Not everybody can tune a guitar by ear — and that is okay. There are plenty of guitar tuners that can help you tune your instrument without any problems. The main question that rises amongst musicians is what guitar tuner is the best since there are so many different brands and models. In this article, we will compare some of the best guitar tuners to find out which product is worth investing in.
Types of Guitar Tuners
Let’s start off with figuring out different types of guitar tuners. Knowing all of those will help you make sure that you buy the right product for your needs.
Here are major types of guitar tuners based on the way they work:
- Guitar tuners. Those are made only for guitars, meaning they can recognize guitar-related notes and tunings, like EADGBE tuning;
- Chromatic tuners. The most widely spread guitar tuners. They can identify the 12 notes of the Western chromatic scale, hence their name. The tuning is done by identifying notes one by one;
- Polyphonic tuners. Being the most recent innovation in music gear, those guitar tuners can tune all of the guitar strings simultaneously. Using those tuners, the musician is able to check the tuning and adjust it on the fly;
- Strobe tuners. Though hard to read, strobe tuners are considered to be the most accurate. They are represented by a spinning disk with a strobe pattern flashing at the frequency rate of the audio that it analyzes. When the flashing rate matches the speed of the spinning disk, the strobe pattern stops, indicating that the instrument is in tune.
Also, the tuners may differ in the way they are used:
- Clip-ons. Clip-on tuners are very mobile since they can be clipped on the neck of the guitar.
- Pedals. They are only placed on the floor or the pedalboard, but the added size makes for more features and more complex and accurate tuning methods.
- Boss TU-3 Guitar Tuner
- Best Guitar Tuner App
- Sample Item #3
Key Features of a Good Guitar Tuner
Apart from the tuning mode, there are also several other factors that make the best guitar tuner. When shopping for one, make sure to take those into account:
- Accuracy. The accuracy is everything when it comes to the guitar tuner. The more accurate it is, the closer your instrument is to the perfect pitch;
- Guitar muting. When playing live shows, being able to mute your signal while you check the tune is important. So, make sure that your next guitar tuner can mute the guitar;
- The display must be bright enough to be visible at all times, whether you are in a well-lit room, outdoors, or in a club with dimmed lights.
How Do The Best Guitar Tuners Stack Up?
|Product||Tuner type||Build materials||True bypass|
|Polytune 3 Mini||Chromatic||Aluminum||+|
|KLIQ Tinytune Pro||Chromatic||Aluminum||-|
|D'Addario NS Micro||Clip-on||Plastic||-|
|Donner DT Deluxe||Chromatic||Aluminum||+|
KLIQ TinyTune — Electronic tuner for guitar
This guitar tuner features an aluminum body that is more than capable of lasting a long time. Coupled with compact dimensions you’ll get a device that is perfect for both live shows and rehearsals. When it comes to the buttons and switched, the pedal is quite straightforward: there are no hidden buttons or additional features. The display is big and easy to read in various lighting conditions.
Some of the tuner pedals tend to interfere with the loud signal when plugged into the setup, which results in humming or popping noise. The great thing about KLIQ TinyTune is that the device mutes the input signal during the tuning process, and directly routes the signal to the output when it is not used thanks to its relay-based true bypass circuitry. The switch is very tactile and firm to eliminate accidental triggering.
Another great thing is that it is quiet: so nothing will interfere with the tuning process.
In terms of the quality of tuning, the device relies on Weighted Pitch Sampling technology that helps to improve the tracking of the pedal and allows for better tuning accuracy.
Also, the tuner can save your preferred settings and recall them the next time you turn the device on. So, no tinkering with the pedal during live shows.
The flat tuning setting allows the user to drop the tuning down to seven semitones.
- Build quality.
- No signal inteference.
- Hook-and-loop fastener included.
- Compact size.
- Not battery or power supply included.
KLIQ Metropitch — Digital tuner guitar
The casing is made of durable metal with a built-in kickstand, that can be folded for transportation. And it also comes with a carrying pouch. There is a needle-type display with function keys on the front, and IN and OUT jacks on one side, and headphone jack with volume control on the other.
