No matter how great your guitar, pedals, or amplifier are, if you’re out of tune you won’t sound good. You have to have a tuner to play guitar.
If you’re here because you just picked up how to learn the guitar, but aren’t sure what kind of tuner to get, then you’ve come to the right place.
Or perhaps you’ve only ever used clip-on and hand-held tuners, and now you’re looking for the best guitar tuner pedal.
Whatever your circumstance may be, tuners are an essential tool for playing guitar and I’m here to help you pick out the perfect tuner pedal for your needs.
Snapshot: Top 8 Guitar Tuner Pedals in 2021
- Korg Pitch Black Advance
- Kliq TinyTune Pro Stage – Best Budget Option
- Boss TU-3s Tuner
- Peterson StroboStomp HD Guitar Tuner – Best High End Option
- ISET Looper Pro Looper/Tuner
- JOYO Power Tune Tuner
- Ernie Ball VP Jr. Tuner
- TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini – Best Overall Guitar Tuner Pedal
Picking Out the Right Tuner Pedal for You
Not all pedals are built equally and the picking out the best guitar tuner pedal depends on the player. If you don’t like the way a pedal displays or functions, then it’s not going to help you get into tune easily.
Here are some things to consider when picking out a tuner pedal:
- Does it fit where you need it to on you board?
- Does it work quickly?
- Is it easy for you to see/read?
- Is it accurate enough for your standards?
- Does it silence (or not silence) your signal while in use?
- Does it fit into your budget?
There are no right answers when it comes to answering the questions above. The tuner should work for you, not the other way around.
In compiling my choices for this list, I am only focusing on pedal style tuners, as they are the most practical and often the most accurate and reliable, with the exception of some rack units.
I made sure to include pedals of multiple display types including Strobe, Chromatic, and Polyphonic. To learn more about the differences between these types of tuners, I highly recommend watching this video by That Pedal Show.
I also searched for hybrid pedals that combine tuners with other effects/tools. Even though tuners are the most important pedal on your board, they’re not very fun, and the technology has gotten to the point that tuners are not getting combined with other effects to save you space on your guitar pedalboard.
Finally, I kept in mind that every guitarist needs to play in tune regardless of their budget. So I made sure to include budget options in addition to high end options.
Here are our picks for pedals to help you play in tune in 2021!
The 8 Best Guitar Tuner Pedals in 2021
1. Korg Pitchblack Advance
- Cutting-edge design, with a superbly visible display
My very first pedal style tuner was a Korg Pitchblack and I still have it to this day as a backup tuner. However, the new Advance model has a new design and updated features worth considering whether you’re a beginner or a pro.
- Battery Power Option
- Multiple display modes
- All black limits distraction on stage.
- Easy to see
- Fast and accurate tuning
- Budget Friendly
- Larger size by today’s standards
The new Pitchblack Advance features an updated design that is slick and truly pleasing to the eye. While the normal color of the pedal is black, as the name implies, it also comes in red and white. It is a true bypass, traditional size pedal.
Though the size may be a negative for some, it allows for extra space for the pedal to house a 9V battery, giving you up to 60 hours of battery life. Should your pedalboard power supply fail, you can get through a show knowing that you’re in tune.
Also new to the Pitchblack Advance is four different display modes including Regular (Chromatic), Strobe, Half-Strobe, and Mirror. This makes the pedal a suitable option for many different guitarists.
The thing I’ve always like about the Korg tuners is that they are simple, and the black background aids the cleanly displayed bright lights to do their job well. You can easily see this pedal working even from a distance.
- Tuner Display: Regular, Strobe, Half Strobe, Mirror
- Dimensions: 3.3 x 6 x 2.4”
- Power Requirement: 9V w/ Parallel DC Out
- Accuracy: ± .1 cents
- Special Features: True Bypass, 4 display modes, battery power
Final Thoughts on the Korg Pitchblack Advance
The Pitchblack Advance does a nice job of combining simplicity with versatility, making it a great and reliable tuner for players of any level. This is what I consider to be the standard all other tuners should try to meet or exceed.
The display on the Korg tuners is one of my favorites, as it is bright and clean without getting distracting. Though not the most advanced tuner on the market, it is a great option for those on a budget or that prefer a clean and reliable tuning pedal.
2. Kliq TinyTune Pro Stage – Best Budget Guitar Tuner Pedal
- Faster & Smarter: With a powerful new 32-bit processor, the mini sized TinyTune PS is faster and more accurate than ever before, allowing you to tune up quickly and get back to rocking in seconds. (We...
If both pedalboard real-estate and cash are tight for you, then look no further than the Kliq TinyTune Pro Stage. This mini tuner is extremely accurate and built like a tank, while coming in under $50.
