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 A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Tuner

by Jonathan Richard Meager

Musicians may have mastered complex techniques and could in fact be virtuosos, but if their instrument is not in tune, these skills are of little value.

This is why many players choose to buy a tuner. While guitarists can often rely on their ears to let them know when a string has gone even slightly out, an actual tuner can be far more reliable and accurate.

Tuners are typically small hand-held devices that are either chromatic or designed for use with a specific instrument. Most on the market are meant to be used with guitars and basses to make sure they are in the standard tuning of EADGBE. But chromatic tuners do offer a number of other interesting features.

Indeed, many guitarists often enjoy experimenting with alternative tunings, which means tuners have to accommodate this and offer more than the standard option of EADGBE.

For example, many heavy rock musicians like to tune one or two semitones down from where their guitar would ordinarily be. Lots of guitar tuners have been designed to accommodate this, with a number of suitable presets available.

There are two basic tuning modes - manual and automatic. The former requires the user to specify what note they want their string to be pitched at before they use the tuning peg on their instrument.

But others may prefer the simpler option of auto tuning, which involves the device analysing the incoming pitch, telling users to go to the nearest note and displaying the name of it when the desired note has been reached.

Chromatic tuners tend to have the automatic function, but many other devices allow guitarists to switch between the two options.

Beginners could find that manual tuners are more suitable to their needs, particularly as users do not need any prior knowledge of how a pitch should sound.

So what are the input requirements of guitar tuners? Most devices have a built in mic that are particularly useful for tuning acoustic instruments. This means that they need to be placed close to the instrument or amp. As a result, it could be tricky in a live scenario where there is lots of background noise.

However, electronic instruments such as electric guitars can be plugged in via a standard jack lead to the tuner's input socket. This means there is a clean signal with no background noise, allowing guitarists to tune their instrument silently on stage.

And the guitar tuner can easily be incorporated into a pedal board, which means players have quick and easy access to the device during every performance.

I am the Communications Manager of Gear4music.com. I am committed to delivering the most informative and useful articles about musical instruments and equipment.

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