The device combines the features of three separate products: a tuner, a metronome, and a tone generator. It has a variety of tuning mods, transpositions settings, and pitch calibration for tuning not only guitar but any other instrument as well.
You can switch between tuning mode using the scroll wheel of the right portion of the front panel. You can choose between chromatic, guitar, bass, violin, and ukulele.
While tuning, the display actually does not actually light up to the full brightness. It only does so when the note you hit is in the right pitch. This way, the device can preserve battery life, but when you really need it — the display is perfectly visible.
The scroll wheel also allows for changing the tuning frequency, the key, and the pitch.
As a metronome, the device also packs useful features: there a range from 30 to 250 beats per minute, tap tempo along with adjustable different beats and rhythm patterns. The user can rely on the JOG dial to set up a needed tempo. On top of that, the 88 note tone generator feature can be helpful when ear training.
- Metronome and pitch generator features.
- Carrying pouch included.
- Batteries in the box.
- Built-in kickstand.
- Volume control for a headphones.
- Not very responsive.
- High power consumption
Polytune 3 Mini — Versatility Is Key
Another very compact model that packs a lot in terms of features. Size helps it easily fit on any pedalboard, but there’s only one color option. It’s not a big deal since the color is universal in terms of the design theme. On the sides, there are INPUT and OUTPUT jacks with an ON and OFF switches and a LED display on the front.
The tuner has three tuning modes: polyphonic, chromatic, and strobe for tuning several strings at once or one after the other.
Polyphonic tuning is a feature worth mentioning separately here. What it allows for is instead of hitting the strings individually, the player can strum all of them at once and see which ones are in tune, which is a huge time-saver.
And you do not have to switch between polyphonic and string-by-string tuning: the tuner recognizes if there are one or several strings being played and changes the mode accordingly.
It also works with dropped tunings, capo tunings, and Drop D. The modes can be switched between each other with the help of a function switch. For Drop D mode the user has to hold the footswitch down.
BONAFIDE buffer feature allows for keeping the tone clean through large setups, and there’s also a true bypass mode. Another very helpful thing is an always-on mode, so that the user can tune their instrument when playing.
- BONAFIDE buffer and true bypass.
- Always-on mode.
- No power supply included.
- Can be inconsistent when picking up a bass guitar.
Boss TU-3 — No-Nonsense Approach
TU-3 has a sturdy stompbox body with a 21-segment LED meter featuring high brightness mode for outdoor usage. It’s a bit bigger than the competitors, but it does have a more compact version.
This guitar tuner has chromatic and guitar/bass tuning modes, supporting up to 7-string guitars and 6-string basses. In addition, you have flat tuning with drop tunings up to 6 semitones below the standard pitch. True bypass feature is also presented here.
Holding down the same button for a couple of seconds activates the high brightness mode. The brightness is adjustable, so the sun won’t get in the way. Because of that, the maximum current draw is up from 55mA (TU-2) to 85mA. You can use the recommended BOSS supply along with a PCS-20A daisy chain to supply 200mA of power for up to seven other BOSS Compacts
Also, the user can control the way the notes are displayed during tuning: there are stream and cent modes for that. Cent mode shows the note you hit in the center of the display with two red bars zooming iin on it, which makes it much easier to see on stage. On the other hand, stream mode shows the note as they are positioned under the display. You can switch between them by presseing the button under the left portion of the display.
In terms of bypass modes, there are a true bypass and an output jacks. If you plug anything into an output jack, the signal will be muted as soon as the tuner is turned on. A true bypass mode keeps the tone unaffected by the tuner being on or off.
On top of all that, the device supports dropped tunings for a guitar.
- Tuning modes.
- True bypass.
- High brightness mode for LED meter.
- Tone recognition speed.
Korg Tuner (PBAD) — the Looks Guy
The pedal features a compact cutting-edge aluminum design that comes in a white and black color. Most of the front panel is covered by the display with a high-brightness setting for openairs. INPUT and OUTPUT ports are located on the rear of the device.
The tuner has a true bypass feature, and there are also four display modes that can be switched with a press of a button. On top of that, it allows parallel connections to power other pedals. Also, the tuner does not interfere with the signal and makes no noise whatsoever.
