Best Tuner Pedals For Guitars & Bass – 2020 Review

Whether you play bass, six-string guitar, mandolin, banjo, or another stringed instrument, you need to stay in tune. With its long strings and a tendency to go out of tune as you play and bend strings, performing on a guitar requires constant tuning corrections. Nothing helps maintain tuning better than a tuner pedal. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Tuner Pedals For Guitars & Bass

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Boss TU-3 Chromatic

  • Best overall pedal tuner
  • Reliable and accurate tuning
  • Improved visibility through reflection-display function
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Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal ± 1 Cent

  • Perfect for wide range tuning
  • Extremely quick, precise and accurate
  • LED display shows the results of tuning
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KLIQ TinyTune Tuner Pedal for Guitar and Bass

  • Best for the Money
  • Easy to read display
  • Fast and accurate chromatic tuner pedal
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TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini Pedal Tuner

  • Best Mini Tuner Pedal
  • Chromatic ultra-accurate tuner
  • PolyTune Technology ensures simultaneous tuning of all strings
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Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner

  • Best chromatic tuner pedal
  • True Bypass ensures tonal clarity
  • Four modes: meter, full strobe, half strobe, and mirror
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What is a Tuner Pedal?

A tuner pedal is a type of guitar pedal that true professionals use very often. It helps you to keep your guitar in tune with an entire band or while just soloing or practicing at home. Modern music generally plays at a standardized frequency of 440Hz. Tuner pedals are standardized to 440Hz for that reason. That enables all instruments in a band to stay in tune and harmonize while using their own respective tuner pedals. 

It works in one of three ways. Those are:

  • Polyphonic, which indicates the tunings on all guitar strings with a single strum.
  • Chromatic, which tells you the exact pitch of a particular string.
  • Strobe, which flashes LED lights that tell you the pitch and freeze when in tune.

Because it shows your tuning across the entire chromatic scale, a chromatic tuner is the preferred option. Many combine polyphonic, chromatic, and strobe technologies for greater versatility and highly accurate tuning. 

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How to Choose a Tuner Pedal

When it comes to picking a quality product, the options are countless. The precision of electronic metering systems quickly and accurately tells you the exact tone you get from each string. 

When it comes to picking a good product, common key features to look for include:

  1. True bypass, which does not affect the tone produced by your guitar.

  2. Chromatic tuning, which tells you the exact pitch as you adjust a string’s tuner.

  3. Durability, a quality product should last a lifetime.

  4. Battery as well as electric power, because buskers and others cannot count on available power supplies aside from batteries. 

Ultimately, the best way to choose the tuner pedal that works best for you is to pick your maximum budget, get one with true bypass, and ensure it has a reasonable degree of accuracy. These days, most deliver highly accurate tuning that exceeds your ear’s ability to discern any difference. You need one that will work well under your common playing or practice conditions, provides fast and accurate metering, and is easy to read. Portability and durability are the two other main factors, and virtually all quality tuner pedals deliver both very well. 

Review of the Best Tuner Pedals

Let's take a look at this year's top picks.

Best Overall:
Boss TU-3 Chromatic

BOSS TU-3 Chromatic Tuner Stompbox (TU3)

PROS

  • True bypass 
  • Exceptional tuning accuracy
  • Works for bass and guitar settings during the same gig
  • Can preset alternate tunings for faster drop-tuning and others

CONS

  • Uses power until you unplug the instrument cable
  • Quickly kills batteries, which are best used as a backup

The Boss TU-3 is the sequel to the legendary Boss TU-2 tuner pedal. The TU-3 gives you a 21-segment LED meter, brightness control, and your choice of chromatic or guitar/bass tuner settings. You get true bypass and excellent, automatic muting.

What Recent Buyers Report 

The tuner is one of the best available. It works great for bass as well as six- and seven-string guitars. The AccuPitch confirmation takes an extra second or so to affirm tuning, but the tuning is so accurate you can ignore it for faster tunes. An all-around great product that will last a lifetime. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The BOSS TU-3 Chromatic Tuner is a highly accurate, fast, and efficient tuning pedal that does just about everything very well. It enables fast and silent tuning, and you can pre-program drop tuning by as much as six semitones. Bass tunings drop as much as three flats.

Who Will Use This Most

Anyone who wants a pedal that is very accurate, enables alternate bass and guitar tunings, and is easy to see in low or bright light. It is durable, decently affordable, and is built to last a lifetime. An additional AC output powers up to seven pedals with a daisy chain.

Bottom Line

BOSS remains the standard in technology use. The TU-3 improves upon the legendary TU-2 with more accurate and faster tunings. It is highly versatile and can service bass and six-string guitars during the same performance. There are less-expensive tuner pedals that work nearly as well, but none of them best the BOSS TU-3 chromatic tuner pedal.

Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal ± 1 Cent

PROS

  • Easy-to-read LED display
  • True bypass when turned off
  • Fast and highly accurate tuning
  • Compact and sturdy aluminum-alloy body
  • Very simple to use with almost no learning curve required

CONS

  • No room for a battery
  • Mutes sound somewhat while tuning

When it comes to outright value combined with tuning accuracy, the Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal ± 1 Cent is nearly impossible to beat. For less than half the cost of the BOSS TU-3, you get the same level of accuracy in a compact chromatic tuner pedal. It looks great and has a very intuitive design. Plug in the guitar, press the tuning button, and an LED display tells you when the string is in tune. The chromatic tuner enables a wide range of tuning options.

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers love the easy-to-read display and tuning accuracy. A slim, compact, and very sturdy design at a very affordable price point make it a great value. Some report mixed results with the build quality. Those who are happy with its tuning ability call it the best bang for the buck. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

A simple, slim, and sturdy design with true bypass and chromatic tuning makes this a highly useful but easy-to-use item. The cost makes it a terrific value, and the 1 cent tuning range is as accurate as you need. 

Who Will Use This Most

Budget-minded guitarists who want a small and accurate pedal to take on the road and will withstand the abuses encountered during constant gigging. Only for use with ready electrical power supplies due to the lack of a battery compartment. 

Bottom Line

The Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal ± 1 Cent is one of the bests bangs for the buck you can get in tuner pedal technology. It is an ideal mini-pedal design for those who have limited pedalboard space and do not like lugging around a lot of bulky guitar pedals. It helps you stay in tune quickly, easily, and for very little out of your pocket. The LED display is easy to read and highly accurate.

KLIQ TinyTune Tuner Pedal for Guitar and Bass - Mini - Chromatic - with Pitch Calibration and Flat Tuning (Power Supply Required)

PROS

  • Very affordable
  • Rugged metal body
  • Simple and bright display
  • Comes with a 1-year warranty
  • Highly impressive 0.5-cent accuracy

CONS

  • Does not accept batteries
  • Audible click when actuating the footswitch

The KLIQ TinyTune is designed to fit with other mini pedals but gives you a lot of benefits you expect bigger, more expensive tuners. You get true bypass, better accuracy than most tuners, and a single footswitch to activate the tuner. One very small button lets you adjust the reference pitch. Another button enables down-tuning by up to four semitones. A simple and sturdy design.

What Recent Buyers Report

When pedalboard space is limited but you want a lot from your tuner pedal, the KLIQ TinyTune for Guitar and Bass is a great option. Its output is completely muted and silent when engaged for tuning. True bypass keeps it quiet with no ill effects on guitar tone while off. You can see the display easily in outdoor light. About the only annoyances are an audible clicking sound when you use the footswitch and no potential for battery power. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The TinyTune helps you get into tune very fast. The little option is easy to use, highly accurate, and darned affordable. KLIQ is a relatively new entrant into the guitar pedal market, and the TinyTune is an outstanding effort. The added benefit if virtually unheard-of warranty protection for the first year you own it makes it a downright foolproof deal.

Who Will Use This Most

Anyone looking to make more space on a pedalboard will find it very useful. So will beginners and others looking for a high-quality tuner at a very affordable price. It is a fantastic tuner for practice or gigging. Just about anyone who does not already own a more expensive tuner and can do without a battery will love this product.

Bottom Line

The TinyTune is a great little pedal that will work great as a primary tuner pedal or even a backup. You could carry it in your pocket while going to and from gigs. No battery means a power source always is needed. Its tuning accuracy is rated as better than the Boss TU-3, and we have no reason to doubt it.

TC Electronic Polytune 2 Mini Pedal Tuner

PROS

  • 0.5-cent tuning accuracy
  • Three-year warranty coverage
  • Capo, flat, and drop-tuning options 
  • Takes up very little space on the pedalboard
  • Magnet slows the needle display the nearer you get to being in tune

CONS

  • LED display can be hard to see in bright sunlight
  • Fussy to secure to pedalboards due to small size

What Recent Buyers Report

The PolyTune2 Mini does just about everything very well. Other than being fussy to secure to a pedalboard and lacking the option of a 9-volt battery power source, the PolyTune 2 Mini is a great value and pleases its owners. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

TC Electronics packs an awful lot of great features in the PolyTune 2 Mini. It simply is an outstanding option that enables a lot of musical creativity with alternate tunings. The automatic switch from polyphonic to chromatic makes it even faster to tune up between songs. 

Who Will Use This Most

Anyone looking for a tuner pedal that will not take up much pedalboard space but gives big benefits. A musician truly can grow with the PolyTune 2 Mini. As you learn more about what it can do, it truly can help you grow as a musician and guitarist. 

Bottom Line

The PolyTune truly swings well above its weight. The mini pedal tuner provides chromatic, polyphonic, and strobe tuning capabilities. It is a very small but durably built pedal that works great under all playing conditions. A display uses 109 LED lights that make increase visibility, and a 9V power jack is located on the bottom vertical surface.

