If you are a guitarist who plays on stage often, whether it be for a small venue or a large gig, keeping your guitar in tune is imperative even for beginners. Using a clip-on guitar tuner makes tuning your instrument on stage easy and convenient with a great sound.
You’re not going to have to stop the whole concert just to tune down to a drop D; instead, with a clip on tuner, you’ll just need to take a few seconds to drop your tuning and you’re all set to go to play.
However, using a clip on guitar tuner from just anywhere isn’t going to do you any good. You are going to need a reliable, lightweight, accurate, and easy to use clip on tuner if you want to purchase yourself a clip on tuner that will really put in work.
All of the clip on guitar tuners that I have listed here have all been put to the test by myself personally, based upon their accuracy, durability, weight, and functionality.
Clip on guitar tuners are the most popular types of tuner on the market because they are easy to use and are very flexible when it comes to their versatility. A guitar player will clip the tuner onto the headstock of their guitar, which allows the tuner to use its piezo sensors that pick up the vibrations with a high sensitivity, from the notes your guitar is playing.
This means that you won’t have to become completely dependent on a microphone to tune your guitar; so if you’re in a crowded venue where there’s a lot of noise around you, you will still be able to use a clip-on tuner without it interfering with the quality of your tuning.
The biggest complaint that a lot of people have about clip-on guitar tuners is that they happen to be fragile, which is understandable considering that these tuners are very small. As long as you handle your tuner properly, you’re not going to have any problems with the tool breaking. Read here to choose the most accurate tuner to get a great sound.
TL;DR: If you are looking for the bottom line up front, these are the best tuners for most guitarists…
- Snark SN2 Guitar Tuner (Amazon) – Best Overall Clip-On Guitar Tuner
- Peterson StroboClip (Amazon / Sweetwater) – Most Accurate Clip-On Guitar Tuner
- TC Electronic Polytune Clip-On (Amazon / Sweetwater) – Fastest Tuning Clip-On Guitar Tuner
- Korg AW2G Tuner (Amazon) – Best Low E Clip-On Guitar Tuner
- Boss TU-10 Tuner (Amazon / Sweetwater) – Most Durable Clip-On Guitar Tuner (lasts forever!)
Do I Really Need a Clip On Tuner?
The short answer is, “it depends”. Learning to tune by ear can be a useful skill, but takes practice.
All that said, having a clip on tuner for spot tuning where time is of the essence is definitely a good insurance policy!
How do clip on guitar tuners work?
Unlike other tuners, clip on guitar tuners works by picking up vibrations. When these types of tuners were first released, they really didn’t work as efficiently as they do now. By using the vibrations that the guitar produces, clip on tuners don’t need to have a microphone or a signal chain in order to function.
If you are a baritone guitar player or a bass guitar player, I would suggest that you stay away from using clip on guitars. Since the vibrations of lower guitar strings are slower compared to higher strings, clip on tuners struggles to pick up the vibrations, which means that the tunings on lower notes aren’t a very accurate sound.
Clip on tuners have no problem with accurately reading the low E string on an acoustic or electric string guitars, but any note lower than that, they struggle with. If you are just an average guitarist, clip on guitar tuners are outstanding, especially if you’re used to playing with a tuner that uses a microphone.
The Snark SN-2 clip on guitar tuner is one of the most popular guitar tuners on the market today, most likely because of its affordable price tag at $15 . For the inexpensive price tag, this tuner packs a lot of unique features into it. The Snark SN-2 comes with pitch calibration which is great to have when you’re trying to match your tuning with another instrument.
It also comes with transposition for you to use when you’re trying to change your instrument’s tuning from standard tuning. Also, this tuner comes with a high sensitivity tap tempo metronome which is great to have around when looking to practice for some gig.
It should also be mentioned that this tuner comes with a built-in microphone that helps to support the internal vibration sensor, which assists in assuring a more accurate tuning and sound.
One of my favorite features about the Snark SN-2 is that you can use it all average guitars and not so average guitars. You can tune your bass guitars, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar all just with this device to get a great pitch!
The Snark Chromatic All-Instrument Tuner provides a solid connection to your instrument or music stand, precise tuning, and advanced features too! Its full-color display makes it fast and easy to tune, plus it's got a tap tempo metronome, pitch calibration, and a transpose feature.
For around $80 you can use a clip-on tuner that’s so precise that it’s used by famous professionals. The StroboClip HD is so accurate, that it has a 1/10 cent accuracy. Peterson designed this clip on the tuner to be able to tune acoustic guitars, electric guitars, ukulele, dobros, banjo, and mandolins with little hassle!
