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One of the best clip-on guitar tuners can save even the greatest instrument in the world from sounding like a jumbled mess, regardless of how ridiculous the virtuoso playing it may be. Our top picks from TC Electronic, Snark, Boss, and D’Addario are easy to use and won’t break the bank, so you can always sound your best.
One of the best things about clip-on guitar tuners is how simple they are to operate. You can tune your guitar, bass, or ukulele in no time at all by simply attaching the tuner to the headstock, playing a note, and comparing the reading to the correct pitch.
This article not only lists the top 10 clip-on guitar tuners currently on the market, but it also discusses why you would prefer one of these to a tuner pedal, a rack-mounted unit, or even a tuning fork and your ear.
Many musicians have found the TC Electronic PolyTune Clip, available as a pedal or a clip-on, to be a game-changer since it allows them to play all of their strings at once and instantly know which ones are out of tune. It has a brilliant screen, sleek construction, and quick mode transitions between PolyTune, strobe, and chromatic. While it’s true that this clip-on isn’t the cheapest option, we still consider it to be among the best available.
Small, unobtrusive, and extremely affordable, the D’Addario Planet Waves NS Micro Universal Clip-On Guitar Tuner yet packs a powerful punch. It can be clipped on to either the front or back of your guitar’s headstock, and its large, backlit digital display can be easily read in a variety of lighting settings and colour schemes.
- Poly tune technology – tune all 6 strings simultaneously
- Chromatic (/- 0.5 cent) and extra accurate strobe (/- 0.02 cent) modes
- Ultra-bright and easy to read adaptive display – ensures a perfect readout No matter what orientation clip is attached
- Flat tuning and capo modes
- Elegant yet durable design, with high-quality stainless steel clip
Having a lot of functions in a tuner isn’t exclusive to expensive floor models, as demonstrated by the Polytune Clip. Incredible sound quality combined with chromatic, strobe, and polyphonic modes make this an excellent choice for musicians of all skill levels.
When in chromatic mode, its accuracy of 0.5 cents is more than sufficient for tuning a guitar, and when in strobe mode, its accuracy drops to 0.02 cents, or within one 5,000th of a semitone, which should be more than adequate for most people’s needs.
Even though the PolyTune Clip is almost five years old, its polytune mode continues to wow with its ability to show all six strings at once, simplifying any necessary modifications on the fly. The battery may last for up to 18 hours, and we found the screen to be quite luminous.
- True Strobe 0.1 Cent Accuracy – Accurate to 1/1000th of a Semitone or 1/1000th of a Fret
- High-Definition Backlit Display – Can Display the Smallest Pitch Deviations
- Chromatic Performance – Automatically Displays Note and Deviation from Center Pitch
- Auto Transposition – Drop Tuning and Capo Settings
There is no better clip-on guitar tuner on the market today. The StroboClip HD’s precision of 0.1 cents ensures that even the most critical listeners will be pleased with your instrument as you get it ready for recording or live performance.
Over 50 of Peterson’s sweetened tunings are supported by the StroboClip HD‘s large HD display, soft rubber-gripped jaws, drop tuning and capo settings, and the ability to fit the tuning quirks of some of the most popular makes and models of guitars.
When you play a chord higher on the fretboard, the tuning of an instrument like a Telecaster with a three-saddle bridge can shift somewhat. Sweetened tunings accommodate for this. A sweetened tuning isn’t for everyone, but it can help when standard tuning just doesn’t cut it. Of course, it’s important to remember that tuning your guitar with a super-accurate strobe like this might be challenging for beginner players, but those who use them swear by them.
- Built-in piezo transducer picks up instrument’s vibration rather than sound
- Improved software for faster response and improved accuracy
- Tri-color reversible backlit LCD screen makes it easy to tune in dark environments while allowing mounting in front or behind headstock
- Wide calibration range (410Hz to 480Hz) and visual metronome
- Compact design blends into the aesthetics of instrument while adding considerably less weight than other headstock tuners
The NS Micro Universal may be mounted inconspicuously on the front or back of virtually any guitar headstock, and its ratcheting clip, as well as its swivelling and extending features, ensure that the LCD screen is always in a comfortable viewing position for the musician.
From what we’ve seen, it’s fairly lightweight, so you can play with it on without worrying about your headstock wobbling. Electric guitars, basses, mandolins, banjos, and so on may all be tuned with it. To help you stay on time, there’s also a visual metronome setting.
It takes up so little space that you might overlook it. It comes factory-tuned at A=440Hz, but can be readily retuned to any frequency between 410 and 480Hz, making it a great choice for fans of modern baroque pitch.
- Cutting-edge OLED display technology provides an unprecedented degree of visibility.
