Being in tune is fundamental for your success as a musician at any level, which is why picking the best guitar tuner is imperative. The importance of playing with a tuned guitar cannot be overstated. Simply said, an out-of-tune instrument will render all of your practice efforts nearly useless.
In this list, we’re going to go over the seven best tuners in the market today. The most important aspects a tuner must offer are reliability and accuracy. Simply said, can the tuner do its basic job well?
From then we move on to other aspects such as convenience. Does the tuner in question let you tune your instrument quickly between songs? Is it easy to transport? Is it big and heavy? In this article, we’re going to explore these and other aspects. Keep reading.
- Top 3 Best Guitar Tuners
- Best Guitar Tuner Reviews
- How To Choose The Best Guitar Tuner
- Final Thoughts on Best Guitar Tuners
Top 3 Best Guitar Tuners
The Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal is Our Top Pick for this list. It features the same design as Boss’ best-selling pedal ever, the TU-2 tuner, and adds a few more useful features. It offers accuracy and convenience on a sturdy and durable product.
The Ibanez BigMini Tuner Pedal is our Best Budget Option. Besides being affordable, it also features a small size and weight, making it ideal for cramped pedalboards and setups. This tuner pedal is also accurate and road read with a well-built chassis that can withstand live-gig abuse.
Finally, The Peterson StroboStomp HD Pedal Tuner is our Editor’s Choice. It is one of the most accurate tuners on the market today, with a big LED screen and strobe operation that lets you know exactly how in-tune you are. With great versatility and the ability to accommodate some serious guitar detuning, this pedal is for discerning musicians that need the best and most accurate tuning available in a convenient package.
Best Guitar Tuner Reviews
The ultimate tuning device for the modern player.
This tuning pedal is the latest in the now legendary TU series by Boss. This company's tuner pedal has been a staple on pedalboards for over three decades and is still quite popular with both guitarists and bassists.
The Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal follows in the footsteps of the best-selling tuner pedal in history: the Boss TU-2. The TU-3 comes with a high brightness mode so you use it in dark stages as well as in sunny conditions for daytime outdoor gigs. Best of all, it is glare-free, for a dependable tuning experience.
In our tests, we started by adjusting the display of the pedal while tuning our guitar. We began by using Cent Mode, where this pedal functions like a standard handheld Boss tuner, indicating the correct pitch in the center position.
After that, we tried Stream mode, where the LED lights in a strobe light fashion to indicate whether the instrument is sharp or flat. Additionally, the Accu-Pitch function allowed us to get precise visual verification for either mode.
We then went on to chromatic mode for tuning each note by name. This may be the mode that most guitarists prefer, as it is the one that most closely resembles a traditional tuning process.
We also tried the Guitar/Bass mode which let us tune by string number. This may be particularly useful for seven-string guitars and six string basses, as it eliminates any confusion.
After doing our standard tuning, we wanted to try drop tuning. For this, the TU-3 has Guitar Flat mode. Here, you can tune down to six half steps below standard tuning. This makes this pedal a great choice for players that focus on heavier music such as metal. Naturally, this pedal is also a fantastic choice for standard tuning.
Built with the sturdiness of a standard Boss stompbox, the TU-3 also allows you to adjust the calibration from a range of 436 Hz to 445 Hz.
Verdict: The Boss TU-3 builds on the foundation of this company’s best-selling pedal ever, the TU-2. Whether you use standard tuning, drop tuning, or a different tuning frequency than 440 Hz, this pedal tuner has got it covered with quality and functionality to boot.
A compact and precise tuner for tight spaces.
This pedal tuner comes from one of the most respected names in the guitar manufacturing industry. It offers a lot of options to cover a variety of tuning needs, from standard to alternate and even drop tuning. This is a very compact unit at a very affordable price and with great build quality.
The Ibanez BigMini Tuner Pedal is a fantastic choice for guitar and bass tuning. This chromatic tuner features a large tuning range that goes from A0 (27.5Hz) to C8 (4,186Hz). This will take care of several tunings, from standard all the way to drop tuning.
