A guitar tuner is an essential tool that helps us know when our instrument is not giving the sound we want. What’s a guitar without a proper tuning? Or merely any instrument for that matter? If you’ve ever played an out-of-tune guitar or piano, you’ve most likely cringed like we have at least once in your lifetime — it just doesn’t sound right. Due to this consistent need guitarists and other musicians have, today we wanted to find the best guitar tuners out there to help keep your instrument(s) in optimal shape and sound. Let’s first get into what guitar tuner type you need before diving into our list.
The different types of guitar tuners
We felt this was necessary to take a look at first before your choosing the best guitar tuner for you. They’re the most important part of a guitarists rig (unless of course you still need your guitar amplifier or guitar pedal). Here’s what we summed up:
- Chromatic vs. non-chromatic: Before we delve into the actual guitar tuner types, we need to understand whether you’re in need of a chromatic or non-chromatic tuner. The main difference? Non-chromatic will only tune for those in a traditional and standard tuning (E, A, D, G, B, E) whereas chromatic can surpass this standard and tune to the nearest semi-tone. Chromatic tuners can also tune other instruments as opposed to only guitars.
- Clip-on tuners: These are definitely the most popular type out there (we have quite a few listed below). They fit on most guitar heads and have a mini built-in microphone for acoustic and a jack for electric guitars, so they’re super versatile as well.
- Pedal tuners: We remember our dad using his old Korg tuner back in the day. These are better for those with electric\electro acoustic guitars with amps. There’s no built-in mic like clip-on’s here, but merely a jack to hook up your guitar straight to the unit to tune it that way. You can hook it up to your guitar pedal board if you have one since it also has an output!
- Polyphonic tuners: These are newer than the previous two types listed. You can strum all strings at once as opposed to the individual notes like the others.
- Rack tuners: Last but not least, and a bit more rare (we have one or two in here), these are for gigging guitarists to bring their entire rig with them. They also have some more fancy features attached.
The top 10 best guitar tuners
Since they’re the most popular, we decided to list the Korg AW2G clip-on model as the best guitar tuner out there right now. If you wanted a different type, feel free to keep reading. This is considered by many as the best guitar tuner because it provides some versatile multi-angle positioning through its double ball-joint, and this allows better mobility for the display section. It contains an internal back-light for great visibility even in dim surroundings and also has a memory backup function as well. For optimum response, both the internal mic and the piezo sensor can be used easily. The AW2G saves the battery life especially because it has an Auto Power Off function on top of it all. It is able to accommodate several concert pitches and lastly through its Meter Reverse function, the user is able to manage intuitive tuning from a maximum viewing angle. This is a super affordable clip-on guitar tuner that many love because of the overall stability and extra features it has built-in (we’re pretty big Korg fans, too). It is available in several vivid colors, including orange, red, yellow, blue, green, pink, indigo and violet if you look around.
TC Electronic Poly Tune 2
Now we get into a different style (and this one is chromatic as well). The TC Electric Poly Tune 2 is the best guitar tuner for those in need of this type since it gives you the ability to quickly gauge the tuning of all the strings of your instrument simultaneously (aside from guitars of course). It has built-in LEDs and an ambient light sensor that maintains the right level of brightness even in dark spaces or gigs you may find yourself in. The strobe tuner of this model is super fast but with a tuning accuracy of approximately 0.1 cent. The Poly Tune 2 has a tuner magnet that slows down the needle after you get close to the required pitch and allows you easy and quick tuning. It is designed with Drop-D and capo tuning modes. You’ll see this TC Electronic model come up time and time again by many guitarists out there for those in need of the best chromatic pedal tuner. The reviews don’t lie.
The Snark SN-1 guitar tuner is small in size, extremely affordable and can be clipped onto the head stock to never be lost or left behind. The gadget is so flexible that its face can be rotated 360 degrees, providing the player with a pretty good view in all angles. This is considered the best guitar tuner because of the easy of usability and price, not to mention its available in red and blue colors with little difference. With a frequency range of the SN-1, this guitar tuner is mainly tailored to guitar and bass. Besides its built-in mic, the tuner possesses a vibration sensor of high sensitivity to tune the instrument instantly and accurately. It also has a tap tempo metronome and a reliable transpose feature if you needed it. The feature of pitch calibration (415- 466 Hz) makes this gadget the best guitar tuner for those not looking to spend more than few bucks. It is easy to use and does it’s job — tunes that baby up. We love Snark tuners since they’re reliable and rated highly by many.
With a battery type of CR2032coin cell of 3- volts, the Intellitouch PT10 can go non-stop for 10 hours. What makes this appear pretty early on in our list is the affordable price as well as compact size for a clip-on digital tuner. It has a one-handed swivel clamp and is highly sensitive for string vibration without depending upon the sound; therefore, it gives great accuracy. It is equally favorable for guitars, violins, bass, mandolins, banjos and many others and can play well even in noisy environments. It is a user-friendly device that is loved by beginners since there isn’t much to it aside from turning it on and playing your notes. It is lightweight and the large needle of the display helps to read it easily. Its pitch calibration ranges from 430 Hz to 450 Hz and the backlight changes colors; a green color symbolizes it is in tune while the red tells you it is out of tune (more handy than you think). Ignoring the clips, the dimension is 2”W x 3.4”H x 1”D to give us that “mini” label if you were in need of a guitar tuner small and less intrusive than its competitors.
