At the very dawn of the rock music, when the genre was new and all the great musicians were just learning what was what, tuner pedals were a glimpse of future. Guitar players of those times had to tune by ear, spending quite a lot of time on the process. Some of them, like Eddie Van Halen and his buddies, experimented with tuning and created something unique. However, those days are long behind us. Nowadays, we have tuners in every possible form and shape and they are even featured in stomp boxes. This opens up the possibility of placing these little units on the pedal board, so that nothing can interfere with your tuning during your performance. We all know that there is an array of choices when it comes to these handy devices, but still there are some that really stand out. So, let’s figure out together, which one of them is the best tuner pedal on the market.
Top 10 Best Tuner Pedals
You need a tuner pedal but your pedalboard is overloaded? KLIQ TinyTune may be the perfect fit. This fella has one input to plug your guitar and one output to connect it to amplifier. It has a single footswitch, that activates true bypass mode (and turns your pedal on/off), meaning that it does not affect signal when turned off. TinyTune is equipped with bright display, which you can easily read from standing position. It has two buttons: A4 controls the reference pitch, while Flat can tune your sound down by 4 semitones (or less). After you set your tuner settings it will automatically appear on the next use. Due to its tiny size, this pedal does not have a battery compartment, but if you have a power supply, you will be good to go. So we have got simplicity in its pure nature in this solid affordable device.
- Very easy to use
- Affordable price
- Does not affect tone
- Needs power source
What we have got here can be called wizard’s creation. Key advantage of Polytune 2 is that you can tune all the strings at once, crazy right? You just strum the strings and it shows which the hell each stream is up to. It does not mean you cannot tune a single string. The pedal switches to chromatic mode and the LED light shows you what is happening exactly with your pirch. This device also has light adapted display, which means perfect clarity in the sunlight or in the dark room. Polytune 2 easily tracks very deep notes like A baritone. It has a special output, which allows you to use it as a power source for other pedals. Shortly, if you want your tuner to be something original you have to get this pedal.
- Advanced features
- Very good display
- Battery compartment is not easily accessible
We all remember the legendary TU-2, which was one of the most reliable pedals back in the day. Boss decided to upgrade the original and equip the revamped version with more precision. TU-3 features everything you loved in its predecessor, but corresponds to modern standards. It has +/-1 cent accuracy, meaning that it can tune faultlessly. Bright LED lights guarantee great visibility even on the darkest stages (or in outdoor settings). This pedal has an Accu-Pitch Sign, which lets you know when the tuning is terminated. Its Chromatic and Guitar/Bass modes are designed to support 7-string guitars and 6-string basses. TU-3 can drop your pitch by up to 6 semitones. Apart from sound-modifying features, this bad boy can act as a power supply for your pedal board. It is extremely durable and will last you through years of usage. However, it does not have a true bypass and is still a laid-back pedal compared to others. If you are looking for something simple, yet powerful, this is the one!
- Great build quality
- High accuracy
- Good visibility
- Nice upgrade from its predecessor
- Does not have a true bypass
- No additional features
Are you someone who is tired of tweaking all those buttons and is looking for something simple? If so, Korg Pitchblack Chromatic was made for you. It has a single footswitch that activates the pedal and that is. Press it and you are good to go. A large LED display on the chassis will let you tune your guitar anywhere. This pedal has four modes: Full Strobe, Half Strobe and Mirror show you if your chords are sharp, flat or in tune, while the Meter (a.k.a. default) displays the letter of the note you play that turns green when you step into the “correct” zone. Pitchblack Chromatic offers a true bypass and a noise-free operation, making sure that your sound is not colored. It is guarded with metal casing from the three sides that are exposed, with the bottom being plastic. This is a straight-forward pedal that knows how to get the job done. What else do you want, fella?