The first thing that we loved about this pedal is how small and sturdy it is. It fits easily on our pedalboard, occupying very little space. This fact in itself is a great plus for many of us that have cramped pedalboards, a problem that is more common than you’d think.
Despite the small form factor on the BigMini Tuner, this pedal features a LED screen that displays which note you’re tuning. This is done in either of the two modes features in this tuner.
The first one is Needle mode, where you get a traditional operation with a needle that needs to be in the middle in order for the note to be tuned. The other mode is Strobe, where the screen displays the name of the note.
Both modes work well and are easy to see with a bright red color that stands out, even in dim light conditions.
In case you want to tune to a different frequency than the standard 440 Hz, this pedal’s got you covered, as it features a calibration range that goes from 435 Hz to 445 Hz.
This pedal works with a 9V DC power supply that is sold separately and is built like a tank. In short, a fantastic and affordable tuning pedal that will likely fit in any cramped pedalboard.
Verdict: The Ibanez BigMini Tuner Pedal offers you reliable tuning with two different tuning modes and calibration. It is a rather small pedal with great build quality, all for a low price.
A special tuner loaded with features and ultimate precision.
This pedal was designed for musicians that need a vast amount of options when it comes to tuning. This is a very versatile tuner with a variety of choices, from user presets to variable screen colors.
The Peterson StroboStomp HD Pedal Tuner features the largest screen on any known tuner pedal on the market today, for ultimate visual efficiency. It also offers 100 % true bypass or buffered bypass output.
In use, this tuner is rather simple. For tuning, it comes only in Strobe mode with precise 0.1-cent accuracy to ensure that we are truly in tune. The large and bright LED strobe wheel stopped turning to show us that we are in tune with a particular string.
We particularly liked the possibility of personalizing the tuner’s screen with user-selectable colors. This significantly increased our viewing quality and can be quite useful for different lighting situations, including direct sunlight.
We were also able to assign the screen colors to stock or saved user presets in an effort to reduce menu navigation time and tune quicker.
The StroboStomp HD also features three modes of operation. The first is Buffered Monitor where we were able to keep an eye on our tuning while we played.
Next was Buffered Output mode. This was our favorite, as it is great for signal chains that include many low impedance pedals as well as long cables, a common issue with many pedalboard setups.
Finally, there is Pop Free True Bypass, great for preserving the integrity of our tone and avoiding pops associated with true bypass pedals.
The StroboStomp HD pedal supports a variety of instruments. These include guitars up to 9 strings, basses up to 6 strings and acoustics with 8, 10 or 12 strings.
With a concert A range of 391 Hz to 490 Hz, this tuner can easily handle all of your detuning needs for playing heavier music. Other great features include Over 100 sweetened tunings as well as presets for open and alternate tunings.
Verdict: The Peterson StroboStomp HD Pedal Tuner is an ideal tuning workhorse for the most discerning musicians. It can tune a vast amount of guitars and basses and features presets for alternate tunings and a color-adjustable big LED screen.
A simple and elegant solution for tuning on the go.
This chromatic tuner combines accurate tuning with a sleek and compact design. With a well-lit display and durable aluminum chassis, this pedal offers four modes and is built for live playing. Simple to use, effective and nice looking, this tuner also features the overall quality of Korg.
The Korg Pitchblack Advance pedal tuner features this company’s biggest display of any of its tuners. This also makes it the easiest to read, which is a fantastic feature for a tuner.
The first thing that we liked about this pedal is its reduced weight. At 9.07 oz it is significantly lighter than your typical tuner pedal, and this makes a difference in the overall comfort when constantly transporting your pedalboard.
This pedal also lets the user be in control by offering four different operation modes to choose from. In our tests, we tried all four.
We started with Regular mode, where the LED at the center screen is lit when the string is in tune. This was our favorite mode for quickly tunning our guitar, as it was also the simplest.
For accuracy, the best mode to use is Strobe. Here, the string is in tune when the LEDs are standing still. The Pitchblack also features Half-strobe, and Mirror modes.
