Best Guitar Tuner of 2018: Reviews and Guide

By Monica | Gear

Mar 20
best guitar tuner

Your rig is never complete without the best guitar tuner. That's a definite fact. And even if you have a trusty set of ears with you, they can never really beat the technical accuracy of these tuners no matter what.

Don't say that a guitar tuner is just an optional tool and that there are other items that you should prioritize first. Well, amplifiers, effects pedals, and other modern guitar gizmos are cool. But what is their purpose if you cannot make your guitar sound the way that it should be?

If you are already playing the guitar for quite a time already, you should know the difference between the properly tuned guitar and a shabby one. Even a basic guitar setup, if tuned and adjusted appropriately, can beat high-end units. Because of this, it is quite hard to undermine the essence of guitar tuners. They are your saving grace every time your instrument is playing out of hand.

Fortunately, your options for a guitar tuner is not limited. In fact, you can drown to the number of choices that you have for this gadget. But in this guide, I will only feature the cream of the crop. After all, you do not deserve something that can be considered as "additional baggage." Let's start with our rundown now!

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Best Guitar Tuner Reviews

For its price and quality, it is easy to understand why the Snark SN1 Guitar Tuner has been a favorite of many guitar players. It can offer functional features and ergonomics without destroying your bank account. Honestly, it is rare to see something like this, considering the fact that the market is filled with flimsy and ghastly imitations of digital tuners. Once you can spot this digital tuner, we recommend that you should get it immediately.

Right from the start, the Snark SN1 Guitar Tuner is user-friendly. It is not difficult to use even if it is your first time to navigate this tool. All of its functions can be configured with ease. The interface is not confusing, too, as it has a full-color menu display. You can always get the right and optimal tuning for your instrument because this guitar tuner will always remain accurate.

The appearance of this clip-on tuner features the vintage "Buck Rogers" vibe. Any classic rock player will notice this aesthetics of the Snark SN1. But despite being a retro tuner, it still studded with advanced features and technology. You can actually clip this digital tuner anywhere on the headstock. Suffering from dead spots is not the thing of the Snark SN1. The clip of this device can be mounted easily and steadily. It won't move on its spot once you have mounted it

This digital tuner offers a tap-tempo metronome. That's the reason why its visual display is efficient in providing visuals on live gigs or providing applications. With such feature, there is no downtime in your performance. You can always get the right tune for your instrument without consuming too much time. The Snark SN1 also have the transpose feature which allows you to tune your guitar even if there's a capo installed.


Pros:

  • Stable mounting clip
  • Accurate tuning capability
  • Features high sensitivity vibration sensor
  • The visual display can be rotated 360 degrees
  • Tailored for electric and bass guitars

Cons:

  • When the battery is weak, the display flutters

Let's take a look at this product...

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)
  • Tap Tempo Metronome
  • High sensitivity vibration sensor


Had the price of the Korg GA1 tuner was lowered, it could have been my prime pick on this list. For me, the performance of the Korg GA1 and Snark SN1 are just the same. Both of them have exceptional ergonomics and features that allow their user to do quick and accurate tuning of their instruments. The Korg GA1 is created to work with both electric and bass guitars. It features a tilt-slit design that allows you to easily view the interface. It is also compact and doesn't bear too much footprint.

One of the best-selling points of the Korg GA1 guitar tuner is its power efficiency. Specifically, it has an auto shutdown mechanism to ensure that you will not be wasting its precious battery. Of course, it is a necessary feature considering that a majority of us don't bother to switch off the tuner once we start playing. If you are playing live gigs and extended repertoires, preserving the battery life of the tuner is crucial.

Furthermore, the Korg GA1 digital tuner has exceptional tuning accuracy. It can always get the tune for your rig, depending on the genre or playing style that you want to do. This tuner comes with Quinta-flat tuning and pitch reference tone features. These advancements ensure that it can cover everything that you need. It can work for both basic and complex tuning. And the best part of it is that you can do all these things without scratching your head. After all, this tune is as simple as it gets.

