The 10 Best Guitar Tuners

Updated January 12, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

10 Best Guitar Tuners
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Whether you are a professional rocker or you're picking up an instrument for the first time, you can easily ensure you sound great with one of these guitar tuners. We've included portable models good for buskers and casual musicians through to heavy-duty units offering incredible accuracy that are ideal for studio recording sessions and gigging in large venues. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best guitar tuner on Amazon.

10. Korg TM50PW

When most students are starting out, they get their hands on a device like the Korg TM50PW. That's because, despite its simple facade, this little unit is accurate and dependable, and its built-in metronome will help young players work on their rhythm.
  • display is backlit
  • detects notes from c1 to c9
  • not great for live tuning
Brand Korg
Model TM50PW
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Snark ST-8

The Snark ST-8 is a fine budget option. Its display rotates a full 360 degrees for easy viewing when clipped onto the headstock of your instrument, and the readout is much brighter than older versions. This model works well thanks to a built-in vibration sensor.
  • good choice for violins
  • pitch calibration
  • battery drains quickly
Brand Snark
Model ST-8
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Korg Pitchblack Pro 1U PB05

The Korg Pitchblack Pro 1U PB05 has a large, 3-dimensional meter display for unprecedented visibility, so you can easily tune your instrument from across the stage. The plastic rack ears are a bit flimsy for mounting, though.
  • multiple strobe modes
  • ultra-lightweight for easy transport
  • power cord is finicky
Brand Korg
Model PB05
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Peterson StroboPlus SP-1

The Peterson StroboPlus SP-1 boasts a sleek, compact design with a convenient stand for tabletop use. It also features a built-in microphone, a backlit display, and a Peterson Connect tool, which allows you to alter and synchronize its settings online.
  • optional vibrating metronome
  • encoder dial for quick value entry
  • expensive for the category
Brand Peterson
Model 403867
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

6. Roadie 2 Automatic

If you're after a truly easy tuning experience, the Roadie 2 Automatic will get every aspect of the job done for you. It reads the pitch of a single string much like a clip-on tuner would, but then it physically turns your peg for you until it sounds perfect.
  • alternate presets available
  • connects to a mobile app
  • recharges via usb
Brand Roadie Automatic Guitar
Model RD200
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Kliq Music Gear TinyTune Pro Stage

The Kliq Music Gear TinyTune Pro Stage is about as small as an effective tuning pedal can get while still having a screen that's big enough to read from a standing position. The circle of pitch indicators is largely responsible for its ease of use.
  • fast 32-bit processor
  • die-cast aluminum body
  • display could be brighter
Brand KLIQ Music Gear
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. TC Electronic PolyTune Clip

The TC Electronic PolyTune Clip, like the rest of the company's unique lineup, allows you to tune strings individually or to strum all six at once and see an interactive display of the whole. This model brings speed and precision to the player who avoids pedals.
  • large intuitive readout
  • spring-loaded clasp
  • hard to position
Brand TC Electronic
Model PolyTune Clip
Weight 1.4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Boss TU3 Chromatic Pedal

You can use the Boss TU3 Chromatic Pedal to tune 7-string guitars or 6-string basses as easily as you can apply it to instruments with more standard layouts. Its flat mode supports drop tunings up to six semitones below standard pitch.
  • very bright for outdoor use
  • twenty-one leds
  • durable stompbox design
Brand BOSS Audio
Model TU3
Weight 10.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Kliq Music Gear UberTuner

The Kliq Music Gear UberTuner features a large color display that allows you to clearly see whether you're flat, sharp, or dead on in tone accuracy. Its 3-point adjustment system lets you position the screen for use at almost any angle.
  • modes for various instruments
  • 3-year manufacturer's guarantee
  • advanced microprocessor
Brand KLIQ Music Gear
Model UberTuner
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. TC Electronic PolyTune 3

The TC Electronic PolyTune 3 has a small footprint designed to take up a minimal amount of pedal board space. It boasts a margin of error of +/- 0.02 cent or less, providing you with superior accuracy for each string in your lineup.
  • tunes by open strumming
  • buffer circuitry preserves tone
  • clear readout from the floor
Brand TC Electronic
Model Polytune 3
Weight 11.7 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

You Can Tune A Guitar, But You Can't Tuna Fish

Imagine you've just taken the stage at Madison Square Garden. You're opening for somebody huge like a Bruce Springsteen or The Rolling Stones, and they've personally picked you as their opening act after seeing you at some dive bar in New Jersey.