In case you prefer to tune to an alternate calibration frequency, the Pitchblack lets you pick any frequency between 436 Hz to 445 Hz. This pedal has a range from E0 (20.60 Hz) to C8 (4186 Hz), making it suitable for guitars (even in drop tuning) and basses.
Although this is a good tuner pedal, with nice features and durability, its price is not particularly attractive.
Verdict: The Korg Pitchblack Advance pedal tuner offers tuning for guitar and bass in four different modes. This is a small pedal that is also very light and well built. It also offers you the option of changing calibrating and operates with a standard 9 Volt adaptor.
An upgraded version of the popular mini polyphonic tuner.
The TC Electronic PolyTune Mini 3 is a smaller version of this company's best-selling tuner. It retains the traits that made the original such a success and adds a couple of new and very handy features.
The TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini Polyphonic features the same sturdy and small enclosure as its predecessor, the PolyTune Mini. However, this new version adds an extra button to switch between tuning modes.
The tuning modes are standard, dropped tunings, and capo. These work in tandem with a pair of external DIP switches that offer variations on the built-in BonaFide signal buffer, so you can choose between true bypass, buffered and a buffered ‘display always on’ setting.
We started our tests by running the PolyTune 3 Mini in chromatic mode, where it is accurate to within 0.5 cents. This mode was great for when you need to quickly tune your guitar, for instance between songs on a live set.
For ultra-accurate tuning, we found that strobe mode is the way to go. Here the PolyTune 3 Mini is accurate to 0.02 cents, which is impressive. It did take us a bit to get used to the visuals of the strobe mode, but we had it after a few minutes.
Besides its very accurate tuning while in strobe mode, we found that the other great trait of this pedal is its diminutive side. This is always a plus, whether you have a cramped pedalboard or just toss your pedals in a backpack, as it will make transportation easier.
We explored another great feature on this pedal by holding the footswitch down to be able to toggle between standard and drop-D tuning. This is quite useful for conveniently jumping between tunings while playing live.
Verdict: The TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini Polyphonic is a great tuner that offers nice features in a small package. It is well built and cleverly designed. Although it offers precise tuning on a compact form factor, we wish its weight was more in proportion to its size in order to make it lighter.
A unique handheld tuner with motorized operation.
This is a unique tuner that may appeal to beginners as it features a foolproof operation. It is small enough to fit in your pocket and offers standard and alternate tunings, as well as a vibrating metronome.
The Band Industries Roadie 3 Automatic Guitar Tuner employs a high-speed 120 rpm motor that works in combination with vibration detection to tune your guitar. Besides tuning, it also offers a vibrating metronome that may come in handy for practicing.
The first thing that struck us is how unique this tuner is. We cannot think of another model with a similar design, so we were eager to try it out.
The first thing to note is that this tuner automatically tunes your string while winding it via the mechanisms at the top. We placed said mechanism on the machine head of the string in question and used the screen of the device to select how we wanted to tune it.
Roadie 3 would then spins in a fluid motion until the string was tuned. It ended this process by giving us a quick vibration (or beep) to indicate the string was in tune.
Our tests revealed that this is a very accurate tuner and we did not have to check our tuning a second time around. It is also a very efficient tool to have when you are dealing with multiple instruments. This is particularly true if you have a 12-string guitar in your collection, as Roadie 3 makes tuning it a breeze.
This tuner can also be of great help when changing strings. You can set it on winder mode so you don’t have to manually wind the strings yourself, and then change it to tune mode once the string is getting tighter.
Although this tuner is accurate, capable of alternate tunings, and features a clever design, it is a bit odd and comes with a price tag that may turn off some folks.
Verdict: The Band Industries Roadie 3 tuner is a unique handheld tuner that also doubles as a string winder. It features an ingenious design and may be a good solution for owners of multiple instruments.
A very convenient, portable and affordable chromatic tuner.
This Headstock Instrument Tuner has become very popular in the last decade and rightfully so. It is super convenient, lightweight, inexpensive, and gets the job done without the need to add another pedal to your chain.
The Snark ST-8 Super Tight Chromatic Tuner is a great solution for anyone getting started with guitar, ukulele, or bass. It works by detecting the vibration of your instrument, and easily clips to your headstock.
