5 Best Guitar Tuners: Every Type Reviewed [2023]

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Looking for the best guitar tuners? Want to make sure your guitar always sounds like it should?

A great guitar tuner is essential for any guitar player. An out-of-tune guitar will sound pretty bad no matter who has the instrument in their hands, so it’s important to get a great tuner and use it often.

Luckily, there are plenty of great guitar tuners on the market and there are different kinds to suit every player’s preference.

If you want to find a great tuner, look no further. Below are the best guitar tuners that you can choose from, no matter what type of guitar tuner you prefer.

Best Guitar Tuners – Quick View

Pedal Tuner: TC Electronic Polytune 3Check Price on Amazon
Clip-On Tuner: Snark SN5XCheck Price on Amazon
Handheld Tuner: Korg GA1Check Price on Amazon
Soundhole Tuner: D'Addario NS Micro Soundhole TunerCheck Price on Amazon

What Is a Guitar Tuner?

A guitar tuner is a guitar accessory that can allow you to tune your instrument’s strings to various pitches. In order for your instrument to sound “in tune” and create pleasant sounds, it will be necessary to tune the strings to specific pitches and frequencies.

The standard tuning for a guitar is a frequency of 440hz and pitches as follows:

  • 6th string: E (low)
  • 5th string: A
  • 4th string: D
  • 3rd string: G
  • 2nd string: B
  • 1st string: E (high)

While there are many other guitar tunings that you can use, this standard tuning is all that most beginner guitarists will need to use. Using this tuning and tuning your guitar up regularly using a guitar tuner will allow you to play chord shapes and have them sound like they’re supposed to.

Keep in mind that guitar tuners don’t just work for the guitar. Most guitar tuners can also be used with any other stringed instrument as well including the bass guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin, and more.

Types of Guitar Tuners

Guitar tuners come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also vary in cost. Luckily, even if you’re on a budget, you can easily find a quality guitar tuner.

Here are a few of the main types of guitar tuners you can choose from:

  • Standalone Chromatic Tuners
  • Clip-On Tuners
  • Pedal Tuners
  • Smartphone Tuners

Guitar tuners now are largely electronic and come with a display screen that lets you know how close you are to the desired pitch. The screen can even be a set of LED lights in the shape of a scale. There are even smartphone apps that you can download to help you tune your guitar as well.

While the type of guitar tuner you use depends on personal preference, most of them work pretty much the same way.

Top Guitar Tuners of Every Type – REVIEWED

Ready to get started? Here’s our list of the best guitar tuners.

Pedal Tuner: TC Electronic PolyTune 3

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TC Electronic PolyTune 3

If you’re looking for a great pedal tuner that you can easily plug your guitar directly into, the TC Electronic PolyTune 3 is the best choice for you.

This tuner allows you to easily plug into your guitar for quick and efficient tuning. This tuner is highly accurate and is also polyphonic, meaning you can tune all of the strings at once. The pedal tuner can be used with true bypass or can be switched to an all-analog buffered bypass.

Overall, if you’re an electric guitar player or you plug your guitar in often, then you need to have this guitar pedal in your collection. This is the best guitar tuner pedal that’s currently available.

Clip-On Tuner: Snark SN5X

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Snark SN5X Clip-On Guitar Tuner

The Snark name is synonymous with clip-on tuners, and for good reason. The Snark SN5X is the best clip-on guitar tuner and works flawlessly. It also offers great value for the price you’ll pay for it.

The tuner is incredibly accurate and the display is easy to read. The tuner is also very flexible and easy to use and the display can be swiveled 360 degrees so you can get the angle just right. Additionally, the tuner also features a built-in tap tempo metronome.

In my opinion, a guitar tuner is one of the most essential acoustic guitar accessories, so you should make sure to get a good one. The Snark SN5X is a great option.

Overall, this tuner offers great value and is the first product you should look at if you want to have a great clip-on tuner.

Handheld Tuner: Korg GA1

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Korg Handheld Guitar Tuner

If you just need an easy-to-use handheld tuner, the Korg GA1 is probably the only one you’re likely to need.

The tuner features a long battery life, impressive accuracy, and a great LCD display. The Korg GA1 is perfect for both guitarists and bassists. It allows for standard tunings as well as 5-string bass and 7-string guitars.

While there are handheld tuners with more features on the market, this one simply offers the best value and reliability for the money.

