So you’re looking for a new guitar tuner, but don’t want to break the bank. The good news is that although a tuner is a guitar accessory that every guitar player needs to own, it’s not something that you need to spend too much money on.
For some it’s convenient to have an app on your smartphone. For others it’s better to have a physical device. Either way, here’s a list of the best guitar tuners and guitar tuner apps under $20 that will help you stay in tune.
1. Snark Tuner ($10 – $15)
The Snark Tuner is by far one the easiest to use tuners for beginners. Snark is a clip-on tuner making it quite portable, and accurate in loud environments. By now, Snark has several different models of tuners, including a chromatic model (SN5), a guitar and bass model (SN1), and one that will tune all instruments (SN11).
The Snark tuner has seen great success because of its ease of use, its large, easy to read display, and its ability to tune an instrument in any environment. Although its not the most accurate tuner, it is more than accurate for any beginner, and best of all it can tune in loud environments because it tunes from vibrations it senses rather than “hearing” vibrations.
Depending on which model you purchase, you may be able to alternately tune your guitar by adjusting the pitch upwards or downwards of 440Hz (standard tuning for most rock instruments).
2. Korg GA40 ($15)
The Korg GA40 is one of the best guitar tuners for beginners. It has a large, easy to read needle-type display. This tuner is more accurate than the Snark, but may be slightly harder to use. If you it with an electric guitar you will need to plug into the tuner to get an accurate reading, but if you’re using an acoustic guitar, you can use the built in mic, just make sure you’re in a quiet environment first.
The GA40 also features an output so you run it as part of your live set up without having to unplug from your amp before tuning.
Like the Snark, the Korg also features a “flat” button that you can use to downtune your guitar or bass. Finally, the GA40 features a “sound” button that will let you hear the actual pitch. From my own personal experience, this isn’t much use except to maybe acquaint you with the correct notes of a guitar.
GuitarTuna (Free App)
The GuitarTuna app is an easy to use, no-frills beginning guitar tuner. It will tune your guitar accurately, however, there is no option to alternately tune, and being that is an iPhone app, no real way to plug into your tuner. That means you’ll need a quiet environment to get an accurate reading.
The display features a needle tracing that changes colors from dark red to light green as you get more accurate. The app is ad-supported, but the ads don’t get in the way.
I only wish the app loaded faster, as having an out-of-tune guitar is ALWAYS an emergency, but for free, I would still highly recommend this app.
gStrings (Free App for Android)
The gStrings app is built for Android, and is a simple, easy to use guitar tuner, that gives you the option to tune chromatically, meaning you can tune any instrument to any note.
That makes alternate and down-tuning possible on a guitar or bass. Once again, you’ll need to hush everyone down first before using your tuner, but once you do, the display will read in “cents” for exceptional accuracy.