- Quiet operation
- Easy to use
- True bypass
- Bottom part is plastic
- A bit hard to read in daylight
I will not spend time on praising the quality of Fender products. We all know perfectly well that their devices offer durability and powerful performance. FTN-1 is not an exception to that rule. It is well-built and comes in a solid metal body. Simplicity is beauty and this pedal proves that in many ways. It has an easy-to-read display that will not blind your eyes neither on stage nor in daylight. With the true bypass and silence operation, FTN-1 guarantees zero sonic interference. Plus, it mutes the output automatically so that surrounding noise does not get in the way of your perfect tuning. This pedal offers so much precision and simplicity, that it is hard to say no to. It deserves a place on your pedal board for sure.
- Compact size
- True bypass
- Precise tuning
- Does not have a battery option
Joyo has been renowned for its affordable yet quality devices. They tend to do their job pretty well without any additional fuss and expenses. JT-305 falls into the same category. It is featured in a compact body, built with durable metal material. This little unit will fit even on the most overcrowded pedal board and will make sure that you have a nice tuner on hand. It has a bright display that guarantees great visibility in any setting (works better in dark, though). It also has a red LED light that shows you if the pedal is activated or not. The tuner on JT-305 ranges from A0 to C8 and offers manageable calibration between 436 and 445 Hz. Additionally, this pedal can be used as a power source for your other devices as well. If you are on a budget, look no further, because you can never go wrong with Joyo.
- Easy to use
- Jacks are very similar and their names are not easy to make out
- The display is a bit hard to read in direct sunlight
When you take a look at Snark SN-10S, the very first thing you notice is its sturdy metallic body. You do not actually have to feel it, the die-cast chassis screams into your face right away. This is really surprising at this price point. Apart from great build quality, this pedal comes with a bright display that works equally amazing on dark stage and in direct sunlight. This bad boy features a true bypass switching, as well as pitch calibration which ranges from 415 to 466 Hz. It can act as a power supply for other pedals which can be a life-saver in many cases. The part where SN-10S really stands out is its responsiveness, accuracy and amazing tracking capabilities. It can detect even the lower notes, which is usually a big headache for many tuners. It can easily be said that it is just as sensitive as its clip-on rival (if not more). This pedal will do everything you ever wished for and for the price, what else could you ask for?!
- Jaw-dropping pitch accuracy
- Built like a tank
- Great tuning speed
- One trick pony
- Drains the batteries
Donner has been famous for offering a whole new level of affordability. When you look at the price of Dt-1, you will not believe your eyes. Let’s just say that the price is REALLY cheap, however, the quality and performance are not (thumbs up for that). This pedal is a standard deal with a bright LCD screen with LED display, which makes it visible even on the darkest stages. This bad boy offers tuning that ranges from A0 (27.5Hz) to C8 (4186 Hz) with the precision being less than 1 cent. Dt-1 comes in a metal body, guaranteed to stand the test of time. To ensure the ease of usage, it has a blue indicator which will only show itself when you tune your instrument perfectly. Personally, I am pretty shocked by the features of this product considering the price. This is the one you should try no matter what!
- Extremely inexpensive
- Good build-quality
- Great tuning
- Decent precision
- Cannot be powered with battery
- Not for acoustic guitars
Right off the bat, Monoprice Chromatic Pedal Tuner is a great bang for the buck. It has all the features you would need to tune your instrument perfectly. First things first, it has two outputs: Normal and Bypass. The former mutes the signal completely to ensure silent tuning, while the latter acts as a true bypass and promises zero sonic interference when the pedal is turned off. The tuning of this one ranges from A0 to C8 and offers the precision of +/- 1 cent. Additionally, Monoprice Chromatic Pedal Tuner can be calibrated between 436 and 445 Hz frequencies. This little unit works great with bass, acoustic and electric guitars. It can be powered with battery or power supply and sometimes it is crucial to have this option. Even though the build quality is not that great and you will have to take good care of it, its tuning capabilities will easily outweigh this issue. What are you waiting for? Go and grab this one, because it is one of the best deals on the market.
