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?

For most of my life, I assumed that it was because I wasn’t practicing enough. And that eventually, if I performed enough, the nerves would just go away and everything would take care of itself.

But in the same way that “practice, practice, practice” wasn’t the answer, “perform, perform, perform” wasn’t the answer either. In fact, simply performing more, without the tools to facilitate more positive performance experiences, just led to more negative performance experiences!

Eventually, I discovered that elite athletes are successful in shrinking this gap between practice and performance, because their training looks fundamentally different. In that it includes specialized mental and physical practice strategies that are oriented around the retrieval of skills under pressure.

It was a very different approach to practice, that not only made performing a more positive experience, but practicing a more enjoyable experience too (which I certainly didn’t expect!).

If you’ve been wanting to perform more consistently and get more out of your daily practice, I’d love to share these research-based skills and strategies that can help you beat nerves and play more like yourself when it counts.

Click below to learn more about Beyond Practicing, and start enjoying more satisfying practice days that also transfer to the stage.

BOGO pricing is now in effect! (through 11:59pm Sunday)

Sign up anytime now through Sunday (Dec. 4) at 11:59pm Pacific, and you’ll receive a second bonus Beyond Practicing account – at no additional cost – that you can gift to a friend, colleague, family member, student, or teacher (i.e. a practice buddy to explore the course with 😁).

Click the red button below to learn more about the course and get the holiday buy-one-get-one-free offer.


129 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.

  19. My go-to tuner is the iStroboSoft tuner. It’s like the old-fashioned strobo-tuner that my band directors had. What is so fantastic about it is the layers of intonation you’re dealing with. It lets you know if your overtones are in tune. It’s a real thrill when you can get all the ‘wheels’ to hold still. It is expensive (9.99), but certainly cheaper than the old Korgs used to be.

  20. Tonal Energy Tuner (TE Tuner) is my favorite so far. Great visuals, tone generator, metronome, and you can set different levels of difficulty/sensitivity.

  21. My favorite tuner app is Tunable. All of the features it has make it my go-to in the practice room. The interface is pretty simple as far as design. I love the visual aspect of the tuning in it; the app shows your wave of sound as you play and even has a setting to account for vibrato width. Not only is the tuner part of it great, but the app is also packed with a metronome and a practice recording device, all of which can multitask and be used while you’re using another feature in the app. By far the best app I’ve tried.

  22. The best stand alone app tuner I have is the Strobo soft by Peterson. My first reason is that it’s a strobe tuner and I can see, not only the pitch I’m playing, but I can evaluate the 5ths and other overtones too. The second reason is the quality noise filter it has, simply press that button in the middle of the orchestra warm up and then play. It will do a great job of just picking me out of the crowd.

    The best all around multi purpose tuner/metronome app is the Tonal Energy Tuner. The top features are the tuner has the ability to go from Equal Temperament to Just / Pure Temperament. It also has a visual aid in that when you are in tune it will show a smily face, which when teaching young students it great! The second feature that I enjoy is the Tone Generator, which I use for drones. Then finally, there’s the Analysis where I can visually see the shape of my sound. Allowing me to view the start, middle, and ending of my sound. Is it swelling into the tone, is my sound steady throughout, is it decaying or swelling at the end and so forth. It’s recording it quick and easy. I feel that it’s weakness is the metronome.

  23. I also love the Tunable app. It has a clear display and is easy to use. There are a variety of temperament choices and the ability to sustain multiple drone notes at a time, so one can tune to a complete chord instead of a single reference pitch.

  24. Tonal Energy is my go-to app. I love the recording feature, the easy accessible drone tones, and you can’t beat a smiley face when you are in tune 🙂 My students love it when I put it up on my Apple TV.

  25. I actually do not find tuners for the iPhone or iPad to be sufficiently reliable; I think this is due to hardware limitations.

    An inexpensive digital tuner device — which is smaller, lighter, and less fragile than my phone — does a far better job and is easier and quicker to adjust.
    I still have a copy of istrobosoft but I no longer use it because it is not reliable; I was interested in strobe tuners but this app is just an ordinary digital tuner app which is made to look like a strobe tuner.
    The only reliable thing I would trust my phone for in tuning a violin is to produce a sample tone, or even to listen to a YouTube recording of someone tuning their violin.

  26. I use Cleartune and Tonal Energy. ( I just downloaded Practice + as the all in one with practice list and metronome and recorder and tuner for just $3.99 seemed like the perfect practice aid) I like these two tuners the best and honestly use the the Tonal Energy when working with new adult amateurs (Green Smiley Face is a very encouraging reward) but use Cleartune because the needle is a quick check on where I am. (It just seems the most familiar) I am a 55 year horn player who plays on a regular basis with my church orchestra and Kings Brass as well as president of the local chapter of New Horizons Music International..

  27. Hate to be boring at this point, but Cleartune is the one for me as well..simple interface, accurate. It is somewhat aesthetics though. Still, have downloaded a lot of tuners and find this one is the one I use most.