- Small footprint
- Bright display
- Works for Guitar, Bass, and Extended Range instruments
- Low Cost
- No option for Battery power
- Silent tuning only
First, I’d like to mention that the original TinyTune is even more inexpensive and a great tuner in its own right, but it is less accurate. If you’re looking for professional grade accuracy in a small enclosure, then this is the pedal for you.
The Pro Stage manages to be the most cost-effective tuner on this list while remaining at a build quality that can be taken out for live performances. The 20-segment LED creates a bright display that can still be seen during sunny outdoor shows.
The relay switching is True Bypass and noiseless, making for seamless tuning between songs. With the pedal’s 32-bit processor you can even program presets for each guitar. It features both flat tuning as well as Concert A tuning, and can be displayed in either Strobe or Chromatic styles.
- Tuner Display: Chromatic
- Dimensions: 3.7 x 1.2 x 1.5”
- Power Requirement: 9V DC
- Accuracy: ± .5 cents
- Special Features: Flat/A, Strobe Mode, True Bypass, Programmable
Final Thoughts on the Kliq TinyTune Pro Stage
These days, most guitarists want to make as much room as possible on their board and save as much money as possible for extra effects pedals. The Kliq TinyTune Pro Stage lets you do both, while still working at a professional grade level. Though it isn’t the most versatile tuner on the market, if you prefer traditional Chromatic tuning on the fly, then this will check all the necessary boxes for you.
3. Boss TU-3s Tuner
- Respected TU-3 tuning performance in a more compact size21-segment LED meter with brightness controlHigh Brightness mode enhances meter visibility outdoorsAccu-Pitch Sign function provides visual...
The TU-3 Tuner from Boss is one of the most popular and widely used pedal style tuners on the market today, though there is a similar product that is less well known: the TU-3s. The TU-3s forgoes a bypass switch, making it an always-on tuner that also saves you space on your board.
- Always On Tuner
- Multiple tuning modes
- Small footprint
- Ideal for players using pedal switcher system
- No silent tuning unless connected to pedal switch system
- Dated Design
At your first glance, you might not know what the TU-3s is supposed to do. How many pedals do you use that come without a bypass switch, after all?
This introduces another kind of tuner that some might find preferable: Always On Tuners. Because your signal is buffered, your guitar sound doesn’t shut off. Instead, the tuner is always engaged, so you can check your tuning at any point without having to silence your signal. The pedal has multiple tuning modes including Chromatic and Stream, and is highly accurate.
It is suitable for guitar, bass, and extended range guitars as well with its ability to go 6 semitones below standard tuning in the flat mode.
The TU-3s is an ideal pedal tuner for guitarists utilizing pedal switchers, as you can place this tuner within an effects loop and silence your signal through the switcher, while still keeping the display active at all times.
It also has a line out, allowing you to daisy chain power to other guitar pedals on your board. Though the pedal takes up half the space of the original TU-3, it still costs about the same.
- Tuner Display: Chromatic/Stream
- Dimensions: 3.38 x 2.88 x 2.25”
- Power Requirement: 9V DC
- Accuracy: ± 1 cent
- Special Features: Always On, Buffered Bypass, Daisy Chain power out
Final Thoughts on the Boss TU-3s Tuner
The Boss TU-3s is a bit of a niche and dated design, but I imagine that it will be massively valued by those whose needs it suits. Thankfully, if you prefer the Boss style pedals, but want a traditional bypass switch, the original TU-3 costs and works exactly the same.
4. Peterson StroboStomp HD Guitar Tuner – Best High Quality Guitar Tuner Pedal
While many tuners have a “Strobe Mode”, this is often just a display function as opposed to proper strobe tuning. The Peterson StroboStomp is a true to form strobe tuner, making it the most accurate tuning device in pedal form available.
- True strobe precision
- Multi-color display and programmable
- Switchable buffered/true/monitor bypass
- Adjustable brightness
- Works for all stringed instruments
- Strobe only – not for those that favor chromatic style
Peterson strobe tuners used to be a tool reserved to rack mounts in the studio, but now they have distilled a proper strobe tuner into pedal form. This high definition, real strobe display gives you the most accurate form of tuning in real time, as counterclockwise motions signify flat tuning, and clockwise signify sharp, and no movement means you’re perfectly in tune.
The Strobostomp is a highly customizable tuner pedal with multiple colors to choose from for LED lights. You can even customize presets (with up to 130 sweetened tuning pre-loaded) to have different color displays so that you know which setting you’re using. And no matter which color you use, the brightness is fully adjustable, making it a great choice to take out gigging.
The pedal has switchable True or Buffered Bypass modes, meaning that it can be set for “always on” tuning or silent tuning.
