Unless you're in an experimental rock band or junior high orchestra, keeping your instrument in the right place is a must. Don't pay for expensive physical tuners though, as these tuning apps work just as well for a fraction of the cost.
There are thousands of musical instruments in the world, each falling into one of five categories: keyboard, strings, percussion, brass and woodwind. Each instrument has unique tuning requirements, so it's no surprise that there are so many different types of tuners to choose from. Instead of buying a universal tuner from your local music store or spending a ton of dollars on a well-calibrated physical tuner, download a free (or at least cheap) digital tuner app that works just as well. Moreover, you no longer have to lug around.
Things to Look For in Instrument Tuning Apps
Each of these apps has what it takes to help you fine-tune your instrument, but depending on what that instrument is, you may also need more robust tools. Here are the main features you should look for in a tuning app, and why they are needed:
- visual feedback: Tuning your instrument takes just a minute or two, trying to find a tuner with a complex or cluttered interface can drag the process. The best tuning apps should show you exactly what pitch you're playing in, and how flat or sharp it is so you can fix it and move on.
- Pitch Pipe Playback: If you prefer a pitch and tune your instrument to it, make sure that the app you choose can play chromatic pitches over several octaves, making it suitable for both low and high register instruments.
- Semitone / Cent Accuracy: In addition to showing you what pitch you are playing, the best instrument tuner apps should also show you the accuracy of the pitch to the cent. While guitarists should be less concerned about this, it is an important option for orchestras that tune to the European standard of A = 442Hz, instead of, for example, A = 440.
- Multiple tunings for guitar: Standard guitar tuning works for most people, but if you're feeling crazy and want to try drop C or other exotic tunings, find a tuner app that can show you what those notes are and how to tune the strings to them.
Best for Guitar and Other Strings: GuitarTuna
From the brilliant minds of Yousician comes a robust and capable app for tuning your ax: GuitarTuna (free). It is also great for other plucked string instruments such as bass, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, balalaika and even orchestral instruments. The app is popular with both beginners and advanced musicians for its simple interface and how fast and accurate the tuning algorithm is (which you can access on iOS and Android devices as well as online). It has an auto-mode tuner, which automatically detects which instrument and the specific string you're tuning, as well as a chromatic tuner setting. There are even alternative tuning options you can try.
GuitarTuna is also great because it offers additional features in addition to a tuner, including a metronome, chord library and six fun music games that help you train your ear and make sure you play chords correctly. The app only needs access to your smartphone's microphone to detect pitches (no cords required, even for electric instruments), and the background noise reduction ensures that the tuner focuses only on your instrument.
Best for Band and Orchestra Instruments: Boss Tuner  Boss Tuner App Screenshots ” width=”1600″ height=”900″ src=”/pagespeed_static/1.JiBnMqyl6S.gif” onload=”pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon(this);” onerror=”this.onerror=null;pagespeed.lazyLoadImages.loadIfVisibleAndMaybeBeacon(this);”/>
Boss has created some of the most popular electronic devices – from pedals to physical tuners – where musicians have been for years to rely on. Now, with Boss Tuner (free), both older and younger musicians can tune digitally. The app is visually very similar to Boss & # 39; s physical TU-3 and TU-3W tuners and pedals, and still provides easy and accurate chromatic tuning for band and orchestral instruments.
The rotary knob at the top of the app displays the pitch you & # 39; playback and the LED segment meter works as a visual tuning indicator, which moves left or right depending on whether you are sharp or flat. The app helps you fine tune to + 1 / -1 cent, with a range of A # 0 (29.14Hz) -G8 (6,271.93Hz), so it's great for double basses and bellboys. It also plays reference pitches as a stable drone until you tell it not, so you don't have to keep tapping the screen to hear a note. Boss Tuner also has other settings you can tinker with, from adjusting the reference pitch to adjusting the sensitivity and type of playback. The app is easy to use and has no pop-up ads.
Best for Strobe Tuning: iStrobosoft
Strobe tuners are the oldest type of electronic tuning devices built in 1936. Strobe tuners are known for their unparalleled mechanical precision, so if fine tuning is important to you, check out iStrobosoft ($ 9.99). While physical flash tuners cost several thousand dollars and are not portable, you can still enjoy the benefits of a physical model with a digital strobe tuning application at a fraction of the price. You can tune by using your device's microphone or by connecting an external microphone and manually calibrating it to 1/10 cent with the app, and viewing the flash on your screen to determine the pitch.
With iStroboSoft, you can adjust the note and octave window so that you can tune in to your intended note and not an octave below or above it. At the touch of a button, you can also transpose the tuner up or down an octave if you use drop tuning or a capo, and you can adjust the input frequency if you want to tune to something other than A = 440Hz. IStrobosoft's amazing noise filter automatically tunes other instruments and background noise so it can focus only on your instrument.