Finding the best guitar tuner around isn’t exactly simple. You want something that clips on to your guitar nice and easily, is fast as well as accurate. You also need to make sure that you purchase something durable that’s clearly made to last.
Below we’ve listed 4 of the best clip on guitar tuners available which we’re sure you’ll love.
Donner Guitar Tuner
The great thing about this guitar tuner is how durable it is. This is down to the fact that it’s strong and resistant enough for all levels of guitar players. It’s a very simple design to use consisting of a single button. All you need to do is clip the tuner to your guitar and turn on the power. The display can be seen from various angles due to the cleverly designed clip which makes it rotational. This makes the screen nice and easy to see regardless of how you’re using the guitar.
We’re impressed with the high level of precision that this tuner detects. It comes with a very sensitive vibration clip which helps you do get your guitar tunes as quickly as possible. You’ll be happy to hear that this purchase comes with a real peace of mind due to the guarantee. This allows you to get a replacement should it stop working within the first year.
Snark ST-8 Super Tight Clip On Tuner
Next up on the list we’ve got the SNARK ST-8 Super Tight Clip on Tuner. This impressive option comes with a recently designed processing chip and pitch calibration making it easy to accurately tune any instrument. The high definition display makes it very easy to read the screen in all kinds of lightings.
The screen is also fully rotating which means you can check the tuner at any angle. This clips on to your guitar very tightly meaning you don’t need to worry about it falling off your guitar. When using this tuner you’ll have your guitar in tune comfortably in a matter of minutes. The simplistic yet effective design makes this a great tuner with good value for money.
Snark SN1 Guitar Tuner
Next up on the list is another tuner made by SNARK, this is the SNARK SN1 Guitar Tuner. What we love about this guitar tuner is how easy it is to use. You just need to clip it to your guitar and you’re ready to go! This comes with a full color display which looks really great regardless of how well lit your environment is. It can be used all over the head stock with no spots that are unusable.
This comes with a transpose feature and you’re able to tune your guitar even with the capo on which we found great. This is a highly sensitive tuner which makes it very accurate. This product has all the qualities of a brilliant guitar tuner.
Fender Clip-On Tuner
Next up on the list is a tuner from a widely recognised household name. It’s a clip on tuner from Fender (you might have heard of them). This is a small tuner but a very effective one. It’s suitable use in a variety of places including stage conditions with dim lighting. This is due to the fact that the easy to read LCD display clearly displays white when out of tune and changes to bright green when the tune is in.
While this name brand tuner is fairly small, it’s very cost effective making it a really popular model. It’s worth noting that you’ll need a very small phillips screwdriver when the time comes to open the battery compartment.
Guitar Tuner Buyers Guide
In order to be successful as a musician and create good sounding music, you need your guitar to be in tune. Some people may claim to have an ear for it. Most people need a guitar tuner of some kind, especially when they are first starting out.
You have the option of using a pedal tuner, clip on tuner, or hand held tuner. It is possible to get a good guitar tuner in the $15 to $20 price range. You can also spend thousands of dollars on one if you choose.
Most tuners today are electric and will tell you if your strings are playing too sharp or too flat.
Using either lights or a needle, the indicator will be to the left if your note is flat and to the right if it is sharp. With that knowledge, you can adjust accordingly. Some experts recommend tuning up to your note. Meaning if you are too sharp take it way down and then work your way up to the right pitch.
There are some tuners that do not react to the string you play but instead play a tone for each string. It is then up to you to match the sounds your guitar is making to the sounds the tuner is making. This method is a little more advanced, especially when you are getting close but cannot tell if you are too sharp or too flat.
Benefits of a Guitar Tuner
When shopping for your first guitar, a good tuner may be the most important accessory to go along with it. Buy one before buying a fancy strap or case. If you are first starting out and your playing is sounding a bit off it is important to determine if it is you or the guitar.
More specifically, is it your strumming or is the guitar out of tune. The tuner can serve as a visual representation of pitch. This allows your eyes to help your ears recognize when the instrument is in perfect tune.
The first sign of an inexperienced guitar player is one with their instrument out of tune. Don’t let this be you! If you plan on playing with a band it is especially important to be in tune. You don’t want to ruin your band’s sound or stick out in a bad way.
Even the most experienced player who generally tunes by ear has use for a guitar tuner. During a performance on stage it is way too loud for anyone to accurately tune their instrument. Especially without the help of an electric tuner.
Why Do Guitars Go Out Of Tune?
Once your guitar is in tune once you are set forever, right? Wrong. There are several reasons a guitar may go out of tune:
This can cause the materials to expand and contract, changing the tension of the strings. Both the strings themselves and the wood the guitar is made of are susceptible to this.
Aggressive guitar playing
Playing too hard can cause it to go out of tune, especially if you are bending the strings.
Poor hardware anywhere on the guitar can cause it to go out of tune more frequently than it should. Even one off piece can make a big difference. That being said, no matter how fancy your guitar is, it’ll need an occasional tuning.
Over time,your strings will become heavier due to them accumulating oil and dirt from your fingers. Older strings oxidize, although this is a very slow process. Eventually, these things add weight to your strings and cause them to be out of tune. This is the main reason strings should be replaced roughly every 3 months or after approximately 100 hours of play.
