Guitar Tuner Types? IMPORTANT Options For Your Setup!

Are you pitch-perfect? Because if you are you can hear and capture the pitch of any note accurately at all times! Unfortunately, I do not have this gift and so I rely solely on guitar tuners to tune my instrument!

Guitar Tuner Types? There are many methods used to tune your guitar… These include:

  • Chromatic Tuners
  • Clip-on Tuners
  • Pedal Tuners
  • Polyphonic Tuners
  • Strobe Tuners
  • Rack Tuners
  • Soundhole Tuner
  • Virtual Tuner
  • Tuning forks
  • Pitch pipes

In this article, we will look into these tuners in great detail… So let’s get started!

1. What Is A Tuner?

The guitar tuner is an essential device that measures the frequency of sounds from your guitar (based on international convention).

This is because each note carries a certain pitch. The pitch of the sound is determined by the frequencies of the sound wave.

To all the musical instrument players and especially the guitarists, the ability to tune up your instruments to the correct pitch is so that your instruments match other members in the band.

2. How Does A Tuner Work?

According to the current international convention, a note that has a frequency of 440 hertz, the octave higher of that frequency will be twice as high.

For example, a note has a frequency of 440Hz, a note in the upper range will have a frequency of 880hz, or a note lower than it will have a frequency of 220 Hz.

A tuner works by dividing measuring the frequency in Hertz (Hz) and then matches the frequency to the closest pitch of the chromatic scale (This includes C, C#, D, D# E, F, F# G, G#, A, A#, B).

3. Guitar Tuner Types?

How many kinds of guitar tuners are there?

Tuning can be very inconvenient at times so it is always important to know your tuning options! 

Electronic Tuner Types

Electric tuners include:

  • Chromatic Tuners
  • Clip-on Tuners
  • Pedal Tuners
  • Polyphonic Tuners
  • Strobe Tuners
  • Rack Tuners
  • Soundhole Tuner
  • Virtual Tuner

This is a totally life-changing device for all the guitarists out there. Thanks to the technology, making your guitar “in tune” and finding the right string has never been easier!

Traditional Tuner Types 

The options range from traditional ways like:

  • Tuning forks
  • Pitch pipes

With tuning forks or pitch pipes, you can only make your guitar “in tune” with the adjustments of 6 standard strings. The tuning order is E – A – D – G – B – E, beginning from the thickest, lowest-pitched E string (called the 6th string) to the thinnest, highest – pitched E string known as the 1st string.

4. Chromatic Tuners

So you might want to ask what’s the difference between the chromatic tuners and regular ones? Regular guitar tuners, or the non-chromatic tuners, can only tune to the 6 standard guitar strings as follows E – A – D – G – B – E. However, sometimes you might want to try something new. The notes can be a little off but more interesting than just the 6 strings above, for example, the F or C string. How can you manage to tune your guitar to the perfect pitch? Chromatic tuners will be your answer.

The chromatic tuner will help you to adjust the string to the nearest semitone since it detects all 12 notes of the chromatic scales. This is way easier for any guitarist, and you can even find the perfect pitch for some other instruments than guitar. It’s far more flexible.

The common types of chromatic tuners are the clip-on and pedal tuner.

5. Clip-on tuners

The mechanism of the clip-on tuner is that this device will capture the vibrations in the air, detecting the correct high frequencies of string that your guitar is playing, using the tiny contact microphone that is built inside the tuner. The name “clip-on” also describes how it will be used. Simply, it’s clipped on to the headstock of your guitar. Once you have put it on and of course switched it on too, it will automatically show you what note your string is tuned to. There’s usually color LCD displays and a needle pointing at exactly the pitch where the notes you are playing at.

With advantages such as small, cheap and being easy to use, … this is an extremely popular tuner, especially in small and medium stages. On the big stages, the vibrations might be disturbed by too many noisy sounds from the external environment (loud monitor sound, the crowd, …) and thus, clip-on tuners might not be as effective as it was originally.

Some of the clip-on tuner models you can check out: The Scheffy Tuner, Snark SN5X Tuner, Snark SN-1 Tuner,…

6. Pedal Tuners

Clip-on guitar tuners are more popular with the guitar players who focus on acoustic songs. The pedal tuners will be a better option for those who play electric through amplifiers.

This is a type of tuner that is often used on large stages. The mechanism of this device includes the input and output jack wire. It will directly catch the signal from the guitar through the inputs, where you plug into the instrument, and then route out into the pedals or amplifiers.

Therefore, it is extremely accurate, durable, and ensures no interference from the environment. However, the price of this tuner line is quite high (compared to a clip tuner you often use) and your guitar requires a jack wire to use it.

Some of the pedal tuner models you can check out: BOSS TU3 Chromatic (one of the most recognizable and top-selling stage tuners in the world), Korg Pitchblack Chromatic, TC Electronic Polytune 2 Mini, Donner DT Deluxe, TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Polyphonic, Donner DT-1 Chromatic,…

7. Polyphonic Tuners

Polyphonic tuners allow you to play all six strings at the same time,  and you can see the tuning of every string. By the process of keeping strumming and tuning one by one, all over again, you can easily detect where the problem is, which string is not in tune and which one needs to be adjusted or how that adjustment affects the other strings. It won’t be as time-consuming as other types of tuners in which you have to play only one string at a time.

