Skip to content

The 8 Best Guitar Tuner Apps

The 12 Best Guitar Tuner Apps for Unparalleled Accuracy

As any guitarist knows, an out-of-tune instrument can ruin your playing experience fast. Whether you‘re a beginner just learning to play chords or a gigging professional, keeping your guitar perfectly in tune is essential. In the past, this meant carrying around a dedicated tuning device. But in today‘s smartphone era, a plethora of highly accurate guitar tuning apps have made the process easier and more convenient than ever before.

As a computer and technology expert with a passion for music, I‘ve tested dozens of these apps to find the very best in terms of precision, features, and ease of use. In this in-depth guide, I‘ll share my top 12 picks for the most accurate guitar tuner apps available today. I‘ll also provide some tips for getting the most out of these apps and discuss where instrument tuning technology may be headed in the future.

Key Factors to Consider
When evaluating guitar tuner apps, there are a few key factors I prioritized:

Tuning Accuracy and Precision
The most important job of any tuner is to help you get your guitar sounding pitch perfect. I looked for apps that consistently delivered spot-on tuning accuracy. The best apps can detect frequency within ±1 cent (1/100th of a semitone). Some even show the exact Hz frequency of each note you play.

Many use your device‘s built-in microphone to "hear" each note, while others work with an external microphone or allow you to plug your guitar in directly for even better accuracy. Higher-end apps utilize proprietary audio processing algorithms to filter out background noise and detect the fundamental frequency more precisely.

Ease of Use
A tuner app needs to make the process quick and painless. I gravitated towards apps with intuitive interfaces that don‘t overwhelm you with too many buttons and settings. The display should make it crystal clear whether a note is flat, sharp, or dead-on.

Some use an analog-style meter with a needle that moves towards the center when you‘re hitting the right note. Others show a digital meter or pulsing green light when your string is perfectly in tune. For beginners, apps that show a diagram of the strings and light up to indicate which one to tune can be very helpful.

Tuning Customization Options
Standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E from lowest to highest string) is great, but many guitarists also use a variety of alternate tunings. Some apps come with 100+ tunings to choose from, including popular options like drop D, open G, DADGAD and more.

Certain apps also allow you to create your own custom tunings. This can be incredibly handy for more experimental players. I also appreciated apps that have different temperament options (e.g. equal vs just) and let you adjust the master tuning away from standard 440Hz.

Extra Features
While getting basic tuning functionality right is my top priority, I also looked for apps that go above and beyond with helpful extras. Some of my favorite bonus features:

  • Chord libraries with fingering charts
  • Tempo-adjustable metronomes
  • Alternate instrument support (e.g. ukelele, violin, bass)
  • Tone generators to play reference notes
  • Intonation/setup guides
  • Recording capabilities
  • Tuning history

The Top 12 Guitar Tuner Apps
After extensive testing, here are my picks for the 12 most accurate and full-featured guitar tuner apps:

