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An Introduction to Instrument Tuners

About Instrument Tuners

It can be tough to keep your instrument constantly in tune, but with the wide variety of tuners available today, it's never been more possible. And by keeping the proper intonation, you'll sound your best performance after performance. In this guide we'll cover the basics of some of the most popular tuner styles so you can find the one that will help you the most.

Strobe Tuners

If you're searching for accuracy, the most tried-and-tested tuners are strobe tuners. Using flashing lights that respond the frequencies that notes create, the amount of hertz is directly represented by the number of flashes (which is why it's called a "strobe"). If a note is out of tune, the light pattern changes alerting you right away. The only real downside to these tuners are the higher price, but if you can afford them, they're definitely worth it.

Like all tuners, strobe tuners can drastically differ in terms of quality, so balancing that against price is key to getting something that will suit all your needs. Your decision also depends on the instrument you are tuning. For example, if you're tuning pianos, you're probably in need of perfect accuracy, so consider investing in something that will offer flawless tuning every time.

Virtual Strobe Tuners

Using today's advanced technology, virtual strobe tuners work the same way as a strobe, with lights scrolling up and down, to detect notes as they're played. As well, options like the Peterson VS-R StroboRack Virtual Strobe Tuner even have tempered tuning that can be set to different instruments, and also feature a customizable display panel that can show messages even when not in use.

Digital Tuners

Some of the most popular tuners, and for good reason, are digital tuners. Highly accurate and often quite cost-effective, these tuners vary in features and come in a countless variety of models. For example, the Korg TM-40 Digital Tuner Metronome blends the functionality of a tuner with the time-keeping abilities of a metronome, giving you two great tools in one.

Almost all digital tuners work with the use of a microphone or a ΒΌ" guitar jack input, picking up individual notes as they're played. The only shortcoming of this type of tuner is that it can only tune if there are no other ambient sounds or instruments being played nearby.

Clip-on Tuners

If you are a horn player, you'll definitely need a clip-on tuner. By picking up the sound frequency of the instrument it's attached to, clip-on tuners are an invaluable way to easily tune your brass collection. Also coming in a variety of styles, finding one that best suits your needs simply comes down to personal preferences.

The best part about clip-on tuners is that they literally place the tuning display right in front of your eyes if you want, so you can see the notes as you play. This is how the professionals do it, and now you can too.

In the end, no matter which tuner you decide upon, as long as it helps you achieve your goals, and you're having fun playing, then it's the right one for you.


Woodwind & Brasswind is proud to offer a broad range of tuners for musicians from professional to beginner. Every product you buy from The Woodwind & Brasswind is covered by our 110% Price Guarantee, assuring that you won't find your music gear at a lower price anywhere else.

Tony Guerrero is a freelance trumpet player in Los Angeles California. Performing and recording with a wide range of artists ranging from John Tesh to High School Musical, Tony is at home in nearly any style on both trumpet and piano. For more information on Tony including his latest Recording titled "Blue Room," visit www.tonyguerrero.com.

While Woodwind & Brasswind compensates writers for their editorial reviews, the views expressed by the writers in those reviews are their own.

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Tony Guerrero

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