No matter what level of guitarist you are – from a beginner guitarist to a professional – acoustic guitar tuners are an essential piece of equipment to have with you wherever you go. This ultimate buyer’s guide will help you research and choose the best acoustic guitar tuner.
I’ve had more tuners in my 20 years of playing guitar than I care to count and in that time I’ve learned that not all tuners are created equal. Not only are there different quality tuners, there are also different types of tuners to be used in different situations.
Therefore, I’ve decided to approach this guitar tuner guide from two angles: first is the different kinds of acoustic guitar tuners followed by the top 5 best acoustic guitar tuners for each of these categories.
Let me know if this was helpful to you in the comments below and please share with those who might find it useful!
Clip-On Acoustic Guitar Tuners
One of the most popular types of acoustic guitar tuner today is the clip on tuner because it’s cheap, compact, and easy to use.
Most clip-on acoustic guitar tuners are clipped onto the headstock of the guitar and detect the vibration of the guitar through the clip. The advantages of clip-ons are huge! Clip-on tuners:
- work well in a loud environment without a problem
- can be hidden behind the headstock
- are usually quite accurate
In conclusion, for those who need something quick and relatively cheap, a clip on tuner is the way to go.
Pedal Tuners for Acoustic Electric
For those who own an acoustic electric guitar and tend to play gigs, a pedal tuner seems like the acoustic guitar tuner of choice.
Not only is it more accurate, a pedal tuner can also act as a mute switch, and A/B router and many other things. It also just looks a lot more professional than a clip-on tuner, which may or may not be a big deal to you.
There are a few different pedal tuners below, but I’m going to go ahead and say here that the best pedal tuner BY FAR is the Boss TU-3 tuner. More acoustic guitarists use this one more than any other tuner. And, it is one of the best quality tuners available on the market today.
There is a new brand called Polytune Pedal Tuner, however, that has introduced an incredible new feature: now instead of just plucking one string at a time you can strum your guitar and it will tell you which strings are sharp or flat. A much quicker way to tune your acoustic guitar!
In conclusion, I highly recommend you spend the extra money on the Boss or the Polytune. These two will last you decades and you’ll be glad you have them.
Standalone Acoustic Guitar Tuners
There are some people who prefer a more traditional approach to tuning, therefore, a standalone acoustic guitar tuner. There are actually some advantages to using these tuners that I’ll explain below. But the major disadvantage is the use of a tuning mic.
Because the standalone guitar tuner uses a microphone to pick up the sound, any ambient noise causes inaccuracies. That means that in order to tune your guitar you need to be in a very quiet environment away from any distracting noises.
The plus side to a standalone acoustic guitar tuner is that they usually come with some interesting features. There are some like the Korg TM50 that have a built-in metronome (very useful for a beginner acoustic guitarist) and one that even has a digital chord chart like the Quik Tune GP1.
In conclusion, whatever you decide to get, make sure you get a chromatic tuner (in case you ever want to deviate from the standard tuning).
Other Acoustic Guitar Tuners
The above three guitar tuner categories cover almost all of the tuners you would want. But there are a couple others that I want to mention as well.
There are some guitars that come with an on-board tuner that might be perfect for what you need. Check your guitar electronics and make sure that there’s not a small button that says “tuner”.
There are also quite a few beginner guitars that come with a tuner on board. One example is the Takamine EG124C Classical guitar. These tuners are usually just a small LED screen on the top portion of the body of the guitar.
Mobile App Guitar Tuners
It is especially relevant that nowadays you can get free or cheap versions of a mobile app guitar tuner. They use the microphone of the phone, which is usually accurate enough a beginner, however, it works much better if you buy a guitar to mobile device adapter.
Most of the free guitar tuner apps, however, don’t work really well. Nevertheless, you can still get a quality iPhone guitar tuner.
In addition to tuner apps, it is possible to use a free online guitar tuner when you’re on your desktop.
Crazy Capo Tuner
Lastly, I’ve already talked about capos in my Ultimate Guitar Capo Guide. One thing I didn’t mention, though, is one of the most interesting mashups of guitar accessories I’ve ever seen.
It’s the guitar capo and tuner combo. I’ve never used it myself but it definitely has that “wow” effect since it’s not a common sight.