  1. KARANG – Ultimate Tuner
    Accuracy: ±0.1 cents
    Tunings: 200+
    An extremely precise chromatic tuner with an elegant, minimalist interface. Detects notes via microphone or through direct 1/4" input. Large note display changes colors to indicate flat, sharp or in-tune. Create custom temperaments.
  • Unparalleled 0.1 cent accuracy
  • Distraction-free interface
  • Custom temperament creator
  • No extra features beyond tuning
  • Relatively pricey at $7.99
  1. Pitched Tuner
    Accuracy: ±0.5 cents
    Tunings: 80
    Feature-packed tuner with excellent accuracy. Includes a unique "Target Tuning" mode that guides you through the tuning process string-by-string. Audio waveform visualization helps you see overtones for intonating by ear.
  • Super accurate tuning
  • Step-by-step Target Tuning mode
  • Cool extras like an on-screen guitar for tapping chords
  • Interface a bit busy for some
  • Audio waveform visualization has a learning curve
  1. GuitarTuna
    Accuracy: ±1 cent
    Tunings: 100+
    Hugely popular freemium app with solid accuracy and a wealth of learn-to-play extras. Game-like "Intonation Trainer" teaches you to hear and tune by ear. Chord library, metronome, games and exercises galore. Direct input compatible.
  • Very beginner-friendly
  • Loaded with educational tools
  • Fun achievement system
  • Some features require paid subscription
  • Not quite as accurate as top paid apps
  1. iStroboSoft
    Accuracy: ±0.1 cents
    Tunings: Unlimited custom
    Highly precise strobe tuner with a unique rotational interface. Simulates the disc rotation of mechanical strobe tuners. Supports all possible tuning scenarios, from standard to exotic microtonal. Audiobus and Inter-App Audio support.
  • Professional-grade accuracy
  • Handles any possible custom tuning
  • Real-time pitch tracking
  • Takes some practice to read the interface
  • Overkill for basic tuning needs
  1. Fender Tune
    Accuracy: ±1 cent
    Tunings: 22
    Easy to use free tuner from one of the most trusted names in guitars. Auto string detection makes tuning a breeze. Bright, vectorized interface clearly shows when you‘re in tune. Handy preset alternate tunings. Manual mode available.
  • Dead simple interface
  • Reliable, no-fuss tuning
  • Auto string detection works well
  • No Hz or cents display
  • Lacks some features of paid apps
  1. BOSSX Tuner
    Accuracy: ±0.5 cents
    Tunings: 28
    Feature-rich tuner app with a stompbox-inspired interface. Dual view shows a live scrolling waveform alongside the note display. 16 temperaments to choose from. Tone generator plays pure reference tones.
  • Accurate and full-featured
  • Useful dual display view
  • Tone generator is handy for ear training
  • Controls and settings can be confusing at first
  • Pricier than average at $9.99
  1. insTuner
    Accuracy: ±1 cent
    Tunings: 40+
    Well-designed tuner with large, color-coded cent display. Includes 40 alternate tunings and a handful of temperaments. History view shows how closely you tuned each string over time. Clean, thoughtful interface design.
  • Tuning history is a unique, helpful touch
  • Interface is polished and easy to read
  • Accurate and responsive
  • Can‘t create custom tunings
  • No cents or Hz display
  1. Pano Tuner
    Accuracy: ±0.5 cents
    Tunings: Chromatic only
    As simple as a tuner app gets – a large, color-coded dial clearly shows how close you are to the target pitch. Minimal settings. Just open the app and tune. Completely free and ad-free.
  • Refreshingly basic, no-frills design
  • Color-coded dial is highly intuitive
  • Totally free
  • Only supports chromatic tuning
  • Lacks alternate tunings and bonus features
  1. Peterson iStrobosoft
    Accuracy: ±0.1 cents
    Tunings: Unlimited custom
    Incredibly precise strobe tuner app relied on by professionals. Based on Peterson‘s industry-standard line of strobe tuners. Supports an infinite number of sweetened, custom and microtonal tunings.
  • Unbeatable 0.1 cent accuracy
  • Trusted by pros for intonation and setup
  • Ultra customizable
  • Most expensive app at $9.99
  • Average players don‘t need this level of precision
  1. DaTuner Pro
    Accuracy: ±1 cent
    Tunings: Chromatic plus 7 presets
    Utilitarian tuning app with a unique visualization that shows pitch like a moving pendulum. Multiple selectable temperaments. Tone generator. Built-in chord dictionary. Waveform and harmonic analysis views.
  • Usable chromatic tuner plus some bonuses
  • Multiple visualization styles for pitch
  • Chord dictionary is a nice extra
  • Only one preset alternate tuning
  • Analysis views are more flash than function for most
  1. TuneUp
    Accuracy: ±2 cents
    Tunings: 6
    No-nonsense tuning app that handles the basics well. Clean interface with an easy-to-read linear tuning meter. Includes a few simple extras like alternate instrument support and a tone generator. Completely free.
  • Linear meter is clear and responsive
  • Free of charge and ads
  • Also usable for bass and ukelele
  • Limited to 6 tunings
  • Not quite as accurate as top chromatic tuners
  1. Tuner – Pitched Tuner
    Accuracy: ±0.5 cents
    Tunings: 100+
    Straightforward, accurate tuner app with some handy extras. Step-by-step tuning mode guides you through each string. Tone generator with selectable waveforms. Metronome with speed trainer function.
  • Small, tablet and Apple Watch versions
  • On-screen reference tones
  • Wide selection of tunings
  • Defaults to non-chromatic step-by-step mode
  • Some users report crashes

Tips for Getting the Best Results

  • For the highest possible accuracy, plug your electric guitar directly into your device‘s audio input rather than relying on the built-in mic.
  • If you must use your device‘s microphone, tune in a quiet environment. Even small amounts of background noise can throw off pitch detection.
  • Play each string cleanly and allow it to ring out. Avoid pick scratches, string muting and other noises that could confuse the app.
  • Always tune up to pitch rather than down. Tuning pegs can slip out of place if you overshoot and tune downwards.
  • Don‘t press too hard on the strings, as this can bend the pitch. Fret gently for the truest tone.
  • Regularly check your tuning as you play. Strings can slip out of tune over time, especially if you bend notes.
  • Consider using a clip-on vibration sensor for super fast, accurate tuning that works in noisy environments.
  • Make sure you‘re in the right tuning for your current song. It‘s easy to forget you detuned for a particular piece!

The Future of Digital Tuning
Guitar tuning has come a long way from the tuning forks and pitch pipes of old. Today‘s digital tuners, whether hardware or app-based, offer incredible accuracy and convenience. But the technology continues to evolve.

Some apps are now using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve their pitch detection algorithms. By analyzing a massive database of guitar tones, these apps can more intelligently filter out noise and zero in on the fundamental frequency.

Other apps are leveraging the power of the cloud, allowing users to back up and share their custom tunings and temperaments. As mobile devices become more powerful, we can expect to see even more processing-intensive features like real-time pitch correction and automatic intonation adjustment.

Polyphonic tuning is another exciting area of development. Most current apps can only detect one note at a time, but cutting-edge polyphonic tuners can show you which strings are out of tune when you strum a chord. A few apps are already implementing this technology, albeit with varying degrees of success.

Finally, some pricey new self-tuning guitars are aiming to put tuning apps out of business altogether. These high-tech instruments use built-in sensors and motors to automatically twist the tuning pegs and keep themselves perfectly in tune. Of course, most of us will probably still be tuning our trusty guitars by hand for the foreseeable future!

A reliable, accurate tuner is an indispensable tool for any guitarist. And while there are still plenty of great hardware tuners on the market, smartphone apps have made it easier than ever to keep your instrument sounding sweet.

The 12 apps spotlighted in this guide are some of the most precise, feature-rich and user-friendly tuning tools available today. Whether you‘re a beginner looking for a simple, free tuner or a professional who needs hyper-accurate alternate tunings, there‘s an app that will fit your needs.

Whichever app you choose, you can be confident that the technology will only continue to improve, making the already painless process of digital tuning even more seamless. We may not be living in the age of the self-tuning guitar quite yet, but with the incredibly powerful tuners we can carry in our pockets, we‘re pretty darn close!

Now if you‘ll excuse me, I have to get back to playing my perfectly tuned axe.