Best Acoustic Guitar Tuner

This is your guide to the best tuners for acoustic guitars - it includes information on the major types of tuners and we give recommendations to help you decide which is the best acoustic guitar tuner for you to buy.

Acoustic guitar tuners differ from tuners for electric guitars in that you don't have a cord to plug into the tuner - so without some kind of pickup in your guitar the tuner has to get the pitch of the strings in another way. The two main ways this is done is either with a microphone, or with a clip on tuner that picks up the string vibrations through the guitar itself.

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Contents:
1. Clip on Tuner
2. Acoustic Tuner
3. Tuner Software
4. Guitar Tuner Facts & Definitions

1. Clip on Tuner

These are sometimes also called a 'piezo tuner' because they use a piezoelectric sensor which, when attached directly to your guitar, is able to pick up the vibrations of the strings directly through the instrument. The advantage of contact tuners like these are that the surrounding sound causes almost no interference with your tuner.

These usually clip on to the headstock where the tuning pegs are, although some are designed to attach to the top of the guitar body.

The downside with these is that you can't use it to tune other acoustic instruments like brass or woodwind unless the tuner also has a built in microphone, and you may not like the look of them hanging off the end of your guitar.

The clip on tuners we recommend:

Peterson StroboClip

Peterson StroboClip

This is one of the most versatile clip on tuners available, and works with many other stringed instruments including Banjos, Ukeleles, Mandolins, and Dobros. It has special settings for alternate tunings and capos making it well suited for live performance where you need to make tuning changes quickly. It has auto-sleep and power-off functions to save the battery while you're not tuning, and a host of other top features. We highly recommend it for both it's 1/10 cent accuracy and its versatility.

The StroboClip costs more than other tuners in this category, and one of the main reasons is that it uses a proprietary virtual form of Strobe Tuner technology which provides its extremely high levels of accuracy (click here for an explanation on strobe tuners).

The MSRP is $89.99 but many online stores sell it for $69.99. See Peterson for further details.

Korg AW-2G

Korg AW-2G Clip on Tuner

This is a chromatic tuner accurate to +/- 1 cent, and has both a piezo sensor and a microphone. It has all the features you'd expect, but the thing that really makes this one stand out is the double ball-joint and adjustable-angle clip which allows you to clip this on to just about any guitar that exists, and let you place it in a position that gives you a good view of the screen while staying largely hidden from the audience's point of view.

The MSRP is $65.00 but you'll usually buy it online for $29.99 - we think the AW-2G offers the best value out of all the clip on options out there. See Korg for the full specs. Korg also makes a great headphone amp.

Snark SN-2

Snark SN2 Clip on Tuner

A versatile chromatic tuner for the price. It has both a vibration sensor and a built in microphone to let you tune virtually any instrument. The back-lit color display can be rotated through 360 degress and it also has settings for alternate tunings. One additional feature not found on other tuners is the built in tap-tempo metronome.

The MSRP is $39.99, but you can usually get it for less than $19.99 online. It doesn't come with all the pre-sets of some more expensive options, but it does represent good value for money. See Snark for further details.

2. Acoustic Tuner

These have a built in microphone and can usually be used to tune guitars and other instruments as well. The downside with these is they won't work very well with acoustic instruments in a noisy environment - particularly if there are other musicians around you trying to tune up at the same time.

Planet Waves Universal Chromatic Tuner II

Planet Waves Universal Chromatic Tuner II

This is the updated version of the best selling Planet Waves Universal Chromatic Tuner. The large LCD screen is easy to read and it has the added bonus of a 1/4" input which you can plug electronic instruments into. Designed for both Guitar and Bass it represents excellent value in this category.

The MSRP is $24.99 - you'll usually buy it online for around $17. Full specs are available at Planet Waves.

Boss TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner

Boss TU-12EX Chromatic Tuner

Boss are well regarded for the durability and reliability of their tuners - in fact you find many people are buying this to replace it's predecessor which they've been using for over 10 years. In addition to its built in mic, it also has In/Out jacks for electric guitars.