Best Chromatic Tuner Pedal:
Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner

Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner

PROS

  • True bypass
  • Four metering options
  • Sturdy aluminum body
  • External DC outlet for powering other pedals
  • Bright LED meters make it easy to read outdoors

CONS

  • No power adapter included
  • Footswitch sometimes makes an audible popping sound

What Recent Buyers Report

Outstanding tuner with a highly durable body and an easy-to-read display. One of the few true rivals to the Boss TU-3.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The four tuning display options really make the Pitchblack a great tuner for just about anyone. Pick the display style that works best for you and enjoy years of in-tune playing. 

Who Will Use This Most

Those who want a do-everything product that will not cost a great deal of money. Takes up pedalboard space than traditional pedals but is not a mini pedal. 

Bottom Line

Korg intended to set a new standard in chromatic tuning pedals with the Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner. Korg has done an admirable job with a great chromatic tuner that gives you four metering modes, true bypass, and fast chromatic metering. Uses a 9V battery or external power adapter.

Donner Dt-1 Chromatic Guitar Tuner Pedal True Bypass

PROS

  • True bypass
  • +/ 1 cent tuning accuracy
  • Sturdy aluminum-alloy shell
  • Least expensive of the bunch
  • Small size with easy-to-see display

CONS

  • LCD display harder to see in bright light
  • Overly bright LED indicator lights above LCD display

What Recent Buyers Report

The product works flawlessly with a great build quality. The LCD display can be hard to see in bright light, and the flat, in-tune, and sharp LED indicator lights are highly annoying in low-light situations. A piece of masking tape placed over them will reduce their intensity and make it easier to read the LCD tuning display. The screen turns green when in tune and red while out of tune, which buyers call a great feature.

Why it Stands Out to Us

You get a lot of great features in such a small unit. The true bypass works as well as any, and the tuner is completely silent while in use. The sturdy aluminum alloy body suggests it will withstand many years of constant use. And the strobing enables very rapid tunings with a high degree of accuracy. 

Who Will Use This Most

Budget-minded bass guitar players will find this among their most ideal options for staying in tune and minimizing space taken up on a pedalboard. 

Bottom Line

Another outstanding tuner at a nearly unbeatable price is the Donner DT-1 Chromatic. It gives you true bypass, an easily readable LCD display, and sturdy construction. The pedal is very simple in design. You plug in your bass and connect the tuner to the amp or other pedals. It is a handy little pedal tuner that gets the job done very well.

Pros and Cons of Tuner Pedals

Tuner pedals keep you in tune either as a soloist or with an entire band. They support musical explorations with alternative tunings and other 

Pedal Tuner vs. Clip-on Tuner – Comparison Overview

Recent years show clip-on tuners are very popular tuning tools. They are small, work quickly, and apply to many instruments. They also are very affordable. What they lack, though, is the durability of virtually any tuner pedal. Clip-ons are made of plastic and will break. Tuner pedals are sturdy, usually made with metal bodies, and can pack more features than a clip-on tuner. Many sell for about the same price range as the better clip-ons but will last much longer. 

Conclusion

The clip-on tuner is a very affordable and versatile tool. But it suffers three things: They are made of fragile plastic. They only work on batteries, And background noise affects their accuracy. A good product will last a lifetime and does away with the need for costly batteries except when playing outdoors or using them as backup power. Ultimately, a clip-on tuner is best used as a backup rather than a full-time replacement. 

Boss TU-3 Chromatic

People Also Ask

Below are some common questions surrounding this topic.

Do I Need a Tuner Pedal?

Yes. A good, durable tuner pedal should last a lifetime while enduring potential travel use and abuse by touring musicians. These products also help beginner and intermediate guitarists to stay in tune and develop their “ear” for musical notes. 

What Does Chromatic Mean on a Tuner?

Chromatic means the tuner covers all notes across the scale. It tells you exactly which note a string is playing, even when while out of tune.

What Does a Tuner Pedal Do?

A tuner pedal enables fast tuning of an individual instrument within the context of an entire band. It also mutes the guitar during tuning. Standardized 440Hz tuning enables an entire band to play in tune. 

Where Does the Tuner Pedal Go in the Chain?

It works best when it is the first pedal in your chain. That puts it in a position to get the unfiltered tone and respond only to the sound made the string you are tuning. With true bypass, the tuner pedal does not affect tone but enables fast tunings. If you put the tuner at the end of the chain instead of the beginning, the other pedals can affect the tone and render false readings from the tuner pedal. That defeats the entire purpose. 

Why Are Tuner Pedals so Expensive?

Tuner pedals mostly are not expensive. You can get high-quality tuner pedals that are accurate and durable for between $20 and $100. In general, the more you spend, the more options the pedal provides. But very affordable and accurate options exist and are listed above.