My Favorite Guitar Tuner App (and Why)

No doubt you carry around a tuner or two in your guitar bag. It’s not like they’re that expensive. Yet somehow in that moment when you need your tuner most, it’s just not available. Maybe it’s tucked away in your bag or out of batteries.

In this day and age there is one thing we almost always have with us, though…our smart phones.

Today I want to quickly share with you my favorite guitar tuner app and explain why I recommend paying $4.99 for this tuner app instead of downloading one of the many free tuners on the App store market.

VITALtuner App Review

I opened this tuner app for the first time without any super-high expectations. Like I said before, I’ve used plenty of free tuner apps in the past and I usually end up deleting them quickly. Either they’re not very accurate or just not that simple to use.

Not so with the VITALtuner guitar tuner app.

It’s obvious that a lot of time and effort has been spent to make this the best guitar tuner app possible. It’s very accurate, loads quickly and over the past 4 months that I’ve been using it has come in handy on many occasions.

Tuner Modes

First of all, the app allows you 4 different tuner “modes” that cater to different scenarios:

The "easy tuner" from the VITALtuner guitar tuner app

This Easy Tuner is meant for the guitarist that might be just starting out. The tuner is pretty straight forward and has a graphic on the right that tells you which string you should be striking.

The "advanced tuner" from VITALtuner guitar tuning app

The Advanced Tuner gives you more details including your decibel level, note on the staff (helpful for tuning instruments other than guitar, which I’ll get to in a moment), and a greater breakdown of cents for more accurate tuning.

The "stage tuner" from VITALtuner guitar tuning app

The Stage Tuner is a basic tuner that emits low light for situations like on stage where you don’t want this massive phone screen lighting up your face in front of everyone.

The "stage bright tuner" from the VITALtuner guitar tuner app

The Stage Bright Tuner is exactly the same as the stage tuner above except that it works well in outdoor situations where you need a brighter screen to see.

It’s easy enough to jump between the different tuner modes but it also remembers the mode I last used – even if I close out the app – so that every time I open the app it jumps to the tuner I want without hassle.

Finally, by pressing the sound note icon you see on each of these tuner skins I can access a special “Reference Pitches” section of the app that allows me to use my phone speakers to give me a pitch.

As you can see below, from this screen I can adjust the volume, pitch, waveform and specific note. It’s incredibly intuitive and very useful.

Reference pitches in the VITALtuner guitar tuner app

Tuning with VITALtuner

One the major drawbacks of most free tuner apps is their inability to either hear my guitar properly or accurately assess the pitch. In the dead silence of a closed room I might get it to work but go anywhere else and it’s a lost cause. This is especially true for my lower strings.

The primary reason I recommend VITALtuner is that they have been able to get my phone to hear me better. Not only are the readings quite accurate when I compare them with a dedicated tuner, VITALtuner even has the ability to “hear” my lower strings.

Otreus, the maker of the VITALtuner, says on their website that it’s because of their “state-of-the-art tuning engine” that is more reliable in picking up all the strings accurately. Whatever they’ve done, it works.

Buy VITALtuner on the Apple App Store

Tuner Options with the VITALtuner App

In addition to skins, VITALtuner has cool settings that make a useful app for any musician, not just guitarists.

In the settings section I can see “Instrument Tunings” and a list of various instruments I can tune.  These include banjo, bass, cello, mandolin, ukelele, violin and many others.

Tune different instruments with the VITALtuner tuning app

When choosing each instrument, I am given a list of the most used tunings for each, which I love. For instance, if I choose “Bass Guitar,” I get options for a 4-, 5-, and 6-string bass. There are also such tunings as the “Drop D” (4 string) or the “Low B” (5 string).

That’s a fascinating feature but perhaps not one you’ll use often. The guitar settings options, however, will get you excited.

When tuning a guitar, you will have the option for no less than 18 different tunings for a 6-string guitar.  Even more if you include 7-string and 12-string guitars!  These include Drop D, DADGAD, Nashville tuning and many other popular alternate tunings.  As well as less known tunings like “Esus2 Modal tuning” or “West African tuning”.

Crazy cool.

Alternate tunings offered by the VITALtuner tuning app

If that doesn’t convince you that the VITALtuner app is a quality guitar tuning app, I’m not sure what will.


Without a doubt, I am incredibly pleased with VITALtuner. It doesn’t replace my Boss pedal app for on-stage needs.  But, it’s a perfect tool to keep that will always be easily accessible in my pocket.

If you’re tired of crappy tuner apps taking up space on your phone, just give VITALtuner a try. It will be $5 worth spending for any musician.

VITALtuner works on both iPhone and iPad.  It is even more accurate if you use a cable that connects your guitar to your iDevice. I’d say the only negative about this tuner app is that it isn’t available for Android.

Buy VITALtuner on the Apple App Store

Further Guitar Tuning Resources:

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