Best Clip-on Tuners - The Ultimate Guide

Best Clip-on Tuners - The Ultimate Guide

It’s the most basic thing and yet none of us guitar players could do without it. The Best Clip On Guitar Tuners are a must have whether you’re doing guitar setups or playing live. You might be the second coming of Gary Moore but nobody is going to pay you any attention if you’re not in tune!

Clip-on guitar tuners have come a long way since their inception, where performance was at best inconsistent and impractical. Nowadays you can simply clip on to the headstock of your electric, acoustic, bass, or even ukulele and away you go.

A clip on tuner is a must-have for any budding guitar tech, saving you the hassle of plugging and unplugging into a regular tuner whilst making incremental adjustments. This can be a lifesaver when adjusting truss rods or setting the intonation, where you need to regularly retune to pitch to see the results of your work.

Fender Clip on Guitar Tuner

How accurate is a clip on tuner?

The accuracy of any tuner is measured in cents, which is a hundredth of a semitone. For example 2 cents would be 2/100 of a semitone. Clip on tuners have varying degrees of accuracy, some might be 2 cents, some 0.02 cents so certain tuners will get you closer than others.

That said, the majority of guitarists will probably find it difficult to tell the difference. Although if you’re regularly recording or a professional mix engineer you might have your ear well trained enough to notice these tiny differences!

A pedal-based tuner with a direct input is always going to be more accurate than a clip-on tuner, there’s no getting around that. Clip on guitar tuners are getting closer and closer however thanks to the ever present advance of technology.

Despite what you might think, your guitar is never perfectly in tune due to the myriad of frequencies, reverberations, your setup, and even your playing style. With so many elements able to affect your guitar tuning, you’ll never get your instrument ‘perfectly’ in tune but you can get close with the right gear. Some guitar players like to set their guitar tuning a few cents flat, to make up for a hard picking hand attack.

How do clip on tuners work?

A clip on guitar tuner uses a piezo-style transducer to detect the strings vibration, typically through the headstock. This is then processed onboard using software, displaying the note on screen. This makes them great for tuning up in noisy environments, like the rehearsal room, soundcheck, or a guitar shop where varying guitarists compete in their renditions of 70s hard rock hits!

Some tuners do have the option of an onboard microphone which can present a slightly more accurate tuning. Of course in most situations this won't be useful unless your practicing at home, it's still nice to have the option though!


The Best Clip-on Tuners

Now we know more about these great little gizmos, lets have a look at the best clip-on tuners available today!

Fender Flash Clip-on Tuner

As well as being super accurate, the Fender Flash Clip-on Tuner has the advantage of being USB-rechargeable, meaning you’ll never have to change batteries again! It includes a micro USB charging cable and a full charge will last you around 10 hours of continuous use, making it a top choice for gigging players and guitar techs.

The display is super bright and you can view it from any angle unlike some other tuners with LCD displays. Two 360 degree rotating swivels and a 120 degree hinge ensure it will fit on any instrument imaginable, and at your preferred angle.

It’s got a whole bunch of handy built-in modes too, with Chromatic, Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, and even Violin modes. There’s also presets for half a step down, a whole step down, plus open G, D, and E tunings - so you won’t have to Google them again!

Fender Flash Clip on Tuner

Get the Fender Flash Clip-on Tuner here.

D’Addario Micro Headstock Clip-on Tuner

The D’Addario Micro Headstock tuner offsets any balance issues with your guitar thanks to its tiny footprint. It’s so small that onlookers might never notice you’ve got a tuner on your guitar in the first place!

The display has four selectable viewing angles, two vertical and two horizontal, so you can customise it to your particular on-stage stance. It’ll clip on to pretty much any guitar imaginable thanks to its secure ratchet clamp, hanging tight through even the most vociferous live performance.

It’s got an advanced tuning algorithm that ensures stable performance even in the noisiest of environments, with an easy-to-read display for the darkest stages. Perfect for the performing musician.

D'Addario Micro Headstock Tuner

Get the D’Addario Micro Headstock Clip-on Tuner here.

Snark ST-2 Clip-on Tuner

Snark Tuners have rapidly gained pace in the guitar world for providing great value and outstanding tuning accuracy. The Snark ST2 continues that tradition with an upgraded chip, providing impressive accuracy across a range of instruments.

The frequency range has been enhanced for bass guitars and extended range guitars so you can tune pretty much anything with this bad boy. The display rotates a full 360 degrees and the rubber feet on the clamp ensures it stays put without damaging the finish.

