Last Updated on December 14, 2023 by AG
Playing a guitar that is not in tune is an unpleasant experience. Even the most talented guitarist will sound terrible if their instrument is not tuned correctly. Fortunately, there is a solution – clip-on guitar tuners. These affordable and easy-to-use devices clip onto the headstock of your guitar, bass, or ukulele, allowing you to tune your instrument quickly and accurately.
One of the most significant advantages of clip-on tuners is their ease of use. Simply attach the tuner to your guitar, play a note, and adjust the string until it’s in tune. It’s that simple. Clip-on tuners are also incredibly portable, making them ideal for musicians on the go.
While developing a good ear for tuning is crucial for any musician, and is a skill that should be practiced regularly, clip-on tuners can be an excellent aid to help you tune your guitar quickly and accurately.
Investing in a high-quality clip-on guitar tuner is a small investment that can significantly impact your playing and ensure you always sound your best. So, grab a clip-on tuner, tune-up, and let the music flow.
What are the best Clip-on guitar tuners?
Like with everything, there is a wide variety of guitar tuners out there and to find the perfect one for you, you have to know what you are looking for. If you aren’t sure yet and want to know more about the three different types of guitar tuners available you’ll find more information about them, their accuracy, and their advantages and drawbacks further down in the article. Read on for our top picks for the best clip-on tuners available today.
The importance of having a reliable guitar tuner cannot be overstated, and the TC Electronic Polytune Clip is a great example of a top-quality clip-on tuner. It’s perfect for guitarists who don’t want to invest in a pedal tuner or a rack-mounted unit and still want a wide range of features.
The Polytune Clip has three modes – chromatic, strobe, and polyphonic – which makes it a versatile option for players of all levels. The chromatic mode has an accuracy of 0.5 cents, which is precise enough to tune your guitar, and the strobe mode has a remarkable accuracy of 0.02 cents, making it an ideal option for professional musicians.
One of the most impressive features of the Polytune Clip is its ability to display all six strings at once in polyphonic mode, allowing for quick and easy tuning adjustments on the fly. Additionally, the display is bright, making it easy to read in all lighting conditions.
Although the Polytune Clip is already five years old, it’s still one of the best clip-on tuners on the market. It’s incredibly accurate, easy to use, and has a battery life of up to 18 hours. If you’re in the market for a reliable and feature-packed clip-on tuner, the TC Electronic Polytune Clip is worth considering.
- Modes: Polyphonic, chromatic, strobe
- Tuning range: A0-C8 (27.5Hz-4186Hz)
- Calibration range: A4 = 435Hz-445Hz
- Accuracy: +/- 0.02 cent (strobe mode) 0.5 cents (chromatic mode)
- Three modes (polyphonic, chromatic, and strobe) for different preferences and situations.
- Quick tuning, as it allows you to tune all six strings at once (polyphonic mode)
- High level of accuracy (strobe mode)
- The bright screen makes it easy to read in different lighting conditions
- Good calibration range of A4 = 435Hz-445Hz
- Long battery life (up to 18 hours)
- The clip is made of metal
- Not the cheapest clip-on tuner on the market
- Some have reported issues with the clip being too tight or not holding onto the headstock securely (may vary depending on the guitar)
The D’Addario Planet Waves NS Micro Universal Clip-On Tuner is a great option for musicians who want a small and discreet tuner that can be used on a variety of instruments. With a newly designed ratchet clip, it can fit onto any headstock, whether it’s at the front or rear of the instrument. The 360-degree swivel adjustment and extendable arm make it easy to position the tuner so you can see the LCD screen as you play.
The tuner has three modes: chromatic, guitar, and bass, making it easy to tune your instrument regardless of what type of music you play. It can be used to tune a variety of instruments, including electric guitars, basses, mandolins, banjos, and more. Additionally, it has a visual metronome mode that can help you stay on time while you’re practicing or performing.
One of the best things about the NS Micro Universal Clip-On Tuner is how compact it is. You’ll hardly notice it’s there, and it won’t get in the way while you’re playing. Out of the box, it’s calibrated for A=440Hz, but you can easily adjust it anywhere between 410 and 480Hz, which is great if you prefer a different pitch standard.
The D’Addario Planet Waves NS Micro Universal Clip-On Tuner is a reliable and accurate tuner that won’t break the bank. It’s perfect for musicians who want a tuner that’s easy to use, small, and discreet.
- Modes: Chromatic
- Tuning range: N/A
- Calibration range: A4 = 410-480Hz
- Accuracy: +/- 2 cents
- The newly designed ratchet clip allows it to fit onto almost any headstock, making it very versatile.
- Easy positioning for optimal viewing with 360-degree swivel adjustment.
- Can tune a variety of instruments, including electric guitars, basses, mandolins, and banjos.
- Visual metronome mode for keeping time.
- Incredibly compact and lightweight
- Easy to calibrate to your preferred tuning.
- Not as accurate as some other clip-on tuners on the market.
- The small LCD screen may be difficult to read in some light conditions.
- Some users have reported a somewhat shorter battery life
If you’re looking for a clip-on guitar tuner with unparalleled accuracy, the Peterson StroboClip HD is worth considering. With a remarkable 0.1 cents accuracy, it’s perfect for players who demand nothing but the most precise tuning for their instruments.
One of the standout features of the StroboClip HD is its huge HD screen, which provides clear and detailed visual feedback. The tuner also has soft rubber-gripped jaws that can securely attach to your instrument without causing any damage. Plus, it has convenient drop tuning and capo settings that make it easy to tune your guitar to alternate tunings.
In addition, the StroboClip HD offers over 50 sweetened tunings, which take into account the tuning idiosyncrasies of popular guitar models. For example, a Telecaster with a three-saddle bridge might experience tuning instability when playing chords higher up the fretboard. Peterson’s sweetened tunings can adjust for these issues, resulting in a more in-tune sound.
However, it’s worth noting that tuning with a super-accurate strobe tuner like the StroboClip HD can be challenging for inexperienced players. The tuner’s precision can sometimes highlight issues with intonation or setup that might go unnoticed with a less accurate tuner. But for experienced players, the StroboClip HD is an indispensable tool for achieving flawless tuning for recording and performance.
In summary, if you’re a professional or advanced player who demands the utmost accuracy in your tuning, the Peterson StroboClip HD is a top-notch clip-on tuner that’s worth checking out.
- Modes: Strobe
- Tuning range: C0-B6
- Calibration range: A4 = 390Hz-490Hz
- Accuracy: +/- 0.1 cents
- extremely accurate, with an accuracy of 0.1 cents
- has a large, easy-to-read HD screen
- can accommodate over 50 of Peterson’s sweetened tunings, a more accurate tuning for your specific guitar.
- has settings for drop tuning and capo adjustments, making it easier to tune your guitar to non-standard tunings.
- soft rubber-gripped jaws have a secure grip without damaging the finish.
- It is more expensive than many other clip-on tuners on the market,
- While the sweetened tunings feature can be helpful for some players, not everyone needs or wants this level of tuning precision.
The Korg AW-OTG Clip-On Tuner is a highly accurate tuner that provides useful features for adventurous players. With a strobe mode that boasts an impressive 0.1 cents accuracy, the AW-OTG is on par with other high-end tuners like the Peterson. The tuner’s bright OLED display is adjustable to set the angle for optimal viewing.
One unique feature of the AW-OTG is its chord finder function, which allows the user to identify the chords they are playing. This makes it a valuable tool for players who like to experiment with different chord voicings. The tuner also offers up to 18 hours of continuous playing time on a single AAA battery, making it convenient for long gigs or practice sessions.
With 11 display types to choose from, including a traditional needle display and an animated tuning display, the AW-OTG caters to both traditional and modern tastes. The tuner’s adjustable clip makes it easy to attach to any instrument, and its compact design makes it a great addition to any gig bag.
