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Best Online Guitar Tuners For Accuracy & Tuning Presets

Punch "online guitar tuner" into your favourite search engine and you'll not be short of links. It seems every man and his dog has created one.

But there are three that stand above the crowd in terms of the accuracy of the chromatic mic/line-in response and the number of preset tunings offered (e.g. standard, drop, open, alternate etc.) - a great way to discover new tunings.

While many people now use tuner apps on their phones, there are still those (like me) who prefer to use desktops or laptops/notebooks as the window to their digital world. Or there may be times you don't have your regular tuner to hand. If that's you, bookmarks at the ready...

Pro Guitar Tuner (My Pick)

Pro Guitar Online Tuner

Tune by ear by choosing from a huge range of preset tunings, including general, raised, lowered, dropped, open and modal. You can also select tunings for 5, 7 and 8 string guitar, and other stringed instruments.

Alternatively, use your external mic (note: internal mics don't tend to pick up very well) or line input for the chromatic tuner with a -40 to +40 range.

small chevron Try the Pro Guitar Tuner

Jamplay Tuner

Jamplay online guitar tuner

Offers a good range of tuning presets for ear tuning, including some more obscure ones such as Hendrix, Wahine and Lute. A nice feature is the ability to set the frequency at which each string is plucked.

There's also a mic/line-in tuner, although it doesn't allow you to select presets like the Pro Guitar Tuner. In other words, it will only measure each pitch in relation to the notes of standard tuning (EADGBe).

small chevron Try Jamplay's Tuner

The Tune-O-Matic

Tune-O-Matic online guitar tuner

Worthy of mention. Although it has no mic/line-in feature, it does offer some useful features for ear tuning, such as auto advance, note repeat, instrument voicing and the ability to manually input your own tuning notes for each string.

There are also a good range of preset tunings you can load, although not as many as the other tuners.

small chevron Try The Tune-O-Matic

Tips for Tuning by Ear

Being able to match the pitch of your string to one you hear is a skill that all musicians should work on developing. Not only for convenience when tuning, but the skill also helps to make your ear more sensitive to pitch recognition in general.

Always tune UP to the desired pitch. So down tune the string first before raising it slowly in line with the desired pitch. This will maximise the tuning stability on your guitar because of how string tension is held more efficiently when it is tightened as opposed to loosened.

As the pitch of your guitar's string gets closer to the tuner's pitch, you'll hear a kind of oscillating effect between the two pitches. Listen closely, it's quite subtle. Tune up as slowly as your fingers and the peg will allow, until that oscillation is "flattened". When the oscillation is no longer audible, you're in tune.

A Few Words On Intonation

If you're playing an electric, don't forget to check your intonation regularly, especially when you've put on some new strings. The most basic way to check this is to fret the string at the 12th fret and compare it to its desired pitch on the tuner. If the open string is in tune, but the 12th fret sounds flat or sharp, you'll need to adjust the intonation at the bridge saddle.

If it sounds flat at the 12th: Move the saddle towards from the neck/pickups slightly to shorten the scale length. Retune the open string and check it against the 12th again. Repeat if necessary.

If it sounds sharp at the 12th: Move the saddle away from the neck/pickups slightly to increase the scale length. Follow the same procedure to re-tune.

Just remember - 12th flat = shorten/towards, 12th sharp = lengthen/away.

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