What to Consider When Buying a Guitar Tuner
We will get to the benefits and drawbacks of clip on tuners or pedal tuners in a later section. One option you have when selecting your guitar tuner is whether you want a chromatic or non-chromatic tuner. A non-chromatic tuner is only designed to tune a guitar in the conventional way – EADGBE.
If you only plan on using it to tune your guitar in the standard fashion, a non-chromatic tuner is a fine option. Also one that can save you some money. If you want to tune other instruments, or experiment with alternative tuning styles, get a chromatic tuner. These tuners will show you tuning relative to the nearest semi-tone. This is what makes it more flexible than a non-chromatic tuner. This is more advanced, meaning a chromatic tuner will suit your needs just fine. Especially in the beginning and you can consider upgrading in the future.
A handheld tuner may seem appealing, especially because they tend to be cheap. Keep in mind the types of environments you want to play in. The major downside of this style of tuner is how ineffective they are in loud environments. They also are not as accurate as other tuners. If it is all you can afford in the beginning, it is definitely better than nothing.
As always, your budget will play a factor in what you buy. The range of prices of guitar tuners is almost as vast as that of guitars. Consider if you want to buy one very nice tuner or if you will need a couple to meet all of your needs.
It may seem obvious, but make sure you can actually read your guitar tuner. Consider where you will be playing. Outside or in well lit places? Then a bright LED screen may not be that important. On the other hand, if you are playing stage shows in the dark it had better be nice and bright. Do you like the needle style? Different colors showing you whether it is sharp or flat? All of these things can change your experience using it. Be sure that you pick one that you can interpret quickly and accurately.
While most tuners will work for almost any guitar. If you are playing a specialized instrument, such as a 7-string guitar, baritone guitar, or a 6 string bass. You will need a tuner that will adjust to those settings. If you want to play heavy metal music, a guitar with special tuning modes will let you use “drop tuning.” This changes the standard “A” reference to “D” or “Eb.”
What Makes a Good Guitar Tuner
A quality tuner is going to get the job done for you qiuckly every time. It will be easy to use. There are several features that can give you electric tuner even more usefulness.
Polyphonic tuning: A new and amazing feature that some top of the line tuners have. This is the ability to tune all six strings with one strum, called polyphonic tuning. Talk about quick and easy! You can find this feature on clip on, pedal, and hand-held style tuners.
Some tuners only allow you to tune to the standard pitch. In the United States is A above middle C being set at 440Hz. Note different bands and orchestras do not always use this same standard. A more advanced tuner will allow you to calibrate to frequencies other than the standard concert pitch.
If you want to get fancy, you can change your tuner’s temperament settings. The temperament of your instrument is how notes are tuned in relation to others. Each octave is divided into 12 equal parts. With equal temperament, your instrument will sound in tune with every key. However, some unique and beautiful music can be created by changing the temperament. As you become more advanced in your playing it may be something you want to tweak. Just remember, when the temperament is not equal some keys will be out of tune.
Auto Pitch Detection
A more advanced guitar tuner can detect the played tone automatically and help you tune it. Some of the less expensive ones require you to set the target pitch for each string. This takes more time, but the results should be as good.
Only available on pedal tuners, this feature allows you to tune your guitar 100% visually. It bypasses the output to the sound system so no noise comes out. You can imagine all of the circumstances where that would come in handy.
A tuner that is good for beginners will have a metronome feature.
Guitar Tuner Pedal Vs. Clip On Guitar Tuner
Clip on tuners are generally cheaper as well as more portable. They work by picking up on the vibrations of your guitar’s strings. Popular with both types of guitars, they are especially common for acoustic guitar players. They can be moved from one instrument to another. Being battery powered can be considered both a pro and a con. Batteries make them portable but can be inconvenient if they die during a show. Unfortunately, clip on tuners are also easy to steal and can have a tendency to walk off.
Pedal tuners are usually much pricier than the clip on ones. They are AC/DC powered, meaning you will never have to worry about one not working when you need it. It can be mounted permanently to your pedal board if you desire. Also, the display on a pedal tuner is usually larger and easier to read. The pedal tuner can double as a mute switch, another convenient feature.
If you are going to be performing with other musicians on stage, a clip on tuner will only be useful before hand. If you want to tune up while out on stage, the vibrations of the other instruments will render your clip on useless. This is one reason many people prefer the pedal tuners. Ultimately, you may find yourself wanting one of each: a pedal tuner for performances and a clip on tuner for camping or traveling. It really depends on where and how you play. For more information on Clip on tuners check out this post.
Final Thoughts on Clip on Tuners
Many people want to learn to play the guitar so they can play their favorite songs. If you have mastered the chords but your cover sounds nothing like the original, it is likely you are playing an out of tune instrument. Investing in a tuner or two can help you during the learning process as well as keep your music sounding amazing. Someday you might be able to tune by ear. In the meantime utilizing a good quality tuner is definitely acceptable.
Electric and acoustic guitars may differ in many ways but they both are tuned the same. Just like you had to put a lot of thought into deciding which type of guitar is good for you and your style, the same will go for choosing your tuner.
Routine tasks such as tuning your guitar and keeping it clean are key to ensuring your guitar stays great for a long time.
You can’t sound good if your instrument doesn’t. Buy a tuner as soon as possible. If money allows buy one the same time you buy your guitar, so you can set yourself up for success as you learn to play.