10 Best Guitar Tuners – The Buying Guide To Clip-On, Handheld and Pedal Tuners

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We’ve already talked about this on our site, but when you’re buying a guitar – especially the first one – the buying process doesn’t end at just the instrument. For electric guitar, there’s the obligatory amp and a cable, and although those two are not obligatory for acoustics, certain accessories are simply a must-have for both electric and acoustic guitar players.

One of those gizmos is a tuner, and that’s exactly what we’re about to focus on with our very own list of Top 10 best guitar tuners on the market today.

10 Recommended Guitar Tuners

Types of Guitar Tuners

Before diving into specific products, we’ll present you the three basic types of tuners and their main features.

  1. Clip-on Tuners
  2. Handheld Tuners
  3. Pedal Tuners

So, clip-on tuners are considered highly practical since they are used by simply being attached onto the headstock. They are small, light, but are considered as the least accurate option by some gear-heads. They are also the most affordable, lightest, and perhaps the most practical option since clip-ons are easy to use even during shows.

Standard tuners are accurate, inexpensive, durable and easy to use. They come with a size of an average smartphone – except double thickness – and their only shortcoming is that they’re trickier for use during live shows. You either have to unplug your guitar and plug it into the tuner, or use two cables to have the tuner connected at all times, but even then the device is simply designed to be handheld during the tuning process, which is not all that practical.

Finally, pedal tuners are the most accurate option, as well as the most pricey one. They come with a size of an average stomp-box pedal and operate as one – simply plug it into your pedalboard and you’re set to rock.

With those explanations out of the way, let’s do this – best guitar tuners, go!

Clip-On Tuners:

The first domain we’ll tackle are clip-ons. We singled out four champions, check them out below.

Snark SN-1

Snark is one of the companies that dominate the world of clip-on tuners, and rightfully so, since it offers a top-notch mixture of high efficiency and affordability.

The device utilizes a high sensitivity vibration sensor mixed with a nifty little stay-put clip, and an accurate frequency range specifically crafted for guitar and bass frequencies. The device’s display can rotate 360 degrees, which allows very easy viewing, while the on-board tap tempo metronome turns this fella into a must-have practice gizmo. Pitch calibration feature is also there, covering the range between 415 and 466 Hz.

Sporting those old-school Buck Rogers looks, the SN-1 features a full color display, which increases ease of use and visibility – a particularly handy feature for live use, yes. A transpose feature is also included in the mix, meaning that you can tune even with a capo. The product sports a light weight of 0.2 ounces and a total size of 6 x 4 x 4 inches. Finally, let’s put out the good stuff, bad stuff list.

Sale
Snark SN1 Guitar Tuner (Blue)
  • With stay put clip, display rotates 360 degrees for easy viewing
  • Features frequency range tailored for guitar and bass
  • Pitch Calibration (415-466 Hz)

Fender FT-004

In just about any musical area you can think of, Fender has a strong contender to be among the best. Needless to say, clip-on tuners are no difference, and the name of that contender is FT-004.

This fella is quite cheap, basic and maximally efficient. It has a small scree with large letters on it so it doesn’t take too much space, but still clearly show you the tuning of your instrument. It has a tuning range between B0 and B7, which means that not only are both bass and guitar frequencies covered, but so are ukulele, violin, and a variety of other string instruments. Additionally, a built-in vibration sensor allows the device to rock hard even in noisy environments.

The gizmo is powered through a single 3V battery, which is included in the listed price tag. It comes with a total size of 3 x 6 x 3 inches. Let’s sum things up now in a little pros and cons rundown.

Sale
Fender Clip-On Tuner FT-004 for Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, Violin, Mandolin, and...
  • Small, compact size one-handed swivel clamp
  • Tuning modes include: Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Violin and Chromatic
  • Tuning Range B0-B7.

D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner

The next clip-on guitar tuner title comes from prominent string manufacturer D’Addario. It goes by the name of NS Micro and it’s a nice little tuner for sure.

