Ever found yourself with a guitar, but there’s no tuner around? Situations like these make it worthwhile having one of the best guitar tuner apps downloaded on your phone so that you never find yourself without the ability to tune up.
Sure, most of us learned the handy 5th fret tuning method, but making sure you’ve got a perfect E to begin with is crucial for that to work properly. These apps utilise the built in microphone in your phone to detect the note you’re playing, and, like either a clip-on or pedal tuner, tell you whether you’re flat, sharp or bang on. There’s nothing worse than a slightly out of tune guitar, so being to whip out your phone and get yourself back in tune is incredibly useful.
Of course, if you’re in a noisy environment, then that can interfere with it, but having one of the best guitar tuner apps ready on your phone is always a good idea and will make sure that your rendition of Wonderwall at parties sounds as good as it possibly can (up for debate how good that actually is…).
There are various different tuner apps available, some of which are free, and some of which you have to pay for. We’ve got some advice below to help you pick what’s right for you, but here is our list of the best guitar tuner apps.
Best guitar tuner apps: Guitar World’s Choice
The best guitar tuner app for those that don’t mind paying for it is probably Guitar Tuna. It’s got a whole host of features on board to help you progress as a player, as well as an accurate tuner that’s quick and easy to use.
If you’re looking for the best free guitar tuner app, then there are some great options - we really like Simply Tune as it’s incredibly well laid out, and accommodates for different types of guitars well, plus there are some other cool features on board. The Boss Tuner is also great for those that are used to the look and layout of a TU-3.
Best guitar tuner apps: Product guide
This is a really accurate tuner, aimed at guitarists, with loads of helpful features on board to help beginners learn a whole bunch of songs. The tuner part of the app is slightly different to most others but works really well. As you play the note, the needle in the middle moves and tells you whether you need to tune up or down; it makes it clear to see by how much you’re flat or sharp and will likely help with ear training in the long run. The guitar headstock is also there letting you know which strings you’ve tuned and which ones you’ve yet to do.
On the learning side, there’s lots to get stuck into. There are chord diagrams, useful chord sequences, all ordered in difficulty and loads more. If you’re after a tuning app that’s going to help you advance as a player too, then this is it. There’s a massive library of songs with the chords provided too (easy and original versions), and as you play, the app can keep up with you, so you don’t lose whereabouts you are in the song.
The tuning section alone is really good, but all the learning tools really do make this one of the best guitar tuner apps available. Yes, it’s more expensive but it contains a wealth of knowledge that will help out any budding guitarist.
Aimed at beginners and pros alike, Simply Tune is one of the best guitar tuner apps out there at the moment. The tuning interface is really well laid out - it’s simple and uncluttered but it lets you tune precisely and accurately. There are separate tuning modes for acoustic and electric guitar, as well as 12-string guitar, ukulele and bass, as well as a chromatic mode. You’ve also got tunings for DADGAD, drop D, whole step down and absolutely loads more - many that you’ll never have even thought of. If you’re into open and different tunings, it might actually be a good place for inspiration.
Alongside a fantastic tuner, you’ve got some great learning features. There are loads of chord diagrams to help you get to grips with the basics. There are even lessons that listen to you playing the chords giving you a real sense of progression. There’s a daily song feature too that provides you with the chords to a popular song and lets you play along.
It’s pretty impressive that this is a free tuning app - it’s accurate and there’s loads of other fun stuff on board, especially for beginners.
The Boss TU-3 might be the most recognisable tuner in the world, with millions of physical units out there on all sorts of players’ boards. This free guitar tuner app gives you the look of the TU-3 on your smartphone or tablet.
It works fine, and is fairly accurate, though you sometimes have to play the string a few times for it to settle a little. It’s not quite as good as some of the paid apps, but it’s certainly very good for free! Diving into the settings, you’ve got the option of changing the reference pitch from 440Hz, if you want those in-between tunings. There’s also a tone you can get from it that gives you a perfect A, though again, this can be changed if you like. A purely aesthetic feature is the ability to change the look of the app to reflect the Waza Craft version of the pedal.
The only very slight downside is the news notifications icon at the bottom. This gives you all the latest news from Boss - great if you’re interested, but a very mild inconvenience if you’re not - the only way to get rid of this is to click the link for each notification. Other than that though, this has to be one of the best free guitar tuner apps available.
This is a great tuner and much more. Firstly, the tuner is accurate and easy to read - there’s a needle at the top that lets you know if you’re flat or sharp, plus there’s a manual mode for tuning by ear. You’ve also got different modes for tuning a ukulele and bass, as well as chromatic mode. It’s great having all these different options, but we know that it isn’t necessarily for everyone.
Where Tuner Pro really comes into its own is with everything else it has on board. As well as easy to read chord diagrams, with audio examples, there’s also a metronome which is probably one of the most invaluable practice tools there is for guitar. With this you can easily change tempo, time signature, sub divisions and more. Then, you’ve got a section that contains backing tracks for you to jam with. There are loads of different genres so there will likely be something for everyone. You can even reduce the volume of particular instruments, so if you want the backing track without the guitar in, you can either turn the guitar track down, or take it out completely.
