Do I Need a Tuner Pedal? (The Ultimate Guide 2021)

A tuner pedal is one of the most humble and quite important pedals on the board that allows you to maintain true as well as consistent sounding notes. But, do you really need a tuner pedal?

Generally, the tuner pedals provides more accurate tuning pitch as compared to clip-on tuners. They also comes with an additional features like true bypass, presets, metronome, etc that enahance the overall playability and allows for faster and convenient tuning.

The tuner pedal is nothing but a simple stompbox that comes with a very visible display and provides you with a simple and faster way to tune your guitar.

What Does a Tuner Pedal Do?

Tuner identifies the electric signals generated by your instrument in the form of pitch and aligns those measurements with the notes on a guitar’s scale. If the frequency gets matched with the particular note, it displays that note on the pedal’s screen.

A tuner pedal also allows you to completely mute your guitar’s signals and just focus on the tuning. This feature is pretty helpful because you don’t want your audience to get annoyed by listing to you tuning, do you? Basically, it gives you a simple and faster way to instantly tune your instrument with higher accuracy.

Not to mention, the tuner pedal is more than just a tuner. Along with the faster and reliable tuning, it provides you buffered bypass (or so-called “true” bypass) that balances out your signal. That means it passes the audio signals unchanged that saves you from potential signal quality loss.

Where Does a Tuner Pedal Go in a Chain?

The tuner pedal should be placed at the start of the signal chain in order to achieve the most accurate tuning pitch. Also, most tuner pedals come with a buffered bypass circuit that can deal with a potential signal lost due to long cables. That’s why many players prefer to place the tuner pedal at the beginning of the chain.

If you place a tuner pedal down the road after some effects (Modulation, EQ, etc), it might distort the notes and affect the overall pitch accuracy of the pedal.

Whereas when you place the pedal at the first position in the signal chain, you’re basically feeding the dry and clean guitar signals to the pedal, so that it can take care of things at a much faster and accurate rate.

Pedal Tuner vs Clip-on Tuner: Which is Better?

Regardless of what you and I think, it’s always wise to choose the type of tuner based on your tuning needs. Of course both the types has their advantages and disadvantages: Let’s find whether you should get a pedal tuner or not?

1. Average Cost

If budget is the only factor you’re concerned about, you should go with the clip-on tuner. Although you can find a relatively inexpensive tuner pedal, but it’s not going to be as affordable as a clip-on tuner.

There are pretty nice clip-on’s available in the market for under $20 (Like New Snark St-8) that can provide you great value in terms of accurate tuning.

2. Size of the Tuner

The tuner pedal is of course going to be relatively less compact as compared to the clip-on tuner, as the pedal is more than just a tuning of your instrument. It provides you with additional features like muting the instrument signal while tuning and true bypass to enhance your overall playability.

On the flip side: Clip-on tuners are designed to be small, lightweight, and compact. They usually are highly portable and just intend the fulfill your basic tuning need.

3. Accuracy in Tuning

Generally, Pedal tuners are considered more reliable in terms of the accuracy of the tuning pitch, but many high-end clip-on tuners also do the job very well.

Essentially, it all boils down to the tuner’s ability to detect the frequencies and pitch by eliminating the external noise as much as possible. That’s why the pedal tuner works best and offers more accuracy as it is directly connected to the instrument and gets feed by clean audio signals.

I always suggest sticking with a name brand (for both pedal and clip-on tuner) to get enough stability and accuracy in your tuning.

4. Durability

Effect pedals are also known as stomp-boxes and there is a reason for that. Most of the quality pedal tuners come with a sturdy constructed metal housing whereas clip-on tuners are fragile build usually made from a plastic material.

That’s why clip-on tuners are always pronto accidental abuse and are not as durable as pedal tuners.

5. Other Features

Multiple features like built-in mics, power-saving mode, onboard presets, 360-degree rotational display, Hz tuning, metronome, true bypass, and many more are available for both pedal and clip-on tuners.

It really just depends on the personal preference how much extra do you want! Also, In terms of battery power, pedals are great as they are directly connected with the instrument unlike clip-on’s that usually works on the batteries.

Pedal Tuner


  • Directly Connect to the Instrument
  • Comes with a Bright Visible Display
  • Not Affected by Ambient Noise
  • Allows for Faster and Convenient Tuning


  • Relatively More Expensive than Clip-on Tuners

Clip-on Tuner


  • Comes with a Build-in Vibration Sensor
  • Not Affected by Ambient Noise or Vibrations
  • Highly Portable due to Compact Body


  • They Run on Batteries

All you need to remember is, this is not a competition in any way. You can’t just declare one type of tuner is better than another.

If you’re on a tight budget and want something more portable, it’s always best to go with a nice clip-on tuner. Whereas If you’re more into the gigs and live performances or even if you’re willing to invest in a quality tuner, there is nothing more amazing than a pedal tuner.

How you Can Choose the Best Tuner Pedal?

There are so many different tuner pedals are available and you can easily get the best suited model for yourself if you know what to look for:

Understand the Types of Tuners

Tuner pedals can be categorised into three main sections and if you ingore the extra-good-looking marketing stuff attached with each type, it all came down to your preferences.

1. Chromatic Tuner

This type of tuners compare the input signal with a chromatic scale which is nothing but the all tweleve notes that falls between the octaves.

That means, you’re not just limited to the standard guitar tuning of EADGE, but you can tune your instrument however you want. Whether you want to tune in an alternate tuning or a Drop-D tuning, chromatic tuner will do the job.

2. Polyphonic Tuner

It is relatively newer form of tuner becoming more and more popular with time. Polyphonic means it can process multiple notes at a single time.

This is highly efficient and convenient way of tuning, especially if you’re in a live gig and in between the songs. Rather than going to each string one by one, you can strum your strings and polyphonic tuner will highlight the strings that are out of tune.

They instantly provides you a kind of complete picture and makes tuning process much more efficient and fast.

3. Strobe Tuner

Strobe pedal is considered as the most accurate and thus most expensive type of tuners among these three. They able to provide you such a pin-point accuracy in the tuning due to their different operational technique.

They first set the frequency as a reference and then measure the difference between that frequency and you’re note. This tuner pedal is able to tell you how much you need to alter the tuning, even if there is very slight difference in the pitch.

Note: Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate player, you can’t go wrong with a chormatic tuner pedal as long as you don’t want to experiment anything outside the standard western scales.

Budget Range

It doesn’t matter which type of tuner you select, your budget is still one of the key factor that ultimately decides how much qualility (in terms of accuracy, stability, and portability) you’re going to get.

My Recommended Tuner Pedals:

Do Tuner Pedals Affects Tone?

Most of the tuner pedals come with a “true” bypass circuitry that buffers the signal to all the pedals in the signal chain and passes signals without adding any colors. It balances out the signal and saves a potential signal lost without affecting the tone.

Why Are Tuner Pedals So Expensive?

The tuner pedals are expensive because it offers more features and value than a simple clip-on tuner. It required a development cost to create hardware that meets the expected performance quality while keeping it compact.

Final Verdicts: Do I Need a Tuner Pedal?

Although Tuner pedal is considered as one of the underrated gear but it plays a vital role in any performance or recording session. If you can invest a little money and afford a pedal tuner, you should definitely go for it.

I hope you get the idea of why you should get a tuner pedal and how it provides you more value as compared to the simple clip-on tuner attached to your guitar’s headstock.

If you find this guide helpful, do let me know your thoughts in the comment section. If you have any doubt or any suggestions for me, feel free to contact me.

Also, please share this article with your guitarist friends, so they can also get some value out of it. Happy Music!

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