Unlike other tuners out there, the Korg GA1 will let you choose between its guitar mode and bass mode. Each of these settings has default configurations. It is up to you if you are going to modify them or not. The ease of operation of this tuner is also due to its automatic pitch detection capability. You don't have to worry about quirky setups and installations. Once you can get this on your rig, it will start functioning right away.


Pros:

  • Compatible with seven-string instruments
  • Comes with a separate bass and guitar mode
  • Automatic pitch detection feature
  • Automatic shutdown feature for battery preservation
  • Compact and lightweight body

Cons:

  • Does not perform well on drop tuning
  • Doesn't have the standard 1/4-inch connector

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
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
  • Supports 7-string guitar tunings
  • Sound Out can produce a reference tone from the internal speaker


One of the most inexpensive digital tuners that exist in the market today is the D'Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner. But despite its price, it still retained its premium quality, making it a valuable option for those who are trying to limit their upgrade expenditures. Just like its name, the NS Micro Clip-On Tuner has a low-profile and compact design. You can just install it on your guitar and not worry that it will cause a nuisance on your performance.

Because of its small body, the NS Micro Clip-On Tuner will never be noticed by your audience. But at the same time, the tuner can offer crystal clear display to you. It is an ergonomic feature that lessens the need for you to remove the tuner from time to time. You can just let it bite your headstock without being burdened by its footprint or weight.

Aside from its compact and portable layout, the NS Micro Clip-On Tuner has an impressive note and pitch detection. In fact, I can say that this one has a better performance compared to the previous D'Addario Mini Guitar Tuner. It comes with a wide pitch calibration (around 410 to 480 Hz) that ensures precision whenever you are tuning your instrument. It also has an extra metronome that you can use during your practices.

The Tri-Color screen display of this guitar tuner allows you to read the current configuration of your instrument easily. The display will show a red note when the instrument is out of tune and green when the tune is correct. This setup eliminates the need for you to guess the tuning of your guitar. Also, this guitar tuner can be swiveled to a full 360 degrees. Therefore, it can work well for both left and right-handed players.


Pros:

  • Provides a non-obtrusive viewing angle to the guitar player
  • Works well with different kind of stringed instruments
  • The clamp has been rubberized to ensure that it won't scratch the guitar
  • Highly accurate tuning
  • Discreet design allows you to conceal it behind the headstock

Cons:

  • It eats too much battery
  • Mounting the device on the guitar is a tad bit quirky

Let's take a look at this product...

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 for each case
  • Extremely accurate chromatic tuning based on vibration, no sound or cable input required
  • Adjustable ratchet mechanism and reversible screen allows for placement on front or back of headstock
  • Visual metronome feature for additional practice aid

If you want a complex and highly dynamic guitar tuner, the KLIQ MetroPitch is an excellent choice. It is among the few guitar tuners that come with multiple functions. Specifically, this one can work as a tuner, metronome, and tone generator. These particular functions enable this device to cater your different tuning needs. Even if you keep on switching to different genres, this tuner can guarantee that your instrument will never be out of tune.

Just like the rest of the guitar tuners here, the KLIQ MetroPitch has a compact and pocket-sized frame. It doesn't have a bulky footprint that can cause clutter on your rig. It can be used during live gigs and practices without being too obtrusive. Meanwhile, this guitar tuner features extreme accuracy and speed in finding the right tune for you. It has a wide tuning range and can be calibrated at 410 Hz to 450 Hz. Therefore, you can use this guitar tuner to any instruments out there.

The tuner also comes with presets. It will allow you to choose factory-configured tuning settings for guitars, violins, ukuleles, and bass. Furthermore, it also has transpose settings for Bb, F, D, and Eb brass and wood instruments. With all of these capabilities, it is not a surprise anymore why the KLIQ MetroPitch is hailed as one of the most versatile tuners out there. Its performance does not know any restriction at all.