Soundhole Tuner: D’Addario NS Micro Soundhole Tuner

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D'Addario Soundhole Guitar Tuner

Although a bit less common than the other types of guitar tuners on this list, a soundhole tuner can be a great choice. The best of the bunch is the D’Addario NS Micro Soundhole Tuner.

This small tuner can be easily clipped to the inside of your soundhole. The tuner works great for acoustic guitars and will be hidden from audience members and non-intrusive while playing. The tuner works quickly and features a very easy-to-read display.

Overall, this is a great choice if you prefer to have your tuner in your soundhole. It’s the best acoustic guitar tuner of this type that’s currently available.

Smartphone Tuner: GuitarTuna by Yousician

GuitarTuna App

As we previously mentioned on our list of the best Android apps, GuitarTuna is a great smartphone app for tuning your guitar. This guitar tuning app is one of the most popular ones available and is available on both Android devices and iOS devices.

The app has plenty of useful features and is also very accurate and easy to use. GuitarTuna features a chromatic tuner as well as presets for 100 tunings and 15 different instruments.

Overall, if you want a great tuner that is conveniently located on your smartphone then this is one of the best options you can choose from.

By the way, there are a lot of other great guitar apps out there as well, so be sure to check out my post on free Android guitar apps next.

Tuning Your Guitar

Fender Guitar Head

Once you turn on your guitar tuner and start playing a string on your guitar, you should be able to see a meter that shows you how close you are to the correct note.

The standard tuning of a guitar is EADGBE. Here’s how a standard guitar should be tuned:

E (6th String) [The top string, also the lowest pitched]
A (5th String)
D (4th String)
G (3rd String)
B (2nd String)
E (1st String) [The bottom string, the highest pitched]

Many tuners will be preset to help you reach this tuning and will automatically recognize which string you’re playing as you start tuning it. You can then turn the tuning pegs to where you want the string’s note to be on the chromatic scale.

Then, you will have to repeat this process for each string until they are tuned. Once you’re finished with this it’s time for the next step.

Keep in mind that if you’re trying to use an alternate tuning, on the other hand, it will be a bit trickier. You may have to set your tuner to “chromatic” mode so that you’ll be able to tune any string to any note. However, much of the process will be the same.

Staying In Tune

Once you have the correct pitch, begin playing. Also, bend your strings and do some strumming. After playing with the strings a bit, check the tune using your guitar tuner.

Sometimes, you’ll find the pitch has changed. By the time you finish tuning every string of your guitar, you may notice that a previously tuned string is already starting to sound slightly out of tune.

Your guitar may be pitched correctly when you initially tune it, but it can start changing once you begin playing. This happens due to the tension caused by the strings on the neck of your guitar or faulty and cheap tuning pegs.

As you play the guitar, you may need to check it regularly. It is important to tune your guitar more than just once and keep tuning it as needed.

Cheap guitars are especially prone to going out of tune quickly. You may find that it’s necessary to retune and recheck your guitar strings several times before the pitch sticks.

How Do You Tune a Guitar Without a Tuner?

So what do you do if at a later time, you’re playing and notice you’re out of tune but you don’t have your tuner?

There are some ways to check your guitar’s tuning without a tuner but it isn’t always pitch-perfect unless you have an expert ear. Keep in mind that there are ways to improve your listening abilities with ear training techniques.

One of the more common methods to check if your guitar is in tune is to use natural harmonics. You can do this by placing your finger on the 5th or 7th frets and lightly touching them. The 5th fret of a lower string corresponds to the 7th fret. This string will allow you to hear the natural harmonics.

Another method is to simply use the 4th or 5th fret of the previous string to check your tuning by ear. The 5th fret of the low E string, for example, should be the same as the 5th string open. Here’s how that plays out:

E (6th String): This is your baseline, tune the rest of the strings to this one.
A (5th String): Same as 5th fret on the 6th string
D (4th String): Same as 5th fret on the 5th string
G (3rd String): Same as 5th fret on the 4th string
B (2nd String): Same as 4th fret on the 3rd string
E (1st String): Same as 5th fret on the 2nd string

Choosing the Ideal Guitar Tuner Type for Your Needs

If you’re serious about playing the guitar and always want to sound your best, then you need to invest in a great tuner that gets the job done right. Make sure that you consider the list above carefully if you want to find a great guitar tuner for your needs.

Want to make the most of your guitar tuner? Click here to learn how to use a guitar tuner correctly.