Best Tuner Pedals For Guitars & Bass – 2019 Review

The tuner pedal is an essential device for musicians, whether they play acoustic, electric, or bass instruments. Not only does it ensure that your instrument is tuned up, but it also helps you to tune in with the rest of the band.

So, which is the optimal pedal tuner for your performance? In this article, we have compiled the most important information about tuner pedals and short reviews of the best products on the market.

This article is for guitarists who want something better than a clip-on tuner, but aren’t looking to spend a fortune on a studio rack. The happy medium is a pedal tuner that fits on your board just like a regular FX pedal.

The thing is, not all tuner pedals are created equal. Some are more error prone than others (*ahem* PolyTune), which is the last thing you want when you’re onstage and the band is waiting.

Read on for our analysis of the best tuner pedals.

Comparison Chart of the Best Tuner Pedals

Product

Rating

Price

Boss TU-3 Chromatic

Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal

Best Overall

Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal ± 1 Cent

Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal ± 1 Cent

Runner-up

KLIQ TinyTune Tuner Pedal for Guitar and Bass

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

Best for the Money

Donner Dt-1 Chromatic Guitar Tuner Pedal True Bypass

Donner Dt-1 Chromatic Guitar Tuner Pedal True Bypass

Best Bass Tuner Pedal

TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini Pedal Tuner

TC Electronic Polytune 2 Mini Pedal Tuner

Best Mini Tuner Pedal

Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner

Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner

Best Chromatic Tuner Pedal

Pitchblack vs. Polytune vs. Boss Tu-3

Cents are units of pitch, with 100 cents in a semitone. Experts say the best you need is +/- 1 cent accuracy, given the limitation of the human ear.

What is a Tuner Pedal?

A tuner pedal allows any guitarist and/or bassist to tune their instruments. Tuner pedals are crucial for musicians, regardless of their genre of music or play style, because it ensures that each string is set to the correct pitch.


Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal

For electric guitarists, tuner pedals can be easily integrated into the pedal chain and can conveniently tune on or off the stage; this is because most tuner pedals can do so silently, given that they can cut the signal to the amplifier. The models reviewed in this article offer cutting-edge features, high precision, accuracy, and the ability to easily help you hone in on the note you are looking for. 

How Does a Tuner Pedal Work?

The best musicians know that a tuner pedal is essential for flawless performance. Pedal tuners ensure that the guitarist does not have their instruments out of tune, as this can derail the quality of the performance.

There are numerous options of tuner pedals on the market; however, the most common types include pedal tuners that receive and send the unchanged audio signal through 1/4” audio cables, while the clip-on tuner is attached to the guitar’s headstocks and can measure the vibrations in the wood of the guitar. The most common tuning mode is chromatic, where it shows any pitch on 12-note scale. 

Characteristics of Our Favorite Models

Whether you are a beginner or a professional, the best pedal tuners become much easier to find when you know exactly what you should be looking for. Here is a list with the most important features of the best pedal tuners available:

True Bypass

Pedal tuners are often the most accurate tuners available. In addition to this, what makes a pedal tuner amazing is that most of them are now true bypass, which means that the signal is sent directly in a manner that will not be boosted or altered. 

Bright Screen

It is important for gigging guitarists to be able to tune their instrument in any condition, such as outdoors during the strong light of the day, on the stage, in the light of the reflectors, or even in a dark environment. Therefore, it is important to opt for a pedal tuner with a bright screen, so that you are able to easily see what pitch you choose in any circumstances. 

Silent Tuning

Lastly, a pedal tuner should be able to perform completely silent tuning by muting the guitar signal completely. While it sounds like a form of art to be able to tune your instrument silently, this is easily achievable with a good quality pedal tuner. This means that your audience will not have to listen to your tuning attempts. 

Review of the Best Tuner Pedals

If you are a guitarist, bassist, or someone who plays just about any other instrument that needs tuning, having a tuner pedal will help you greatly. Here are the best tuner pedals on the market:

Best Overall:
Boss TU-3 Chromatic

Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal

PROS

  • Suitable for guitar/bass mode tuning.
  • Guitar flat permits drop tunings to up to 6 semitones.
  • Includes support for 7-string guitars and 6-string basses.
  • Enhanced outdoor visibility through high-brightness mode.
  • Accu-Pitch function shows visual representation when the tuning is finished.

CONS

  • Short battery life.
  • Difficult to check if tuner is on/off after input cable is disconnected.