It has everything you'd expect from a tuner that can handle the range of any guitar or bass that's out there [E0 (20.6 Hz)- C8 (4,186.0 Hz)], and it has the expected accuracy of +/-1 cent. It's point of difference is the needle meter that lets you see exactly how far you are from the desired note, and it can make an audible beep to let you know you're in tune.

With an MSRP of $137.50, and the usual street price of $99, it's not the cheapest out there - but long term owners swear by the quality of Boss. See Boss for full specifications.

Korg GA40 Guitar and Bass Tuner

Korg GA40 Guitar and Bass Tuner

Korg produce some nice gear that combine good features and affordable prices, and the GA40 fits that description well.

It has both a built in microphone as well as a line in and out so you can use it for both acoustic and electric guitars. It has settings for drop tuning and also supports 7 string guitars (7B through 1E) and 6 string basses (Low-B and Hi-C).

Its MSRP is $30.00, and the usual online price is around $15. See Korg for full specifications.

3. Tuner Software / App

You can use a guitar tuner app on your Smartphone, PC, or Mac. An Android or iPhone tuner will generally use the built in microphone. We provide a basic description of each app here - click on the software title for more detailed information at Hitsquad.

Cleartune for Android & iOS

Cleartune for Android and iOS

Cleartune is a highly regarded chromatic tuning app. It has an intuitive interface and copes well with noisy situations. It has some pro features like transposition and custom temperaments.

It is priced at $3.99 in both the Apple App Store and Android Market.

Chromatia Tuner for Windows

Chromatia Tuner for Windows

Chromatia provides 32 alternate temperaments and scales - including historic tunings such as Pythagorean, mean-tone, just, and well tempered tunings, traditional folk scales, stretched piano tunings, and the common equal temperament tuning. It also Supports WASAPI, ASIO and DirectSound for low-latency.

You can download a trial version and if you decide to buy it the price is $19:95.

PitchPerfect Guitar Tuner for Mac OS X

PitchPerfect Guitar Tuner for Macintosh

PitchPerfect is a simple free guitar tuner for Mac OS X. It is a chromatic tuner and it does have automatic note detection.

It can work using your audio devices Microphone or Line In making it suitable for both acoustic and electric guitars.

gxtuner for Linux

gxtuner for Linux

gxtuner is a simple free guitar & bass tuner for Linux systems using jack audio.

It uses an equal-tempered scale based on A4 = 440 Hz.

4. Guitar Tuner Facts & Definitions

  • Automatic tuner - this is an easy guitar tuner to use because you don't have to tell it which note or string you are playing, it will work it out by itself and tell you which note is sounding and how sharp or flat it is. There are still some older types on the market which require you to tell it which note you want to tune to - we don't recommend you buy one of those and we haven't mentioned any above.
  • Chromatic tuner - Some guitar tuners can only tune the 6 notes of standard tuning - i.e. A E D G B E. A chromatic tuner can automatically tune to all 12 notes in the scale making it much more versatile in that you can use alternate tunings and tune other instruments.
  • Cents - A measurement of interval which is exactly 1/100th of a semitone. Although most people can't hear the difference between two successively played notes if the difference is less than 6 cents, you still need to tune to an accuracy of less than 2 cents. E.G. if one string is 5 cents below correct pitch, and another is 5 cents above, then the difference of 10 cents will sound out of tune. The accuracy of guitar tuners is measured in cents.
  • Online Tuner - Many of these just play a tone for you to listen and tune to, they don't tell you the pitch of your strings (click here for an example). Although these can be good for experienced musicians, we don't recommend a beginner use this type of tuning method.
  • Temperament - This is basically a particular tuning, different temperaments may have different ratios between intervals. This is an advanced topic - for the best explanation see Wikipedia

Related:
Cheap Acoustic Guitars Buyer's Guide
Acoustic Guitar Strings
Acoustic Guitar Straps
Acoustic Guitar Pickup Systems
Differences Between Electric & Acoustic Guitar Playing

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Love the list, Peterson is

Love the list, Peterson is pretty much a top of the line tuner.

Thanks for all the acoustic

Thanks for all the acoustic guitar tuner. Although not all the guitar tuner mentioned above are available in the market. My personal favorite is Snark SN-2 as it provides great colorful display.

Ram

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