There's nothing worse while playing guitar than hitting a string that's out of tune. Luckily it's an easy problem to fix. We've already done the review process so that you can get the best guitar tuners.
Now, of course, you can always tune your guitar by ear. In fact, that's a skill that every guitarist should strive for.
However, tuning by ear is not always feasable. Maybe you're on stage at a gig and the audience is too loud for you to be able to hear properly. Perhaps you're recording and you don't want to spend studio time tuning. Or you could be a beginner and you just don't know how to tune by ear yet.
Whatever your reason, having a reliable guitar tuner is an essential item in every guitarist toolkit.
The Best Guitar Tuners
Our Top Pick
Our top pick from this list is the ROADIE 2 | Smart Automatic Guitar Tuner & String Winder. We picked it because it is just too cool to pass up. Not only does it take over the need for you to monitor a gauge or LED light meter, but it comes preloaded with over 40 alternate tunings for you to explore and even more available to download online!
Best Guitar Tuner Review
Description: The Snark ST-2 is one of the top selling and rated best clip-on guitar tuners on Amazon. It is compact and super easy to use. Just clip the tuner to the end of your headstock and you can start tuning.
This unit features a bright, clear display for easy tuning in darker environments. The display is located on a swivel that can turn a full 360 degrees so you can see it from any angle.
The clamp has a strong rubber lining and tightly grips anything you attach it to. Because this tuner uses both vibration and a microphone, you can use it with a wide variety of instruments; not just guitars.
If you can catch this tuner under $15 it is well worth the investment.
Features: Tunes a wide range of instruments, Pitch Calibration, Uses both a Vibration Sensor or Microphone, Tap Tempo Metronome, Sturdy Clip
Dimensions: 3.5 x 1.8 x 1.8 inches Weight: 2.4 ounces
- easy to read
- can use with multiple instruments
- glue in rubber can damage the finish on guitars with Nitrocellulose finishes (i.e. Gibson)
- response time can be slow
- plastic can break easily
2. KLIQ UberTuner - Professional Clip-On Tuner for All Instruments - with Guitar, Ukulele, Violin, Bass & Chromatic Tuning Modes, White (Special Edition)
Description: The design of this tuner is sleek and modern. The display is full color, bright, and easy to read in even the darkest of rooms.
Tuning is quick and accurate to 1 cent. You can use this tuner with many different instruments. It features a wide tuning range of A0 to C8 with a variable A4 frequency of 430-450 Hz for customizable pitch calibration.
The KLIQ UberTuner is a beautiful tuner, simple to use, won't break the bank, AND has a 3 year money back guarantee. You can't go wrong with this one.
Features: advanced Micro Processor and highly sensitive Piezo Sensor for pin point accuracy, super bright display with 3 point adjustment for easy viewing from any angle, easy as clip it and tune, reliable and sturdy, 3 year manufacturers warranty
Dimensions: 5.51 x 2.83 x 2.05 inches Weight: 3.52 ounces
- easy to use
- bright display
- sturdy design
- battery life varies on some units
- swivel can become loose
- display can dim over time
Description: THE most accurate tuners on the market are, hands down, strobe tuners. This particular model is accurate up to 1/1000th of a Semitone/fret!
The Peterson StroboClip features a soft rubber to protect your instrument while tuning. It has easily accessible buttons to navigate the onscreen menu. Switch between concert A, capo/drop tunings, or a large library of preset things for multiple other instruments
This unit also comes with a lithium battery and a 2 year manufacturer's warranty.
Features: True Strobe 0.1 Cent (1/1000th of a Semitone) Accuracy, Backlit Display, Chromatic Performance, Auto Transposition - Drop Tuning and Capo Settings, 50 exclusive, preset "Sweetened Tunings" for a variety of different instruments
Dimensions: 2.37 x 1 x 1.75 inches Weight: 1.28 ounces
- incredibly accurate
- bright display
- built in presets for multiple instruments
- some users experience short battery life
- menu buttons difficult to find in dark settings
Description: D’Addario is a trusted name in the guitar world and for good reason. They consitently make great products. The NS Micro Soundhole Tuner is no exception.