This guitar tuner has a user-friendly setup. You can tune your instrument with the use of the 1/4-inch jack or the default microphone that it has. Take note that the jack can cater a variety of clip-on microphones and other electric instruments that exist today. Meanwhile, the LCD of this tuner is clear and easy to read. It always gives accurate values all the time. It is responsive to the changes in the pitch of your guitar.


Pros:

  • Ergonomic and versatile guitar tuner
  • Maintains a compact and lightweight construction
  • Ultra-responsive tuning mechanism
  • Features a metronome and tone-generator feature
  • The built-in microphone is highly sensitive

Cons:

  • No major drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
KLIQ MetroPitch - Metronome Tuner for All Instruments - with Guitar, Bass, Violin, Ukulele, and Chromatic Tuning Modes - Tone Generator - Carrying Pouch Included, Black
  • 3 IN 1 DEVICE: The MetroPitch combines a Tuner, a Metronome, and a Tone Generator, all housed in a pocket-sized device. The included carrying pouch makes for easy transport to your next gig or practice.
  • VERSATILE TUNER: The fast and accurate tuner boasts a wide range of A0-C8, various tuning modes, transposition settings, and pitch calibration. So whichever instrument you play, it's got you covered!
  • TAP TEMPO METRONOME: With a broad range of 30-250 Beats Per Minute, tap tempo, and various beats and rhythm patterns, this metronome will improve your timing in a rich variety of musical styles.
  • EASY TO USE: The intuitive JOG Dial let's you literally dial in your desired tempo quickly and easily. It also allows for making swift pitch selection in the Tone Generator, among many other functions.
  • 3-YEAR MANUFACTURER GUARANTEE: In the unlikely event the KLIQ MetroPitch breaks or stops working, we'll replace it or give you 100% of your money back, no questions asked.

Acoustic guitars require tuning, too. In fact, they are the ones that you should tune properly because the sound they produce is always bare. Most seasoned guitar players will use their ears to tune acoustic guitars. However, this doesn't mean that they don't trust the capability of digital tuners like the Fender FT-004. After all, there is a limit to how much the ears can translate and understand.

With the Fender FT-004 Guitar Tuner, you can always unleash the real intonation of your acoustic guitar. It is ultra sensitive to vibrations, which allows you to get the right pitch all the time. Specifically, the tuning range of this device is B0-B7. Therefore, it is usable for violins, banjos, and mandolins. You can also use this to your bass guitars.

The compact design of the Fender FT-004 ensures that you will never get bothered by it even if you keep it mounted on the headstock of your instrument. It doesn't add weight and clutter to your rig, which is great for gigging players. Despite its small frame, the guitar tuner remains visible to the user. It has a vivid LCD that shows all the current settings and configurations you made in the instrument. Even if the setting is dark, the LCD is still clear and readable.

Meanwhile, you will also love the fact this device features a built-in sensor. Therefore, it can still create accurate tuning even if the background is noisy. This is the kind of accuracy that you will need whenever you are performing on stage.


Pros:

  • Accurate intonation reading
  • Features a vibration sensor for uncompromised tuning
  • Works well with other instruments too
  • Clear and visible LCD
  • Swiveling design for better functionality

Cons:

  • Strong battery consumption
  • Quirky startup and shutdown mechanisms

Let's take a look at this product...

Sale
Fender Clip-On Tuner FT-004 for Guitar, Ukulele, Bass, Violin, Mandolin, and Banjo
  • Small, compact size one-handed swivel clamp
  • Tuning modes include: Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Violin and Chromatic
  • Tuning Range B0-B7.
  • 1x 3V 2032 battery required (included)

Basics of a Guitar Tuner

A guitar tuner is an essential part of your rig. Without this, it is impossible for your instrument to sound the way that it should be. After all, the tune of the guitar will dictate your overall performance.

Before the existence of guitar tuners, tuning was a difficult process. It was a thing reserved for expert players who are already familiar with the sounds of every notes and chord that exist within the six-string realm. But even if you ask them, they can never guarantee that they can provide accurate results every time. They will admit that their tuning will not always be perfect.