Your drummer counts the band into your first song, a song about the great love of your life who got away, a song guaranteed to propel you into the league of immortal musicians. You strum the first chord...and your guitar is out of tune.

If you're fast on your feet and you have the good fortune of an understanding crowd, you can quickly chalk it up to rock 'n roll, get a little cheer from the audience, tune up, and restart. If they aren't feeling so generous, you might just get booed off stage, Mick Jagger shaking his head at you in shame as you depart the industry forever.

It's a nightmare scenario, and an unlikely one, but it illustrates the importance of having a quality tuner on your side.

What makes a quality tuner is accuracy and features, more than anything else. That accuracy comes from a digitized standard of something called A 440. At some point in the recorded history of music, the tone produced by a sound wave traveling with a wavelength of 440 Hz became the standard A on a western 12-tone musical scale.

When a signal comes into a tuner from your guitar, the tuner interprets that tone by its frequency as measured in hertz, and can safely assume which string you're targeting in a string-based mode, or tell you what note you're closest to in a chromatic mode.

Don't Bypass The Features

Let's return to the nightmare scenario from above and assume that you've actually been blessed with an understanding audience. In fact, the rock 'n roll gesture with which you accounted for your guitar's horrendous tuning actually made them feel like they were part of the show, like they were in on a private moment between you and them that anyone without a ticket didn't get.

Then, you go to tune your guitar before restarting the song, but you made the classic mistake of running your guitar through a channel that forces the audience to listen to the slow, agonizing sound of a guitar string gradually being tuned.

If you knew better, you'd have made sure that the tuner you purchased had a bypass channel that would silence your guitar while the tuner's in use. That way, your ministrations would only torture the tuner itself, and not your potential fans.

But that's just one possible feature you can find on these tuners, and evaluating both the feature sets and the housings of the tuners on our list will quickly narrow your options down to just a few.

There are four types of tuners on our list, each of which has an advantage over the other. One tuner is quite possibly the simplest type, and it's the first tuner I ever used when playing guitar. It's a table-top tuner that sits on any surface and listens to your guitar through a small microphone on its body. It's a simple, inexpensive style that's great for new guitarists.

Another popular, inexpensive tuner for guitarists new and old is the head-mount type. This tuner attaches to the headstock of your guitar and uses the vibrations of the instrument to measure its tuning. These are fine units, but they don't automatically bypass your signal, so you have to remember to turn your guitar down in a live setting to keep your tuning process quiet.

The other two types are distinctly more professional, in the pedal box and rack-mounted styles. Unless you're running a very expensive live operation or a nice recording studio, rack mounted devices don't make a ton of sense. The average gigging guitarist doesn't want to lug that much extra hardware around, especially now that engineers can cram such high quality electronics into smaller pedals, many of which are wonderfully accurate and laden with features.

Frequently Setting The Standard

Before electronic tuning was an option, and before any actual standards existed for the designation of musical pitches, before Heinrich Hertz was ever born, there was the tuning fork and the pitch pipe. Both invented in the 18th century, these implements could set a momentary standard among instrumentalists gathered around the same one, but if you took a tuning fork from Germany and a pitch pipe from England in 1826, they would likely have had noticeably different frequencies.

After Hertz discovered and developed a system for measuring sound by its frequency, musical and scientific organizations argued about where to set the standard for musical tuning. Eventually, the governments of Austria and France agreed upon the measurement of 435 Hz for A4, or the fourth A on a standard piano.

In 1926, the music industry in America settled on 440 Hz as the proper frequency for A4. Ten years later, the American Standards Association agreed, followed in 1955 by the then relatively young International Organization for Standardization.

With this standard in place, manufacturers developed electronic tuners that compared a guitar's signal to the strobe frequency of a flashing light. In recent years, however, digital tuners have steadily replaced the strobe method, and proven more accurate and less expensive.

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Last updated on January 12, 2018 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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