Best Tuner App? (nominations)

I still remember my first tuner. The Seiko Tolv ST-369 – a gigantic brick of a device which probably has the equivalent mass of about 10 iPhones stacked together.

Aside from using it to generate an A to tune my violin to, and for the occasional round of the scintillating “Name That A” game (i.e. is that a 440? a 442? a 441?), I have to admit that I didn’t use it for much else.

My laziness aside, intonation is the bane of many a musician’s existence, and I think most agree on its importance – even if we do sometimes get a bit too obsessed with pitch and neglect to develop other important aspects of musicianship.

I don’t know if there is a clear consensus on how best to develop a keen and discerning ear (check out this interesting and lively discussion), but like our trusty metronome, tuners can be an invaluable tool when used appropriately. Besides, now that we can use a tuner app, instead of having to carry around a separate device, there aren’t many good reasons not to have one at our disposal.

But with so many to choose from, which ones are actually worth paying for?

The plan – and a contest!

I have 5 copies of the newly released Practice+ app to give away!

So, here’s the plan

  1. Nominate your favorite tuner app in the comments below and tell us what makes it stand apart from the rest. This will count as your entry in the contest to win a copy of Practice+.
  2. On Wednesday, I’ll tally up the nominations, report back with your top five recommendations, and give you a chance to vote on the overall winner.
  3. On Sunday, I’ll announce the top tuner app, and do a random drawing to determine the 5 readers who will receive a free copy of the new all-in-one practice app.

(Full disclosure: I received a complimentary evaluation copy from the developers, but am not being compensated in any way for mentioning the app. Just thought it was a pretty handy all-in-one app – especially the ability to quickly record and share audio.)

So…what’s the best tuner app?

There are a couple dozen or so tuner apps currently available to smartphone users. But some are easier to use, more aesthetically pleasing, and unless I’m imagining things, seemingly more accurate and precise as well.

So, which tuner app (either iOS or Android) is your favorite?

Let me know which one you think is the best in the comments below (deadline to submit an entry is Tuesday at 6pm EST — and don’t forget to tell us what makes it stand out from the alternatives!

Update: The contest and voting is now closed! Check out the top five tuner apps and winners here: Five Best Tuner Apps.

photo credit: Autumn Welles via photopin cc

Ack! After Countless Hours of Practice...
Why Are Performances Still So Hit or Miss?

It’s not a talent issue. And that rush of adrenaline and emotional roller coaster you experience before performances is totally normal too.

Performing at the upper ranges of your ability under pressure is a unique skill – one that requires specific mental skills, and perhaps a few other tweaks in your approach to practicing too. Elite athletes have been learning these techniques for decades; if nerves and self-doubt have been recurring obstacles in your performances, I’d like to help you do the same.

Click below to learn more about Beyond Practicing – a home-study course where you’ll explore the 6 skills that are characteristic of top performers. And learn how you can develop these into strengths of your own. And begin to see tangible improvements in your playing that transfer to the stage.


128 Responses

  1. I love Cleartune. Tried a few others – there’s one that dicernes what instrument you’re playing based on overtones? But Cleartune is pretty reliable. I think I paid $5 years ago. iOS.

  2. I like Cleartune the most! What makes it stand apart are its elegant user interface and it’s plethora of settings that can be changed to suit any instrument of any time period!

    1. I like Clear Tune. The electronic needle covers a large part of the screen so a five cent difference looks much bigger on this screen than on a tuner with a real needle. I can see it better and it can play all pitches, so I can use many different notes as a drone.

    2. I love using Tunable! You get set the precision of the tuning from beginner (keeping the pitch within 10 cents in tune) to advanced (within 2 cents) and adjust for over 20 different tuning temperaments. It also shows the ambitus of your vibrato and overall pitch, making it useful for use with students. The app contains a metronome and you can record yourself within the app as well – perfect practice room companion!

  3. My favorite above all the others is Cleartune. What I love about Cleartune is its’ variety of pitch and temperament settings. I play modern and baroque cello as well as viola da gamba, so depending on the gig I need to have a A at 440 in mean tone tuning, or a A at 430 or 415 with Kirberger III, etc. etc. and Cleartune can do it all! Even within a temperament you can set the temperament key to A major or b minor, this is just fantastic. The abilty to makes presets means you can quickly jump between all of these settings depending on which piece you’re practicing, and the interface is very natural and easy to use. It also has a variety of different pitchpipe waveform settings which I appreciate. I don’t know another tuning app that has so many practical easy to use settings for musicians in early music or new music!

