show its working state. When the tone is accurate, the blue indicator in the middle turns on.
While the tuning range is from 27.5Hz-4186Hz, the tuning method is auto. In the strobe mode, the tuner works with a +/-1 cent accuracy. When it comes to the tuner’s body, Donner has made use of an aluminum-alloy to make this tuner sturdy and durable, unlike other plastic tuners. So if you choose to buy this tuner, you get all these features plus a classic mini size that can fit easily anywhere. Looking at its flaws, this tuner does not come with a power adaptor so you need to buy one separately. Some reviews claim that the indicator lights are too bright for the display to be read easily.
Donner Dt-1 also has a true bypass feature with real signal that causes no loss of tune. True bypass is beneficial because it lets the instrument’s signal pass through non-electrical bypass line when effect is disengaged, and in this way, it sends to your amp unaltered signal from your instrument. Also, the bypass does not affect the tone when plugged into a chain.
9. Korg TM60BK
All about the model
Next on our list is TM60BK from Korg which can be simultaneously used as a tuner and a metronome. Being high on precision, this tuner also has instant pitch detection response. The detection range is C1-C8 for a variety of instruments, 15 rhythm variations, and 3 types of tempo settings. In terms of display, you get a large, backlit LCD screen with adjustable calibration and marked third intervals.
This is an upgrade since the display is 13 times larger than the older model. Also, the display can be easily read when the tuner is placed on a music stand. You can even read the tuner and the metronome functions simultaneously.
Featuring a CM-200 clip microphone, you get precise tuning every time. Furthermore, using an LCD needle meter, this tuner easily detects the pitch of your guitar thus ensuring that it hears actual notes and not strange overtones. While many other products will struggle with instruments in the very high and very low ranges, the Korg performs at a very high level. The TM-60BK runs on AAA batteries that should last from 130 hours without the backlight on. On the downside, some reviews claim that it’s not very accurate.
TM60BK has a great response meter. This ensures that the pitch drift which could occur during long tones can be detected quite early. So, you can train yourself to produce an unfaltering tune that has a stable pitch. You can also get pitch training and rhythm training without switching functions or thinking twice about the tuner’s battery life.
10. Boss TU3
All about the model
Ideal for musicians who frequently perform at live gigs, Boss TU3 is a guitar and bass tuner pedal. In terms of display, it excels right where other tuners falter. With a high brightness mode for outdoor visibility, the meter is easily visible even in bright sunlight. You also get a 21 segment LED meter with brightness control to alter the display according to your comfort. Featuring an Accu-Pitch sign function, the tuner gives visual verification once the tuning is complete.
In addition, there are chromatic and guitar/bass modes with support for 7-string guitars and 6-string basses. Flat tuning comes with the Guitar Flat mode, which ensures Drop tunings upto 6 semitones below standard pitch. Moreover, the tuner is a stompbox style pedal which can be accommodated by any pedalboard.
This stompbox offers a robust casing that encloses inside a highly advanced tuner with a tuning range of C0-C8. The accuracy of this tuner is +/-1 cent which is quite precise for professionals. You can also connect upto 7 BOSS compact effect pedals if you want to. BOSS also gives a 5-year warranty in case something goes wrong with your tuner. Making a mention of its flaws, we’d have to say that the batteries of this tuner drain really fast as the modes of the tuner consume a lot of battery. Sometimes, the tuner takes around 20 seconds to pick up the tune of the instrument.
What’s special is an Accu-Pitch sign function, due to which the tuner gives visual verification once the tuning is complete.
Non-Chromatic versus Chromatic Tuners
1. What Is a Sound Hole Tuner?
These tuners remain hidden within the instrument’s soundhole and provide discrete tuning. They are fixed with a universal mounting clip. If you consider D'Addario NS Micro Soundhole Tuner, you can understand the working mechanism of such tuners. A highly sensitive piezo transducer senses vibrations directly from the soundboard for a fast and accurate tuning response. Its small size, ease of convenience and accuracy makes it great for acoustic instruments.
2. What kind of tuner best suits your needs?
You should always opt for a tuner that caters to your needs. If you are a musician who always performs at live gigs, then go for clip-on tuners like Snark SN5X or D'Addario NS Micro. These tuners can be fastened onto the headstock or soundhole of your guitar and stay fixed as you perform. If you need a tuner purely for an acoustic instrument, then go for Snark SN5X. If you need a tuner that caters to both acoustic and electrical instruments, opt for Planet Waves Universal tuner. If you’re looking for a highly versatile tuner, then we suggest you choose KLIQ Metro Pitch since it comprises of a metronome, tuner and tone generator in one package.
