A Tale of Two Tuners—Pros & Cons of Two Common Guitar Tuners

11 April 2016
 Categories: , Blog

Whether you're a new guitar player or are just fed up with the struggle to keep your guitar in tune, it's time to think about investing in a digital tuner. Once you familiarize yourself with its controls, a tuner will immediately take all the frustration out of tuning your guitar and help you keep the instrument sounding its best every time you play.

Two common types of tuners to consider are the clip-on tuner and the pedal tuner. Each has its share of advantages and disadvantages depending on your approach to playing the guitar, so it's useful to evaluate these differences to help you make up your mind.

Clip-On Tuner

A clip-on tuner is equipped with a clamp that allows it to clip to the headstock of your guitar. It has a small, digital screen that you can position to face you. This style of tuner is typically mounted to the rear of the headstock so that it's easily visible and it's ready to be used with the quick push of a button.


  • Their lightweight nature makes them easy to carry in your guitar gig bag or even in a coat pocket.
  • Because they clip to the instrument instead of connect to it electronically, they're equally suitable for acoustic and electric guitars.


  • Because this tuner is picking up the intonation of your guitar strings through either sound or vibration, there's a chance that the true pitch could be altered in noisy settings, which could impact your ability to tune accurately.
  • Because clip-on tuners are powered exclusively by batteries, a dead battery could mean that the device won't work when you need it most.

Pedal Tuner

A pedal tuner sits on the floor (alongside other guitar pedals if you use them) and is connected to your guitar and amplifier with a set of cables. When you need to tune your guitar, you step onto a switch on top of the tuner to activate it.


  • Because this tuner is connected directly to your instrument, you're guaranteed to get an accurate reading.
  • Many tuners will kill the signal to your amp once you engage the pedal, which means that you'll be able to quietly get in tune once you activate the tuner. Stepping on the pedal again restores the signal to the amp.
  • Although pedal tuners can be powered by batteries, they can also be connected to a power supply. Doing so means that you'll never have to worry about your battery dying at an inopportune time.


  • Because this style of tuner connects with your guitar with a cable, it's only suitable for electric guitars or acoustic guitars that contain a pickup; a standard acoustic guitar won't work with this type of tuner.
  • Pedal tuners are larger than clip-on tuners, which means they're heavier to carry and take up more room in your guitar case.

If you want to test these tuners out, or if you're curious about how they will work with your guitar, contact music stores like Mike's Brass & Woodwind.