Guitarists have generally tons of accessories laying around in their houses, studios, gig bags, cars and so on. While a normal person might not think that everything is necessary they just don’t really know what guitarist life is all about, it is being always prepared for the worst and always trying to play like the best. There is no room for error here. Okay, there is room for error, but try to consider a guitarist about that. We are generally all perfectionists, and always want to put the best sound forward. What is even the point if you can’t play the sound that is in your head.
As far as accessories go, nothing will help keep your sound as accurate as a tuner. Tuner’s come in different shapes, sizes, and functions. Not all of them are created equal and there is always a type that will suit you the most. Whichever the case a guitar tuner is definitely essential of every guitarist’s lineup and you can’t really argue with that, humble but extremely important. In the past guitarists have used pitch pipes, tuning forks and other ancient methods, but today technology has made things extremely easy. Even the most basic guitar tuner will help you set the pitch and keep your guitar in tune.
However, today we are going to talk about the best. Clip-on guitar tuners deliver convenience, accuracy at high-speeds that will be perfect for those that play on the stage frequently. But not just that as they are excellent for those that want to keep their guitars in tune at all times and want some convenience. Today I will give you the guide on how to get the best clip-on guitar tuners in the market, the top picks for every type of guitar, how to choose one, answer some frequently asked questions and so much more. Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into it.
The 6 Best Clip-On Guitar Tuners
First up we are going to speak about the top picks. These products listed here are all handpicked by me personally. I have picked these as a result of countless hours of research, personal experience, vigorous testing, expert consultation, popularity and buyer feedback. These are all fail-safe choices that will deliver you performance, accuracy, speed and excellent value for your money. You won’t be disappointed in these. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
6. Boss TU-10
If you are looking for a safe and super proved choice that is recommended by multiple professional guitarists you should check out the Boss TU-10. This clip-on guitar tuner will fit into the headstocks of many guitars and has a perfect performance overall, delivering great value for your money.
The clip-on mechanism of the Boss TU-10 is definitely one of the strongest in the market delivering a super safe and secure clip and it also works with even super thick headstocks. IT is super durable thanks to its great construction and it has a CR2032 lithium battery with a 45grams of weight.
The performance of the Boss TU-10 is pretty much excellent delivering a sensitivity of +/-1 cent which is excellent. The reference pitch ranges from 436 to 445Hz and it works pretty adequately in all the frequency ranges. Versatile, small and durable, the Boss TU-10 delivers a lot for its asking price.
5. KLIQ UberTuner
As far as clip-on guitar tuners go the KLIQ UberTuner is definitely one of the best in the market delivering superb quality and performance at a great price, amazing value overall.
The KLIQ UberTuner is super accurate and pretty fast as well, thanks to its enhanced microprocessor and the super-sensitive piezo pickup that will deliver you accurate readings all the time. The device is super reliable as well, thanks to its durable design and fail-safe components, it will be by your side for a long time.
It has a great bright display that is extremely visible even in direct sunlight and strong stage lights and is readable from every angle. Also, it is extremely easy to use and it will pick up the vibrations of your instruments from the headstock allowing you to get a quiet tuning experience. Worth giving it a try, definitely a valuable item.
4. D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On
Another affordable but impressive performer in the clip-on guitar market is the D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On. D’Addario has always delivered the best guitars and guitar accessories in the market and this one doesn’t miss the mark as well, perfect in every way no complaints.
The D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On is pretty much small like its name implies, a micro tuner. I should mention that this microdevice has five buttons on its body that allow you to activate silent tuning, and also a visual metronome. It is built out of hardened plastic and the display is super bright even in direct sunlight.
It has a calibration range that spans from 410 to 480Hz and it has a piezo transducer that picks up the vibrations perfectly. The visual metronome also works excellently and it is definitely one of your best bets when it comes to stringed instruments.
3. TC Electronic PolyTune Clip
Coming up next we have the TC Electronic PolyTune Clip. It is one of the most expensive models you will find but it is one of the most accurate as well as delivering a proper performance. It will fit into all kinds of headstocks as well, and if it wasn’t for the price it would be the number one product on this list.
The biggest selling point of the TC Electronic PolyTune Clip is that it is the world’s first clip-on polyphonic tuner. It has the same manner of function as the PolyTune pedal tuners having a little larger battery life of nine-volt and it is a bit thicker.
