New Guitar? Don’t forget to buy a tuner.

In my opinion, the most essential accessory for any guitarist is a tuner. I highly recommend purchasing a tuner to keep with your guitar. Most musicians need to train and develop their ears. Very few people can tune a guitar accurately by ear when they are first starting out. Even for those who can, a tuner comes in handy when you need to tune where there is significant ambient noise.

Most guitars need to be tuned every time you play them. Inexpensive guitars often need to be re-tuned every couple of songs. Using a tuner will help develop your ears and make your guitar much more enjoyable to play.


One of my favorite tuners is the Korg CA-30 Chromatic Tuner. It is inexpensive, relatively easy to use, and works well for a wide variety of instruments, not just guitars.

Acoustic guitarists may want to consider a tuner that clips on to the head stock of your guitar. These work well in ambient noise when there are no electronics to plug into the guitar directly.


There are lots of online tuners for your guitar. The majority of them play the notes for each string, but you will have to tune to it by ear. This can be challenging for some people. The best piece of advice I have for learning to tune to a note by ear is to start with a flat note, then tune up to the pitch. For some reason, it is much more difficult to tune down to pitch from a sharp note.

There are a number of iPhone applications that have come out for tuning guitars. They don’t work quite as well in loud situations since you can’t plug your guitar directly into them. First I tried a free guitar tuning application and was unimpressed. I ended up buying the Guitar ToolKit App. It also includes a metronome. The tuner works well if ambient noise is low. The metronome is also nice to have, but it will require headphone or some other sort of amplification to be truly useful.

One Response to “New Guitar? Don’t forget to buy a tuner.”

  1. Has anyone seen the Norman Harris interview on the new Vintage Guitar Exchange website (www.vintagegx.com)?

    It’s worth seeing. He talks a lot about getting started and shows off a 1960 Les Paul flametop with original hang tags!

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