What Recent Buyers Report

This product offers quick tuning in real-time and is user-friendly. The bright LEDs are extremely useful in outdoor settings due to the brighter modes available, which allow you to see on the product’s screen. The power hopping feature is one of the most exciting characteristics because it eliminates the need for cables. You can easily link pedals together and run them using the product; all that is needed is one charger.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Boss TU-3 Chromatic is a solid tuner pedal that provides reliable and accurate tuning. It includes a variety of features, such as Stream mode, a colored LED screen, Ace-Pitch, flat tuning for 5 semitones, and improved visibility with an extra brightness mode for outdoor settings. 

Boss has long made popular pedal tuners, and the TU-3 is no disappointment. It’s built like a tank, and comes with some handy knickknacks, like a high brightness mode for outdoor use.

Accuracy-wise, the TU-3 is a big improvement over its predecessor. It detects pitches within +/- 1 cent (same as the Pitchblack), compared to +/-3 cents for the TU-2.

A key difference between the TU-3 and its competitors is that it isn’t true bypass. This means that when the pedal is turned off, there is a buffer applied to your signal. (Note: PolyTune 3 now have a buffered option too)

Is this a bad thing? No, not necessarily. A good buffer placed placed first in your chain can help you maintain signal quality – especially if you’re using long, tone-sucking cables. On the flip side, buffers don’t always play nicely with other pedals (e.g. fuzz pedals), and some say that too many buffered pedals in a chain can, likewise, hurt your tone.

Who Would Use This Most?

A tuner pedal is a great asset to any musician. Boss TU-3 Chromatic is useful for musicians in different situations, especially when playing outdoors with a band, which can make it difficult to hear the tuning; the Boss TU-3 Chromatic provides on-screen notification when the tuning is complete, and it is extremely accurate and reliable. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Boss TU-3 Chromatic is a great pedal tuner with a robust construction that allows instrument tuning in any situation. It is perfect for quick tuning between songs, the perfect tool for any guitarist or bassist. 

Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal ± 1 Cent

PROS

  • True bypass for zero tone coloration.
  • Analogy through 1/4” mono audio jack.
  • Easy to use and read the results of tuning.
  • LED light showing the status of the tuning.
  • Sturdy construction – made from aluminum-alloy.

CONS

  • Requires a hearty guitar battery.
  • Too-wide tune range makes it difficult to know exactly when you are on the pitch.

What Recent Buyers Report

This product is easy to use, small but solid, and offers high accuracy tuning at a reasonable price. You can easily read it on stage or outdoors due to the bright LEDs. The true bypass mutes the signal from the guitar while tuning. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

The Deluxe Tuner is user-friendly and highly accurate; once power and audio cables are connected, it goes to bypass mode. It has a blue indicator that shows when the tone is accurate. All these features come in a classy design; we were very impressed with how durable and convenient this small device is. 

Who Would Use This Most?

The Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal is great for any guitarist, either amateur or professional, because it offers a great range for tuning, varying from A0(12Hz) to C8(4186Hz). It has a precision accuracy of +/- 0.1 cent, meaning that it is extremely reliable and accurate, allowing any guitarist to easily tone their instruments and reach the notes they are looking for.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Donner DT Deluxe Guitar Chromatic Tuner Pedal is a chromatic tuner pedal with an easy-to-use classic design, suitable for a wide range of tuning. The product is fast, reliable, and has an improved analog circuit. 

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

PROS

  • Fast and accurate tuning.
  • Extremely durable and easy to use.
  • Zero noise so audience is not disrupted.
  • Easy to use and simple to understand features.
  • Large colored display ensures readability under any lighting.

CONS

  • Power supply not included. 
  • Response might have a 2-second delay.

What Recent Buyers Report

This tuner offers great performance and the company ensures flawless customer services. The pedal is tiny but extremely durable, accurate, and reliable. Entirely silent, the product might have a few second delays in response; however, it is the perfect asset to the gigging musician. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The TinyTune comes with a high accuracy of only +/-0.5 cents in a creative and innovative design. It has a reference pitch calibration of 430-450Hz and can perform drop or flat tunings up to 4 semitones under the standard pitch. The full-color display ensures very clear readability. 

Who Would Use This Most?

This product is best for gigging musicians looking for a quick and accurate tune-up between songs. It can completely mute the signal when the tuner is engaged so that the audience does not hear the tuning. It is great for beginners due to the fact that it has a heavy-duty switch that prevents triggering it by mistake; it also provides tactile feedback. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the TinyTune is a great mini-sized tuner pedal that is ready to be placed on your board. It is completely silent and easy to use. It excels in any situation, whether on stage, outdoors, or practicing at home. The durability of the case ensures that it is built to last. 

