The Best Electric Tuners

In the past 20 years, electric guitar tuners have come a long way.  The variety of styles and designs that are readily available internationally and at affordable prices is incredible.  Let's take a look at some of the most common, some tried and tested favourites, aan some more high end options.

Headstock Tuners 

The Snark SN-5 is ubiquitous these days.  Low cost and reliable, this tuner is a must have for any guitar case.  Headstock tuners do not rely on your electrical signal, and instead interpret your tuning by reading the vibrations from your guitar.  This means that headstock tuners are fantastic for use in green rooms, backstage, bedroom practicing, or any purist who doesn't want foot pedals interfering with their guitar tone.  

The D'Addario Micro Tuner works just as effectively and accurately as the Snark, but with a much smaller physical footprint on your guitar.  These tuners are great for use on stage because if they are placed correctly on the headstock, they are practically invisible to the audience.  The one downside of using a headstock tuner on stage however, is that if you are playing on a stage that flexes a little bit (many festival stages are built this way) it can interfere with the tuner's accuracy.  This is why for performing on stage, many guitarists prefer to use tuner pedals.

Tuner Pedals 

The Boss TU series of tuner pedals are the gold standard for tuning pedals.  These pedals are durable, reliable and accurate.  If you have never used a tuner pedal before, or you are looking to switch to something more reliable than what you currently own, look no further than the Boss TU-3.  This pedal requires power, which you can provide either by using the power adapter provided, or by using a 9v battery, or using the isolated power supply on your pedal board if you have one.  To ensure the highest level of accuracy, make sure your tuner pedal is the very first pedal that your guitar goes into.  Putting the pedal after distortion or delay pedals can seriously impede its ability to function correctly.

The Polytune pedal by TC Electronics is a really cool tuner pedal.  It is polyphonic, which means it is able to read the tuning of all of your strings at once, making it a very effective pedal for use on stage.  By strumming your entire guitar once, you're able to see what string is out of tune and troubleshoot the problem quickly.  

The TC Electronic Polytune Mini provides all the same great features of the original Polytune pedal, including the polyphonic tuning function, but at a fraction of the size.  This pedal is perfect for any guitarist who needs a reliable and accurate tuner with polyphonic capabilities but isn't willing to sacrifice a great deal of space on their board... which is every guitarist!

Boutique Tuners

Peterson Tuners are the most accurate tuners on the market.  The "strobe" line of tuners is particularly impressive, and considering the level of meticulous tuning accuracy of these well built pedals, the price is very reasonable for this Strobostomp pedal.  This pedal really sets the bar high.  With just a tap of your foot it gives the same level of tuning accuracy as a guitar tech's bench.

Peterson's Stroboclip is their answer to the headstock tuner.  At a much higher price point than their competitors, this tuner offers the same high degree of accuracy as all the other Peterson strobe tuners, but as a clip on headstock tuner.  If you're looking for a headstock tuner that is deadly accurate, consider this Peterson model, as their designs really are hard to beat.

Noticeably Absent

Not mentioned in this article are a couple of products I would like to briefly shed some light on, in case you find it helpful.  Firstly, I made no mention in this article of any form of tuning app.  The reality is, tuning apps such as Guitar Tuna are fantastic tools for practicing at home or in any quiet environment.  These tuning apps however do use the microphone on your cell phone, and therefore are not necessarily the most reliable for any sort of performance situation where tuning is of the utmost importance.  Another absence in this article are any sort of tuners that are either rack mounted or used often by guitar techs.  The Peterson Stroboflip is an example of this sort of tuner.  These tuners are absolutely fantastic and if you really are seeking that level of accuracy you might want to investigate these types of tuners further.  For this article, I tried to focus on tuners that are best suited for live performance or practical playing situations.  

As always thank you for checking this article out, and I hope that I could be helpful in your search for the right guitar tuner!

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