In terms of the tuning process, there are 4 different modes to choose from:
- Regular — you tune the strings until the LED in the center of the display lights up. The left LED signals that the pitch is low, while the right one tells you that it is high;
- Strobe — you tune the strings until the LEDs stop running. That mode allows for better tuning accuracy;
- Half-strobe — the combination of the two previously mentioned modes: you tune the strings until the LEDs stop running and the LED in the center lights up;
- Mirror — you have two LEDs in the corners of the display. As you tune the instrument, they get closer together, and when they end up meeting in the center, then you know that you’re good to go.
- High tuning accuracy.
- Parallel connection.
- Metal chassis.
- The settings are reset after the power down.
KLIQ Tinytune Pro Stage Tuner — a True Powerhouse
This guitar tuner features a black aluminum metal die-cast body with a bright LED display for better visibility. On the sides, the pedal has INPUT and OUTPUT ports with a true bypass feature with the relay switch located on the front of the device.
With this guitar tuner, the guitarist is able to tune up to 7 semitones with 4 calibration from 420 to 459 Herz. The pedal also saves the previous settings.
When you engage the pedal, it silences the signal, so you can tune the instrument in silence.
The true bypass feature makes sure that the pedal won’t interfere with the signal when you are not using the tuner.
KLIQs Weighted Pitch Sampling technology improves the tuning accuracy. You can also use the tip controls of the pedal to change the reference pitch and flat calibration.
To make sure that the tone stays clear throughout the playing process the customer can rely on a true bypass feature. The LED display can go really bright for outdoor performances, and there are two display modes to choose from: needle meter or strobe.
To display the tuning process, you have red bars on the screen if the note is flat, yellow if it’s sharp, and a single bar if it’s in tune.
The chromatic tuner is very accurate and can identify frequencies ranging from A0 (27.5 Hz) to C8 (4,186 Hz), making it a great option for both guitarists and bassists.
On top of that, KLIQ TinyTune Pro Stage Tuner is powered by a 32-bit processor which makes tuning faster and a more accurate experience.
- Faster processor.
- Save previous settings.
- True bypass.
- Aluminum case.
- The power supply is not included.
D’Addario Micro Guitar Tuner — Mini guitar tuners
This particular tuner clips onto the guitar instead of being placed on a pedalboard. Thanks to that, you won’t have to ever take it off the guitar, making it very easy to check and adjust your tuning on the fly.
Nevertheless, the device is discrete and lightweight. It’s one of the smallest guitar tuner, which means it can be left of the instrument when it is in the case. 360-degree swivel mechanism and adjustable padded clamp let the guitarists place and adjust the tuner in whatever way they want, and the tri-color backlit display is perfectly visible in any lighting conditions.
The tuner has a calibration range of 410-480 Herz and achieves good tuning precision by picking up the instrument’s vibration and sound. So, that feature allows for tuning the instrument even in the noisiest conditions. The display has three colors showing the accuracy of tuning.
Also, the device offers a metronome feature that can be activated by a separate button on its body. Arrows right beside the button can be used to adjust the BPM of the metronome.
Right in the middle of the button layout, there’s a flip button. It is used to flip the interface upside-down to better fit the tuner’s positioning on the guitar.
D’Addario states 0.3 cent tuning accuracy, and it does distinguish acoustics, electric guitars, basses, and a ukulele correctly. On the other hand, recognizing lower notes like those on a 5 or 6-string bass might be a little challenging for that device.
In terms of power, the device runs on a battery provided by the manufacturer. The capacity on that is quite amusing — some users report using the tuner for a couple of years without the need to change the battery.
- Compact footprint.
- High tuning accuracy.
- The battery is included.
- The ratcheting mechanism is plastic.
Snark SN5X Clip-on tuner — Guitar tuners for acoustic guitars
Snark Clip-on tuner features a sleek circular design and plenty of color options. The device can be mounted on both the front and back of the headstock and can turn 360 degrees for better positioning, which is great for both left-handed and right-handed players. The body also features buttons to adjust the tempo of the metronome.
The device acts as both a tuner and a metronome. As a tuner, Snark SN5X has a frequency range for tuning a guitar, a bass, and a violin with high accuracy thanks to an improved processing chip.