The gizmo stands out as possibly the most accurate clip-on on the entire list, and is able to cover a vast array of string instruments, including guitars, basses, mandolins, ukuleles, and more.

On one hand, this fella is compact, light and small, but on the other side it’s also durable and pretty easy to use. You can swing it towards any side thanks to the easily adjustable ratchet mechanism and a reversible screen. Just secure it anywhere on the headstock and you’re good to go!

As for other notable features, the device also utilizes an on-board visual metronome, which is quite nice for beginners. In total, the device offers sonic calibration between 410 and 480 Hz. Most adjustments can be performed through a set of controls on top. Pros ‘n’ cons time!

D'Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner
  • Highly precise clip-on tuner for a wide range of instruments including guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, and more
  • Discrete, highly compact design hides behind the headstock and is small enough to leave on every instrument you own - get one...
  • Extremely accurate chromatic tuning based on vibration, no sound or cable input required

Korg Pitchclip

Pitchclip from Korg, the most durable clip-on guitar tuner on today’s market, in our humble opinion at least. Many folks say that most clip-ons are quite similar, and that it’s durability that sets them apart the most. Well, if you share such an opinion and place build quality as No. 1 priority, this is the one for you!

The gizmo is elegant, sleek, compact, comes in classy black casing with bright LED red letters you can see from any position. It’s accurate, responsive and stable and has a nice little feature – auto turn-off option that extends battery life. The device can be attached anywhere on the headstock and work just as efficiently. Frequency detection range is actually pretty darn wide, and goes from A0 to C8. The device’s official size reads: 3.3 x 5.2 x 1.2 inches.

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Korg PITCHCLIP Low-Profile Clip-On Tuner
  • Compact, lightweight, and discreet clip-on style chromatic tuner
  • Display reverse assures easy viewing when mounted on either side of the headstock
  • Highly accurate and ultra-responsive, offering a wide detection range

Handheld Guitar Tuners

Up next are the good ole standard handheld tuners. Many folks out there prefer to simply tune up before the show, let it rip, maybe tune up during breaks (if there are breaks), and let it rip once again. With that in mind, we have a selection of another four champions from the new domain for you, check ’em out!


Korg TM50BK


What makes Korg TM50 an obvious best sellers is the fact that the manufacturer managed to combine ALL the features the vast majority of guitar players will ever need from a tuner AND a metronome into a single convenient and affordable package.

When it comes to the tuner, you can manually calibrate the exact notes you’re looking to hit. Additionally, the Sound Back Feature allows you to train your pitch as you tune, by detecting the pitch of the sound input and sounding off the closest reference note from the speaker. Finally, the mix also includes a mic so you can tune from a distance by just playing the tone. This is not the most reliable method, but it certainly is the quickest one.

As for the metronome, the manufacturer included a surprisingly rich set of functions, including the tap tempo feature, minute beat adjustments, and a cool headphones out. Pros and cons, go!

Sale
Korg TM50BK Instrument Tuner and Metronome, Black
  • Product Code: TM50BK
  • Tuner and metronome can be used simultaneously or independently
  • Newly designed highly responsive LCD needle-type meter

KLIQ MetroPitch

Up next, a 3 in 1 device known as the MetroPitch by KLIQ. In a single package, you will get a tuner, a metronome, and a tone generator. The tuner has a very wide range of A0 to C8, and stands out as possibly the most versatile device on the list. Some of the cool features included in the mix are transposition adjustments, a variety of tuning modes, and pitch calibration.

Unlike many other devices, this fella rocks a large control knob in the frontal part, allowing the player to make very precise adjustments. Overall, when all this versatility, accuracy and cheap price tag are taken into consideration, this is certainly one of the best guitar tuners out there.

In the metronome regime, the device’s Jog Dial once again comes in very handy and allows very precise adjustments. There’s a tap tempo feature inside as well, allowing the user to dial in any value from 30 to 250 BPM. Note that the item comes with a 3-year guarantee and is available in two color patterns – elegant black and sexy red.