While the AW-OTG doesn’t have the sweetened tuning feature of the Peterson tuner, its accuracy and chord finder function makes it a valuable tool for any musician. The tuner is especially useful for players who want to explore new chord voicings and push the boundaries of their creativity.
- Modes: Chromatic, strobe
- Tuning range: A0 (27.5Hz) –C8 (4186 Hz)
- Calibration range: A4 = 436Hz–445Hz
- Accuracy: +/- 0.1 cents (strobe mode)
- Very precise in the strobe mode that provides an accuracy of +/- 0.1 cents
- The wide tuning range from A0 to C8, makes it suitable for a variety of instruments.
- The chromatic mode allows for tuning to any note, useful for alternative tunings or non-standard instruments.
- The calibration range is adjustable between 436Hz and 445Hz, providing flexibility for tuning to different standards.
- The accuracy in chromatic mode is not specified, so it may not be as precise as the strobe mode.
The Boss TU-10 Clip-On Tuner is an excellent option for players seeking a reliable, accurate, and user-friendly tuner for their stringed instruments. With its compact and lightweight design, the TU-10 is easy to carry around and use in a variety of settings.
With a tuning accuracy of +/- 1 cent, it is suitable for most players’ needs. Additionally, the flat tuning mode allows you to tune down up to 5 semitones, making alternate and drop tunings relatively pain-free.
The TU-10’s display performs well in various lighting conditions, ensuring that you can easily tune your instrument no matter where you are. Moreover, the display is easy to read, making it ideal for players of all ages and skill levels.
Another advantage of the TU-10 is its versatility. While it is designed for use with guitars, it can also tune basses, ukuleles, mandolins, and other stringed instruments. This makes it an excellent all-purpose tuner for any musician.
Overall, the Boss TU-10 Clip-On Tuner is an excellent choice for players seeking a reliable, accurate, and affordable tuner. While it may not have some of the advanced features of other tuners, it more than makes up for it in terms of its ease of use and overall functionality.
- Modes: Chromatic
- Tuning range: C0-C8 (16.3-4186Hz)
- Calibration range: A4 = 436Hz-445Hz
- Accuracy: +/- 1 cent
- With a 1-cent accuracy, the Boss TU-10 is precise enough for most players’ needs.
- Its small size and lightweight design make it easy to carry around and use on the go.
- The tuner is simple and user-friendly, with no unnecessary frills or complications.
- Flat tuning mode: This feature allows for easy tuning down up to 5 semitones, which is helpful for drop and alternate tunings.
- Versatile: The Boss TU-10 can tune a variety of stringed instruments, including bass, ukulele, and mandolin.
- doesn’t have the advanced features of other tuners, such as sweetened tunings or chord detection.
- some may prefer a higher level of precision.
- The display may be difficult to read in low-light conditions without an external light source.
- doesn’t have an adjustable clip to accommodate different headstock sizes and angles.
Overall, the Boss TU-10 Clip-On Tuner is a solid choice for musicians who want a simple and accurate tuner that can be used on multiple instruments. While it may lack some advanced features, its ease of use and portability make it a reliable option for on-the-go tuning.
If you’re looking for an accurate, budget-friendly tuner for your guitar or bass, the Korg Pitchclip 2+ is worth considering. This tuner is an improvement of the original Pitchclip, offering a more advanced display with half-strobe and full-strobe modes that significantly improve its accuracy.
What’s great about the Pitchclip 2+ is that it has a bright and readable display that is easy to see in all lighting conditions. It is also reversible, which means that it can be used by both left and right-handed players.
One of the drawbacks of the Pitchclip 2+ is that its battery life is slightly shorter than its predecessor, offering 18 hours of playing time from a single battery. However, this is still a respectable amount of time, and the tuner also includes a self-shutdown mode that helps to conserve battery life by shutting down after three minutes of inactivity.