The Donner Dt-1 is fully chromatic and highly recommended for those in need of another pedal chromatic model with a wide range of tuning if the TCE wasn’t catching your eye. It has an LCD display that shows the tuning results vividly and the tuning range goes from A0 (27.5 Hz) ~ C8 (4186 Hz) with a precision of about +/-1 cent. The product is small in size and lightweight at only 112 g. It features an auto tuning method that leads to great accuracy if you weren’t feeling the manual approach. The Dt-1 is a user-friendly gadget that is highly in demand by the starters since after connecting the device with a power and audio cable, the Dt- 1 will automatically switch to the bypass mode. Just make sure you avoid using the pedal in direct sunlight or in high temperatures. This tuner is 95 cm high, 49 cm wide and 46 cm in-depth and will fit most pedal boards.
The Fishman FT-1 has an extra bright LCD display; it shows red for a flat or sharp tune while it becomes green to show the instrument is in tune. This is another one of the best guitar tuners that is fully chromatic and can display the notes automatically (clip-on as we can see). It is flexible and for a better view the swivel mount rotates. It is equally functional even in a noisy room because of its highly sensitive clip-on feature and has a built-in mic as well. The adjustable pitch calibration of the FT-1 ranges from 435 Hz to 445 Hz. It features a ‘Flat mode’ for quick and easy transposed tuning and also has the nifty feature of Auto Power Save, through which it saves battery when not in use. For a few technical specs, the dimensions of this instrument are: 1.87” H x 1.61” D x 1.85” W and it uses a 2032 coin battery.
Now we start to get into some fancier models when it comes to the best chromatic guitar tuner, and the Boss TU-80 is amazing if you were looking for a little more than something to make sure your strings sound the way they’re supposed to. Considered by many to be the best out there, it is pretty easy to use and provides comfort in playing the instrument accurately. The biggest plus with this is the built-in metronome (7 rhythms, 10 beats and some animated LCD display for it) — and we only recommend grabbing it if you need one of those as well. It is a small size device and can be kept in a pocket, but it is compatible with even 6 string basses and 7 string guitars. The ‘Accu-Pitch’ function helps verify the accuracy of your tuning and the super convenient memory function can save your preferred tuning settings. Its tempo ranges from 30 – 250, whereas the beat ranges from 0-9. It uses 2 dry batteries of R6/ LR6 AA type and it weighs only 117 g. The TU- 80 is a high quality tuner with a range from E0 (20.6 Hz) to C8 (4186.0 Hz). The internal tuning accuracy of this tuner is +/- 1.
Peterson VS-R StroboRack
This thing is a beast, and definitely an outlier in here (which is why we list it later on — it still may be what you’re looking for, but isn’t as common). First things first — the Peterson VS-R StroboRack is a rack tuner so it doesn’t fall in the typical categories of this list. These are geared towards musicians if you have an existing rack in the studio and want your tuner in front of you while you play. Some disagree with the usefulness while others love it. The VS-R has a great LCD for better display and easy to read comfort (the display resolution is a 320 x 64 Matrix for some super clear help — but can only see it when it’s front of you of course). There are 25 programmable presets, a mute system, a concert A range from 390 Hz to 490 Hz and it offers 35 sweetened tunings. The VS-R is designed with a built-in microphone and you can make the note selection manual as well as automatic. The tuning accuracy of the tuner is 0.1 cent for some pin-point clarity (way more than any in this list). If you’re trying to size it up, it has an all-metal construction, is 8” long, 19” wide and 1.75” high and weighs only 8.2 pounds to fit on most racks. Grab this if you’re one of the few in need of a rack tuner and want some of the best accuracy you can attain from a guitar tuner. Their strobe tuners are outstanding.
Here we have one of the best budget-friendly guitar tuners in the market today. The Intelli IMT 5500 is a clip-on digital chromatic model that’s reviewed highly by many within this price-range. It helps to save the battery it provides with an Auto Power Off function and it has a bright backlight LCD screen that makes it easy to read the screen. The prominent needle of the device shows flat or sharp tunes within 0.5 cent. It is designed with a clamp that can be adjusted on the instrument’s headstock. This little tuner isn’t always disturbed by noise all around as it does a pretty good job at isolating the string energy. It is flexible and gives the view from any required angle as most clip-ons should do. It tunes from A2 through B7 and calibrate A ranges from 430 Hz to 449 Hz. It isn’t the most advanced in terms of build and technical specs, but it gets the job done, especially if you wanted something cheap and easy on the wallet.
Up last, the Cherub WST-550 is even cheaper than our budget-friendly pics, and its a small and portable tuner that is specifically designed for guitar tuning only. Regardless of how much noise there is in the room (usually), it gives you accurate tuning through string vibration. The device is user-friendly as it is operated with only two switches – one for power and the other for semitone tuning. This guitar tuner also has the nifty feature of auto detect that shows the string number as well as the name of the note. It has a clip-on structure that rotates at 180 degrees for a better viewing angle. The tuning precision of the model is +/- 1 cent and the lithium battery type it uses is CR 2032. Its LED light is helpful in easy reading. It is what it is — a cheap model but still does it’s job as intended.