- Tuner Display: Strobe
- Dimensions: 5 x 2.6 x 2.1
- Power Requirement: 9V
- Accuracy: .1 Cents
- Special Features: 130 Presets, Switchable True/Buffered bypass, true strobe
Final Thoughts on the Peterson StroboStomp HD Guitar Tuner
It isn’t often that the guitar community gets excited over new tuners, but the Peterson StroboStomp created about as much buzz as a tuner can with its incredible design. This pedal could have easily taken the top spot on this list if it were not as much of a niche design and premium price tag, but for those who prefer strobe tuning, there is no better one out there.
5. ISET Looper Pro Looper/Tuner
- 9 loop channels, with a single loop recording 10 minutes duration, total recording time is 40 minutes, the visuable process indicator shows the procession of your loop.
Up until this point on the list all of the tuners have been standalone tuners. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with traditional, dedicated tuner pedals, some companies have begun combing tuners with other utility effects to help guitarists save some pedalboard real-estate. The first such combo pedal I’m going to look at is the ISET Looper Pro.
- Combination of looper and tuner – saves space on board
- Good for singer songwriters that utilize loopers
- Mini pedal
- Budget friendly
- Audio quality of looper is good
- Simple tuner
- Not the most accurate or easy to see
The ISET Looper Pro is a combination Looper and Tuner pedal in one mini pedal enclosure. The Looper function brings you up to 40 minutes of recording time that can be split up between 9 different 10 minute loops (max). It has a USB out for updates and for uploading recordings to your computer.
The great thing is that while you’re making these loops, you can rest assured that you’re staying in tune with the pedal’s built in tuner. The accuracy of the tuner isn’t specified, but based on the display I would think it is close enough for rock and roll, as they say.
So while the tuner may not be your go-to for the studio, if you’re a singer/songwriter that works with loopers frequently on stage, this is a great space saver.
- Tuner Display: Chromatic
- Dimensions: 3.54 x 1.57 x 1.57
- Power Requirement: 9V DC
- Accuracy: Not Specified
- Special Features: Looper/Tuner Combo, USB Out
Final Thoughts on the ISET Looper Pro Looper/Tuner
What lands this pedal on this list isn’t its build quality or functionality, but rather its clever design. Any pedal that saves you space and money when it comes to what I call “utility effects” or “guitar tools” like tuners and loopers is a winner in my book. I would recommend this as a great practice tool or for those doing small open mic gigs.
6. JOYO Power Tune Tuner
- JOYO Power Tune combines both power supply and bass tuner into one amazing pedal, saving space and eliminating noise, 8 isolated DC 9V outputs,features isolated filtered low noise output with short...
One of the biggest challenges about putting together a great pedalboard is figuring out the best way to power all of your pedals. JOYO not only gives you a rock solid power supply, but a tuner on top of it so that you can make extra room for the effects that you want.
- Two essential guitar tools in one pedal
- Can power digital pedals that require high current
- Isolated power supply. Clean power!
- Easy to see LED Screen
- Slightly larger pedal, but saves space as a 2-in-1 pedal
- Chromatic tuning only
The JOYO Power Tune is a true bypass, high speed tuner that is combined with an isolated power supply. The tuner is a standard chromatic design that uses LED lights for its display in what is one of the largest tuner displays on the market, making it easy to see from far away.
While the size of the pedal may be a concern to some, it still saves you space overall when you consider the fact that this unit combines two essential guitar tools under one box.
As for the power supply, this pedal provides clean, isolated power to all eight outputs. Six of the outputs are rated for 9V (100mA) and the other two are rated at 9V (500mA) that can easily power larger, digital effects like those from Strymon. The Power Tune is a low noise unit that won’t add any hiss or white noise to your signal as you’re powering your pedals.
- Tuner Display: Chromatic
- Dimensions: 7.83 x 5.67 x 2.52
- Power Requirement: 9VDC
- Accuracy: ± 1 cent
- Special Features: Isolated Power Supply, True Bypass
Final Thoughts on the JOYO Power Tune Tuner
This is another fantastic combo pedal that marries two essential pieces of gear that every electric guitarist needs. I think this is a great solution for anyone that has a flat pedalboard that doesn’t allow for mounting the power supply beneath, as this saves you space by combing the power supply with a tuner.
7. Ernie Ball VP Jr. Tuner
The final combo tuner pedal I’ll be including on this list is the Ernie Ball VP Jr. If you’ve never heard of this pedal, don’t let its looks turn you away, as this pedal has some unique features that might just be right for you.
- Inventive design saves space on your board
- Dual function pedal
- Effects Loop
- Can work as Master Volume with lots of headroom
- Pedal open and susceptible to dust/dirt
- Expensive, but you get what you pay for
The Ernie Ball VP Jr. takes a unique approach by combining a tuner with a volume pedal. This is achieved by incorporating a touch screen tuner into the foot plate of the volume pedal.
