What’s The Best Guitar Tuner App?
Am I really going to tell you what guitar tuner app to use? Well, no but sort of yes.
What I am going to do is cover four of the best guitar tuner apps, describing them and giving you the pros and cons. The point here is to help you pick your favorite app.
But first, let’s look at the general idea of tuning apps (and whether or not they’re even reliable).
The Benefits Of Using A Guitar Tuner App
Guitar tuning apps provide an easy and (sometimes) reliable way to tune your guitar
First, tuning apps are often free whereas other types of tuners have price tags. Tuning apps almost always have an “upgrade” option which costs money and has extra features, but there are plenty of free tuning apps that are accurate (more on that later).
Second, guitar tuner apps are convenient. Most people have a smartphone and those who do often have it with them at all times. If that’s you, that means you could have a guitar tuner with you wherever you go.
How Accurate Are Guitar Tuner Apps?
The big question is whether or not guitar tuner apps are reliable. Some people ask, “Shouldn’t we all just use ‘real’ tuners?”
There are a few things to consider when deciding between an app and, say, a clip-on tuner. First, clip-on tuners register vibrations from the instrument and translate them into frequencies. It’s a very accurate way to tune.
On the flipside, apps use the mic on your phone to pick up the sound, which means it could pick up other noises and affect the accuracy of the tuning.
One situation where this can be a problem is in the middle of a concert — a guitar tuner app may have trouble picking up your guitar because of all the extra noise.
Plus, a smartphone mic is designed for speech and not music. This means the supported frequency range fits that of the average speaker and not for someone playing guitar.
But we shouldn’t write off these apps. If you’re just going to be tuning in your bedroom or studio, an app should work just fine.
Electronic tuners (i.e. plug-in tuners) are accurate, but those require you to run a cable from your guitar into the device, which is not always possible or convenient.
The Best Guitar Tuner Apps
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits and accuracy of guitar tuning apps, let’s look at the best free apps currently on the market. For each app, I’ll give you a quick summary and then its pros and cons.
Fender Tune (iOS / Android)
The Fender Tune app
Fender Tune is from the legendary Fender company, who’s associated with a bunch of famous guitarists like Eric Clapton, George Harrison, John Mayer, and many more. So that’s a good reason to trust the app right away.
It offers some pretty cool features, like the Auto setting where it’s able to know which string you plucked and how to help you tune it. It also has a Manual setting and a Tips feature, which is designed for beginner guitarists.
One annoying thing: the app is so sensitive to noise that it often complains there’s too much background noise even when that’s not true. If needed, you can plug in your guitar to the phone and tune that way, but that requires buying a relatively expensive accessory called the Fender Slide.
- Has Auto and Manual tuning settings
- Offers a Tips feature for beginner guitarists
- Fender is a very trusted name in the guitar world
- Sometimes picks up background noise when there isn’t any
- Not compatible with Apple Watch
The gStrings app
The display of the gStrings guitar tuner app is big and easy to read, making it simple to tune up. You can have the app play a reference note for you to tune by ear, or you can use the automatic setting to pluck a string and let the app tell you how out of tune it is. You can even adjust your phone’s mic sensitivity within the app — this can help it ignore background noise.
- Clear and easy-to-navigate display
- Can adjust mic sensitivity to filter out background noise
- Allows you to tune by ear if you prefer
- Needle that shows the frequency can take a second or two to register
- Only available on Android
GuitarTuna (iOS / Android)
The GuitarTuna app
This is the guitar tuner I currently use. And I find it super easy and accurate. It calls itself “The #1 tuner in the world,” so they’ve got a lot to live up to.
It shows the head of a guitar below the frequency (to the cent). You have the option to tune manually (by ear) or automatically. There are also options for different tunings and other stringed instruments, which is a smart feature to have. Many guitarists also play bass, ukulele, or even banjo.
Plus, there’s a built-in metronome, a chord library, and plenty of games to help you learn guitar.
- Easy to use
- Extra features to help you learn guitar
- Accurate readings to the cent
- Chord library and metronome are not unique to the app
Pano Tuner (iOS / Android)
The Pano Tuner app
Pano Tuner is unique in that you can choose to view the notes as letter notes or as Do Re Mi, and whether you see sharps or flats. In the settings, you can change the tolerance so the tuner reading is more accurate by selecting plus or minus 10, 5, or 2 cents tolerance.
Other than that, there aren’t really any extra features. The developers chose to just keep things simple, which many guitarists may prefer.
- Needle has a quick response time
- Customizable settings
- Available on iOS and Android
- No extra features besides the tuner
- Banner ads at the top of the app can be annoying
I hesitate to name a winner, just because each guitar player may be looking for different things in a guitar tuning app.
But if I had to pick one, I’d go with GuitarTuna. I may be biased (it’s the app I use), but I think that out of the apps available on both iOS and Android, its sensitivity is top-notch and it also has a chord library and other features built in.
But again, give these guitar tuner apps a try for yourself and you may find you disagree with me. The whole point of this article is to help guide you to the best options on the market.