Another cool feature to add in the pros list that comes with this instrument tuner is the capo setting, which allows guitar players to quickly tune their instrument in between live performances. If you are a professional guitar player who is looking to invest in a high-quality clip-on tuner, the Peterson StroboClip is your best bet.
This versatile tuner comes complete with a bright high-definition screen, over 50 Sweetened tunings, alternate temperaments for a vast array of string and wind instruments, and soft rubber-lined jaws to protect your instrument's finish while offering a firm grip for maximum signal tracking.
This is one of the most expensive guitar clips that we have listed in this list, but it is one of the best clip-on tuners on the market today. This device is produced by TC Electronic and will cost you around $50.
The main reason that this PolyTune clip on guitar is more expensive than other electronic tuners is that the TC Electronic PolyTune Clip on tuner uses polyphonic tuning that allows you to strum your guitar once and it will accurately tune each string. This means that you only have to strum your guitar once and you will have all of your strings tuned.
The polyphonic tuning cuts down on the amount of time that you spend tuning, which can really help when you’re trying to move onto your other set.
If you’re not interested in having a clip on tuner tune all of your strings at once, you can also tune your guitar using the traditional chromatic tuning. The chromatic tuner will allow you to tune your instrument string by string.
Besides using a chromatic guitar tuner, you can also tune your musical instrument using the strobe tuner method. The Strobe mode is a very precise method that’s only ever flat or sharp by .02 cents.
PolyTune Clip sports three distinct tuning modes ranging from the game-changing polyphonic tuning mode that lets you tune all 6 strings at once, to your trusty chromatic tuner and all the way to an ultra-precise strobe tuner mode, which offers +/-0.02 cents of tuning precision.
The Korg AW2G is a clip-on tuner that has been designed to be able to fit a variety of different sized instruments. This tuner also comes with a clip that has the ability to fit several different types of instruments, all the way from wind instruments to stringed instruments such as guitars.
Out of one battery, you can get up to 150 hours of tuning, which is pretty incredible battery life! There is also an internal backlight on the AW2G, which allows guitar players to see the screen, even if playing on a dark or dimly lit stage.
The biggest complaint about this tuner is that it isn’t as functional at the Snark tuner, but the Korg AW2G does a much better job tuning low E strings compared to the Snark.
The new AW-2 Chromatic Tuner enhances this basic concept by adding the flexibility of an adjustable angle for the display section, enhanced visibility from the built-in backlight, and improved fit to your instrument, allowing the performer to tune in a natural position.
If you’re familiar with pedal tuners, then the Boss TU-10 clip-on electronic tuner will be easy for you to work with, especially if you’ve never used a clip on tuner before. The TU-1O has a lot of the same features as a pedal tuner; for example, this might be the best clip on guitar tuner for you, because it has the ability to support flat tuning and has five semitones.
One of the best features on this tuner is that the screen is easily viewable, no matter what type of lighting you are in, even if it’s bright sunlight. The biggest complaint that people have about the Boss TU-10 is that the clip and tuner are one solid piece, which makes it impossible to swivel.
Since this instrument tuner doesn’t swivel, you will have to put in extra work to be able to find the best angle for you on your guitar (electric, bass, or acoustic guitar).
Reinventing the traditional image of clip-on tuners, the TU-10 offers a stylish design and robust body with high-performance features derived from other BOSS tuners, such as Ace-Pitch, flat tuning up to five semitones, and Stream mode.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: Yes. There are some flaws though. some clip-on turners may struggle to pick up the vibrations of lower strings because they are are slower compared to higher strings, which means that the tunings on lower notes aren’t a very accurate sound.
Answer: The clip on guitar tuners should go on the headstock of your guitar to measure the vibrations you are ready to tune your guitar by playing your strings and it will start showing the readout of whether you should tune it up or down on its LCD display.
Conclusion on the Best Guitar Tuners
It is strongly recommended that if you are a guitarist who plays a lot of live gigs and needs to quickly tune in between each song and play, you should purchase the best clip on guitar tuner, or even for beginners. However, if you are someone who plays bass guitar or a baritone guitar, using a clip on guitar tuner is going to nearly be impossible for you to properly tune your instrument since the vibrations are so low.
If you are an average guitar player, you aren’t going to have any problems getting accurate tuning results with your clip on guitar tuners.
Recommended Reads on Digital Tuner Options & Guides:
- The Best Locking Tuners: What Are Locking Tuners?
- The Best Android Guitar Tuners Guide
- The Best Guitar Tuner App for iPhones
- Complete Open D Tuning Guide
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