Five of the best guitar pedal tuners in a range of budgets

I personally think pedal tuners are the best way to stay in tune, whether at a practice or a gig. Having said that – within the scope of pedal tuners, there is a wide array of prices, options and choices.

We looked at twenty different pedal tuners – features, prices, reputation, stability, durability, etc., and came up with 5 of the best, arranged by price.

You’ve got options ranging from $25 and all the way up into the ridiculous – but we stopped at the $100 price point for this comparison.

Read on – we’ve got them lined up for you right here. After the comparison, you’ll find a little more detail on each.

Click any image to enlarge

Behringer TU300Castle RockKorg PitchblackTC Electronic PolytuneBoss TU-3
Tu300 Behringer Guitar Pedal TunerCastle Rock Guitar Pedal TunerKorg Pitchblack Guitar Pedal TunerTC Electronic Polytune Pedal TunerBOSS TU-3 Guitar Pedal Tuner
$25 Purchase info$27 Purchase info$70 Purchase info$90 Purchase info$100 Purchase info
Chassis: Plastique, as they say in France - but that's where the romance ends. Tap, don't stomp.Chassis: Die Cast MetalChassis: Aluminum Die CastChassis: Die Cast AluminumChassis: The usual tank-like Boss metal sturdy chassis we're used to.
Display: 11 Point Meter, LED note display. Directional ArrowsDisplay: 9 Point LED Meter, LED note display. Display: 11 point meter, LED note display, directional arrows.Display: LED, depends on mode. LEDs change brightness based on how bright it is in the room.Display: 21 points. High bright mode for outdoor gigs.
Routing: In, Out, BypassRouting: In, Out, Out (Has "always on output, and switchable output - handy!)Routing: In, Out - True Bypass.Routing: In, Out - True Bypass.Routing: In, Out, Bypass.
Modes: Mute / Bypass, flat, double flat, guitar, bassModes: Standard tunerModes: Standard Tuner E(0) to C(8)Modes: Chromatic, Polytune. Adjustable tunings from E flat to B.Modes: Guitar, Bass, Chromatic. 6 drop tuning steps available.
Extras: You'll have enough cash left for a six pack. And Maybe a taco.Extras: Rugged. Easy to read outside.Extras: 4 display modes - meter, full strobe, half strobe, mirror. Easy to read inside or outside.Extras: Polytune. Strum your guitar and it will tell you quickly which strings are out of tune, sharp or flat. Remembers your last used settings.Extras: Can supply power for other Boss pedals.
Word around town: Unreliable. It does the job for the most part but there have been reports of vapor-lock situations. Get the Fender for $20 more.Word around town: Generally well regarded, lacks features - but hey, its a good solid tuner pedal. Side note - it's fugly.Word around town: Usually comes through reviews unscathed. Good quality, rugged and has some cool features.Word around town: This is your best bang for your buck, in our opinion. Quality, more features, decent price. Word around town: Highly regarded, quality pedal, standard features.

The Behringer TU3000

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

It’s definitely the starving artist’s tuner. It’ll get you down the road, but we’re just not sure how far. There are many reports of these things lasting indefinitely. There are also many reports of them barfing within the first 3 uses. But, if money is an issue, this pedal certainly fits the bill.

Castle Rock Pedal Tuner

Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s plain, ugly and simple. Not a ton of features, but it works and it’s durable – plus you’ve got a good name brand behind it. For only $2 more than the Behringer, to us it’s a no-brainer.

The Korg Pitchblack

Rating: ★★★★☆

This is a great, solid pedal at a really good price. It’s got all of the really basic, standard features (for featured pedals) like drop tuning, bypass, and all that – and then some other features that can only be described as “cool, but unnecessary.” Different display modes are cool, but they really don’t tune your guitar any better. Still, it fits right in where it should be at around $70.

The TC Electronic Polytune

Rating: ★★★★★

This pedal was the winner in our opinion. Coming in at almost 4 times the price of your least expensive option – the Behringer, and $10 less than our highest priced pedal in this comparison, it has more features than any other pedal. The one feature that blows the competition away – polytune. You can strum a chord and you’ll instantly find out which strings are out of tune, and if they are sharp or flat. Add to that the true bypass, automatically adjusting LEDs based on the lighting in the room, plus all the normal features – this thing is a steal.

The Boss TU-3

Rating: ★★★★☆

I think a lot of what you’re paying for here is brand and reliability. Boss stuff is great, it’s reliable, and it just works. It isn’t loaded with features but you can expect it to work for years to come because for the most part, all your other Boss pedals do. One other nice feature – you can power a bunch of other Boss pedals with it.

Overall – if you can – get the TC Electronic Polytune.

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Tim Monaghan (129 Articles)

Tim has been playing guitar & bass since he was 12 years old and has been in Jazz, funk, rock & metal bands. Influences include Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke, Doug Stegmeyer, Baden Powell, Steve Vai, and pretty much anyone else who has a unique style that expresses their individuality. One of Tim’s many hobbies is building, tweaking, and repairing basses and guitars.