- Good tracking
- Works with various instruments
- Drains the battery
- Build quality is not that great
When speaking of compact and affordable pedals, we cannot avoid mentioning Mugig Chromatic Tuner. This little fella is fast and accurate, providing you with A1 precision. It is so small that it can fit even on the most overcrowded pedal board. What is more, it has a bright display that is easily discernible in any lighting setting. Mugig Chromatic Tuner offers noise-free operation, so that nothing will interfere with your sacred tuning ritual. During this process, it mutes the input and when you are done, it bypasses your signal without coloring it. The best part is, it is very simple to use. It has two buttons: Pitch allows you to alter the reference frequency, while Flat lets you employ flat tuning. When you tune your instrument perfectly, the indicators will appear in the middle of the screen (with green light), so that you know exactly what is happening. All in all, this little pedal is a perfect choice if you are looking for something simple, yet affordable.
- Compact size
- Accurate tuning
- Good tracking
- Does not come with AC adapter
What is a tuner
You are probably wondering what the hell is a tuner and why would you need one. The simplest explanation is that this is a device that tunes your instrument (Duh!). In other words, it is an electronic unit which detects the pitch of the notes you play and tells you whether they are “correct” or not. The condition of your pitch (higher/lower than or equal to the desired pitch) is displayed with the help of analog needle-dial, LEDs or an LCD screen. This makes it easy to discern whether your instrument is in tune or not. Tuners can be of any size and price and depending on what you are looking for, you will need different types of them, but more on that later. Now, it is important to note that even though there is a tuner in every price range, more expensive and complex ones provide you with more accurate performance.
If you take a look at the simplest tuner, you will find that it will only be able to tune one pitch (either A or E) or a small amount of them (E, A, D, G, B, E). More advanced units are able to provide you with chromatic tuning, meaning that they can tune all 12 pitches simultaneously. Some of them are even equipped with additional features, such as pitch calibration and read-time adjustments. One way or another, tuners make sure that you make no mistakes when it comes to accurate notes and quality performance. This is the very reason why you should consider purchasing one if you still do not have a tuner on hand. After all, nobody has time for manual tuning during a gig.
The difference between different types of tuners
Technological development has brought to the market an abundance of tuners, each of them being different in nature. They vary according to size, precision, utilization or the form. However, all of them have one thing in common, they are all equipped with some sort of input, which allows for the pitch to be detected. Some might have an output as well, meaning that they can bypass your tuned signal. Let’s discuss certain types of tuners, so that you know which of them suits your needs the most.
Clip-ons are the tiniest of all the other tuners. They can be placed on the instrument itself. This is due to the nature of their operation. Unlike other tuners, these little units rely on vibrations created while playing. These vibrations are fed into the tuning circuitry, the part where all the magic takes place. The best part about clip-on tuners is that they cannot discern background noise, meaning that nothing can interfere with the process of perfecting your notes. This makes the tuners of this ilk beneficial for on-stage performances.
Pedal tuners are getting more and more popular among musicians who play electric and bass guitars. They fall into the category of LED and LCD tuners, meaning that they have a display which indicates on the pitch of your notes. In most cases, tuner pedals are straight-forward, easy to use devices that are represented with a rugged body and a single footswitch. This makes them very useful for those players, who want their instrument to be tuned hands-free. Most of pedal tuners offer the adjustments of reference frequency, pitch calibration and dropped tunings. Tuner pedals do not stop at perfecting notes – they also offer a lot of sonic possibilities.
Nowadays, every single part of our lives is digitalized and, thus, tuners have undergone the same transformation. You have the option to avoid buying all those devices and instead download a simple app, which will tune your instrument. They are available on all mobile platforms and in most cases are free of charge. However I cannot argue about their precision.
Congratulations, my friend, now you can choose the best tuner pedal in a blink of an eye. We will all agree that these are not the devices, that will turn your world upside down, but they do make a huge difference when it comes to accurate performance. Unless you want your tones to be out of pitch (I mean, if that is your thing, thumbs up from me), do not waste any more time, choose the tuner pedal, because it will operate in a way that will hook you up for good. Do not forget to pay attention to little features that differentiate one model from the other, so that you get the best deal. Research a lot, listen to demos and trust me, the chance of wasting money on a crappy pedal will decrease substantially. I will not blubber any longer, the rest is yours to decide. Best of luck!