There are rubber pads on the clip of the device which is padded with rubber to keep your device protected at all times. I should also mention that it will fit in even into thick classical guitar headstocks.
In terms of performance, it has an accuracy of +/- 0.5 cents in chromatic mode and +/- 0.02 cents on the strobe mode. It also has a bass mode on the chromatic range and it works perfectly overall, definitely one of the best in the market.
2. Korg PC1 PITCHCLIP
Nearing the top of the list we have an excellent clip-on guitar and bass guitar chromatic tuner, the Korg PC1 PITCHCLIP. This guitar tuner is pretty simple and super accurate delivering you all the features that Korg tuners have had and so much more.
The Korg PC1 PITCHCLIP comes with a rubberized grip that won’t damage your precious guitar it has an all-black finish that disappears on the stage, but you can also get the colored versions which consist of light blue, orange, red, and yellow. It is a perfect pick for both left and right-handed guitars thanks to its bright screen with a 120 degree viewing angle.
It has a battery life of 24 hours and it is one of the most accurate tuners in the market, for its price. It has an enhanced low-frequency pickup that delivers a faster and more precise tuning in the low-frequency ranges. Very simple to operate and get a read, the Korg PC1 PITCHCLIP doesn’t have anything negative about it, and I honestly think it is one of the best clip-on guitar tuners out there.
1. Snark SN-8 Super Tight
On top of the list, we have a super attractive, affordable and a tuner that will deliver the most value for your price, the Snark SN-8 Super Tight. This guitar tuner is extremely accurate coming in with a vibration tuning method, large tuning indicators and so much more. Let’s take a look.
The Snark SN-8 Super Tight tune guitars and bass guitars in the E standard tuning pretty precisely and in a quick manner as well. It is also excellent in drop tunings as well, down to drop A. One of the most interesting features of the Snark SN-8 Super Tight is that it allows for pitch calibration ranging from 415 to 466Hz, and it is difficult to do it accidentally if you are worried about that.
The Snark SN-8 Super Tight is pretty easy to attach and position to the headstock, and the screening arm can be swiveled to your liking, so you can place it on the rear or the front. The Snark SN-8 Super Tight is also pretty durable and will last you a super long time, and I definitely recommend it to any guitarist.
Types of Guitar Tuners
Like I said at the beginning of this guide, guitar tuners come in different shapes, sizes and functionalities. All coming in with their own pros and cons, that will be good or bad for you depending on your and your band’s needs. Getting a better understanding of the types of tuners will help you make a better and more informed choice, and also will teach you a thing or two about the tuning of guitars. Generally, guitar tuners can be classified into these major categories.
This is the most common and most popular type of guitar tuner in the market, and if you have one already it is probably a chromatic tuner. Chromatic tuners come in various types, microphone, clip-on and even pedal formats. With a chromatic tuner, you will be able to tune to every note in the chromatic scale, which means that it contains all 12 notes between the octaves. These might come in handy if you are searching for alternative tunings as well, but only if you know what notes you are looking for. However, I should also mention that these are not the best choices for beginners, however, they are very versatile and good for most of the guitarists, that at least have the slightest idea of guitars and tuning.
As far as age goes, these are the youngest types of guitar tuners you will find, coming in as an invention by TC Electronic, which was later adopted by the music giant Korg. The most attractive thing about these is that you can play all your strings simultaneously and the tuner will recognize which string or strings are out of tune. This is great since you see how the tuning of your guitar looks like, and not just for a particular string. Of course, you can only tune only one string at a time, but having a good overall picture of what is in tune and what is not is pretty much great. Most guitarists use the strum and tune technique with these tuners and then strum and tune again, perfect overall.
As far as accuracy goes strobe tuners are the best produced until today, however, you should be careful of their expensive price. But then again if you want accuracy over everything, this is the only way to get it. Guitar techs, experienced session guitarists, producers, and pro guitarists always use strobe tuners. These work via a needle tuner that is connected to a microprocessor that measures the average period of the waveform, and other tech magic to deliver an easy to read and understandable frequency reading. These tuners bring out a reference frequency which then gives you the difference between it and the note, which in turn reflects the screen to show a rotating motion if there is even a super small difference between them.
