Guitars: Top 6 Best Guitar Tuners
It was different when we were growing up ‘back in the good old days.’ We didn’t have to go out and find a guitar tuner that was better than all the rest. Why? There weren’t any.
It was simple. You learned how to tune the guitar or bass from its own fingerboard. Assuming you could get the first string right. You could tune from a piano or a tuning fork. Or you could buy a set of pitch pipes.
But in all of them, you were relying on something. Your own ear. That’s ok for some. But for some, they just couldn’t hear it. No comprehension of whether they were tuning accurately or not.
Now we have electronic tuners to help. And to some, they are irreplaceable. Some of us still use our ears, of course, but others rely on electronics. They have been a great leap forward for mankind, well musiciankind, but you know what we mean.
So, let’s take a look at the Best Guitar Tuners currently available and find the perfect one for you…
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Top 6 Best Guitar Tuners In 2021 Reviews
- 1. 1 1 TC Electronic Guitar Pedal Tuner (Polytune 3 Mini) – Most Versatile Guitar Tuner
- 1. 2 2 Korg Pitchblack Tuner – Brightest Guitar Tuner
- 1. 3 3 BOSS TU-3 Tuner (TU3) – Best Premium Guitar Tuner
- 1. 4 4 TC ELECTRONIC POLYTUNE 3 NOIR – Best Mini Guitar Tuner
- 1. 5 5 Snark ST-2 Multi-Instrument Chromatic Tuner – Best Value for Your Money Guitar Tuner
- 1. 6 6 D’Addario Micro Guitar Tuner, Headstock Clip-On – Best Clip-on Guitar Tuner
- 2 Best Guitar Tuners Buying Guide
- 3 Looking for Something Else?
- 4 So, what are the Best Guitar Tuners?
Top 6 Best Guitar Tuners In 2021 Reviews
1 TC Electronic Guitar Pedal Tuner (Polytune 3 Mini) – Most Versatile Guitar Tuner
This is a tuner that is designed and made in Denmark and offers some interesting and useful features.
This is a tuner that is designed to fit on your pedalboard if you choose. Measuring just 3.66 by 2.01 by 1.73 inches, it would probably fall into the ‘mini’ pedal category.
Therefore, it is not going to take up too much space. In fact, it was designed with space-saving in mind.
It features a bright and very visible LED display. Even in the dark, tuning is easy. It consists of more than one hundred small LEDs. So powerful and direct is the display that it is even easy to read in daylight.
Included in the design is a light sensor that will reduce the brightness of the display in extremely dark conditions. This to avoid any unwanted glare. A good idea in our view.
Fast and accurate strobe…
Tuning is fast and accurate using the strobe tuner. This will tune to within 0.02 cents. The tuner automatically detects the note and applies the tuning process. It has a ‘permanently on’ feature. This allows you to check the tuning as you are actually playing.
Also, there is a built-in buffer that ensures your guitar tone is maintained. Even with long cable runs where sometimes signals can deteriorate.
We mentioned some interesting features. Let’s take a look at what is included in this tuner. It allows you to try out alternate tuning options. So if you need to revert to or experiment with different tunings, it is fast and easy.
A further option is the Poly mode. This lets you tune all the strings at once. Just strum down on all the strings, and you can see quickly which are ok and which may not be. As a result, you only spend time on those strings that need adjusting. Quite useful while on stage, we might add.
However, if you prefer to tune up string by string, it automatically adopts that mode. Input and output jacks are placed on either side of the pedal, and there is a rugged off/on button. However, it is too small to house a battery, so it is mains only.
Price-wise it is quite reasonable for what it is and represents good value.
- Poly or single string and alternative tuning options are built-in.
- Bright LED display with automatic light dim.
- Ideal for use with overly crowded pedalboards
2 Korg Pitchblack Tuner – Brightest Guitar Tuner
Korg needs little introduction to musicians. Founded in Japan in 1962, they are one of the most important keyboards and synthesizer manufacturers in the world. The Korg M1, released from 1988 until 1995, was the biggest selling and most influential synth of its time.
It’s a bit different to see them in the world of guitar tuners that fit on a pedalboard. But then, on reflection, perhaps not. Can Korg do business with this sort of accessory? Let’s find out.
Eye-catching and lightweight…
It certainly is out to impress visually with its all-black, sleek design. But the quality of this tuner pedal goes a long way past just looking good.
Underneath the chic black exterior is a tough die-cast aluminum shell. You get the feeling this will have no trouble withstanding years of stomping. But even better, it only weighs 1.76 ounces. The lighter, the better if it is going on a packed pedalboard.
And whilst we are on the subject of pedalboards, the Korg Pitchblack Tuner only measures 3.3 by 6 by 2.4 inches. That has to go down as a plus. It operates off a nine-volt battery and has a VDC output to connect to other pedals.
Works in the dark or the light…
There is one of the largest LED displays you will find using LED lights that are ultra-bright. This ensures you will be able to see in the dark or even in direct sunlight. We are only halfway through looking at this, but we can see why it is one of the best tuners on the market.