This tuner has a bright LED display that will allow you to tune anywhere, even a dark club. It is easy to instal by simply sliding it into your soundhole and clipping it on rim. This positioning allows you to see it while playing but no one else can.
Features: design conceals tuner in soundhole, bright, multicolored display is easy to read in any environment, highly sensitive piezo transduce, fast and accurate
Dimensions: 3 x 1.13 x 4.63 inches Weight: 1.55 ounces
- easy to install
- tune discreetly
- convenient “clip it and forget it” design
- some units have a weak holding tab
- may not fit all soundholes
- loses accuracy in higher noise areas
Description: If you need a pedal for your guitar or bass, you pickup a Boss and you know it’s going to work. The Boss TU-3 is a heavy duty pedal tuner that can handle constant use.
It features a chromatic tuner but can also be flipped to guitar/bass mode so you can tune by string. This feature also supports both 7 string guitars and 6 string bass guitars. The 21 LED meter has an extra bright setting so you can easily tune even outdoors.
Features: works with both guitar and bass, high brightness mode for outdoor visibility, 21-segment LED meter display with Accu-Pitch sign for verification you are in tune, supports chromatic tuning, tune by string number, drop tuning, 7 string guitar and 6 string bass support
Dimensions: 4 x 3 x 6 inches Weight: 1.15 lbs
- quirks quickly
- accurate tuning
- reliable brand
- sturdy and durable
- power cord sold seperately
- can drain batteries quickly
Description: Polyphonic tuners are relatively new to the tuning world. The allow you to strum all 6 strings of your guitar instead of tuning one string at a time. It’s nice to be able to tune your strings and see their relationship with one another.
The Polytune3 packs a whole lot of punch into one small stomp box. Not only is it a polyphonic tuner but it can also be used as a chromatic tuner with 0.5 cent accuracy or a strobe tuner with +/- .02 cent ultra accuracy!
The display is bright and easy to read. The narrow design allows it to fit on even the most crowded pedal board. The Bonafide Buffer feature helps preserve the sound of your guitar over long runs of cable.
Features: Bonafide Buffer preserves sound over long distances, can be used as a polyphonic, chromatic, or ultra accurate strobe tuner, Bright and colorful LED display
Dimensions: 4.76 x 1.77 x 2.87 inches Weight: 9.5 ounces
- bright, easy to read display
- use as polyphonic, chromatic, or strobe tuner
- compact design is perfect for crowded pedal boards
- polyphonic tuning takes getting used to
Description: Peterson making it’s second appearance on this list. This time with their version of a good old stomp box.
This unit features a color customizable LED display that will allow you to tune with confidence in any light setting. The menu can be programmed to your own personal taste to cut down on navigation time when trying to tune.
Pure Buffer mode helps retain the integrity of your sound even when running through multiple other pedals and long runs of cable. Just like the StroboClip above, the StroboStomp comes packed with over 135 exclusive Sweetened tunings.
Features: ”True Strobe” 0.1 Cent Accuracy, High-Definition Color Backlit Display, Automatically Displays Note and Deviation from Center Pitch, Drop Tuning and Capo Settings
Dimensions: 5 x 2.6 x 2.1 inches Weight: 13.9 ounces
- extremely accurate tuning
- bright and colorful display
- lightweight and easy to use
- screen may be difficult to read if viewed from an angle
- difficult to mount to pedal board
Description: A rack mounted tuner can be a life saver on stage. The Korg PB05 Pitchblack Pro Rackmount Tuner has a bright display that features a large 3D meter that is easily visible from across a stage.
You can use this tuner as a standard chromatic tuner, a strobe, or a half strobe tuner. Save time in the studio by utilizing the Cable Checker function to detect cables that may be damaged or have a short in them.