- The guitar-specific AW-OTG features intuitive chord finder function.
- Ultra-high precision tuning with accuracy as great at ±0.1 cents. Optional STROBE feature further improves accuracy.
- Alternative tuning animations included to make tuning fun!
- Calibration, memory backup and auto-power-off functions.
The Korg AW-strobe OTG‘s mode is just as precise as the Peterson tuner, coming in at within 0.1 cents. Even its screen is top-notch, with a sharp OLED and a flexible clip that lets you position it to your liking.
While it lacks the Peterson’s sweetened tunings feature, the chord finder makes it a useful tool for the adventurous musician who wants to experiment with new chord voicings on their own.
One AAA battery can power the player for up to 18 hours straight, and it offers 11 different screen layouts. We’re traditionalists at heart, so the needle works just well. However, the animated tuning display is great for getting the attention of young players or those who are easily distracted (like us). Hey, Korg thinks it’s important for you to realise how crucial it is to play in tune.
- Proven BOSS quality and reliability in a clip-on format
- Accu-Pitch function, flat tuning up to 5 semitones, and Stream mode
- Stylish design and robust body
- Available in a variety of colors
- Easy-to-read Col Display – f Use with Any Instrument – Black
- Clip-on Chromatic Tuner with Ultra-bright
A professional-grade tuner, the Boss TU-10 does not mess around. It is small, light, and simple to use, and its precision of 1 cent is sufficient for the vast majority of players.
Drop and alternate tunings are easier than they could otherwise be (depending on your guitar’s setup, of course) because of the flat tuning mode’s ability to allow for downtuning by up to 5 semitones.
The screen is legible in a range of lighting conditions and can tune your bass, ukulele, or mandolin. It’s classic Boss: well-designed, no-frills, player-friendly, and reasonably practical and accurate for the price.
- Super bright LED display
- Extremely Small
- Bullet Tuner provides a nonintrusive, staunchly accurate tool for musicians at every stage.
- A powerful engine with a noise-proof vibration sensor allows for precise chromatic tuning for electric, acoustic and bass guitar players alike—while a bright, color LED screen shows easy-to-see readings in any environment.
The Fender Bullet clip-on guitar tuner, which has a circular display on a cylindrical barrel design and can be attached to either the front or rear of the headstock, has been likened to a sniper scope, and this resemblance may not be coincidental.
The Bullet’s accuracy of a single penny is more than sufficient for all but the most picky professionals, and the digital readout makes fine-tuning a breeze.
Its calibration for concert pitch, where A4 = 440Hz, precludes its use in some orchestral contexts, but it’ll be just fine for maintaining your Telecaster for blues night at Fat Sam’s.
- Perfect for Acoustic Guitars, Ukulele, and other acoustic instruments
- Fast, accurate response
- Non-marring sound hole clip
- Multi-color display
- Calibration range 410-480 Hz
If you play an acoustic guitar, check out this handy clip-on guitar tuner. You may install it in your soundhole, making it private; when activated, it will provide you with a vivid, multicoloured display that is precise to within 0.3 cents.
It can be tuned from 434 to 445Hz, making it suitable for ukes and other acoustic stringed instruments and even for use with the local orchestra if the need arises.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to have a clip-on guitar tuner on the headstock, and some people don’t even want to have one there, so having one tucked away is a great compromise. It’s simple to use, quick, and shouldn’t ruin the polish on your guitar.
- The KORG Pitchclip2+ is a premium model of the popular KORG Pitchclip2 that delivers both accuracy and ease of use with additional features suitable for electric or acoustic guitars and basses plus Ukuleles, Mandolins and Banjos
- The Pitchclip2+ features an improved easy-to read display with smooth motion LEDs and ‘double blink’ LEDs to confirm perfect tuning along with full or half strobe modes
- The clip-on grip is bigger than the Pitchclip2 with a rubberized grip that protects your instrument, enhances holding stability and improve low frequency tuning detection
- In addition to the standard Pitchclip2 folding axis the Pitchlip2+ also has a rotation axis letting you position the tuner in exactly the right position to suit you
- Like the standard Pitchclip2, the screen has a reverse display function making it convenient for left hand players
There have been enhancements made to the original Pitchclip. The PC2 is still a great super-budget alternative since it can be had for around a buck and is accurate to the penny, but the PC2+ has a better display and two more strobe options.
The tuner’s precision has been increased by a factor of ten thanks to the PC2 additional +’s modes, and the device’s increased brightness and readability in all lighting conditions are also welcome improvements.
