Is it time for a tuner upgrade?
Is your all-instrument tuner bottoming out or reading the wrong notes?
You might need a new tuner that can register those low octaves.
And, what’s the big deal about clip-ons?
We’ll go over the best guitar tuners for bass and if a clip-on is accurate enough to register those low notes.
Quick Answer: Best Clip-On Tuner for Bass Guitar
Bass Clip On Tuner Reviews
There are plenty of tuners in the market specifically made for guitars, violins, ukuleles, and more, and some even tout all-instrument capabilities. But, the bass is different, and it requires a little more from a tuner than what would suffice for a 6-string guitar.
What do bassists need? They need a tuner that can read low notes, like the low E, to get in tune, especially if you have a 5-string guitar where you must tune the low B. You might also be the type of rock player that drop tunes to a D or a C. As you can see, the demand for tuners to keep up with a bassist’s needs are high.
Clips-on tuners are easy to use, durable, and can be accurate enough to tune your bass. They’re compact, allow for fast tuning on the fly, and you don’t have to mess around with plugging in. They clip onto the headstock and can be placed in multiple positions to pick up the vibrations of the strings through the wood. One of the best things about clip-ons – they’re relatively inexpensive compared to other tuners.
Here are the clip-ons that will do it best for your bass guitar.
1. Snark Super Tight ST-2 Review
- Tunes Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Basses and All Instruments
- Pitch Calibration
- Tune with Vibration Sensor or Microphone
Snark has been the preferred clip-on tuning brand for many instrument players for a long time. The tuner that gets the job done on your 5-string bass is the ST-2.
- Internal mic
- HD display
- Drop tuning
The ST-2 is a chromatic tuner, so it can tune your bass for non-standard tuning no problem. As a versatile, all-instrument tuner, it can be clipped on to the headstock of the bass to pick up vibrations or you can activate the internal mic to tune other instruments you can’t clip to.
With its large, HD, LCD display, it’s easily readable and visible in even the most dynamic lighting conditions. It has a 360-degree swivel display made possible with its ball joint that has been known to be fragile due to the connecting three plastic prongs, but its high-performing accuracy may outweigh this factor. But, how does it serve the bass player?
The ST-2 is very capable of tuning the low E and the low B without issue. You can even adjust the Hz frequency from the standard of the A note set at 440 Hz. It also features a Tap Tempo Metronome, Power Save features, and it comes with a CR2032 battery.
The ST-8 model is rated for guitars and basses, and is another excellent option for bass players, but the ST-8 differs from the ST-2 in that it lacks the internal mic. If you play in a band or with others with various types of instruments, it’s better to have the mic and not need it than to not have it and need it.
2. Peterson StroboClip HD Review
- True strobe 0. 1 Cent accuracy - accurate to 1/1000th of a Semitone or 1/1000th of a fret
The StroboClip is not a cheap clip-on tuner if you’re accustomed to spending less than 20 bucks. Designed to tune a huge variety of instruments, including orchestral, it has bass guitar and upright bass players covered.
- Improved designs
- HD display
- 1/10th cent accuracy
- Auto Transposition
The Peterson StroboClip combines strobe tuning technology into a compact and clip-on package. Extremely accurate, it can help you achieve 0.1 cent accuracy. The wide, HD, LCD display makes it easy to read and is highly visible, even in the dark.
The StroboClip has more than 50 preset tunings that are instrument specific, so you can share this tuner around with your symphony peers or use it to tune your other instruments in your private collection.
Of course, it has a guitar and bass setting to get you in tune, and it works without issue to tune low E and B strings. It also has an Auto Transposition feature for drop tuning and using capos. It has a very wide Hz tuning range of 390-490 Hz.
It’s worth mentioning that the Peterson tuner was recently redesigned to address buyer complaints about a poorly designed power button and narrow clamp width. Now, it has a raised power button to quickly identify it from the other two buttons and a much wider clamp width to make sure it will fit various headstock widths or other locations on brass and woodwind instruments.
For a tuner that can do it all with ease, the StroboClip is a worthwhile investment.
3. TC Electronic PolyTune Review
- Poly tune technology - tune all 6 strings simultaneously
- Chromatic (+/- 0.5 cent) and extra accurate strobe (+/- 0.02 cent) modes
The PolyTune clip on tuner is super bright, accurate, and has multiple tuning modes. On the expensive end of the scale, is it worth it?
- 3 tuning modes
- LED display
- Flat/capo tuning
- Pitch adjustable
- Display orientation adjustable
The PolyTune is more expensive than many other clip-ons in the market, but it sure has a lot more to offer. The 108-LED display is super bright and highly visible in any conditions your find yourself in – tuning in the dark at home, sitting under a tree at the park, or under strobe and spotlights on stage.
Although the PolyTune does not swivel, the display will automatically orient itself for right and left-hand players. It has Flat/Capo Tuning and pitch adjustable features. The highlight of the PolyTune is its three tuning modes: Chromatic, Polyphonic, and Strobe.
Polyphonic is geared towards guitars for simultaneous tuning of all 6 strings. In bass mode, you have access to both chromatic and strobe modes. Chromatic tuning provides rapid tuning for those moments you’re in a rush like when you’re on stage. Strobe tuning allows for -/+0.02 cent accuracy for ultra-precise tuning.
Even with all these features, we know what you want to know – does it register low E and low B strings? It wouldn’t be in this lineup if it didn’t. But, there are some reports of the low B string being read as an F#. What’s the deal with that? It might mean the PolyTune is having a hard time registering the note correctly because it’s low on juice – give your tuner a power-up with a new CR2032 battery and you’ll be back to Bs all day long.
Is the Boom in Your Bass in Tune?
Many cheap clip-on tuners have a difficult time registering the low notes on a bass whether it be a 5-string bass guitar, upright bass, or even an electric bass.
Nevertheless, clip-ons can pick up the low notes, you just have to be a little more choosy and perhaps willing to spend a little more. It may require a chromatic system or even some strobe technology, but it can be done.
Don’t settle for a being a little flat or a little sharp. Lock in your low notes to power your boom effects when it comes time to be heard.
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Simon is a music lover, musical instrument player and passionate audio afficionado. When he is not playing the guitar or listening to music he is either eating tacos or snoring too loudly.