These tuners use a microphone in their bodies that pick up the frequency of the note you are playing. It works in a pretty simple manner but is pretty inaccurate and it is designed to help you or put you in the direction of the correct tune. For live performances, these are also pretty much not usable since they also pick up background noise which will result in not accurate readings. However, if you want a clip-on tuner that is pretty cheap and doesn’t care much about accuracy for home use, this is perfect. Most of them are designed to work around the standard EADGBE guitar tuning, but won’t show you the semitones. I can say that these are outdated and not the most recommended type.
Things You Should Consider Before Buying a Clip-On Guitar Tuner
Since we got types of clip-on tuners out of the way let’s take a look at the things and features you should know and consider before buying a guitar tuner. If you stick with my advice you would never be wrong when buying a guitar tuner now and in the future.
You should definitely at least have an idea what a cent is before even considering buying a guitar tuner. Simply explained, like a dollar, a semitone is divided into 100 cents on a logarithmic scale. If you don’t know a semitone is a difference in pitch between each fret of the guitar. The cents of the guitar correspond with the accuracy of the tuner.
You should have at least an idea of how fast a guitar tuner works. While you may not be in a rush at home, in live settings and on the stage, every second matter. YOu definitely want a tuner that is fast, the audience is not there to see you tune your guitar, and you don’t want your performance to be ruined due to a delay of your tuner, so keep that in mind.
If you read the types section above you definitely know which type is accurate, and to be honest, besides the microphone tuners, all types are accurate enough and will present you precise readings on the stage. However, when it comes to the studio when you are recording, you want the most accuracy, the more the merrier.
One feature that you should consider before buying a guitar tuner is whether or not it works with low-to-non-existant volumes since on the stage you cannot keep the volume up and try to tune your guitar. Most clip-on guitars measure vibrations and frequencies instead of the sound, measuring the tune directly from the headstock, so you can turn the volume down and tune your guitar.
If you use just the standard tuning EADGBE, this is not really needed, but if you want to try Jimmy Page style tunings like DADGAD, or any other alternative that is not standard you will need a tuner that works with different tuning modes so you can use different alternatives. There are some high-end guitar tuners that have various built-in tuning modes, and some even let you create different user-specific modes.
While you might think that it is not the most important factor, in my opinion, I think that it is very crucial to the functionality of the tuner, since all clip-on guitar tuners operate on batteries. For that reason it is important to check the battery life, also if it has rechargeable batteries it would be perfect for convenience.
Before buying also check the display of the tuner you are planning to buy. Some tuners have adjustable brightness, which is good for the stage when you will need to dim or brighten up the screen of it. I should mention that the type of display has been the same for a long time now, however, the brightness and size are not the same always. If you have difficulty seeing get a bigger display to make things easier. If you cannot read the screen easily enough, the guitar tuner is probably not worth it.
Before buying a guitar tuner, clip-on or other, you should also see if they are right or adequate for your guitar. There are different pickups for different instruments, as you will see.
Acoustic Guitars (No Pickup)
For these guitars, you cannot use any different tuner besides clip-on or soundhole tuners, due to them not having a pickup that you can connect them to. This means that you cannot do silent tuning on these.
Electric Guitars (Acoustic Guitars with Pickups)
With these instruments, you can definitely use any kind of tuner that you want without any problem. Most of the guitarists these days use either clip-on tuners or pedal tuners which are more convenient.
There are also several guitar tuners that are super versatile and will work with different instruments. Especially clip-on guitar tuners which are super versatile, since they can work with most fretted instruments, non-fretted stringed instruments and even with some of the brass instruments.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How does a clip-on tuner work?
A clip-on guitar tuner is attached to the headstock of the guitar and from there it picks up the pitch of the string that you are playing. They work in a pretty similar way to piezo pickups, since they pick up vibrations from strings, rather than catching sound or an electric signal which is extremely convenient.
How to use a clip-on tuner?
I can definitely confirm that even an absolute beginner can operate a clip-on tuner correctly. You just need to clip the tuner on the headstock, however, be sure that it doesn't touch the strings or pegs since this might disturb the frequency readings. After that turn it on and strum a string to see where you, if it is sharp, flat or just right and tune accordingly.
There you have it, folks, the guide to getting the best clip-on guitar tuners in the market. While it may not be the hardest thing you will do it is better to be informed than to buy the same thing twice or buy a product that doesn’t fulfill your needs. Either way, you now can comfortably go and buy the best clip-on tuner for your needs. Also, be sure to check out the top picks since they all are super-safe choices, will deliver your performance, value for the price and so much more. Until next time, take care!