The tuner picks up the vibration from the instrument, meaning that the tuning isn’t interfered with by background noise whatsoever. That type of tuner is by far more accurate than those relying on a microphone to pick up notes from the instruments.
Just like many other clip-on tuners, that particular device runs on a CR2 button-cell battery, which will last a pretty long time.
The display is bright enough to be visible from any angle in a variety of lighting conditions. The tuner can also be used as a simple metronome with the ability to adjust the tempo using buttons.
- Adjustable mounting.
- Bright display.
- High accuracy.
- Metronome functionality.
- Plastic build.
D’Addario NS Micro Sound Hole Tuner — Best acoustic guitar tuner
This tuner is quite unique in the way that it is used to tune acoustic instruments: that is why it mounts right on the guitar’s deck. The clip is pretty small which keeps the whole setup discrete. Also, the clip does not leave any marks on the soundhole of the deck. Most of the front panel is occupied by a colored display.
The device can boast the calibration range of 410-480 Herz and short response times with precise tuning. The tuner works great in everyday scenarios, with surrounding sounds not affecting the tuning accuracy. The device accurately picks up dropped tunings like drop D, open C, open D, etc. The display is bright enough for almost every scenario.
The LEDs have a green color to them, making the display very distinguishable in complex lighting.
In addition, the device has a cool power-related feature: if it’s not used for more than 10 minutes, it will automatically shut off to preserve the battery life. To turn it back on, just press the button on the tuner.
Also, you can turn the tuner on and off by yourself with a simple tap of a button on its body. There is also another button that you can use to calibrate the tuner if you are not sure that it works correctly.
- Highly sensitive piezo transducer.
- Discrete looks.
- Bright display.
- Plastic build.
Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner — Back to the Basics
Donner DT Deluxe is a standard pedal tuner: the front embellished with an LCD display and a switch. There’s a micro-USB port on the side for power, INPUT and OUTPUT port.
A chromatic guitar tuner is perfect for a wide range tuning (27,5-4186 Herz) process. The micro-USB port allows using the tuner even with a phone charger or a power bank.
The tuner mutes the tone so that the tuning sounds do not go to the amp. All you need to do is hit the footswitch — the pedal will turn on and mute the signal. This way you can easily tune your instrument without torturing the crowd with loud noises.
The LED display shows if the note you’re tuning is too flat or too sharp. If the bar above the note is in the center and lights up in blue — you are in tune.
- Wide tuning range.
- Micro-USB for power.
- True bypass.
- Signal mute
- May make clicking or popping sounds.
Best Guitar Tuner — Buyer’s Guide
These are some of the best guitar tuners that you can find with a good mix of features and price.
Given the variety of products on the market, it is understandably easy to get lost. To make sure that you will buy the right product, you will have to consider the following points:
Price. Look through the offerings and land on the amount of money you can spend. It should be somewhere in the middle of what you’re comfortable with paying and what vendors charge for quality products.
Tuner type. There are two major types of guitar tuners — pedals and clip-ons. Pedals and mounted on the pedalboard with the rest of your effects setup, while clip-ons are usually installed on the headstock or the deck of the guitar.
Features. Make sure that the tuner you choose has everything you need. You may find the additional features such as a metronome useful, or just stick to the barebones tuning. Take a look at the build of the device to see if it is sturdy enough, if there’s any power supply in the box, or if there’s a true bypass feature.
Do not get carried away with stuff you don’t want or need — you may end up overspending. Just focus on the essentials.
Where should I place a guitar tuner in the sound chain?
How to tune the bass guitar properly with the tuner?
Is it possible to use a standard tuner to tune the ukulele?
Is it possible to use the tuner as a mute pedal?
What are the main differences between the KLIQ TinyTune and the Pro version of this tuner?
All tuners go without the power adapter. What power adapter is needed?
Is an octave or a note displayed on the tuner display during tuning?
How does a tuner connected to the sound chain affect the sound?
Is it possible to use my headphones with 1/4″ jack to tune the guitar or do I only need to use an amplifier?
Is there a preset frequency or it could be adjusted?