The tendencies for human error is always there. That's why the birth of guitar tuners is already considered a leap forward to advancement. Gone are the days in where you have to spend countless of minutes just to tune your instrument properly. With guitar tuners, anyone can just configure their instruments quickly and precisely. There's no need to do a lot of guessing work. Just attach the thing and let it do the rest of the tricky stuff.

If we are going to analyze the anatomy of the guitar tuner, things will get too technical. And most of you don't have to time to listen to lengthy lectures. But if we are going to simplify things, then we can say that a guitar tuner is there to compare the pitch of the note you are playing to the default pitch that is stored on it. Most of the guitar tuners are very accurate because of this mechanism. The reference pitch on their systems has been extracted through controlled means.

Tips For Choosing the Best Guitar Tuner

There are hundreds of guitar tuners that you can see on the market today. This is somehow a cool thing because it allows you to choose. But sooner or later, the seemingly infinite number of choices can confuse you like crazy.

Of course, there is a need for you to be careful in the selection process. After all, it will be a device that you are going to use consistently. Therefore, it should have the qualities that allow it to be precise and reliable all the time. It may not be the flashiest investment that you can get, but it can give you a lifetime service that you will never regret.

Just remember this: if you have the best guitar tuner, your instrument will never be shabby, even if it is just a basic one!

  • Many amps out there don't have tuners with them. Therefore, you cannot really on them when it comes to tuning your guitar. And even if they have, they are not really accurate. If you are planning to make your own pedalboard, make sure that the first one you invest in a tuner pedal.
  • A guitar tuner does not only function as a tuning device. You can also use it for other applications. For example, a tuner can be used to mute the signal of your guitar. This is particularly the case if you are using a tuner pedal. If they are engaged, a tuner pedal is capable of muting the output of your guitar.
  • Always be wary about the brightness of the LCD. It is an ergonomic feature that allows you to see the configurations of the device regardless of the illumination. If you tend to do your repertoires in dim settings, the clarity of the display is essential. You don't want to miss out something just because the display of the tuner is not clear or too small. Tuners are accurate. But your eyes may fool you. Therefore, the tuner should compensate your inability to see things in unfavorable lighting conditions.
  • You are free to choose between a basic guitar tuner and a chromatic tuner. A basic tuner is the best fit for six-string guitars that have the standard "E" setup. In short, the device can tune all the strings with the high E and low E strings. Meanwhile, chromatic tuners are capable of tuning all the notes that exist within the strings. Even the flat and sharp notes can never escape their prowess. It is a good choice for players who want to experiment with different types of tunings.
  • Do not forget that digital tuners are battery-operated. Because of this, it is expected that their running time is not unlimited. It would be too bad if the tuner that you have gulps the juice of your battery down too quickly. You can never survive extended playing time and performances if the battery of the tuner that you have does not have a power-saving mechanism. If it doesn't have, just make sure that the battery that has a long lifespan. Or if not, you just have to be careful about using the tuner. If you are not using it, you should just turn it off.
  • Of course, the price of the guitar tuner matters. All of the decent choices out there have a starting price of $10. The most expensive ones can reach up to $50 to $100. But there is no need for you to go to that price range. In fact, all of the tuners that I have featured here didn't even have nerve-wrecking price tags!

Final Verdict

The best guitar tuner is an essential component to complete your setup. After all, your instrument can never show its true prowess if the strings are out of tune. You can rely on your ears, but I can guarantee that they won't bring out the best out of your guitar. It would just be better if you can invest in a decent tuner to avoid misplays from happening.

All of the tuners that I have featured here are among the finest options that you can get today. You can always take the Snark SN1 Guitar Tuner and the KLIQ MetroPitch  as your first options. Their qualities never suck at all. They are accurate and responsive enough to detect the changes in the tune of your guitar.

Do you have other questions or suggestions? Feel free to ask me in the comment section below!

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About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!