Sale
KLIQ MetroPitch - Metronome Tuner for All Instruments - with Guitar, Bass,...
  • 3 IN 1 DEVICE: The MetroPitch combines a Tuner, a Metronome, and a Tone Generator, all housed in a pocket-sized device. The...
  • VERSATILE TUNER: The fast and accurate tuner boasts a wide range of A0-C8, various tuning modes, transposition settings, and...
  • TAP TEMPO METRONOME: With a broad range of 30-250 Beats Per Minute, tap tempo, and various beats and rhythm patterns, this...

Korg GA1

If you’re just looking for the best cheap tuner that can cover the basic (and absolutely crucial needs) without bumping the price up with additional features, check out another Korg representative – the GA1 tuner.

This fella has a super compact design that can take a punch or a free fall from the 21st floor (don’t test that claim). It’s a tuner-only package, but covers everything a guitar player needs, including 7-string guitar frequencies and a Quinta Flat Tuning mode that allows the user to tune 1 to 5 semitones flat. Bass mode is also included in the mix. We’ve tested it out on a five-string bass guitar with a low B string and it worked like a charm, neat stuff!

Also included in the mix is the Sound Out feature, which produces a reference tone through the device’s internal speaker, allowing you to train your ear. And note that while tuners are all cool, you absolutely MUST train your ear to full grasp the concept of musicality. Overall, for the listed price, this is indeed one quite nice deal.

Korg GA1 Guitar and Bass Tuner
  • Ultra-compact design
  • High-precision LCD needle-type meter for stable tuning
  • Quinta Flat Tuning mode lets you tune 1--5 semitones flat

Boss TU-80

Finally, an advanced representative from Boss. If you need a tuner and a metronome with all the advanced features, but still a budget-friendly price tag, the TU-80 is it!

This fella has the basic design and durability of the GA1 tuner we’ve just reviewed, but also an entire string of advanced features, and a metronome of course.

So, the device offers full support for chromatic tuning, meaning it can cover everything from the highest notes of guitars, ukuleles and mandolins, all the way to the lowest notes a five-string bass guitar can produce. there’s also an Accu-Pitch feature that sounds off a tone whenever the pitch is correct, and a Reference Tone Play feature that makes it so much easier to verify your tuning by ear.

Finally, the list of tuner features is rounded up by the Memory function for storing your favorite tuning settings, as well as an on-board microphone to help you tune when unplugged. Not the most precise way, but certainly a convenient one!

As for the metronome, we are looking at a very versatile beast with seven different rhythms, a set of 10 beats and nifty little animated LCD display screen. You can adjust this fella to match just about any rhythm and tempo you have in mind. Oh, and one pack of two AA batteries will last you ages!

Boss TU-80 Chromatic Tuner and Metronome
  • Supports chromatic tuning, plus 7-string guitars and 6-string basses
  • Accu-Pitch function sounds a tone when pitch is correct
  • Reference Tone Play function makes it easy to verify tuning by ear

Pedal Tuners:

The last, but certainly not least important option comes in the form of pedal guitar tuners. As noted, these are standard stomp-boxes devices that your plug into your pedal-board, allowing you to constantly keep track of your tuning, as well as get the most accurate tuning available. For this category, we have two top contestants, read on for more!

Boss TU3

The first representative of the pedal domain is the TU3 from Boss. This fella is often hailed as the most accurate tuner on today’s market, and in our experience it certainly lives up to its reputation. It’s very precise and has a quite easy to understand display.

We are looking at a high brightness device with Outdoor Visibility feature, along with full support for guitars and basses, a 21-segment LED meter, and full drop tuning support.

Additional nifty features include the renowned Accu-Pitch feature for visual verification of successful tuning, as well as full-on support for extended range guitars (6-string basses and 8-string guitars). The price is certainly on the upper end when compared to clip-ons and standard tuners, but so is the quality.

Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal
  • Guitar and Bass Tuner Pedal with High-Brightness Mode for Outdoor Visibility, 21-segment LED Meter, Drop Tuning Support, and...
  • Stompbox-style guitar tuner pedal21-segment LED meter with brightness controlHigh-brightness mode enhances meter visibility...
  • Chromatic and Guitar/Bass mode (tune by string number, with support for 7-string guitars and 6-string basses)Flat tuning is...

TC Electronic Polytune 2

If you want to cut down the price from that Boss fella we just listed a little bit, but still get a full-on pedal tuner with high-end features, check out the Polytune 2 from TC Electronic.

This fella is super precise, and the manufacturer guarantees that the strobe will absolutely deliver +/- 0.1 percent accuracy, which is pretty darn high indeed. The device also utilizes a fresh retina bright display described as scorching bright, as well as an improved analog circuit for that high precision. The device offers two working modes – Polyphonic and Individual String regime.

When it comes to advanced features, you can also adjust the reference pitch, making this the perfect gizmo for hitting that legendary 432 Hz tuning. Also included in the mix is a USB port for firmware updates, as well as a very easy to read display screen – you will see every note even when the tuner is under direct sunlight! The device weighs in at 10.4 ounces and features a total size of 5 x 3.2 x 2.1 inches. Pros ‘n’ cons time!

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TC Electronic Polytune 2 Pedal Tuner
  • New super fast precise strobe mode with +/- 0.1 cent accuracy
  • New retina-scorchingly bright diplay
  • Improved analog circuit

What’s a Polyphonic Tuner

This is actually a fairly frequently asked question and seeing that one of the items on the list is a polyphonic tuner (the TC Electronic Polytune 2), we decided to address the issue!

So, in the simplest terms possible, a polyphonic tuner is a guitar tuner that can show you the tuning of each of your strings when you just strum ALL of them at once. This makes the device a massive time saver, and certainly paves the way for future devices of this niche.

Fun fact: the most expensive tuner in the world, the Peterson Strobe Center 5000, is a polyphonic device. It can be yours for a measly fee of just under $4000.

Sale
Peterson Strobe Center 5000 II 12 Note Display Strobe Tuner
  • 0.1 Cent Accuracy
  • Individual Note Displays make tuning two or more notes simultaneously possible
  • Preprogrammed Temperaments: Equal temperament, Pythagorean Tuning, Just Intonation-Major Mode, Just Intonation-Minor Mode,...

What Other Types Are There On The Market?

Apart from the three most commonly used types we just discussed, there are also large rack tuners, which are more expensive and geared towards rack users.

Further on up the road, sound hole tuners are optimized for acoustic guitar players as they fit the sound hole of your instrument perfectly and oversee that ideal pitch is always at hand. Finally, there are virtual and app tuners, which are handy, but nowhere as reliable as the bigger boys.

Should I Get a Tuner With a Built-In Metronome

Yes! Unless you already have a metronome, get the 2 in 1 deal, it’s definitely worth it. When we mentioned those obligatory additional accessories every guitar player must have and mentioned tuner among them, we also might have noted that metronomes belong in that group as well. And if you have a chance to get both devices within a single gizmo, why not seize the day?

In general, we are talking about doubling the price for getting a metronome in the mix in most cases, but seeing that buying a separate tuner and metronome would cost way more and only take up more space in your gig bag, we still give the 2-in-1s a major thumbs up!

Conclusion

And that steadily brings us to the very last station of our little journey, boys and gals! We hope you enjoyed the ride, make sure you stay tuned for the best guitar deals on the web. But right now, things come down to the matter of you jotting down your exact needs, preferences and spending budget in order to single out the best guitar tuner for you.

We can safely say that each of the listed products is a tuner you simply cannot regret purchasing, and that’s surely the crucial tidbit here. But still, tuning isn’t the meaty part in general, so grab a fine tuner right now and get busy with the REALLY important part – playing, making music, making magic!


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