  4. hi,
    I am using the Gibson(+studio share) app from IOS, and its been a while since I downloaded it. Why I use it, well, first its FREE 🙂 and I also like that I has all notes within. As for its design it pretty looks like the original Gibson tuner that I had so I felt familiar to use it. Also the app has a Metronome within which I also use occasionally. Though I am not a guitar player, I am actually an Arabic Oud player but I feel on ease using this app.
    But you know what, I for sure need some assistance on choosing a microphone to record my playing with(whether its an app or an original tool), so maybe you can give us some hints on that in your coming posts.

    1. I agree. The Gibson +StudioShare is a great app. Metronome, tuning, recording, and chord references all in one app. Also the ability to purchase in app lessons if you are interested.

  5. Cleartune for sure; on my ipad it’s easy to read and clear even for a beginning student to understand, and it’s a clean enough view to work well on my iphone as well, which many apps can’t claim.

  6. I’ve been using an app called ‘Scale Master’ which can blast infinitely long droned pitches at you as well as various scales (major/minor, whole tones, blues scales etc) to a metrenomed beat. It’s great for getting the exact relative tuning for tricky major/minor thirds and it’s fun having a bit of an improvise over a droned note. The drone works for across seven octaves. I’ve been using it for tuning my third 8ve Piccolo Flute notes- which is, contrary to popular belief, a tuneable series of notes and not just the sound several cats screaming! Well that’s what I tell myself….

  7. I use Cleartune. I like the clean display and clear indicator. I play a variety of instruments and can use this for everything. I would use this app 6 days out of 7 every week!

  8. I use Cleartune for my students and myself. It is incredibly easy to use and has a ton of useful features such as the ability to change default transposition (i.e. Bb or F for trumpet or horn players) or temperaments.

    One of the coolest things I’ve just discovered is the ability to set the frequency of the reference note using the microphone of the device. For example, if you know the piano you’re playing with is not quite A = 440, you can use this feature to calibrate the tuner quickly.

  9. In my opinion, it has to be the insTuner. I think it stands out with clean design, variety of options on older temperaments from different time periods, preresets for all types of instruments and with tuning units like strobe for best accuracy and even spectrogram unit.

  10. Tunable

    The screen fills with green the longer the pitch is sustained in tune. For young wind instrumentalists, it is a great tool to develop steady air.

    The sound wave is visible in real time, so you can see vibrato as it occurs. In the settings, you can adjust the parameters to accommodate a wider or narrower vibrato.

    It includes pitch drones, a metronome and the ability to record while using the tuner and/or metronome.

    It is the only app I use during practice now (besides using For Score on my ipad to store digital sheet music).

  11. I prefer the free “Instrument Tuner” by Gebauer Matthias.
    It has several tuning options: cromatic (which will work for any instrument), violin, viola, guitar, chello, bass and ukulele, and you can adjust to any setting of “A” progressively at .1Hz intervals, or use the microphone to set it (I usually use 432 or 436.0 whever possible). I find it very accurate, and the needle doesn’t dance around like some tuners do. 🙂

  12. I like Accurate tuner free. Very huge range of Instruments, you can set sensitivity and set a transposition very accurate. So good!

  13. Tonal energy tuner is definitely the best tuning app. It has colors to show where your pitch is, and a nice green smiley face when you’re in tune! It can sustain pitches and even midi sound a particular instrument. It has a metronome installed, as well as a new recorded feature too. It’s been my favorite app for several years now!

  14. InsTuner for iOS is my go-to tuner app. It is really quick and easy to just start up and have a quick tune while also having quite a few advanced features. The best part is that it’s free!

  15. I prefer the TonalEnergy app. It is easy to use, I can practice with drones, my students can change the transposition, its sensitivity can be adjusted, and it does just or equal temperament.

    All this plus it will record and analyze your playing and has a great metronome! It is definitely my practice tool of choice!

  16. I like Tonal Energy. It is very easy to use, and my students enjoy getting a “smiley face” when they are in tune.

  17. I am a big fan of the tonal energy app. It’s stands apart in any ways. First, it can listen a huge range of pitch. As a bass trombone player, this is great for me because it can register a C0 which usually tuners struggles to pick up a Bb1. Another great feature is that you can change the difficulty of the tuner. Depending on your level of playing, you can set how strict it will read your pitch. To add to the list of features, the app also does a harmonic analysis of your pitch, with a visual sound wave. Just a few more features include: drones in any pitch or instrument, the visual is pretty neat for the tuner ( it lights up with a green smiley face when it is in tune) and it even have a fairly decent metronome, too!

  18. Cleartrack is also my favorite for ease of use and reliability but as a back up n-tune has an interesting display and also seems reliable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get the (Free) Practice Hacks Guide

Learn the #1 thing that top practicers do differently, plus 7 other strategies for practice that sticks.

Discover your mental strengths and weaknesses

If performances have been frustratingly inconsistent, try the 3-min Mental Skills Audit. It won't tell you what Harry Potter character you are, but it will point you in the direction of some new practice methods that could help you level up in the practice room and on stage.