It’s a good alternative for both right- and left-handed players thanks to its reversible screen. You can tune a bass with it, and while the battery life isn’t quite as long as its predecessor’s (because to the power requirements of the display), you’ll still get a solid 18 hours on a single charge. If you don’t get all 18 within three minutes, the game will shut down automatically.
- Flip it up to turn it on, flip it down to turn it off
- Fully chromatic, automatically displays the note
- Large, easy to read LCD display lights green when in-tune, red for sharp, and amber for flat
- Meter-style “needle” display is accurate to +/-1 cent
- Built-in clip-on sensor & one 2032 coin battery included
If you don’t need fancy features and just want a simple clip-on guitar tuner, the FT-2 is a great option. It’s inexpensive, cheerful, and accurate to the nearest cent.
It’s just a tuner; there’s no high-definition, 4K display or holographic Pokémon to tell you how flat the Earth is. It’s small, it doesn’t stick out, and it powers down after five minutes of inactivity to save juice. Just what else could you possibly need?
It’s not even as if the screen is ineffective. An easy-to-use digital chromatic system shows you in red if you’re out of tune (which is the worst case scenario), in amber if you’re on pitch, and in green if you’re spot on. Simple.
- Clip-on tuner that utilizes a high-sensitivity vibration sensor or an internal microphone
- High definition, full-color display that rotates 360°
- Boasts a faster and more accurate tuning chip
- Has a stay-put clip, a tap tempo metronome, and it has pitch calibration from 415 to 466 Hz
- Features an extended frequency range and is compatible with all instruments
Clip-on guitar tuners from Snark come in a rainbow of hues and designs, but they all share two common features: affordable prices and vivid screens that are easy to read even in dim settings (like on stage).
This is the Super Tight, and it fits like a glove. It securely clamps to your headstock and provides a chromatic tuner that can be toggled between microphone mode (for acoustic instruments) and vibration mode (for electric instruments), with the latter using a transducer to convert and interpret string vibrations into a tuning reading.
While tuners from companies like Peterson and TC Electronic would beat it hands down, the Snark will be fast and precise enough for most players and is especially simple to use for beginners.
Furthermore, there is a tap-tempo metronome mode, which is a great addition for the cost. This is a great choice if you need a little clip-on guitar tuner to keep in your gig bag or jacket pocket.
For those who despise constantly needing to buy new batteries, the new Snark Rechargeable is the way to go!
Why you should get a clip-on guitar tuner?
The answer is obvious: you don’t want your fellow musicians and fans to go insane. An untuned guitar, or the sound of one being tuned, is one of the most annoying things ever.
In the past, we may have tuned by ear to a tuning fork or reference pitch, and that was more or less good enough for rock’n’roll, but this method necessitates ear training to be anywhere near accurate. Plus, if you’re into it, your tuner may help you fine-tune your guitar’s intonation so that it’s actually playable in tune, and it can also make it easier to switch to different tunings.
Undoubtedly, a tuner is a must-have for the vast majority of guitarists.
What is the best clip-on guitar tuner for you?
There are primarily three distinct guitar tuner designs, and each has its own unique function.
The chromatic tuner is perhaps the most widespread type. Here, you play a single note at a time, and the tuner adjusts to match any of the 12 tones in the Western chromatic scale. A needle or an LED may be used as a display, with the needle or LED turning green to indicate that pitch has been reached.
Next, there is the polyphonic tuner. You can play all six strings at once, and the in-tune or out-of-tune indicators will be clearly visible. There’s no better way to pinpoint the source of tuning issues without having to travel from string to string like you would with a chromatic tuner. In situations where every second counts, like a live performance or a recording session, this is a fantastic choice.
The strobe tuner is the most precise but also the most expensive choice. You have to tune extremely carefully until the display records the correct pitch, and the tuner displays a spinning circle of the reference note and the note that you’ve picked. However, the precision is astounding.
Many aspects go into determining the best clip-on guitar tuner for you, but we’d recommend a chromatic tuner if you’re just starting out and plan on using it with a beginner’s instrument. They’ll be less expensive and more convenient to use than a professional guitar tuner, and they’ll have your instrument sounding just right.
While a strobe tuner would be useful for professionals, especially in the studio, it seems pointless to shell out the extra cash if your ears simply can’t detect that kind of precision.
How to use a clip-on guitar tuner?
A clip-on guitar tuner is quite simple to use. You may tune your guitar by attaching the tuner to the headstock and plucking the string you want to change the pitch of. The note’s sharpness or flatness will be indicated on the screen, and that’s it!
The vibration of the string is detected by the clip-on guitar tuner through the instrument’s body and processed by the tuner’s software before being shown on a screen. The clip-on tuner is great for situations where there is a lot of background noise, such as while you’re performing or trying to tune up in a band rehearsal.