The Korg Pitchclip 2+ is accurate to within a cent, making it suitable for both beginner and advanced players. It can also be used to tune a bass, and its compact profile makes it easy to carry with you wherever you go.
- Modes: Chromatic, half-strobe, strobe
- Tuning range: A0-C8 (27.5Hz-4186Hz)
- Calibration range: A4 = 436Hz–445 Hz
- Accuracy: +/- 0.1 cent (half- and strobe modes)
- The sleek and compact design makes it easy to use and store.
- Bright and readable display, which is reversible for left-handed players.
- Can be used for tuning guitars and basses, and has a wide tuning range of A0-C8.
- Offers up to 18 hours of continuous playing time on a single battery, with an automatic shut-off after three minutes to save power.
- doesn’t have the same 24-hour battery life as the previous version of the Pitchclip.
- Some players may prefer tuners with more features, such as the ability to save custom tunings or provide alternate temperaments.
Overall, the Korg Pitchclip 2+ is a solid choice for players who want a reliable, accurate tuner in a compact and affordable package. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of some higher-end models, it gets the job done well and offers excellent value for the price.
The Fishman FT-2 Digital Chromatic Clip-On Tuner is a budget-friendly and straightforward option for those who want a reliable clip-on guitar tuner.
Unlike other tuners with flashy displays and complex features, the FT-2 keeps it simple. Its compact and unobtrusive design allows for easy attachment and detachment to the guitar’s headstock. Plus, it conserves battery life by switching off automatically after five minutes of inactivity.
The tuner’s digital chromatic setup is user-friendly, with a color-coded display that makes it easy to know when you’re in tune. The display turns red when you’re sharp, amber when flat, and green when perfectly tuned. This straightforward approach eliminates the need for unnecessary features, making it a practical choice for those who just need a tuner that gets the job done.
Overall, the Fishman FT-2 Digital Chromatic Clip-On Tuner is a reliable and budget-friendly option for guitarists who prioritize simplicity and efficiency in a tuner.
- Modes: Chromatic
- Tuning range: C0-C8 (16.3-4186Hz)
- Calibration range: A4 = 436Hz-445Hz
- Accuracy: +/- 1 cent
- A Budget-friendly option for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a tuner.
- is accurate to within one cent, which is great for most players’ needs.
- Simple and easy to use, making it a great option for beginners.
- Compact and unobtrusive, so it won’t get in the way while you play.
- turns off automatically after five minutes of inactivity, which helps to conserve battery life.
- no extra features such as a metronome or alternate tuning settings.
- the display may be difficult to see in certain lighting conditions, such as bright sunlight.
- may not be as reliable for alternate tunings that require more precise tuning.
The Fender Bullet Tuner is a clip-on tuner that boasts a minimalistic design, making it a great option for live performances. Its circular display is mounted on a cylindrical barrel design that can be easily mounted on the front or back of the headstock. It looks a bit like a sniper scope, but its discreet design allows for a seamless and professional performance without drawing too much attention to the tuner.
Accuracy is crucial when tuning an instrument, and the Fender Bullet Tuner delivers just that with an accuracy of one cent, which is more than sufficient for most players. The circular display allows for quick and easy tuning, without any distracting information or bells and whistles.
It’s worth noting that the Fender Bullet Tuner is calibrated for concert pitches where A4 equals 440Hz. This means that it may not be suitable for some orchestra settings where a different tuning is required. However, for those playing in standard concert pitch, this tuner will work perfectly fine.
In summary, the Fender Bullet Tuner is a discreet and accurate option for live performances. Its minimalistic design and circular display allow for quick and easy tuning, making it a reliable choice for musicians of all levels.
- Modes: Chromatic
- Tuning range: A (27.5Hz)-C (4186.0Hz)
- Calibration range: A4 = 440Hz
- Accuracy: +/- 1 cent
- Discrete design, which can be useful for live performances.
