A Good Acoustic Guitar Tuner Takes the Guesswork Out Of Tuning.

An Acoustic Guitar Tuner Makes Tuning A Guitar Easier.

There are several different types of guitar tuners available today. Each type has it's own strengths and weaknesses.

But, despite their differences, each type is helpful. That's because it allows us to "see" sound.

An electronic tuner helps us to refine one sense - hearing - by using another of our 6 senses - sight.

All of us who don't have extremely compromised sight are used to making visual judgements. We make hundreds, maybe thousands, of decisions based on what we see every day.

Most people make far fewer decisions solely based on sound. As a result we can tune our guitar much more accurately "by eye" than we can "by ear" when we're using an electronic guitar tuner.

Of course, this isn't the ideal situation. As players we need to develop our ability to make judgements based on sound. Most of us just haven't had as much practice with that as we have using our eyes.

Why bother to tune at all? There're several reasons.

  • It creates a common ground for players. It's easier to play with others if you're all tuned the same.
  • If you are a solo player it helps the guitars' strings to be at the right tension. This keeps the strings from being too tight and hurting the players' fingers.
  • Acoustic guitars are glued together. Too much string tension can be harmful to the instrument.


Which type of acoustic guitar tuner is best?

Tuners generally fall into two different catagories - LED or analog, which uses a needle.

For the absolute beginner the type with a needle seems to be the easiest. In most cases it's pretty easy to see how close the needle is to the desired mark.

With LED's it can be a little trickier. That being said, if one type (LED vs. analog) seems more natural to use than the other, go for it.

Both analog and LED types are available in two different formats.

One format only registers the notes that are tune the guitar to standard tuning. If you're a beginner, standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) is your best bet. It's simpler.

The other format is chromatic. It shows all of the notes in the chromatic scale. (A-A#-B-C-C#-D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#-A)

If you're a player who uses open tunings or tunes down a whole or half step, a chromatic tuner would probably be best.


There are several standard features that you should look for in an acoustic guitar tuner.

  • An easy to read display
  • An internal microphone
  • Cable input
  • A way to re-calibrate the tuner
  • If your tuner uses a needle or has a letter display (A for the 5th string, for example) it helps if the display is backlit.

Some acoustic guitar tuners have the option of using either a 9-volt battery or an adaptor that allows you to use an electrical plug (a wall wart).

There are pluses and minuses to both.

With batteries you have to worry about whether they're good or not and if not, did you remember a spare.

With "wall warts" (chargers) you sometimes get a surge or drop in current that can affect the accuracy of your tuning.

Neither's perfect. It's up to you to decide which is best.

If you'd like to see how to use these tuners, take a look at tuning an acoustic guitar.

You'll see both types of tuners at work, and will learn how to tune without using a tuner.


1) Always tune up to the desired pitch. If you're sharp, tune below the desired pitch and tune back up to it.

2) If you're having a lot of trouble tuning,check the condition of your strings. Dead, old, tired strings won't tune right.

3) Make sure your strings are seated well at the bridge and the tuning machines.

4) Play a chord and see if it sounds in tune. If you know harmonized chord scales play those.

5) Keep a pitch pipe or tuning fork (A440) in your guitar case "just in case".

While an acoustic guitar tuner isn't essential for the fingerstyle guitarist, it can sure make life easier.

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