Have you ever struggled to tune your guitar by ear? Or had one of your bandmates ask, “are you sure you’re in tune?” Or thought to yourself that something about your sound just seems off? Or you just put some new strings on your guitar and you’re tired of completely retuning every five minutes?
Even the best acoustic guitars need to be tuned frequently. A good clip-on guitar tuner can help you solve these common tuning problems.
Clip-on tuners work by sensing the vibrations made by your guitar as the sound resonates, and they are a portable and convenient option for acoustic guitar players. But which is the best guitar tuner for your specific needs? Here I’ll run down a few popular and reliable options for the best tuners that will meet your needs and help you keep your guitar in tune.
Top Clip-On Tuners: Our Picks
Who would have thought that Snark could be dethroned as the clip on tuner? Well, D’Addario has managed to do it with their D’Addario NS Micro. This cleverly designed micro clip-on tuner can be positioned behind your guitar’s headstock, making it totally discreet and able to remain on your instrument at all times.
The clip is adjustable and can swivel into any position. The display can be flipped so that you see the tuning in the upright position no matter how you have it located on your guitar. The colors that indicate your tuning are easy to see and the letters are bold and large. Because it reads vibrations instead of sound waves it can be used even in the loudest of venues.
The NS Micro not only functions as a tuner, but also as a metronome with adjustable bpm, making it a great practice tool when you’re traveling. Little innovations like this make the NS Micro the top rated tuner.
Snark has long been the go-to clip on tuner for guitarists, and for good reason. The Super Snark 2 offers improved accuracy and a higher resolution screen for faster, more reliable vibration based tuning on the go.
With its easy to read interface, this chromatic tuner is a great option for beginners who don’t yet have a pedalboard. It is small in stature and can fit in any guitar case. The swivel head makes it easy to see regardless of what kind of guitar you have it on. You really can’t go wrong with a Snark tuner and the newest edition has made all the minor improvements that the original was needing.
The TC Electronic Polytune is a slightly more advanced tuner than its competitors in that it has the ability to tune all six of your strings at the same time. Anyone who is familiar with the pedal version of this tuner will be familiar with its interface, though this may be a bit much for beginners to handle.
The Polytune is a great option for guitars that have three tuning pegs on either side of the headstock, as it can be clipped onto the back of the head and then laid down flush against the headstock when not in use. Guitars with 6 tuners along one side of the head stock unfortunately can’t benefit from this design concept.
What the Polytune lacks in universal design it gains in its ability to tune multiple strings at once with supreme accuracy so that you can pinpoint a pesky out of tune string quickly.
Korg has improved upon their previous clip-on tuner by giving the Korg Pitchclip 2 nearly double the LED lights, thereby offering you a greater understanding of how in or out of tune your guitar is. It can clip onto any guitar with its lightweight design and swivel head for easy visuals.
Though the Pitchclip 2 doesn’t have any truly unique design concepts to separate it out from its competitors, it does the job as well as any of the others and is worth the upgrade.
Boss was the first company to truly offer an industry standard tuner and they have brought their expertise into the world of clip on tuners with the Boss TU-03.
The tuner itself uses orange lights to signal no tuning or out of tune and green lights to indicate that you are in tune. This chromatic tuner uses a needle to show you exactly how in tune you are.
The TU-03 is also a great practice tool with its built in metronome, which can be adjusted to any bpm and works in a number of different time signatures, with different pitched beeps indicating the beginning of a new measure.
Though not a flashy tuner, the TU-03 is reliable and shows Boss has top of the line engineering even in their smallest products.
There are many factors that go into picking the best clip on tuner for your needs. Price, precision, convenience, durability, and display quality all come into play. There are some great budget tuners on this list, and more expensive models that offer extremely high accuracy. But you can’t go wrong with any of these models, and all of them will have you on your way to that perfectly tuned sound in no time.
Check out this helpful video for a tutorial on using a digital tuner to tune your guitar: