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Tuning your guitar is an essential first step to sounding great! As a jazz player, you’re sure to have a good ear so you may think a tuner isn’t necessary, but to make sure your guitar strings are in perfect tune, you will need a device such as a clip on guitar tuner.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the best clip on tuning devices out there.

In case you’re in a hurry, here is a brief overview of the top 3 clip-on tuners according:

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
#1 Recommended
TC Electronic POLYTUNE CLIP
TC Electronic POLYTUNE CLIP
  • State-of-the-art clip-on tuner
  • Polyphonic perfection
  • Strobe tuner with +/- 0.02 cent accuracy
Check Price on Amazon
Best Value
Fender Bullet Tuner
Fender Bullet Tuner
  • Super bright LED display
  • Extremely Small
  • Rugged
Check Price on Amazon
Budget Option
Snark ST-2
Snark ST-2
  • display rotates 360 degrees
  • Extended frequency range for all instruments
  • Tap tempo metronome
Check Price on Amazon

Before the days of digital tuners, guitarists would invest in a set of pitch pipes, a rudimentary tool for getting your instrument in tune.

Tuning with a set of pitch pipes when you’re playing a gig? Forget about it! For most beginner musicians they’re difficult to tune to and nowadays, very few choose pitch pipes over a modern clip-on tuner. As much as some purists might swear by them, they’ve long been outdated.

Dedicated tuning devices – while annoying Luddites – are a far better way to guarantee that your guitar is always in tune!

Whether it’s a rack-mounted strobe tuner or a battery-powered pedal – a good tuner is an essential part of any guitarist’s kit! The clip on tuner – or headstock tuner – is the go-to option for many jazz guitarists as they’re relatively discreet and, in most cases, very accurate.

Clip on tuners can be used with an electric guitar, bass guitar or acoustic guitar and usually attach to the headstock.

They’re small, they don’t get in the way, and they’re extremely convenient! We’ve compiled a handy guide to some of the best clip on guitar tuners for keeping your strings in tune at your next jam session.

Our Best Clip On Guitar Tuners

 

TC Electronic Polytune Clip

One of the best-known names in the world of guitar tuners is the TC Electronic PolyTune Clip which lets players tune their guitar quickly and easily. It’s a hugely popular device and regarded as the best guitar tuner for the money by many guitarists.

A clip on chromatic tuner, you can use this device to tune to any 12 notes or use one of its other two modes.

As you might have guessed by its name, the TC electronic Polytune clip is a polyphonic tuner, a very useful feature that lets players see instantly which of their strings are out of tune.

Simply strum all of the strings, and indicators will inform you which of your strings need tuning!

Pros

  • Three tuning modes – strobe, chromatic and polyphonic tuning
  • Polyphonic mode lets you tune all guitar strings at once
  • Extremely precise strobe tuner

Cons

  • Polyphonic mode not as accurate as pedal version
ImageProductFeaturesPrice
TC Electronic POLYTUNE CLIPTC Electronic POLYTUNE CLIP
  • State-of-the-art clip-on tuner
  • Polyphonic perfection
  • Strobe tuner with +/- 0.02 cent accuracy
Check Price on Amazon

Snark ST-2

 

Another well-known name in guitar tuners, Snark’s ST-2 is an inexpensive yet accurate clip on guitar tuner. It has an easy to read screen that can rotate 360 degrees, and comes with a built-in metronome too!

This makes it a great option for someone looking for something that they can use both onstage and at home – after all, we could all use more time with a metronome!

The Snark ST 8 is another of the company’s popular tuners and is designed more specifically for guitars. The ST 2 on the other hand has an internal mic so it can be used to tune all types of instruments, including brass and woodwinds. If you’re a jazz musician, this could be a great feature for tuning your other band members as well as yourself!

Pros

  • Great price – one of the most inexpensive clip-on guitar tuners from a well-known brand name
  • Metronome – always a handy tool for practice!
  • Bright display, with 360-degree rotation

Cons

  • Durability – rough handling could break it
ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Snark ST-2Snark ST-2
  • display rotates 360 degrees
  • Extended frequency range for all instruments
  • Tap tempo metronome
Check Price on Amazon

Fender Bullet Tuner

Easily one of the most famous names in guitars – and by extension, in music as a whole – Fender now has a tuner, the Fender Bullet Tuner.

It’s a really small device, barely as large as the clip that holds it onto the guitar! For the size of the unit, it has a very clear and easy to read display.

Thanks to its small design, it’s a great option if you’re a guitar player who plays live. It allows you to surreptitiously tune your bass, electric or acoustic guitar without impacting the aesthetic of your on-stage look.

It’s easy to use, although it can only tune to 440Hz. For most players, that’s not a problem – but anyone who needs to tune to anything else would do better looking elsewhere.

Pros

  • Very small, even by guitar tuner standards
  • Simple to use
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Can only tune to 440hz
ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Fender Bullet TunerFender Bullet Tuner
  • Super bright LED display
  • Extremely Small
  • Rugged
Check Price on Amazon

There are, of course, countless makes and models of tuners on the market, so if you want to explore more options, make sure you check out the Peterson Stroboclip HD, a professional clip on tuner. The KLIQ Ubertuner is a great inexpensive option along with the Korg Pitchclip.

Buyer’s Guide

 

Calibration Range

Musical instruments have to be tuned to a reference pitch – usually at 440Hz, but not always so. The note A4 is taken as the reference note – so, to tune to 440Hz, the note A4 on the instrument must be at 440Hz.

All other strings are then tuned with reference to this note. 440Hz is also called “concert pitch” – it’s the pitch that most orchestras and bands will tune to. It’s not uncommon for musicians to tune to other reference pitches, however!

Electronic tuners make this simple – the player simply tells the tuner that he or she wishes to tune to a different frequency, and the tuner will take care of the rest. This is, of course, assuming that the tuner allows for this!

Tuning Modes

Most guitarists will be used to using chromatic tuners more than any other type. They’re simple to use – simply pluck a string and the tuner tells you what note is being played and how in tune the note is.

Dedicated strobe tuners are known for being the most accurate tuners, but they’ve traditionally been expensive units – often used only by professional players and mounted in racks. They can also be more difficult to use than chromatic tuners.

They use a spinning disk, backed by a set of lights that flash at a speed that accords to the frequency of the signal they receive. Due to moving parts, they’ve traditionally been more delicate and expensive units – but they are extremely precise.

Thankfully, modern technology has made strobe tuning available in even clip-on form to musicians, at relatively inexpensive prices!

The caveat – a clip-on tuner obviously can’t fit all of the parts that a strobe tuner has, so instead, it uses LED lights to achieve the same effect.

A clip-on tuner with a strobe mode is nice, but can’t be as accurate as a dedicated unit. To most musicians and listeners, the minuscule differences in tuning aren’t very prominent.

Technology is good enough nowadays that precise tuning doesn’t have to be expensive!

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Do I Need A Guitar Tuner?

The short answer is yes. A guitar tuner is an incredibly useful tool for tuning your guitar in all environments, whether you’re at home or attempting to tune during a noisy soundcheck.

As a jazz guitarist you may prefer to rely on your ear and listen to the people you’re playing with rather than relying on a piece of kit, but it’s always helpful to have a tuner with you so you can tune up quickly.

Is A Clip-On Right For Me?

You might prefer to have a pedal tuner or even a rack tuner.

That’s personal preference – some players want everything on their pedalboard, whereas some don’t want their tuner with their effects – or might not even use pedals at all!

A clip-on tuner is almost never a bad choice, though – it just might not be ideal for you.

Are They Just For Guitars?

No – you can use some of these tuners with other instruments too!

We hope this article helped in your search for the best clip on guitar tuner for your needs. Got a question? Let us know in the comments!

For more gear recommendations, check out our articles on the best guitar stools and the best pedals for jazz.

Harry Sprinks
Harry Sprinks

Harry Sprinks is a gigging musician and writer from the Isle of Wight (UK) who recently graduated with a first-class degree in Commercial Music. He has been playing guitar and singing in various projects for the last five years, taking inspiration mainly from rock and blues greats including BB King, Marc Ribot and Mark Knopfler.