8. Strobe Tuners

If you are a beginner guitarist or just interested in acoustic playing then maybe strobe tuners can be a little “too much” and not necessary, you might not need a device that has this many functions and requires lots of techniques just to adjust the pitch of strings. Clip-on or adjusting the strings by ear can also work out pretty effectively. This type of tuner fits more with professional guitarists and guitar techs.

A strobe tuner illustrates the difference between the frequency of the desired strings you want to adjust and the notes being played. It can notice the slightest difference between them with the strobe display using LEDs (an array of lights) to indicate whether the pitch of the audio being analyzed is higher, lower, or directly equal. This device combines the ability to detect sound vibrations by both the input jack wire and a built-in or external microphone connected to the tuner. Strobe tuners are also considered as the most accurate type of tuner, with precision as high as 1/10th of a cent.

9. Rack Tuners

For those who prefer the pedalboards, we will come to the pedal tuners. But in the case of rackmount effects, then the suggestion would be rack tuners, especially for live use.

The Pedal and the rack unit play the role of sound editing, creating effects for the guitar. These effects are created in between the instrument and amplifier. If we had to compare the two types of effects, then Rack is made for the use in recording studios, with more functions and higher sound quality than floor pedals.

10. Soundhole Tuners

This type of tuner is designed for acoustic guitars. The Soundhole tuner comes in the small form, which does not take a lot of space or attract attention when people see you tune your guitar. Soundhole can earn itself the title of “the most aesthetics” guitar tuner. With the extremely highly sensitive piezo pickup, this tuner senses vibrations accurately, directly from the soundboard for adjustment. The current most recommended soundhole tuner is D’Addario NS Micro Soundhole Chromatic Tuner.

11. Tuning Apps & Virtual Tuners

For many beginner learners, apps are usually favored by their quick access, pricetag and ease of use. Since this is the age of technology innovations, smartphones are everywhere, the millennials are obviously all over it, from texting, learning, listening, watching to moving, everything can be done through this small device. That’s why for the old schools, they might prefer the chromatic and tangible devices to tune their guitars. But for young people, at a starting point, an app might suit well enough.

There are plenty of apps out there on Android and iOS which you can download to use. Its mechanism is quite similar to a microphone-based tuner, a device in which you need to put it near to record the guitar’s pitch so that it can detect the right string you’re at. And obviously, every smartphone has a microphone, that’s how it all works. But the disadvantage is that you can only use it when in an absolutely 100% anti-noise environment or else the apps can not detect your guitar’s notes.

Some of the best guitar tuner apps you can check out: BOSS Tuner, CarlTune, Chromatic Guitar Tuner, Cifra Club Tuner, Fender Guitar Tuner, gStrings, GuitarTuna, Pitched Tuner, Pro Guitar Tuner.

And the “Virtual Tuner” is basically a Windows app where you can tune your guitar to the right pitch. It also functions as detecting the frequency from the string that you’re playing and shows the closest note to it.

12. Tuning Forks

Using a tuning fork to tune your guitar is not a very popular option for many. This is becase it requires a certain skill and you need to have a good sense of hearing, being able to recognize the pitch perfectly.

The tuning fork is a single-pitched tuning reference, it helps you to recognize the A string, which vibrates at a fundamental frequency of 440Hz. Then, the rest of the strings will be adjusted following the string 5.

About how to use it, you can hit the fork on a hard surface, so that it vibrates, resonates and creates sound waves and thus produces disturbances. You now can play the A note (5th string on the guitar) and base on that to adjust and tune your guitar to the right tone. The whole process has never been easy and if you can successfully tune your guitar by doing this then your ability to feel the tones and notes in every single melody will definitely be better. One bonus thing about tuning forks is that its price is pretty cheap compared to all the other guitar tuner types, and it’s small and tiny, fits easily to your backpack, and does not take up much space.

13. Pitch pipes

Using the pitch pipes is also one of the kind-of-traditional ways to tune your guitar to the right strings. It’s quite manual. The funny thing is that it looks similar to a little harmonica. The pitch pipes include 6 tubes, each representing the pitch of 1 string.

For example, the tube that is labeled E-6 will correspond with the 6 string. Then, just place one of the pipes in your mouth and blow the air into it to hear the emitted pitch, at the same time, you can test the string or reference note on your guitar and then compare it to the one you heard from the pitch pipes. Keep making the necessary adjustments until you can’t see any differences between the two sounds.

Conclusion

Thanks to breakthroughs in technology the ability to tune up your instruments to the correct pitch have never been easier.

We all have different requirements so when choosing a guitar tuner consider the suitable type of guitar tuner to use for your own purpose (acoustics, pro players, or band guitarists,…) and also your budget.

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