As a tuner app, it’s good, but there are some great free apps available. However, if you want a tuner app that’s also got some amazing practice tools built into it, then this is certainly one to consider.5. Fender Guitar Tuner
Sometimes it’s great to just go with one of the biggest names in the industry. Fender have made waves with their Fender Play online lessons and have packed some similar learning facilities into this tuning app - but only if you want them. The tuner is great - it doesn’t get much more simple and easy to read that this, telling you to tune up or down until you’re perfectly in tune. The display is nice and big too. There’s also a separate manual tuning section for those who might prefer to tune by ear.
One of the things we like is that when you first download the app, you’re given the choice of making an account that gives you access to 5000+ chord diagrams, over 2000 scales, metronomes and drum tracks amongst a whole host of other features. However, you don’t have to - you can skip that bit and just go to the tuner, which is exactly what some players will want.
Cleartune has a really simple and easy to understand layout. As you play a note, the wheel at the bottom tells you which note you’re playing at the gauge at the top lets you know if you’re flat or sharp. The needle does tend to jump around a little so you might have to play the note a few times to get properly in tune, but it does allow for a fair bit of accuracy. You can also alter the needle dampening setting which helps with this.
The pitch pipes are really easy to move around so you can get the note reference for each individual string, if you’d rather tune by ear. You can move away from 440Hz in the settings, and you can turn the frequency display on to see exactly what frequency you’re playing - it’s not essential but music buffs might like this. Overall, it’s a great tuning app; it’s easy to use, there aren’t too many other things going on and it’s accurate.
This does what it says on the tin - it allows you to fine tune your guitar. For those not too bothered with the look of the app, this is a great tuner. For each string, it gives you the exact Hz reference to one decimal place, as well as the note you’re playing. This allows you to really fine tune your guitar so that you get it absolutely spot on.
At first, you have to press the note for each string individually, but this can be changed in the settings. You’ve got a few different tunings, but more are accessible when you pay to upgrade. It’s not the most fun app in the world, but a good tuner doesn’t really need to be. Don’t expect any learning or lesson functions within the app - just a well functioning, accurate guitar tuner.
Whilst the visual might a little overwhelming for some, the CarlTune is one of the best tuner apps out there for guitar players that are maybe more used to seeing music notation. As you play each note, a wheel and needle at the bottom show you the note you’re playing and how sharp/flat you are. It also shows you the note on a stave, as well as whereabouts the note would be on a piano. The tuner is quite accurate too, giving you Hz to two decimal places.
We really like that you can change the sensitivity on this one, so if there’s a lot of noise going on around you, turn the sensitivity down, put your phone near your guitar and the tuner should be able to hear it better and give you a more accurate result. You can also change the colour of the background, if that’s something that bothers you.
Best guitar tuner apps: Buying Advice
If you’re looking to a tuner app as the primary way of tuning your guitar or bass, then it’s probably worth spending some money on it. Pedal and clip-on tuners can vary in cost, but for what the best tuner apps are charging, they’re worth it. These tend to be more accurate and have better functionality. They also usually have more additional features.
However, if you’ve already got a pedal tuner to use at gigs, or a clip-on that you can use in noisy situations, then you’ll get by just fine with one of the free options. These are perfect for the odd occasion where you’re without your other tuners - at a party, or a friend’s house where they’ve not touched the instrument in years, and so on. They might not be perfect, but they’ll do the job - and they’re free!
Do you want learning resources as well? Many of the best guitar tuner apps have a bunch of features on board that can help you learn to play the guitar, making them perfect for beginners. For example, Guitar Tuna gives you the chords to a massive library of songs and actually keeps track of whereabouts in the song you’re up to - clever stuff!
Think about how accurate you need it as well - are you super precise when it comes to tuning? If so, then you’ll want a tuner app that tracks the note you’re playing as closely as possible. Some players might even want to tune outside of the regular 440Hz frequency - many of these apps let you do just that. If you’re just looking for something that’s going to give you a ballpark reference for maybe tuning the rest by ear, then you shouldn’t need to worry about pinpoint accuracy.
The actual user interface is an important consideration when looking for the best guitar tuner app. Different people find different interfaces easier and harder to use so choosing one that you’re not going to get frustrated with is important. Some apps look just like tuner pedals, so are instantly recognisable for many players. Others use more traditional or old school aesthetics, so it’s just a case of choosing what’s more appealing to you.
Related buyer's guides
You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
- Gear up with these guitar accessories for beginners
- Start out right with the best beginner electric guitars
- Go unplugged with the best acoustic guitars for all budgets
- Need a do-it-all FX unit? Check out our pick of the best multi-effects pedals
- Update your board with these killer cheap guitar pedals
- Check out the best Tube Screamer clones