- is accurate to within one cent, which is sufficient for most players.
- Easy to use, so even beginners can easily tune their instruments.
- can be mounted on the front or back of the headstock
doesn’t offer any advanced features or bells and whistles Limited instrument compatibility: While the tuner is designed for use with guitars, it may not work as well for other types of instruments.
Overall, the Fender Bullet Tuner is a great option for players who want a discreet, accurate, and easy-to-use tuner for live performances or practice sessions. However, it may not be the best choice for players who require more advanced features or who need to use it with non-guitar instruments.
The Snark ST-2 Super Tight tuner is a great option for those looking for solid performance, tap tempo metronome, and an affordable price. Snark is known for producing clip-on guitar tuners in a variety of colors and styles that are accessible in price and easy to see on stage with their bright, colorful screens.
The Super Tight is a highly versatile tuner that clamps tightly onto your guitar’s headstock. It offers a chromatic tuner that can be switched between microphone and vibration modes, usable for the tuning of both acoustic and electric instruments. While the accuracy rating is not posted by Snark, the tuner is fast and accurate enough for most players, especially beginners.
Additionally, it comes equipped with a tap-tempo metronome mode, a highly valuable feature at its price point. The tuner is small enough to fit into a gig bag or jacket pocket, making it a convenient option for musicians on the go.
One potential downside of the Snark ST-2 is its lack of precision compared to high-end tuners from brands like Peterson and TC Electronic. However, for most players, the accuracy provided by the Snark will be sufficient.
It’s worth mentioning that Snark now offers the rechargeable version of this tuner, the Snark Rechargeable, which eliminates the hassle of changing batteries. If you’re looking for an entry-level clip-on guitar tuner that provides solid performance, versatility, and affordability, the Snark ST-2 Super Tight is worth considering.
- Modes: Chromatic
- Tuning range: N/A
- Calibration range: A4 = 415Hz-466Hz
- Accuracy: N/A
- Affordable price point
- A bright colorful screen makes it visible in low-light situations
- Offers a chromatic tuner that can be switched between microphone and vibration mode
- Has a tap-tempo metronome mode
- Easy to use, making it a great option for beginners
- A new Snark Rechargeable model is available for those who dislike changing batteries.
- The accuracy is not posted by Snark, making it unclear how accurate it is compared to other tuners on the market, it may not meet the requirements of professionals who need extremely precise tuning.
Why Do You Need a Clip-On Guitar Tuner?
The answer is straightforward – it’s an essential tool for 99% of guitarists out there. Not only will it help keep your guitar in tune at all times, but it will also facilitate alternate tunings if that’s your style.
Moreover, using a clip-on guitar tuner takes out another variable in your signal chain. It requires no patch cable, has less cable to go through, and reduces neurotic considerations that keep guitarists awake at night. Additionally, clip-on tuners are portable, typically taking a lithium-ion battery, and can be shared with your bandmates to ensure that everyone is in tune.
Are Clip-On Guitar Tuners Any Good?
Clip-on tuners are a great option for acoustic guitar players, as they don’t usually come equipped with onboard tuners. For electric guitar players, using a clip-on tuner can free up valuable real estate on your pedalboard, allowing you to add more effects.
While clip-on tuners are a convenient option, they do have some drawbacks. For instance, some manufacturers, such as Snark, recommend that you don’t use them with vintage acoustics or high-end instruments with delicate nitrocellulose lacquer finishes. So, if you have a precious guitar, it’s best to check if the clip-on tuner is suitable before using it.
Overall, clip-on guitar tuners are an essential tool for guitarists of all levels. They provide a reliable and convenient way to keep your guitar in tune at all times, without taking up much space on your pedalboard. While they may not be suitable for all types of guitars, most clip-on tuners are versatile enough to work with a wide range of instruments.
Which Clip-On Guitar Tuner is Right for You? The Three Main Types
There are three main types of clip-on guitar tuners: chromatic tuners, polyphonic tuners, and strobe tuners. Each one operates a little differently and offers its unique features.
