The Best Guitar Tuner as of mid-2019

Author: GroundGuitar Dan

It should be common sense that before buying any of the fancy effect pedals, one should invest in a decent guitar tuner. It’s a must-have. Tuned properly, you’ll sound better, you’ll avoid frustration (especially if you’re a beginner), and it will be money well spent.

Consider Smartphone Guitar Tuner Apps

However, before I reveal what I think is the best tuner, I suggest that, before spending money, you try out an app. These days, apps are pretty good, and they’ll get tuned almost to perfect pitch. But, most importantly, they don’t cost any money.

I myself am using GuitarTuna (available on Android and iOS) right now on my phone and can recommend it wholeheartedly. It’s about as good as a $15 tuner, so at this point, think about whether that’s good enough for you or not (you can try out any other tuner, I don’t claim that GuitarTuna is best -it’s just what I’ve been using).

How I Chose the Best Guitar Tuner

With that out of the way, let’s talk about actual guitar tuners. In the previous version of this article, I separated all tuners into three categories. Pocket tuners, Clip-on tuners, and Pedal tuners. I also gave you three options for each category but have realized since that some people might get overwhelmed by too many choices.

Therefore, in this new updated version for 2019, I will focus only on one tuner. That tuner obviously has to be from one of those three categories – each of which fit a certain purpose. So, I decided to choose a tuner that can be used for all purposes, whether you play an acoustic, classical, or an electric guitar.

Also, I didn’t wanna just straight up choose the most expensive guitar tuner out there. Obviously, you can buy something like a Peterson AutoStrobe 590 and call it quits, but that’s not the point. The point is to buy smart, and spend as little as you can while getting the most out of it.

So, based on that, I think that the best guitar tuner right now in 2019 is – Peterson StroboClip HD.

To see the current price of the tuner, check Peterson StroboClip HD on Amazon.com.

The StroboClip in all its simple glory.

Why Peterson StroboClip HD?

As I’ve said, I wanted to choose a tuner that can be used on any type of guitar. StroboClip is, as the name implies, a clip-on tuner, meaning that you clip it onto your headstock. It doesn’t matter whether that’s a headstock on a classical, acoustic, or an electric guitar – they all resonate the same.

You just attach the tuner to your headstock, and it’s done. Easy peasy.

So, for those of you who play an acoustic or classical, there are no cables needed. Furthermore, no need for an absolute silence for the tuner to function properly. I did consider something like a BOSS TU-12EX – which is sort of a desk tuner which sometimes uses a microphone to detect the note. It’s great for some purposes, but it sucks when you’re in a room full of people, and you have to use the mic to tune up.

And for those of you that play electric, the tuner works just as good. I know that people prefer to use pedal/stage tuners on their electric guitars, but if you’re playing at home/practicing, this will do the job more than well enough.

Accuracy, Strobe Tuner

In my opinion, there’s rarely need for a tuner that’s accurate beyond the standard accuracy, which is realistically probably around +/- 1 cent. Just to put things into perspective, 1 cent is one hundredth off a semitone (or a fret on your guitar).

The Peterson StroboClip HD has the alleged accuracy of 0.1 cents, which is one-thousandth of a semitone, or in other words – something an average person doesn’t notice at all. It’s pretty much pointless, and just a marketing strategy. Still, it sounds cool.

If you’re curious about how the average tuner performs, and whether you should be worried about each cent, I recommend this article by Hank Wallace – What Do Guitar Tuner Accuracy Specs Mean. Hank explains that a guitar changes pitch slightly influenced by the temperature of the instrument and environment and that there’s really no need for such accuracy when it comes to guitar tuners.

But, what I personally did like about the StroboClip is the fact that it’s a strobe tuner. Most other tuners on the market are chromatic tuners – which are limited by the chromatic scale, as they show tuning relative to the nearest semi-tone.

As opposed to that, strobe tuners are only limited by their internal frequency generator. This generator serves as a reference frequency, and a strobe tuner shows even the slightest difference between it and the note being played. This difference is visualized by the movement of the rotating discs on the LCD.

A vintage 1967 Peterson Strobe Tuner Model 400. Note the the mechanical rotating disk, and the rotary “Vernier” dial on the right. As far as I understand, this dial allowed you to change the reference pitch from the standard 440Hz.

So, while the accuracy is not really something one should focus on too much, the strobe mode I at least found to be much superior to the chromatic mode. It was what made me fall in love with this particular tuner.

Other Options, Conclusion

I really do think that the Peterson StroboClip HD is the best guitar tuner out there, all things considered. It’s relatively cheap, it’s simple to use, and it’s made well.

To see the current price of the tuner, check Peterson StroboClip HD on Amazon.com.

However, if you, for some reason, don’t like clip-on tuners, I can recommend you a few options.

If you want a pedal tuner, one that you can use with your foot on stage, I think that the TC Electronic Polytune 2 Mini is a great option. It has a polytune mode (tune all strings at once), and it’s made by a reputable company.

If you want a small pocket tuner, something that you can carry around and use wherever, I recommend Korg TM60BK – which is, by the way, super cheap. It’s not as accurate as good as the Peterson (performance is probably closer to a smartphone app tuner), but it will do the job well.

I recommend staying away from $100+ tuners, and generally, the tuners that promise an insane amount of accuracy. It all sounds cool, but it’s usually just a waste of money, and it’s pointless.