How to Choose a Guitar Tuner

When I first started to play guitar, I got my first guitar tuner when I started playing on my mother’s acoustic guitar. It was a 1969 Gibson. Back then, like most beginners, I did not have an understanding about how to tune the guitar. My mom suggested that I tuned the guitar using what is called a pitch pipe.

Using The Pitch Pipe…

The pitch pipe is a small device in which you blow. The note that it produces is a reference note for which you can tune the guitar. Although this is a very good idea, there are some downsides to it.

The problem with the pitch pipe is the fact that you have to be able to hear what note you are producing (reference note) in order to tune the guitar strings properly.

Having a good ear is obviously a strong asset which any musician should have. You want to be able to develop your ear as a guitar player. However, when it comes to tuning your guitar you don’t want to have to think about it too much. Especially in the beginning stages.

Let us assume that you have a pitch pipe but you are unable to hear what note the page pipe is actually producing. How are you going to be able to know whether or not the string you’re tuning is in fact in tune? This is why I am very hesitant to recommend a pitch pipe for beginners.

The Tuning Fork

Another similar device is called a tuning fork. This works in the similar way as the pitch pipe in the sense that it requires you to hear the note that the pitchfork is making as you hit the fork on the table. If you are reading this you’re probably thinking: “wow that sounds tedious and confusing!”

It really is not that difficult to hear the reference note once you have played guitar for a specific amount of time.

However, this is a skill that you may have to work on, and in the beginning, it can be difficult to rely on your ears to hear whether or not you are in tune by using a pitch pipe or a tuning fork.

The Electronic Tuner

I always tell my own guitar students that the best tuner that they can get is an electronic tuner. There are of course very many different kinds of electronic tuners on the market today.

You can get what is called a clip-on tuner. You simply clip on (place) the tuner on the headstock of your guitar and start tuning.

The great thing about the clip-on tuner is the fact that you often have two kinds of settings. The first setting is a microphone setting in that simply picks up the notes on the guitar and you can too from there.

The other setting is a setting which actually picks up the vibrations of the strings. That means that no matter how noisy it is in the room when you are tuning, you are still able to tune your guitar.

If your tuner only has a microphone function, it will pick up any and every noise and sound around you making tuning your guitar quite difficult indeed.

Tuners for the Electric Guitar…

If you happen to play electric guitar, there are also a wide variety of tuners available.

Here you should get a tuner that you can plug in to the guitar and from there, into your amplifier. These kinds of tuners are usually in pedal or stomp box format. This means that you place the tuner on the floor, and when you want to tune up, you simply press the pedal with your foot and tune. Once you are done, press the pedal again, and you are ready to play again, in tune.

Most of these tuners actually block off the signal/sound as you tune. This is a great feature since you can focus on tuning your guitar, without your audience, or anyone else, having to hear it. The tuner will tell you whether you should tighten or loosen the string tension to get in proper tune.

Finally The Clip-on Solution…

So, which one should you get? definitely recommend the clip-on tuner. They are lightweight, ultra portable and very handy.

If you play electric guitar, you really should acquire a pedal/stomp box tuner. This guitar tuner will make things a lot easier when tuning both in rehearsal, and even performance situations.





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