While I have to admit that my initial reaction to this design was “I don’t want to work a touchscreen that has seen the bottom of my shoes”, if you can get over this aspect there are some unique features worth considering. The pedal has a built in effects loop, meaning that it can be used as an expression pedal for certain effects. It also has an 18V power section to add gain to your signal or as a master volume, and the effect can be set up as an always on tuner.
The VP Jr. is also more reinforced than previous Ernie Ball VP products with the inclusion of a PVC coated Kevlar cord to ensure the string doesn’t break. Even with this, my one other concern is that there rest of the pedal is open and can easily accumulate dust.
The tuner screen is really robust and won’t break unless you try smashing it with your guitar. It looks to be a high definition screen and works really quickly and accurately. The pedal also lets you choose whether you want to use it just as a tuner, just as a volume pedal, or both. One last thing worth mentioning is that this is amazingly accurate compared to other hybrid pedals as it is accurate ±.1 cent!
- Tuner Display: Chromatic Touch Screen
- Dimensions: 10 x 3.5 x 2.52
- Power Requirement: 9 – 18V
- Accuracy: ± .1 cents
- Special Features: Volume Pedal, Touch Screen, Effects Loop
Final Thoughts on the Ernie Ball VP JR. Tuner
Just about every guitarists out there is looking to save space on their board, and the first place to look is with this utility pedals like volume, loopers, and power supplies. In my opinion the Ernie Ball VP Jr. is the most advanced and, considering that volume pedals are always large, adds some extra value to a large, but simple effect pedal.
8. TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini – Best Guitar Tuner Pedal Overall
For years TC Electronic has provided some of the most widely used and trusted tuners, but the new TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini takes the world of tuning even further than previous models already did. This mini tuner is a flawless design that can add to just about any rig.
- First ever polyphonic tuning pedals
- Fights tuning issues with capos
- Easily switch between True/Buffered bypass
- Switches from polyphonic to monophonic tuning automatically with playing
- Fairly priced
Mini tuners are nothing new, but the functions that can go inside a mini tuner is continuing to grow with each passing year. Much like the anticipation of a new cell phone model, I knew once I saw the PolyTune 3 come out that there had to be a mini version on the way, and here it is.
The PolyTune 3 comes in two colors, the standard white and Noir, but both pedals have the same functions. It has multiple preset tuning modes built in including its namesake – Poly – which allows you to strum all six strings and it will register/tune all of the simultaneously.
While the poly mode is slightly less accurate, it is a quick way to isolate a troublesome string that is out of tune while you’re playing on stage. Then, once you play a single string, the pedal automatically switches to Mono tuning mode.
In addition to this there are tuning modes for Drop D, Dropped Tuning, Flat, Capo Mode, and Strobe Mode among others.
The other important feature worth nothing is that the PolyTune 3 mini comes with TC Electronic’s amazing BONAFIDE Buffer, which landed a spot on our list of the best buffer pedals. At the flip of an external dip switch you can choose between True Bypass, Buffered Bypass, or Always On Buffered Bypass.
The display/tuner is fast, accurate, and bright with its 109 LED display. Whether you’re tuning one string or six, you can easily identify when your instrument is in tune.
- Tuner Display: Poly, Mono, Chromatic, or Strobe
- Dimensions: 3.66 x 2.01 x 1.73”
- Power Requirement: 9V DC
- Accuracy: ± .02 cents
- Special Features: Polyphonic tuning, Switchable True/buffered Bypass, Capo Tuning system
Final Thoughts on the TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini
Picking out a tuner is a matter of personal preference. While many tuners will work in a specific way, the PolyTune 3 is so powerful and flexible that I have a hard time believing that there are guitarists that would dislike this pedal outright. When it comes to its size and what you can do with it, build quality, and price point, the PolyTune 3 Mini can’t be beat.
Pick a Tuner that Works for You
As I mentioned before, every guitarist needs a tuner. No matter how great you play the instrument or how ever expensive your gear is, it’s going to sound terrible if you’re playing out of tune.
Thankfully, these days there are a lot of fantastic tuners out on the market. The important thing to remember is that a tuner is as accurate as how you use it. A guitarist that uses a tuning fork perfectly is going to end up sounding much more in tune than someone that uses the best tuner pedal on this article lazily.
This means that you can pick a tuner that is cheap or saves you space by combining it with another effect, and as long as you use it to the best of your ability, it should work well for you.
Whichever tuner you decide to use, if it comes from this list, it should serve you well. After all, once you’re in tune, the real fun begins!
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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.