It comes in four operational display modes. Strobe, half-strobe, regular, and mirror modes. It has true bypass, so you can be assured your tone will be unaffected. Tuning accuracy is plus or minus 0.1 cents.
There is no doubt this is impressive. Not only in looks but in performance. A great pedal at what can only be called a very attractive price.
- Attractive design and tough build at a great price point.
- Compact, lightweight size with good internal features.
3 BOSS TU-3 Tuner (TU3) – Best Premium Guitar Tuner
Boss pedals? Never heard of them? Yeah right. Probably one of the most influential and innovative of all the manufacturers in the world. Part of the Roland Group they have a simple philosophy. Make it good, make it tough, and make the price right.
The predecessor to this tuner pedal was the TU2. The world’s best selling tuner. Have they succeeded with the TU3 tuner pedal and emulated it? You are about to find out.
In many people’s eyes, the TU-3 has already surpassed its esteemed predecessor. In some circles, this tuner is already a legend. And this for a number of reasons.
This is a typical rock-solid pedal from Boss, and we all know what that means. This is built to take plenty of stomping night after night. And it will still come back for more.
It has a large 21 segment LED display that is extremely bright but also free from glare. There is a control for the level of brightness. It has four possible modes of tuning your guitar built-in. All designed to suit what you need.
First, there is a function they call Accu-Pitch, which is a visual check of the tuning. This will give you a visual confirmation when the string is tuned. Then there is a standard chromatic mode which tunes by the name of the string or note.
You can also tune up by string number, especially for bass guitars but also electric guitars. This will include four, five, and six-string basses and seven-string guitars. For those that like to ‘drop tune,’ there is the ‘guitar flat’ option. That drops up to three whole tones below standard.
It operates from a nine-volt battery to a nine-volt power supply. The power supply is not included. It also has true bypass to protect your tones through the signal chain.
A great pedal at a great price with plenty of features included. So, have they succeeded in coming up with a suitable successor for TRU-2. Of course, they have. They are Boss. But let us find fault, just for balance.
Many tuner pedals are mini size. The main drawback is that they don’t take batteries, but they fit on packed pedalboards easier. But this pedal is a chunky 4.00 by 3.00 by 6.00 inches. You might need to make some room. But it will be worth it.
- Tough, robust build at a reasonable price point.
- Some excellent features and tuning options built-in.
- Might be a bit large for some.
4 TC ELECTRONIC POLYTUNE 3 NOIR – Best Mini Guitar Tuner
Next, in our review of the Best Guitar Tuners, this Polytune 3 pedal tuner is a similar product to the Polytune 3 we reviewed first on our list. The difference being this is the ‘Noir” or black version.
At 3.66 by 2.01 by 1.73 inches, it is the same size. This means it is a compact unit and not going to take up too much room on your pedalboard.
The display has the same brightness, though being surrounded by its black casing makes it seems a little more prominent. All the same controls for reducing the brightness levels apply with this version.
Other similarities include the buffer to protect your tones when using long cables. It also has true bypass to protect the signal. As the name suggests, it also has Poly mode for checking the tuning on all strings at once. Simply by just strumming a chord.
A similar price point, it is really just a matter of if you prefer a white design or a black finish.
- We quite like the ‘moody’ black finish.
- All the other positives are as per the previous review on the white tuner.
- Some may prefer the white version.
5 Snark ST-2 Multi-Instrument Chromatic Tuner – Best Value for Your Money Guitar Tuner
And now, as they say, for something completely different. And after the tuners we have looked at so far, this one is different. All we will say at the start is this just has to be included as one of the best tuners out there.
The Snark ST-2 has some interesting features to look at, but it has one huge plus point, which we will discuss a bit later. But to begin with, it is a compact little unit that measures 3.50 by 1.80 by 1.80 inches. It is also lightweight at three-quarters of a pound and runs off one CR2032 battery.
Not just another clip-on…
There is a strong clamp that uses a pinching action to attach to your instrument. It is padded on the contact points with the instrument. It will grip tightly and stay there. You can then choose between either the vibration sensor or the built-in microphone to tune the instrument.
We should point out at this juncture that this tuner is not just for guitar or bass. This will tune virtually anything. Either by attaching it to the instrument, as we have mentioned. Or even by attaching it to a music stand and just using the microphone.
Versatile and easy to use…
Not only is it easy and practical to use, but it also has a variety of tuning options. You can calibrate it to operate a number of options, including flat tuning. It also has a transpose function and a built-in metronome.
It is made easy to use by the inclusion of a bright, prominent LED display and the design of the head of the tuner. This will rotate 360 degrees to ensure you always get a good view of the display.
What makes it different?
Let us return to the huge plus point we mentioned earlier. This tuner is actually quite basic in its approach to tuning. But it does have a wide range of applications for tuning different instruments. However, it doesn’t have polyphonic tuning, which some may need.
It is set at a price point that is quite staggering. Well-made, some useful functions, easy to use and carry around, and yet so cost-effective. It is excellent value for money.
- Nicely designed and made with a great price point.