Donner Dt-1 Chromatic Guitar Tuner Pedal True Bypass

PROS

  • Good response time.
  • Quick and reliable readability.
  • Small-sized convenient design.
  • True bypass and no loss of tune.
  • Can be used for both standard and bass guitars.

CONS

  • Does not include power adapter.
  • Lights for flat/sharp tuning could be hard to read from certain angles.

What Recent Buyers Report

This pedal tuner is reasonably priced but delivers responses quickly and with no delay. The display is colorful and extremely useful, as it displays a green color when the instrument is tuned and a red color when it is not. The only drawback is that you need to buy the power supply separately.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Donner Dt-1 Chromatic Guitar Tuner Pedal True Bypass has a tuning range of a0(27.5Hz)~c8(4186hz) and it is a highly reliable product that allows the guitarist to tune the instrument in the dark or the strong light, thanks to its brightly colored display. 

Who Would Use This Most?

This product is perfect for beginners and professionals, due to its wide range of tuning. It might, however, take longer for beginners to adjust to using this pedal tuner due to its chromatic model, which means that you need to know which note you are looking for. However, it is easy to use and perfect for practicing. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Donner Dt-1 Chromatic Guitar Pedal has excellent features that enable you to enhance your performance by ensuring that your instrument is never out of tone. It is a great choice for professionals and beginners alike, with a convenient yet durable design. It delivers the highest quality possible, especially because it is true bypass, meaning that there will be no loss of tune. 

TC Electronic Polytune 2 Mini Pedal Tuner

PROS

  • Best for musicians on the go.
  • Extremely lightweight design.
  • Bright display ensures easy viewing.
  • Small size that does not take much space.
  • Polyphonic, ultra-precise, and chromatic modes.

CONS

  • Could have more customizable settings.
  • Makes a noise when it is switched on or off.

What Recent Buyers Report

This product has a reasonable price compared to other options on the market. It is able to do alternate tunings and displays all the six strings at once while tuning. This device is always accurate and precise; plus, its size is very beneficial, considering that it does not take up much space on the board. It can tune guitars or basses in strobe mode, needle mode of the poly mode. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This ultra-compact tuner pedal comes with a variety of must-have features. It has integrated polytune technology, which allows you to tune all the strings simultaneously. It also boasts an ultra-bright display, which makes it easy to use under any lighting. 

The TC Electronic PolyTune is a polyphonic tuner. This means it can tune every string at once. You simply strum your guitar, and voila!

In theory, this makes tuning much faster. You can immediately see which strings need adjustment. Then, pluck the individual string to fine-tune it. The PolyTune automatically switches from multi- to single-string mode based on input detection.

In reality, however, I found this technology glitchy and limiting. Having used it both in practice and on-stage, I eventually returned it for 2 key reasons:

1. Detection is Finicky

The multi-string visualizer isn’t super detailed, so you’ll often be plucking single strings to get them fine-tuned. The problem is, the polytune has a hard time detecting when you’re playing a single note vs a full strum. It constantly switches back and forth between the two screens. Furthermore, even when it holds onto single note mode, it often jumps between pitches.

The Polytune is especially glitchy when there’s background noise (or vibrations), making your panicky on-stage tunings all the more dreadful. Nothing is more frustrating than this tuner switching between modes and pitches because your bassist is playing an interlude. Granted, even in a dead-silent room, I’ve found it cumbersome.

2. No Customizable Tunings

The PolyTune can only handle standard and drop D tunings in a variety of pitches. For example, it can accommodate if you tune down a whole step, or use a capo on the 5th fret, but it can’t handle DADGAD, Open G, or any other alternate tunings.

The pedal has an advertised accuracy of +/- 0.1 cents, which is better than the Boss or Korg. However, unless this is for solo use only (without a band) and you’re okay with the limited tuning options, I would skip this pedal. In 5 years the technology may get there, but as of now, it’s not worth the hassle.

PolyTune 2 vs. PolyTune 3

TC Electronic just released their newest version - the PolyTune 3. For $20 more, it features the following upgrades:

  • Includes both True Bypass and Buffer modes (more on this below)
  • “Always On” mode allows you to keep the tuner running while you play. The previous edition automatically muted your signal when you tuned.

While I have not yet tested the PolyTune 3, I have to assume it has the same issues with finicky detection. TC Electronic did not note any upgrade to these components in their release notes.

Who Would Use This Most?

