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  1. #1

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    Guitar tuners have come a long way since the broadly liked Boss TU-12. Still have mine on the bench. In the current offerings there's lots to choose from. This isn't a review or even a survey. Just noting what I like and don't like about the few that I'm using and some curiosity about the experience others are having.


    Clip On's
    Snark - Kinda sorta hate these. They are hard to see in direct light, lack reliability, and chew through batteries. However, they are cheap and they work and we have all used them from time to time.

    Strobotuner - I don't use it much. It's finicky for a quick tune up. On the other hand, just the thing when your setting up your bridge for intonation and you don't have the full on desk version.

    Kliq - Favorite in this format. Easy to see in full sunlight. OK on battery life. Seems to have decent reliability. Decent price when it goes on sale on Amazon.

    Pedal Board (limited experience here):
    Kliq Tiny Tune - Small, easy to see in sunlight, inexpensive (especially on sale), no pedal noise noted so far. Prefer the Pro Stage version for the extra $20 as it has one of the easiest to spot tuner displays I've used. The regular version works fine as well. Neither is battery powered.

    Cell Phone App
    Fender Guitar Tuner App - Free basic tuner. Chromatic or tone generator. Find the tone generator handy when I'm replacing strings. Chromatic works fine. Good backup for when you're not using a pedal board and forget a clip on.

    Total Energy Tuner - Inexpensive. Lots of useful bits including a full featured metronome. Use it more during focused practice.
    Hell is full of musical amateurs - George Bernard Shaw

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    This one sorta reminds me of the old snl skit. It's a capo AND a tuner!

    Watch Saturday Night Live Highlight: Shimmer Floor Wax - NBC.com

    Current Guitar Tuner Choices-capo-jpg

  4. #3

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    I have an old Sonic Research strobe tuner (ST-200, fifty times more precise than the old ubiquitous BOSS tuner) I use for a day or two after a string change to verify intonation and check adjustments if needed. Other than that, I use it in a kind of "backwards" fashion... I use it to tune the guitar after playing, never before or during playing. Why?

    I tune after playing, because that is when the guitar and strings are warm (the condition they will be in next time I'm playing). After tuning it warm I put it in the case, it cools off, and the strings shift slightly sharp. The next time I play it, as it warms up it goes back into tune. If I were to tune the guitar cold before playing it, then the strings would go slightly flat as they warmed and I would be out of tune and need to tune it again, up a little.
    Same thing with taking a break between sets; I check warm tuning at the end of a set, never cool tuning when I come back. I just play it to warm it into tune. So if previously warm tuned, a subsequently cool guitar will warm up into tune.

    Tuning always needs to be maintained by ear because perceived pitch is not linear with frequency or volume level.

    Regarding frequency, dividing a pitch frequency in half to get the octave below, for lower notes, will result in a slightly sharp sounding lower note, and multiplying a pitch frequency by two to get the octave above, for higher notes, will result in a slightly flat sounding higher note. Unless your tuner has these deviations taken into account (a setting called "Sweetened Tuning" in reference to guitars, historically called "German Tuning" as applied to tuning pianos), your lowest and highest pitches will sound respectively sharp and flat.

    Regarding volume level, higher volume raises perceived pitch, lower volume lowers perceived pitch.

    These are small subtle adjustments that must be done while playing warm at performance volume by ear because these are not changes in the physical frequency but changes in how pitch is perceived.

    This does not mean that the tuning process itself needs to be complicated. You may check tuning by ear or by tuner in about three seconds and adjust tuning by ear or tuner in a few more seconds by checking and tuning only E notes:

    First string open E, second string at 5th fret, third at 9th, fourth at 14th, fifth at 19th, sixth at harmonic at 5th

    This method is fast, doable in a noisy environment including background music, and naturally mitigates much of how the different string widths across the neck and different fret depressed action heights up the neck respond with regard to variation in intonation - it broadens the overall in tune range of the finger board by averaging or "tempering" the systematic intonation errors.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook410 View Post
    Guitar tuners have come a long way since the broadly liked Boss TU-12. Still have mine on the bench. In the current offerings there's lots to choose from. This isn't a review or even a survey. Just noting what I like and don't like about the few that I'm using and some curiosity about the experience others are having.

    Clip On's
    Snark - Kinda sorta hate these. They are hard to see in direct light, lack reliability, and chew through batteries. However, they are cheap and they work and we have all used them from time to time.
    I've been using a Snark H.Z. for a few years now (bought also a couple of spares because i really like them). I agree, they are not easy to read in very bright direct light, but so far it never let me down. A couple of my Students have other type snark tuners which seemed to be quite unreliable, one stopped working after half a year already, but the H.Z. seems to be way better than the others. Battery life is okay with it.
    _________
    JazzNote

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNote View Post
    I've been using a Snark H.Z. for a few years now (bought also a couple of spares because i really like them). I agree, they are not easy to read in very bright direct light, but so far it never let me down. A couple of my Students have other type snark tuners which seemed to be quite unreliable, one stopped working after half a year already, but the H.Z. seems to be way better than the others. Battery life is okay with it.
    yes I like the HZ too
    all you said plus the clip thing is stronger and doesn't break (yet)

  7. #6

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    I have a bunch of these;

    Reverb Clip-On Tuner | Reverb Merchandise | Reverb

    $5 and they do a half way decent job (battery included!)