This tuner is about as convenient as a tuner can possibly be. We took it out of the box and easily clipped it to the headstock of our strat to tune. It is quite light and works with a CR2032 battery that goes right in the back of the tuner.
It features a traditional chromatic approach to tuning where the note name is displayed on its bright screen and the LED needle moves to the middle once the string is in tune.
This tuner features a high-sensitivity vibration sensor and offers pitch calibration ranging from 415 Hz to 466 Hz. You can also choose to use it on the front or back of your headstock, and turn the screen to face you at the exact angle of your choice.
The Snark also offers a capo feature where we were able to place our capo on our fret and have the tuner refer to the string as its original pitch for easier tuning. Another great feature is the tap tempo for quickly figuring out different tempos.
Despite all the great features and affordability of this tuner, it cannot match the accuracy that other tuners offer. Still, it is a great choice for beginners and pros that need a quick tune check.
Verdict: The Snark ST-8 Super Tight Chromatic Tuner is a quick and cheap solution for tuning. It is a good choice for students or beginners and anybody else that does not need a very precise tuner.
How To Choose The Best Guitar Tuner
The most important feature of a good tuner is accuracy. You want your strings to be as in tune as possible at all times. This ensures good performance and that the work you put into your instrument pays off live.
Besides accuracy, a tuner also has to be convenient. But what does this mean exactly? It means that it should allow you to tune your guitar quickly and reliably, without any hassle or moving parts.
Two decades ago, guitar tuners used to be quite inconvenient. You had to plug your guitar into the tuner, turn on the tuner, tune up, then replug your guitar into the amp and turn off your tuner.
Today, none of this is necessary, and thankfully so. Most tuners are guitar pedals, where you simply step on them to mute sound and be able to tune your instrument without any need to move cables around. They also come with good LED screens that are easy to see while standing up and clearly let you know when you are in tune.
Other tuners stick to your guitar’s headstock and stay there for the duration of your performance. You can quickly turn them on and off, and they detect the vibration of the instrument in order to detect tuning.
Types of guitar tuners
There are three main types of guitar tuners. Each has its own benefits, and each appeals to different types of guitarists. Some tuner pedals come with modes that emulate these types of tuners, so guitarists have the option to pick their favorite way to tune, or use a combination depending on the situation.
These are the most accurate tuners available today. They are also convenient and can often handle detuned guitars, 7 string guitars and basses with more than four strings.
Naturally, they are also the most expensive ones. It may take some folks a bit of time to get used to reading them, as they are very sensitive. However, once you get used to them you’ll be dealing with the most precise tuner type available in the market.
Chromatic tuners are the most common type. Even old tuners are usually chromatic, so the guitar players have gotten used to them for decades. These types of tuners recognize each of the twelve notes in the chromatic scale and display their names while tuning to a needle.
Chromatic tuners also tend to be one of the most affordable options, which in turn makes them very popular among users regardless of style and genre.
A polyphonic tuner is the most convenient option as it allows you to tune all of your strings at the same time. They are a recent innovation in the world of guitar tuners and are a fantastic choice for making quick adjustments on the fly. They are also the best choice for quickly inspecting your tuning in the middle of a song.
Final Thoughts on Best Guitar Tuners
Accurate tuning is paramount to a good performance. In other words, few things can ruin a performance in the way an out-of-tune guitar can. You need to be in tune at all times.
This often means tuning between songs, sometimes even during the song being performed. For this to happen, you need an accurate and convenient tuner that can keep up with the pace of a live performance. In this article, we’ve given you 7 options that do exactly that.
To recap, the Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal is Our Top Pick for this list. Baed on Boss’ best-selling pedal ever it gives you great accuracy and convenience in its traditional stompbox form factor.
The Ibanez BigMini Tuner Pedal is our Best Budget Option. Its small size and weight are great for tight pedalboards.
The Peterson StroboStomp HD Pedal Tuner is our Editor’s Choice. As one of the most accurate tuners with a fantastic strobe and large LED screen. As expected, you get what you pay for, and this is also the most expensive tuner on this list, and rightfully so.