This tiny pedal is great for traveling or gigging musicians due to its lightweight design and simplicity of features. It saves time due to the polytune technology and it is easy to use due to the bright LED display, which allows you to quickly and clearly read your tuning. 

Bottom Line

The TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini Pedal Tuner offers high-quality and pocket-size precision at an affordable price. The accuracy is ensured by its +/- 0.1 cent, having all tuning bases covered for a new tuning, quick tune-up on stage, or between songs. Despite its tiny size, the product includes strong LEDs to ensure quick and clear visibility. 

Best Chromatic Tuner Pedal:
Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner

Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner

PROS

  • Fast frequency detection.
  • Flawless tuning accuracy due to True Bypass.
  • High-quality display ensures perfect visibility.
  • Can be used with both electric and acoustic-electric guitars.
  • Can be used with amps that do not have mute switches for tuning.

CONS

  • Some settings are difficult to work with.
  • Does not include polyphonic technology.

What Recent Buyers Report

This device’s performance is flawless, making it one of the best tuners on the market. It is True Bypass, which ensures tonal clarity. The display is very bright and can be easily seen in direct sunlight. It is extremely accurate and the company’s customer service is known for being useful and professional. 

Why it Stands Out To Us

This pedal tuner is a must-have due to its high precision and advanced features. It has an extremely sturdy design made from tough aluminum, which ensures durability and long life. Even though it is small-sized, the screen has a strong LED that allows easy readability in any situation and from any angle. 

The Korg Pitchblack seems to solve every issue with the PolyTune. It does a much better job of detecting and holding pitches. It responds quickly (almost instantly) when you pluck a string, and its visualizer is by far the brightest and easiest to see on stage.

On the flip side, this is NOT a polyphonic tuner – it will not tune multiple strings at once. But I will say that, frankly, this should not be a deciding factor. Polyphonic tuning should be left in the “nice to have” category.

Especially if you’re getting a tuner pedal for live use, you should instead focus on these factors:

  1. Speed: How quickly does it find and display a pitch? The difference between 0.1 and 0.5 seconds can make a remarkable difference when you’re on stage and in a pinch. This is roughly the difference I’ve noticed between my Pitchblack and my Snark tuner.
     
  2. Reliability: How well does it hold the pitch? Does it peter out right away, or does it sustain nicely as you turn the tuner? This is, again, one of the biggest advantages of the Pitchblack. It seems to hold the pitch indefinitely, and it's not distracted by outside noises/vibrations.
     
  3. Legibility: How easy is it to read the tuner, despite glares from the stage lights, hazy rooms, drunk singers, etc? Again, the Korg Pitchblack beats out all other pedals, in my opinion, especially compared to the Boss TU-3, which can be difficult to read.

The Verdict

So to sum it up, the Korg Pitchblack is the only tuner I’ve used that satisfies all 3 answers. 

Who Would Use This Most?

This product is suitable for both electric and acoustic-electric guitar players. It is suitable for both professionals and beginners due to high sensitivity and stability, as it quickly finds the notes. It also includes four different modes, so that the player can use the most suitable one according to their personal preferences. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Korg Pitchblack Chromatic Tuner is a perfect choice for guitarists and bassists due to its high functionality, different modes, and tonal clarity ensured by True Bypass. The device is small, but it has a bright display that allows easy readability, even in the direct sunlight. 

Why Should I Get a New Tuner Pedal?

Having a tuner pedal will allow you to tune your instrument whenever you need to. Here is why you should get one of the above models:

Accuracy

The best tuner pedals ensure high accuracy through different features. It is important to benefit from state-of-the-art technology and purchase one of the products reviewed, since they include features that offer enhanced accuracy (including True Bypass, Chromatic, and fast response). 

Reliability

It is important to purchase a pedal tuner that is reliable. Old products are simply outnumbered by the new choices on the market and you need a reliable tool that can help you offer your audience your best performance possible. A sturdy, reliable pedal tuner is a must-have for the gigging musician. 

High Visibility

Either on a dark stage or on-street performance in the sunlight, a new pedal tuner needs to ensure the brightest LED displays. The visibility of the tuning information is crucial in timing your tuning and performing without delay, to ensure a quick tuning between songs. 

Conclusion

This article has presented you with information regarding the usage and characteristics of tuner pedals. They are important to any musician as they provide a wide range of features that improve the performance through quick tuning with high precision.

A stage tuner has 3 things to do: Deliver the pitch as quickly, accurately, and clearly as possible. It has to do this regardless of exterior noises/vibrations, and light condition. We hope this article helps you in your search for the perfect pedal.