It even features a tap tempo metronome to help you with your practice, and a handy transpose feature for use with a capo. If you really wanna get weird, you can adjust the pitch reference from 415 to 466Hz too!

Snark Tuner ST2

Get the Snark ST-2 Clip-on Tuner here.

D’Addario Eclipse Clip-on Tuner

One of the most affordable clip-on tuners available, the D’Addario Eclipse comes in a range of colours to match your finish, and is the choice of our own guitar tech here at Northwest Guitars! It’s a simple bit of kit, but does its job impeccably.

The display is full colour, so you can view it on the darkest of stages or dingiest venue green rooms. The multi-swivel action revolves in various ways, so you can customise its position to your exacting specifications.

Pitch calibration lets you move from 420 to 450Hz and an auto power off feature means you’ll save on batteries. It comes with a CR2032 battery to get you up and running and will fit on both left and right handed instruments.

Get the D’Addario Eclipse Clip-on Tuner here.

Ernie Ball CradleTune

Ernie Ball’s Cradle Tune plays two parts, that of a classic clip-on tuner as well as the guitar tech or luthier’s bench mate. The tripod serves as a neck rest, with a detachable clip-on tuner making intonation adjustments a breeze.

The tuner itself has a 2-inch LCD screen with a vibrant display, viewable from any angle. The tuner has a dual axis, 360-degree pivot arm so you can ensure it’s always set to your liking and adjust when necessary.

CradleTune has Chromatic, Guitar Bass, Ukulele, and Violin tuning modes. You can choose to get your reference from an onboard microphone, or by using the transducer in the clip should you find yourself in a noisy environment.

Ernie Ball CradleTune

Get the Ernie Ball CradleTune here.

Fender Bullet Clip-on Tuner

It may look a bit War of the Worlds, but Fender’s Bullet Clip-on Guitar Tuner is a brilliant bit of kit for those who want something non-intrusive for their instrument. It features an aluminium construction for hard-wearing performance and a bright, LED display.

It works via a vibration-based tuning system, which rejects extraneous noise. This allows precise tuning for any instrument, no matter what’s happening around you. It’s subtle looks are great too, ensuring it’ll blend in seamlessly.

An auto sleep mode saves your battery, just click the power button twice to wake it up and you’ll be good to go again. It’s got a precision rating of 1 cent too, so will get your pretty close to perfection! A tuning range from 27.5Hz to 4186Hz means that it will tune any instrument you can lay your hands on too.

Get the Fender Bullet Clip-on Tuner here.

D’Addario Ukulele Soundhole

Designed specifically for ukuleles, this handy little tuner fits into your sound hole, hiding it away from prying eyes. Despite being marketed for Ukuleles, the D'Addario Soundhole Tuner will actually fit on plenty of acoustic guitars too, we tried it on a Yamaha FG acoustic and it worked a treat.

The mounting clip is non-marring, so it won’t tarnish your finish and it’s a piece of cake to install on any guitar with a sound hole. A piezo transducer senses the vibrations of the soundboard to give you a highly accurate tuning response.

The display is nice and bright despite its small size, making it easy to see on dark stages. It will only do acoustic instruments, but it’s a great addition to any guitar that doesn’t have an onboard tuner already.

D'Addario Soundhole Tuner

Get the D’Addario Ukulele Soundhole Tuner here.

Silver Snark 2 Clip-on Tuner

The Snark Silver 2 is an upgraded clip-on guitar tuner that delivers a rapid response. Snark’s design team have enhanced the onboard software to deliver its most tuning yet, whilst a new rubber coating isolates microphonic vibrations and unwanted feedback.

Invented by Charles Goodyear, the tyre manufacturer, the vulcanised rubber of the Silver Snark will put up with endless abuse from regular gigging or a hard life in the workshop. It’s resistant to solvents, heat, and cold and as per Snark themselves, “virtually indestructible”.

Extended battery life means the high resolution display stays on for longer, easily visible in low stage light or even bright sunshine should you find yourself outdoors at a festival. Its fully chromatic and will tune right the way down to baritone or extended range bass guitars, making this one of the most versatile clip-on tuners available.

Silver Snark Tuner

Get the Silver Snark 2 Clip-on Tuner here.

In Conclusion

So there you have it, everything you needed to know about clip-on tuners. Don’t let a past experience colour your judgement, these handy bits of kit are a must for any guitar player, tech, or luthier. They’ll make your life a lot easier and keep your adjustments accurate and your playing sounding pitch perfect.

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