Welcome to our guide for the best guitar tuner! In this guide I will talk about some of the different kinds of tuners I have come by, the benefits of each kind and also highlight some tuners out there that are worth taking a look at to purchase.
The guitar tuner is a staple for any guitar player whether you have just bought a new guitar and haven’t even played it yet, or are an advanced gigging artist. It is a tool you will need and will want to always have on you or with your gear.
First we should note, there are many ways to tune your guitar other than buying a tuner. You can listen to a piano or other tuned instrument and match the pitch, or you can tune to other strings by holding down an equivalent note on another string. You could get a tuning fork and go the old school route or you can just plain wing it and hope for the best. All of these are strategies but in my honest opinion they are not that great. Why? Because you are relying on something that may not be in tune in the first place and thus may be tuning your guitar out of tune... as convoluted as that sounds.
Due to this fact, I would suggest taking a look at some tuner options and find the best guitar tuner for you. There are many kinds of tuners out there, some cheap, some expensive, some with bells and whistles but most tuners will do what they need to do, tune your guitar! For this review I will be focusing on three types of tuners: the plug-in electronic guitar tuner, the digital guitar tuner pedal, and the chromatic guitar tuner.
The electronic tuner is a cheap and effective way to tune your guitar. There is nothing too complex about these kinds of tuners. Essentially you take a patch chord, plug one end into your guitar and the other end into the tuner, turn the tuner on and tune your guitar. Most of these types of tuners run on regular AA batteries and are small to fit in a gig bag or even in your pocket. The below electronic tuner is a great electronic guitar tuner:
The Korg GA1 is a great and standard plug in electronic tuner. It is easy to use, has solid accuracy and an simple but effective interface. Korg makes great key-boards, electronic instruments and musical equipment and makes everything with solid quality.
The tuner has a basic on off switch, a switch for picking the sound, the semi tone/how flat the sound is if you want to tune flat, and a switch for picking either guitar or bass. You plug your guitar in to one end of a patch chord and the tuner in the other, pretty basic but is awesomely accurate.
The one drawback, and it’s a pretty big drawback in my opinion, to the plug-in electronic guitar tuner is the fact that you need to unplug your guitar from your pedals, amp or anything else it is plugged into in order to tune. However, the next two tuner types, the guitar tuner pedal and the chromatic guitar tuner, you do not need to unplug anything!
The chromatic tuner is a tuner that allows for some better variation in terms of tuning then a digital or electronic guitar tuner. Now you may be thinking, variation in tuning? What is this guy smoking, isn’t tuning supposed to be exact? It is, but what I mean is in how you tune your guitar. A simple guitar tuner like the one above, is great for standard tuning, and maybe some other kinds of tuning involving flats and some different notes. However, a chromatic tuner tunes to what ever the note that is being played is, without having to follow a set program/signal. This can be very beneficial in case you want to tune your guitar to a different kind of tuning then the standard E, A, D, G, B, E tuning.
Clip on guitar tuners are great because they are small, easy to throw in a gig bag or have on stage and they tune with excellent accuracy. They are also not too expensive so they won’t break the bank account. The clip on tuner tunes without direct input signal from the guitar, it simply clips on to the headstock of the guitar and tune away!
The two chromatic clip-on tuners below are solid chromatic tuner options and each has some pluses and minuses associated with them:
The UberTuner could be viewed as one of the best guitar tuner options for a clip on tuner. It has a big heads up display that is easy to read and runs off of a simple 3V battery that comes with the tuner.
It can be used for a guitar, violin, bass or ukulele and is extremely accurate for all those instruments. It has a basic on/off button and comes with a back lit screen so it is easy to see in all lighting conditions.
The Snark is one of the most popular clip-on tuners out there and there is good reason for it. I like the KLIQ better due to the large display, however, the Snark definitely has an accurate reading display although a bit smaller than the KLIQ.
It is a very accurate tuner and is priced extremely fairly which makes it pretty desirable in my opinion. It can also be used on bass guitars or violin so is great to have in a band setting as it can be easily passed between artists.
The Snark SN-5 also has the ability to be a BPM indicator with a range from 40-250 BPM. You can turn it on via the button on the left hand side and it essentially visually indicates the desired BPM using a flash of an aspect of the display.
The tuner pedal is a great option especially if you already have a pedal board. You can slap the tuner on the board and rest easy that you will have a tuner wherever you go and it won’t get lost like the other two types may. I mean, it could get lost but if it is with all of your other pedals then I think you have more to worry about then just being out of tune…
The benefit of a tuner pedal is that you are able to get an accurate tune knowing that the signal is directly passing through it. You can also use tuner pedals as a quick way to cut the signal going to your amp say, in between songs or when you are not playing.
The below two guitar tuner pedals are the top choices for the best guitar tuner out there.
The Poly Tune is a cool tuner because, first and foremost, it is very accurate and it has a few different options that make it a bit more versatile. The Poly Tune has a setting that tunes all strings simultaneously. You essentially strum all of the strings and it shows you all strings quickly on one display so you can do a quick tune on the fly. It also has a setting where you can tune one string at a time for a more precise tuning.
A great feature the Poly Tune has is that it can distribute power to your other pedals, like a reverb pedal or fuzz pedal, as well and act as a power bank. You can plug in power to the in plug then use a daisy chain to power the rest of your pedals, pretty awesome in my opinion and very useful.
The TU-3 is a solid Boss pedal. Like all the Boss pedals, they are made extremely well and are built to last the test of time. The TU-3 offers solid and accurate tuning and comes in at a pretty fair price point.
One thing to note about the TU-3 is that it is not true bypass and it has a buffer instead. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it should be known.