You can connect a foot pedal to the mute button to tune silently between songs if you are using this while playing live. It also features a buffering technology to preserve your sound and minimize any noise or changes in audio quality.
Features: Large 3D visual meter, Lightweight, thin, removable; not limited to rack installation, Three meter display modes: regular, strobe, and half-strobe, Cable Checker warns of broken or shorted cables
Dimensions: 20 x 4 x 5 inches Weight: 1.92 lbs
- bright and easy to read
- 3 tuning functions
- made of plastic
- shallow and back can be difficult to access once mounted
9. ROADIE 2 | Smart Automatic Guitar Tuner & String Winder | For Electric Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, 12-String Guitars, Ukulele, Banjo, Mandolin | 40+ Alternate Tunings | USB Rechargeable
Description: Finally, our top pick of the list! The Roadie 2 is just too cool. You just set the cap over your tuning peg, pluck your string, and it takes care of the rest.
With over 40 tunings preloaded, you can use this to quickly and easily experiment with alternate tunings like Open G, Open D, Drop D, and more. The ROADIE 2 will tune your guitar or retune to an alternate tuning in less than 30 seconds.
The internal vibration sensors work everywhere including noisy venues. Your battery will last about a month with normal use and is rechargeable using a standard USB-C cord.
Features: Work with any string instrument with a machine head, tunes in under 30 seconds, long battery life, vibration sensor works even in loud areas, detection accuracy of +/- 1 cent and tuning accuracy of up to +/- 2 cents, presets of over 40 alternate tunings with more available to download online, string winder, USB-C rechargeable battery
Dimensions: 3.4 x 3 x 1 inches Weight: 6 ounces
- works right out of the box
- battery is long lasting and rechargeable
- works with ANY string instrument with a guitar style machine head
- will sometimes give an erroneous “wrong string” alert
- can have trouble with low E in noisy environments
You may have already decided which of the above tuners you think is best for you. However, if you're still on the fence, here's some information that can help you make a good choice.
What is a tuner?
Well, if you don't know already, a guitar tuner is a device that hears the sound each string of your guitar is making and tells you if it is at the correct pitch.
How to use one?
There are several different types of tuners, and each one operates in its own unique way. However, they all have the same basic function.
You play your string or strings and it will tell you if it is in tune. You'll then adjust the tuning pegs until your tuner tells you that the string is at the correct pitch.
Now the specifics of each tuner just depends on the type that you are using.
Types of Tuners
There are three main types of guitar tuners; chromatic, polyphonic, and strobe. They each accomplished the goal of getting your guitar in tune, but they all have differen methods of getting there.
If you've ever used a tuner before, it was most likely a chromatic tuner. Basically, a chromatic tuner will allow you to tune to any note in the chromatic scale.
With a chromatic tuner, as long as you know the note that you want to reach, you can tune to it. So chromatic tuners make it easy to use alternate tunings outside of just the standard EADGBe tuning.
Polyphonic tuners are relatively new to the tuning world. But they're really cool and can help you get a more accurate, synergistic tuning.
Instead of playing one string at a time, you strum all six strings on your guitar. The polyphonic tuner will then tell you how sharp or flat each string is at once. So you can get a visual representation of how each string is interacting with the other five strings.
The strobe tuner is a bit more complicated, but is also the most accurate tuner you can buy. They are typically more expensive, but that is because of their razor sharp accuracy.
Each string will vibrate at a specific frequency when in tune. Depending on the type of strobe tuner you have, it will match that frequency up with a flashing light, blinking screen, or spinning disc.
The further out of tune your string is, the faster the light will blink. As you get closer to being in tune, the flash will slow down and eventually become static. Some manufacturers claim to be as accurate as 1/50 of a cent.
Non tuner categories are a bit different than tuner types. As we discussed, there are three major types of tuners. Now each type of tuner can actually fall into multiple different categories.
This will make more sense as we dive into the tuner categories.
