By: Pro Lessons
Acoustic Guitar Tuner: What Should I Look For?

Guitar tuners vary a great deal, but they’re all are supposed to do the same thing. However, don’t be surprised if you buy a tuner set to A 440 and find it’s not calibrated perfectly. It happens sometimes. All this means is that you’ll make the rest of the band crazy because you’re slightly detuned or tuned sharper than everyone else. Sometimes it subtle, but it can really mess with your ears. For years, musicians relied on tuning forks. The tuning fork is struck on your knee or some soft but firm surface and it gives you the note the tuning fork is created to give. You then tune the prospective string to that pitch. Also, pitch pipes found their way into a lot of guitar cases. You would blow on the note and tune the string to it accordingly. All that to say, we’ve come a long way. Let’s discuss what you should look for in an acoustic guitar tuner.

The Strobe Tuner

Most guitar technicians and luthiers like a strobe guitar tuner for the fact that it is no doubt the most accurate. So for setting a guitar to perfect intonation, a strobe tuner would be the right call. Strobe tuners are usually big and bulky to drag around so most don’t bother. However, there is a rack version for studio owners and even a style that clamps on the headstock now. With this improvement, the strobe might be just the acoustic guitar tuner for you.

The Needle Tuner

There have been plenty of companies to make needle-style tuners, from Korg to Boss to Seiko. You simply plug your guitar up to the input of the tuner and strike the “e” string. The tuner recognizes your pitch and the needle shows you how far off or how close you are to the pitch. Some like the needle style tuners because you can really tell how close you are to being in perfect tune.

Acoustic Guitar Tuner: What Should I Look For?

The Digital Acoustic Guitar Tuner

Virtually every guitar company has a digital guitar tuner these days. There are hundreds of versions. From Snark to Fishman, there are plenty of options for clip-on digital tuners. These little battery powered tuners clip on the headstock and some clip onto your capo. D’addario and Planet Waves offer some cool clip-on capo digital tuners. Digital tuners are mostly very accurate. Now and then one will come from overseas with a slightly imperfect calibration and, since most of them don’t offer a re-calibration option, you just have to throw it away and buy a new one. We like the brighter digital lighting of these tuners because they’re easy to see on the stage in the dark. The digital letters and arrows just seem to pop in the dark, allowing you to tune quickly and accurately.

The Rack Tuner

Let’s face it, the idea is to have a tuner attached to your guitar so you don’t have to turn and look at a rack or even at the floor. Tuning on the fly is tricky and you need the ability to just reach and make the adjustment without looking obvious. If you’re a rack mount effect guitarist and you carry all your studio gear on the road, you might have a rack tuner in your arsenal. The Peterson rack mount strobe tuner mentioned above is awesome but there are others to choose from. Rocktron, Furman, Korg, Line 6 and others offer a rack mount tuner if you’re looking to build a rack or add to your existing one.

The Floor Tuner

When it comes to pedal board tuners, you want to get one that has really big letters and really lights up because, when the lights go down and it’s pitch black or if you’re playing an outdoor event in the middle of the day, you want a digital tuner you can see. Most volume pedals have a separate out for the tuner as to bypass the signal chain, but if you run your tuner in line with your other effects, make sure it’s a true bypass pedal. This can affect the tone of your overall output. Need a list of floor tuners that could suffice for your acoustic guitar tuner needs? Here are a few of the really good ones. The TC Electronics Polytune is a very nice tuner for around $100. The Snark SN-10S is cool. The Korg Pitchblack is also a really nice tuner. There are plenty more, but this will give you somewhere to start.

After you’ve decided on which acoustic guitar is best for you, buying a great acoustic guitar tuner is the next significant purchase. You may be at peace with just a clip on the headstock tuner and that’s totally cool, just get one that is calibrated perfectly and holds up at the gig. It’s also wise to keep one of those little batteries that operates the tuner. You want to avoid the dreaded dead battery at a critical moment. What you are looking for in a tuner is a tuner that works great every time and is spot on with the pitch. It’s probably best to have one on your board and also have one of those clip ons just in case your pedal board tuner goes down or vice versa.

Being in tune is a must for your reputation. Bending guitar strings and weather will cause your guitar to drift, but with an acoustic guitar tuner on board or clipped on, you can take a moment between songs and get back in perfect pitch for the next song. If you’re one of those guys that is constantly detuning and playing weird tunings on the fly, take the time to tune. No one wants an out of tune performance finding its way online.

Having the best gear in the world will only get you so far. You also want to know how to play your fancy equipment. That’s where guitar lessons come in. Learn from the best by enrolling in online guitar lessons with Pro Lessons. Our experts will get you playing in no time. Find out more about our affordable rates by clicking on the link below.

New Call-to-action