As a soldier is nothing without his weapon, so is a good musician without his instrument tuner. No matter what kind of musician you are, there will never be a point where it will be acceptable to be out of tune. Tuners are incredibly important pieces of equipment for any musician. From the time you start learning through your last album going platinum, there will never be a time when you’re far away from one.
The beginner guitarist starter pack usually comes with one, which admittedly will befuddle you for a while. But once you learn the value of them and use them often, you’ll start feeling a weird connection to these little devices, swearing by a particular make or model, and you will likely become very reluctant to give them up. Tuner technology has moved on from all of those options, with clip-on or headstock tuners becoming the standard option. Here are the top 3 electric guitar tuners presently available.
TC Electronic Polytune Clip
The original Polytune was something of a revolution in pedal tuners, allowing players to tune all their guitar or bass strings simultaneously. Not happy to stand still, TC Electronic have developed their next generation of Polytune pedals with an incredibly accurate strobe tuning function.
The TC Electronic Polytune 2 has three controls. The main Bypass switch, a Tuning Mode button, and a Display Mode button – the last two of which are both located on the top of the pedal. The Display button allows you to select between four options which are Guitar/Needle, Guitar/Strobe, Bass/Needle and Bass/Strobe.
If you are using a capo or drop tuning you can select a pre-set from the supported options by pressing the Tuning Mode button. It supports down tuning by up to 5 semitones and a capo up till the seventh fret. The Polytune 2 will also “do” drop-D tunings. Simply engage the footswitch for three seconds or so until the word Drop flashes up on the screen. By holding down both the Display and Tuning Mode buttons you can also adjust the reference pitch to anything between 435 and 445 Hz.
- Controls: Bypass Footswitch, Display button, Tuning Mode button
- Dimensions: 2.8 x 4.8 x 2 inches
- Tuning: Accuracy +/- 0.5 cent / Strobe mode +/- 0.1 cent
- Reference Pitch: 435 Hz to 445 Hz
- True Bypass
- Suitable for guitar and bass
- Power: 9V battery or DC supply (not included)
- You can run 9V DC out of the Polytune 2 to power other pedals
Korg PitchBlack – Chromatic Pedal
The music makers at Korg have set a new standard in pedal tuner capabilities. Announcing the Korg Pitchblack-the chromatic pedal tuner dedicated to precision and functionality. The Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner offers you high precision advanced functionality and sleek style to make it Korg’s most advanced guitar/bass stomp box-style tuner yet. The PitchBlack is the same size as a compact effect unit and features a tough aluminum die-cast body that will endure hard use on the road or in the studio.
While small in size, it boasts a large; easy to read LED meter with a light-emitting surface for excellent visibility in any setting from daylight, to stage light to no light as well as an extremely smooth eleven-segment LED meter that allows accurate visual tuning from any angle. With a red LED that indicates the tuner’s on/off status, a large note name display, and a tuning guide that indicates whether your instrument is sharp or flat, you’ll always be able to tune quickly and accurately in any situation.
It provides a tuning range of E0 (20.60 Hz) to C8 (4,186 Hz), and adjustable calibration between 436–445 Hz. The PitchBlack’s LED meter can be switched between four display modes including Meter, Full Strobe, Half Strobe, and Mirror.
- Meter mode – similar to using a needle meter
- Full Strobe mode – tune your instrument so that the LED meter stops streaming and both tuning guide LED’s are lit
- Half Strobe mode – tune your instrument so that the LED meter stops streaming and only the green LED in the center is lit
- Mirror mode – tune your instrument so that the two LEDs on the left and right sides of the center LED meet in the middle and both tuning guides LED’s are lit.
The PitchBlack mutes the input signal for silent tuning, and when you’re not tuning the input is passed directly to the output jack without being affected by any circuitry (True Bypass). So even if you connect the PitchBlack between several of your favorite pedals, the signal will pass without going through the internal buffer amp, ensuring that the sounds you’ve created using your effects will not be colored in any way. The PitchBlack is designed to coexist transparently with other effect pedals and to fit conveniently into your pedal board system.
It provides a DC OUT jack that can supply power to other effect pedals when the optional AC adaptor is used. By connecting optional DC cables, you can supply up to 200 mA of power to multiple effect pedals, simplifying the power connections in your pedalboard.
- The new standard in pedal tuners
- 100% True Bypass output keeps your tone intact
- A perfect fit in your pedal board plus the DC output powers other pedals
- Tuning: 12 note equal temperament
- Detection range: E0 (20.60 Hz) — C8 (4186 Hz)
- Calibration range: 436–445 Hz (1 Hz steps)
- Display modes (auto): Full Strobe, Half Strobe, Meter, and Mirror
- Input impedance: 1 M ohms (when tuner is on)
- Connectors: INPUT (mono 1/4 inch jack), BYPASS (mono 1/4 inch jack), DC IN (9V), DC OUT (9V)
- Power supply: (9V battery) or 9V AC adaptor
- Battery life: Approximately 5 hours (A4 continuous input, tuner on, display mode: Meter, using a 9-volt battery)
- Dimensions: 2.68 (W) x 4.72(H) x 1.85 inches (D) (including feet)
- Weight: 0.64 lbs (including battery)
- Included items: One zinc-carbon battery for verifying operation
- Options: AC adaptor (9V)
The tuner that you still see on stages everywhere has just had its latest update. The TU-3 brings Boss’ legendary stomp pedal quality and ruggedness to the tuner world. The TU-3 features a smooth 21-segment LED meter with a High-Brightness mode that cuts through the harshest outdoor glare. Choose between Chromatic or Guitar/Bass tuning modes, and enjoy visual pinpoint tuning verification with the Accu-Pitch sign function.
The TU-3 incorporates a convenient Note Name Indicator that can display notes of 7-string guitars and 6-string basses, while the Flat-Tuning mode can support up to six half-steps. It’s the new-standard tuner that no guitarist or bass player should be without!
- 21-segment LED meter with brightness control
- High-Brightness mode enhances meter visibility outdoors
- Accu-Pitch Sign function provides visual verification when tuning is complete
- Chromatic and Guitar/Bass mode (tune by string number, with support for 7-string guitars and 6-string basses)
- Flat tuning is supported with Guitar Flat mode, which allows for “drop” tunings up to six semitones below standard pitch
- Signal is automatically muted when the tuner is on
- Supplies power for up to 7 BOSS compact effect pedals