A handheld tuner is exactly what it sounds like; a tuner that you hold in your hand. Typically, a handheld tuner is going to be powered by a microphone. The microphone will pick up the sound that each string makes and give you a reading from there.
So technically clip-on and soundhole tuners are two different categories. However, they both function in a very similar manner.
In order to get their tuning readings, they measure vibration in the guitar. A clip on will generally clip to the headstock of the guitar. A soundhole tuner will attach to the soundhole of an acoustic guitar.
A pedal tuner functions the same way as any effects pedal. You will likely want it to be first in your audio chain to ensure the clearest signal. It then measures the signal coming from your guitar through the cable into the pedal.
Depending on what type of tuner you have, whether it's chromatic, polyphonic, or strobe, will determine how you read the information it provides.
A rack style tuner will fit in a rack with your other audio processing equipment. Most rack tuners you see are likely a chromatic style and guide tuning through lights on a dial.
This last one is probably the most recent addition to the tuner categories. A virtual tuner is a tuner that doesn't actually exist. At least it only exists digitally. You can generally find them in your favorite DAW or you can purchase one separately.
An app based tuner is an application that you can use on your mobile phone or tablet.
Things To Consider When Buying A Tuner
So there are some things to consider when you're buying in tuner. If you just enjoy sitting on your bed playing an acoustic, you probably don't need a rack tuner. But if you're onstage in the middle of performance, a virtual tuner housed inside your DAW is not going to do you much good.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when picking out your tuner.
How quickly can you use it to tune your guitar? Is it something that you have to connect a cord to or a cable? Do you need to position a microphone just right to be able to hear it? How can you just clip something to the headstock an read it that way?
How accurate is the tuner? Also, how accurate do you need the tuner to be?Again, if you're just playing for fun, you might not need it to be pitch perfect. But if you're in the studio, you might want something with the accuracy of a strobe tuner so everything sounds great on the record.
Acoustic Vs Electric
Another thing to consider is the type of guitar that you are tuning. If you have an electric guitar you have pickups. Those pickups are able to transfer a signal through a guitar chord and into a tuner.
If you have an acoustic guitar, unless it's an acoustic with a pickup in it, you'll have to use a microphone or vibration based tuner.
Chromatic Vs Non-Chromatic
As we mentioned above, a chromatic tuner allows you to tune to any note on the chromatic scale. A non chromatic tuner is going to only let you tune to specific notes per string.
If you never plan to stray from standard tuning, a non chromatic tuner might workout just fine for you. But if you want to play around with different types of alternate tunings, then you may want to go for a chromatic tuner.
Are you able to tune without your guitar making noise? This is generally going to be more for guitars and tuners that are plugged into each other and getting sound through a pickup. Many pedal tuners will have a cut off switch so that you don't have your guitar amplified while you're tuning.
If you do a lot of live performances, this is a great feature to have. You will have very little luck finding an audience that wants to hear the "tuning song".
This seems like a no-brainer, but you really don't think about it when you're looking at a new tuner. But how easy is it to read the display?
You don't want to be on stage in a dark club, using a clip on tuner, when you realize the display is not backlit and you can't read a thing. You want to make sure that your tuner has a bright, clear, and easy to read display so that there is no difficulty in tuning.
Last but certainly not least, is the cost of the tuner. You don't want to spend a couple hundred bucks on a tuner if you tend to lose them within a week or two. However, like with most guitar gear, you get what you pay for. And if you buy something cheap, it's likely not going to last.
Again, our top overall choice for best guitar tuner is the ROADIE 2 | Smart Automatic Guitar Tuner & String Winder. It is creative and a brand new take on the guitar tuner.
The freedom of creativity you can get from easily being able to switch into alternate tunings is unparalleled. This tuner will help you unlock and tap into avenues of artistic expression that have yet to be touched upon. You will not regret this decision.
Well, here are several different choices for the best guitar tuner. We are sure with this list you will find something that meet all of your needs.
Happy playing and rock on!