  8. #7

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    The Reverb tuners are fine for the price. I usually use a Korg Sledgehammer Pro tuner. It's the most accurate clip-on I've found, very close to the Peterson iStroboSoft, which I use with a PitchGrabber clip for intonation adjustments. I sometimes use the iStrobosoft app alone, if the environment is acceptable for using the phone's internal mic, which it seldom is. The Sledgehammer is my usual tuner, though, in the hybrid setting, which combines the strobe and standard displays. I recommend it.

  9. #8

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    No matter what tuner I use when done I check with my ear. I check octaves and so a tuner is fine but my ear gets last pluck.
    specializing in repair and setup, does your guitar play like it should?

  10. #9

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    nothing beats the sonic research turbo tuner in the pedal division...

    on the peghead, i've had a snark hz since it came out...i like that you can tune to the actual frequency too...

    the regular snarks are useful too...you just have to learn how to read them accurately...but they do go through batteries..and they do break..but super cheap, so have a few around

    cheers

  11. #10

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    Only pedal tuner i have is a Sonic research turbo tuner, which is great, fast, accurate, works as a mute also. But nowdays i mostly use small clipons, i have a bunch of korg and cheaper ones 5-10$ each, they work.

  12. #11

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    Pitch fork and having perfect pitch; works for some,,, but not me (ha ha).But I still keep a pitch fork in my guitar case, just-in-case.

  13. #12

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    Pitch fork?
    Halloween's not until the 31st.

  14. #13

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    Yep, +1 for the Turbo!

  15. #14

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    I've been using a Peterson Stroboflip since 2007 (I think). I put it on top of my amp and plug it into the effects send on my amp (parallel loop) with a short cable. My amps have a muting switch, so i can mute the amp to tune, and the tuner is at a convenient height for me. I really like the display on it and it's very stable.

    There are a couple of clip-on tuners in my gig bag--a Reverb, which was $4 at the time, and a Snark "Super-tight." I prefer the reverb one, but I've never needed one at a gig. I tried a Peterson clip on, but found that it had a hard time locking on when my band members were all warming themselves up, although I've heard that newer ones are better.

    At home I use the tuner in my Fractal Audio Axe-FX III, which is excellent. I also have a couple more Snarks and another Reverb if I'm not plugged in.

    Danny W.

    P.S.: I buy CR 2032 batteries on Ebay or Amazon--they are 10 or 20 for $3 or $4 and have always been fine quality.

  16. #15
    I have a Boss TU-2 on my board and an Intellitouch PT10C clip-on that I use mainly for my acoustic guitars. I've had them both for years and like them a lot.
    Midnight Blues

  17. #16

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    Not a fan of clip ons but I use them @ home on acoustic archtops since I got rid of my old Korg TU12's
    But they come right off the headstock after tuning.

    For electrics I like Korg Pitchblacks.
    I don't use effects pedals but I put the Korg on top of my amp w/ a short patch cable like Danny mentioned.
    Theyve got a large clear display, minimal bells and whistles and are built like a tank.
    I have a few and they're all still working after all these yrs.
    That said there's probably several other tuners that are technically better these days, but I'm good w/ these.

  18. #17

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    I use the D'Addario/Planet Waves clip on designed by Ned Steinberger. Low profile, light so it doesn't add to the headstock weight, easy to read, reasonably accurate, cheap. Downside is that the clip has only a few detents and on a few of my guitars isn't as secure as I'd like- the headstock thickness falls between the detents.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  19. #18

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    I use a TC Electronic Polytune clip – the only clip tuner I find reliabale. I take it off after tuning on a gig. Had some of the D'Addario/Steinberger Mini Clips that I like for their compact design – but these rattle (when you leave them on at home), the ratch wores out quickly and on a loud stage they have trouble sensing the vibrations.

  20. #19

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    Not being a Luddite by any stretch (well maybe there's just a little bit of that in me), and having been a technical professional for my whole career, I resist "bleeding edge" technology until such time as it's reliable and tech chasers bring prices down :-)

    That said, I've used a tuning fork all my life, and stubbornly resisted electronic tuners utill several years ago. The first couple were made by Snark which somehow self destructed in my case pocket. Since checking them off my list, I've had a few and when I find one that can get my intonation right, I'll buy a truckload :-) Till then my ear works best for that.

    So far I just use one to get it close, of the few I have or have tried, they all seem to have problems with the B and / or the G string.
    Regards,

    Gary

  21. #20

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    Like Danny, I buy CR2032 batteries off ebay for cheap. I have a lot of devices that use them, from garage door openers to LED lights to tuners. I always keep some on hand. The iStroboSoft app displays pitch to 0.1 cent, has a strobe display, and works well enough for me to set intonation. I can't actually hear the difference between +-.1 cent. I'm sort of agnostic about removing the cllipon tuners. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't bother. I see lots of players, including Jimmy Bruno and Pat Martino who leave them in place. To me, it's just not important enough to get excited about.

  22. #21

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    I don't like the look of clip ons but looks aside they can damage the finish of an old guitar.
    I found a friend a beautiful blonde 50s ES350 and stopped in a few months later to check it out.
    He had a Snark on the headstock and when he took it off it had left a mark. He wasn't happy.
    Since most of my guitars are vintage I don't leave them on, but ymmv....

  23. #22

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    Leaving them in place for months at a time is not a good idea, I agree. For a couple of hours, I don't see much danger. But it's not my guitar you're worried about.