Tips on Buying Your First Guitar Tuner

There are many kinds of tuners available, so you should consider your needs when purchasing one. You should buy a tuner that has features geared toward your intended use.

Type of Tuner

Tuners come in a huge variety of models. Some tuners are handheld, while others are pedals. There are also rackmount tuners, tuners that attach to your guitar to allow silent tuning, and even tuners that will turn the tuning peg for you. Some tuners are designed specifically for guitar, while others can be used for any instrument. If you won't use a tuner for anything but your guitar and plan to stay in standard tuning, a guitar-specific tuner is fine. If you want to play in alternate tunings or tune other instruments, you should get a chromatic tuner. A chromatic tuner will detect and display any pitch, which makes it ideal for alternate tunings and tuning any instrument.

As a beginner, an inexpensive handheld tuner will probably work well for you. If you intend to play live, you may want to look at pedal or rackmount tuners.

How Much to Spend

A good tuner can be purchased for as little as $20. The prices go up to several hundred dollars for certain pedal or rackmount tuners. These more expensive tuners are great for a live performance setting, but are probably overkill for home use. A basic $20 handheld tuner will be enough for most players.


There are several features that you should try to find in any tuner you buy.


If you intend to tune acoustic instruments, you need a tuner with a mic. Most tuners include one, but some may not. Be sure to check whether the model you want to buy has a tuner before making your purchase.

1/4" Input Jack

This jack will allow you to plug your electric guitar into the tuner via a guitar cable. Again, this is something most tuners will have, but check to make sure before buying.

1/4" Output Jack

An output jack will allow you to send the output of your guitar to an amp. This allows you to remain plugged into your tuner and amp at the same time. An output jack isn't an essential feature, but is something you should consider if you want to keep everything plugged in.

Well-lit Display

A display that uses lights or has a backlit digital display is very useful if you intend to play live in situations with low light.

Recommended Tuner

The Korg CA-30 tuner is a good, reasonably priced electronic tuner for beginners. It costs around $20 at most stores. The CA-30 is a chromatic tuner with a mic and 1/4 inch input jack. It lacks an output jack, which may be a problem if you intend to keep your tuner and amp plugged in at all times. Otherwise, it has everything a beginner needs in a tuner.