- Easy to carry around.
- Some nice features and easy to use.
6 D’Addario Micro Guitar Tuner, Headstock Clip-On – Best Clip-on Guitar Tuner
We complete our look at the best guitar tuners by looking at the D’Addario Micro Guitar Tuner. D’Addario, of course, is well-known for the strings and rightly so. It is a short step to include in their catalog something that will actually tune them.
But will their small tuner for guitar turn out to be as good as their strings? You are about to find out.
So very, very small…
This has got to be one of the smallest tuners you will find anywhere, measuring just 1.00 x 0.07 x 1.00 inch. It is another clip-on design. Many people prefer them because they are easy to use and carry around with you. It has a padded clamp to protect the surface of the instrument.
While it might be a little tuner unit, it still carries plenty of good functions with it. It has a number of different calibration modes and an adjustable screen. This gives you four different angles for viewing, plus a rotation of 360 degrees. It also has a metronome, but that is visual only.
Can be used with various string instruments…
It will fit and work with any instrument that has a headstock. Guitars, including acoustic, and bass of course, but also mandolin, ukulele, mandolin, or even an upright bass. It uses a CR2032 battery.
The screen is quite small, but the readouts are quite large and fill the height of the screen. The screen uses three different colors to indicate tuning. Therefore, it is quite easy to see.
If there is one feature that some might look for, it is Polyphonic tuning, but this tuner doesn’t carry that facility.
Good quality, good price…
An excellent tuner at a very affordable price. It appears that D’Addario can make other very good products besides strings.
- Color screen with a large print out at an attractive price.
- Easy to use and made with good features.
In 1971, The Who released the album, “Who’s Next.” On it was the song ‘Getting in Tune.’ Produced by Glyn Johns at Olympic Studios in London, there are many who believe “Who’s Next” is Pete Townshend’s masterpiece. It emphasizes a simple message.
It’s a message we all know. If you are out of tune with what is going on around you, oh dear. You need to be perfect these days. Gone are the days when you might get away with it.
Tuning is vital, and finding the best Tuners for your guitar or any instrument is important. They don’t teach you that at the School of Rock.
But as you begin your search, you have something in your favor. There are not a million choices to confuse you. And they can be broken down into three main categories.
What are the choices?
Chromatic Tuners – These will recognize one of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale. They are the most common tuner that we all know and the easiest to use for most.
Polyphonic Tuners – A recent innovation where you play a chord, and the tuner will tell you how in or out of tune every note is.
Strobe Tuners – Probably the most accurate but also the most expensive. Usually, something that is used by experienced musicians rather than beginners.
Again only a couple of options making life easier.
Pedal Tuners – These are as they are described. They come in the form of a pedal, like a stompbox. They may sit on your pedalboard or as a separate item. Particular to note is the strength of the build. If you are going to be using it with your foot, then it needs to be quite tough and well-built.
They will usually sit at the front of the chain or, better still, on an external send from a volume pedal or any other pedal with that functionality.
If you are using a number of pedals behind it, then it should have true bypass. This is to ensure there is no degeneration of the signal as it passes through the chain. However, a buffered option is good if you already have a number of true bypass pedals.
Clip-on Tuners – These usually attach to the headstock of the stringed instrument. But they can also work with a variety of other instruments, including brass.
Some will work via vibration; others use a built-in mic. They are quick, easy, much cheaper, and reasonably reliable. They used to be considered the poor relation of tuners. But these days they often include very good features.
There is a third option, and that is using an app on your phone or other devices. They have improved in recent years and may be suitable as a quick option. However, they rarely offer the same features as the best tuners available.
One other thing to consider is size. If you are buying a clip-on, it is unlikely to be a problem. They are usually very small and discreet. However, the pedal variety does range in size. These can go from the ‘mini’ versions into full-size pedals. If it is to fit on a pedalboard, you may want to consider this.
One other issue regarding size is that the smaller pedal varieties don’t usually take batteries. They will be mains only. The full-size pedal tuners will give you the option of battery or mains.
The choices and the operational practice then is not wide. This makes the choice a little easier.
Looking for Something Else?
We have a wide selection of guitar accessories. So check out all of our in-depth reviews of the Best Guitar Cables, the Best Electric Guitar Strings, the Best Acoustic Guitar Strings, the Best Guitar Stands, and the Best Electric Guitar Cases currently on the market.
Or how about the Best Guitar Pedalboards, the Best Guitar Pickups, and the Best Guitar Humidifiers you can buy in 2021.
So, what are the Best Guitar Tuners?
For us, simplicity and ease of use will be the most important things. We will want something quick, reliable, and of course, accurate. We also don’t believe in the necessity of spending a fortune. However, it has to do its job.
We would therefore pick the…
Snark ST-2 Multi-Instrument Chromatic Tuner
It is not flashy. Nor does it have too many flashing lights or bells and whistles. Overall, it is well-made and will just sit there and do its job at a very attractive price point.
Our choice for the very best of the best tuners for guitar.
Until next time, may your instrument be in tune, and your music always be merry.