Chromatic tuners are perhaps the most common type of clip-on guitar tuner. With a chromatic tuner, you play one note at a time and the tuner can tune to each of the 12 notes of Western music’s chromatic scale. The display might either show a needle or LED, typically showing green when you reach the pitch.
If you’re a beginner and likely to be playing a beginner’s guitar, you might be better off using a chromatic tuner. They will be cheaper, and easier to use, and a quality chromatic tuner will be accurate enough to make your guitar sound in tune.
Polyphonic tuners allow you to play all six strings simultaneously and will display which notes are in tune and which are not. For quickly identifying tuning problems, there’s nothing better, and it’ll save you from going string to string as you do with a chromatic tuner. This is a great option when time is of the essence, such as during a gig, or a recording session where the clock is ticking.
Strobe tuners are the most accurate and the most expensive of the options available. They can be a little bit fiddly to operate at first – with the tuner displaying a spinning circle of the reference note and the note that you’ve picked, and you’ve got to tune very carefully until the display registers the correct pitch – but the accuracy is incredible.
Pros would no doubt be better off with a strobe tuner, especially in the studio, but if your ear cannot pick up that amount of accuracy, is there any point in spending the extra money?
How Accurate are Clip-On Guitar Tuners?
Here’s the elephant in the room: your guitar is never in tune. At least, not totally, and that is because stringed instruments are volatile.
Stringed instruments are dealing with a lot of frequencies, and a lot of reverberations, and your tuning depends on several factors, not least your setup. You want your intonation to be bang on so that fretted notes sound as in tune as open notes, but that is not always achievable and is often contingent on your guitar’s construction.
Then there is your playing style. The harder you hit the strings, the more you will pop in and out of tune. You can see this whenever you play a string through a tuner, whenever you play a note it goes sharp before returning to the pitch.
How is the accuracy measured?
A clip-on guitar tuner is convenient for guitarists of all levels, but just how accurate are they? Well, the accuracy of a clip-on guitar tuner is measured in cents, which is a hundredth of a semitone. A tuner that is accurate to 2 cents is accurate to within 2/100 of a semitone with a 4-cent swing either way. This means that when you factor in the other five strings, there could be a noticeable difference in a guitar that is “in tune” according to a tuner with a 2-cent accuracy and one that is “in tune” to a 0.02 cent accuracy.
However, it’s important to note that a guitar is never completely in tune, and several factors can affect the tuning, including the instrument’s construction, setup, and the player’s style of playing. This is why it’s important to care for your guitar, change strings frequently and strive for accuracy to ensure that your guitar is as close to being in tune as possible.
When it comes to choosing a clip-on guitar tuner, the level of accuracy required depends on your needs and preferences. For example, professional musicians who record in the studio might prefer a strobe tuner, which is the most accurate and expensive option. However, if you’re a beginner, a chromatic tuner might be a better option as they are easier to use and more affordable.
How do you use a clip-on guitar tuner?
Using a clip-on guitar tuner is very easy. Simply attach the tuner to the headstock of your guitar and pluck the string you wish to tune. The screen will then light up, showing you if you need to sharpen or flatten the note. It’s as simple as that!
Clip-on guitar tuners work by using a sensor, such as a piezo-style transducer, to pick up the vibration of the string through the guitar’s body. The tuner then processes the note using its software and displays the note on a screen. This makes the clip-on tuner ideal for tuning in noisy environments, such as during a live performance or band rehearsal.
In conclusion, choosing the right clip-on guitar tuner depends on your needs and preferences. There are three main types of guitar tuners: chromatic, polyphonic, and strobe. Each one operates a little differently, and the level of accuracy varies depending on the type.
Clip-on guitar tuners are convenient and easy to use and provide a quick and reliable way to tune your guitar. By understanding the different types of tuners and their accuracy, you can choose the right one for your needs and ensure that your guitar is always in tune.