Nothing in the whole world of making music is more annoying than a musician who can’t get his sh** straight and tune his instrument. Seriously, it’s the dumbest and most-easy-to-avoid mistake anyone on a stage can do. Even if you’re just starting out and can’t hear the difference between a perfectly tuned, and a not-so-perfectly-tuned guitar (not blaming you, we all were at that point), you should still use a guitar tuner to get your guitar in tune. To prevent you from looking like an idiot on stage, I’ve put together this guide to the best guitar tuner. Below you will find five of my personal favorite guitar tuners that will help you stay in tune!
What kinds of guitar tuners are there?
As you might have figured by now (at least after reading the headline above) there are different kinds of guitar tuners out there to accomodate every guitarist’s need:
|These are tuners are the most basic ones: you just plug your guitar in them and unplug them once you’re done. Also headstock tuners are included here.||These guitar tuners are put on the floor in front of you and activated with a footswitch.||Rack tuners are put into your effects rack and constantly keep track of your tuning there.|
What makes a tuner the best guitar tuner?
This one is easy you might say: the best guitar tuner should have the most exact tuning processor inside to give your guitar the perfect tuning! Of course this is the most important factor, but there are further things to consider:
- Is the guitar tuner built to last, even on wet conditions (like open-airs)? Can it withstand constant transportation?
- How well do the buttons work? Especially a floor tuner can’t be the best guitar tuner if the footswitch doesn’t work from time to time (leaving you standing there, playing your solo, while the tuner still mutes your guitar – d’oh!)
- Is it well-isolated or does it increase the noise coming from your guitar while muted? Bad electronics can generate quite a bit of “hum” which kills every proper noise-cancelling!
- Are there additional features? For example, Polytune tuners show each string at the same time, making it easier to find strings that are out of tune. This can become quite handy during live concerts!
The list: the best guitar tuners!
Okay, let’s get down to business – which are the best guitar tuners out there? I’ve selected the following five best guitar tuners in my opinion below. They’re put together from all different kinds of guitar tuners, and the price heavily varies. But one thing is for sure: each of these tuners is built-to-last, works well and is a great bang-for-the-buck!
Korg’s tuners are nearly always among the best guitar tuners – they’re well built and you’ll get a good piece of equipment in every price category. The DT10 is no exception: it is floor tuner housed in a metal case that is built to be on stage. The 13 LED points in the display give you a quite detailed look on your tuning – not as precise as a strobe tuner though, but still very good! These LEDs are also quite bright, so you will not have any trouble seeing something on a dark stage. You can either use it via battery (not included) or with a 9V power supply. Overall a great tuner for the price!
Price: Around 50 USD
Boss is another company that has a history of great effects pedals and tuners. The TU-3 is their most famous model and is known from stages all over the world as it’s the world’s top-selling stage tuner. This floor tuner is also housed inside a highly reliable metal case. The higher price compared to the Korg DT-10 results from a more detailed display (21 LEDs instead of 16) and more features: you can select your standard tuning and it will show which string you’re playing and tells you when you’re done. It also features a very bright display (good for sunny days) and automatically mutes the instrument while tuning. This little box gets its shit perfectly done, which is why it’s one of the best guitar tuners out there!
Price: Around 100 USD
Okay, now we’re switching to professional rack gear for a moment! The Peterson StroboRack Tuner is a rack tuner (duh?) and also one that uses strobe technology. This technology allows a more precise tuning compared to competitors as the strobe display is not limited to 16 or 21 LEDs. The 1/10 cent accuracy makes it one of the most accurate and best guitar tuners out there today. The bright display also helps to see the rack tuner on nearly every part of the stage (as it’s no floor tuner…). The presets and further functionalities are worth the price-tag, plus it just looks extremely cool in any rack. Some say it’s simply the best guitar tuner on the market right now, and I can’t prove them wrong.
Price: Around 360 USD
TC Electronic is another company with a huge tradition of great guitar effects and pedals (check out the G-Major!). The Polytune guitar tuner is a great piece of equipment as well. It is the only one displayed here that offers the possibility to tune all strings at once – which means you just hit all strings and that little floor pedal figures out which string is out of tune. There are only a few new technologies coming up in the guitar world that make sense, and this is surely one of them! It’s just perfect to check quickly between songs if you actually need to tune your guitar again or if you’re fine. It has a great, bright retina display and a very precise strobe mode as well, all put into a sturdy metal box. Surely one of the best guitar tuners out there!
Price: Around 95 USD
The Korg Pitchblack is the tuner that I actually use on stage. I just needed a well-built and compact tuner I can rely on, and this tuner does it perfectly! It is a kind of “no frills” pedal – it just does what it has to do and can’t be destroyed. Seriously, I think you can drive your tank over it and it’ll still work (don’t try this at home kids). As our shows include pyrotechnics, this reliability comes in extremely handy. It is 100% true bypass which means that it does not affect your tone in anyway when it’s not used. When you use it, you can actually switch between four differenz tuning modes as well. As simple as it is, it is the most pragmatic stage pedals there are and surely one of the best guitar tuners out there.
Price: Around 45 USD
To sum it all up: all of these guitar tuners presented above are high-quality and provide a great bang-for-the-buck for a gigging musician. If you’re just starting out, the Korg Pitchblack might be the best choice for you as it’ll serve all your needs as a beginner. If you’re gigging way more often, the additional features of a Peterson StrobeRack or a TC Electronic Polytune might be needed. Whichever of these five you’l pick though – you’ll get a great piece of equipment!