3. How Accurate Are Guitar Tuner Apps?
The accuracy of tuner apps mostly depends on your phone’s microphone. If it isn’t good enough, then the sound picked up will be altered and the tuning won’t be precise. So using an app always involves this risk. Also, there are many possible bugs and design flaws that would make a tuner app inaccurate or non-functional. Simply counting ups and downs per second may result in inaccurate reading due to distortions and background noises. But if a good program can be written for a tuner, such a program will probably run on a smartphone also. As a result, you probably need to try multiple applications and do not rely blindly on them.
4. Do guitar tuners work for bass?
Snark SN5X is an acoustic guitar tuner that has a frequency range which works with both guitar and bass. So yes, guitar tuners do work with bass.
5. How often do you need to tune the guitar?
Try tuning your guitar every time you pull it out of its case for playing. The tension put on the tuning pegs by the strings makes them go out of place. The longer is the gap between your tuning sessions, the more out of tune your guitar will be.
6. Is Bass tuning the same as guitar? Can you tune a guitar like a bass?
To tune your guitar to make it sound like a bass, try the following-
You can use an octave pedal such us the Electro-Harmonics microPog, Boss OC-3 or the Digitech Whammy 5.
A plugin such us Waves GTR Octaver or Amplitube’s 4 Pitch Shifter should make the task easier too.
You can record your guitar and then pitch it down using Waves SoundShifter if you don’t need to play in real-time.
7. How do you use an auto-tuner on a guitar?
To know the mechanism of using an auto-tuner on a guitar, we’ve taken into consideration Roadie 2, which is an auto-tuner. It automatically rotates the pegs of stringed instruments that have a guitar machine head including electric, acoustic, classical, and steel guitars, guitars of 6, 7, and 12 strings, ukuleles, mandolins, and banjos. Roadie 2 was upgraded from its predecessor to work as an independent standalone device which does not require the Roadie Tuner mobile application to function.
For that, it has a built-in OLED screen and a selection wheel for users to choose their desired tuning out of preset alternate tunings or to access the string-winding mode when changing the strings on an instrument. In contrast to the first-generation product, Roadie 2 uses a vibration sensing technology instead of a microphone, allowing users to accurately adjust their tuning in noisy environments as well. The Roadie Tuner mobile app is an optional tool to use alongside Roadie 2 and enables users to create their custom tunings and sync them to their Roadie device.
8. Is electric guitar tuning the same as acoustic?
Tuning an electric guitar is no different from adjusting an acoustic guitar. You don’t need any additional tuners or accessories to tune your electric guitar. When tuning individual strings, pluck each string individually and then turn the peg to match the correct pitch. When using an electric tuner, hold it close enough to your guitar, then pluck the string repeatedly while turning the tuning peg until the pitches match. If you don’t have a tuner, you can make use of tuning examples that you can find online on YouTube.
9. How to Choose a Tuner?
When choosing a tuner for your instrument, keep in mind the display because this is an important component for you to be able to see the tunings. Next, look for a wide tuning range and a high tuning accuracy. Also, make sure that your tuner has both a built-in microphone and an input that can be used when the surroundings get too noisy. And don’t forget to keep in mind your budget.
10. Tips On Tuning Guitar
Some tips on tuning your guitar are-
Upwards - the correct method of tuning is to go a bit below the desired pitch (loosen the string), then go up to the right pitch (tighten the string). Your final twist of the peg should always make the string tighter.
Guitar strings stretch and shrink when exposed to heat and cold. Avoid leaving your guitar in extreme temperature conditions.
If you are tuning in a noisy environment, use a tuner that can be plugged into your guitar. After getting new strings, you'll need to tune more frequently until your strings stretch into place.
You can also compare the same note on two or more strings to check that the guitar is at least tuned to itself and all the strings are working together in tune.
Tune your guitar every time you play.
11. What is the best electronic guitar tuner?
Featuring multiple tuning modes which include polyphonic, chromatic, strobe and a variety of altered tunings, TC Electronic Polytune 3 is the best electronic guitar tuner. It is high on tuning accuracy and has a clear display. The switchable bypass/buffer modes ensure that your signal integrity is optimized for different setups.
12. How do electric guitar tuners work?
Musicians who play electric guitars use pedal tuners which are connected in a line between the guitar and the amplifier. Pedal tuners provide a mild buffer to enhance the level of a guitar’s audio signal. A true bypass tuner which has no buffer may be appropriate if there are very few pedals in a player’s signal chain.
Now that we’ve come to the end of this article, we hope you’ve gained insight into the world of tuners, their mechanism, and the different categories. Based on our analysis, our favorite tuner is TC Electronic Polytune 3 with its brilliant display, versatile modes, and advanced features. But if you’re a budding musician who does not want to spend much on a guitar tuner, you can consider other options like Snark SN5X and KLIQ Metro Pitch. Since all tuners have their benefits and flaws, choose one that you like best and tune in to a melodious sound.