  28. PitchLab/PitchLab Pro

    I have tried about 30 different tuner apps on both iOS and Android…

    I used to like ClearTune because of the simple interface, however its pitch sensing algorithm can be easily fooled by strong overtones and its detection needle is unstable and fidgety. PitchLab/PitchLab Pro is my new favorite for its accuracy, stability, and its plethora of useful scientific information. PitchLab uses all of your available mics (my motorola has 3) to detect the first 5 overtones of your sound. So, you can tune up accurately even in a somewhat noisy room. It also gives you several visual options for measuring your pitch including a standard needle, objective frequency reading, +/-cents, various strobe tuners, a configurable open string comparison tool, a key board pitch pipe, and even the ability to accurately detect Chords!! I find the strobe tuners to be the most useful. There is also a screen shows the first 5 overtone in characteristic wave forms (like an oscilloscope) to directly measure the timbre of your sound by each constituent frequency !! You can use this feature to objectively measure the sound quality of an instrument/bow regardless of the room. Very powerful tool if you know what overtones and oscilloscopes mean.

    For customization: you can set up the frequency to match any reference standard or transposition, change the temperament, create a custom temperament, choose between 4 different #/b naming schemes, alter the sampling rate, chose between different sampling algorithms, and even display any two separate tuner screens at the same time, and much more.

    Another VERY cool feature is that the notes are color coded in a rainbow so that each note starts to take on a personality, which possibly could lead to some level of objective pitch. I don’t have perfect pitch, but after using PitchLab for a year, I can often tell when I am out of tune without a tuner…

    Two years ago I had crummy dull ears and could only detect if a note was off by more than +/-30 cents on my cello, and could not even tell you if it was sharp or flat. Lesser tuning apps got my ear to hear differentiate between a range of +/-10 cents, about the same skill as an average audience member.. PitchLab’s detection is so accurate and stimulating, that it got me to hear variations of +/- 2 cents, and when playing double stops I can hear beat differences if the notes are off by 0.5 cents.. PitchLab’s visual needle itself is stable enough to measure 0.5 cents, or 0.1 hertz. The effect on my ear is tremendous. After only playing cello for two years and three months, my intonation is so confident that I can turn the app off and still “know” that I am tune. To me the sign of a good tuner is how little I need to use it.

    1. I live pitch lab for all the same reasons as Ben, as well as the ability to create custom tunes for various fiddle playing gigs along with playing classical. Great app, fun to explore!

  29. I like Guitar Toolkit’s tuner for the quick, precise needle interface, as Cleartune’s spinning dial makes me a little cross-eyed, as do the Peterson-style ones. Guitar Toolkit’s metronome also has a programmable beat function, which I use a fair amount. It was designed for guitar and bass guitar, and works very well for my instrument (double bass), but doesn’t accurately pick up treble instruments. It has pretty good noise rejection, so I can put my phone on my bridge and tune in orchestra. The ipad version has an enormous graphic with a large readout of the exact frequency, so I like to use it with the bass students in their group class as well as practicing intonation to the cent. It does not, however, select for other tuning frequencies or temperaments, so I use Cleartune for 415 days and violone.

  30. I NOMINATE; BAGPIPE TUNER by Murray Blair, it is the most precise tuner I have found for the Bagpipe. It is used on the iPhone or ipad.

  31. I personally use Pro Tuner. I admit the interface isn’t the best, but with all of the (free) apps that I have tried, it was the only one that picked up the low register accurately for me.

  32. For daily use I have a Korg tuner that I like but on my iPhone and iPad I use an app called TuneUp. This was the only tuning app I found that shows you which octave you are in. For a harpist changing strings this is critical. I like the interface and I was able to change the name on the screen so it shows “Harp Heaven.” With all these tuners handy I know I’ll always have one available.

  33. I like using the tonal energy tuner. It is a bit more interactive than some of the other tuners I have used. You can also set it to be stricter on getting to the center of each pitch, which is great on the days you feel you are really in tune.

  34. My go-to tuner on my iPhone is insTuner. I like it because it has fast response time and the interface is easy to read in both portrait and landscape.

    On my iPad I often use iStroboSoft. It has all the same qualities as insTuner and it also brings me back to my high school days when we had the big StroboConn in the rehearsal room.

  35. Tonal Energy is the best! It will analyze your pitch while you record so you don’t have to stare at the tuner the whole time! It also smiles at you when you’re in tune!

  36. Tonal Energy has a lot of very good features for everyone from the beginning musician to a professional. On the most basic level, the microphone input level is adjustable so that all volumes can be accommodated for tuning as well as a recording. Also, the skill level of the tuner is adjustable (beginner, intermediate, and pro) so that on the pro setting you have to be within 2 cents or so to get that smiley face that lets you know that you are indeed “in tune”. In addition, the tone generator can provide up to 16 (I think…maybe one or two more or less) simultaneous drone pitches, basically letting you build any complex chord you would like. Even more impressive is the array of tuning temprements you are able to switch between. With Equal, Just, Pythagorean, and a dozen other tuning systems available, you can be very specific with how you would like to tune. Moreover, when you change tuning systems, your drone chords will re-adjust themselves to conform to the specific nuances of that tuning system, and if you would like to tune the 3rd in a major triad, simply have the tuner play the root and 5th as a drone, set your preferred tuning temprement (with the correct root), and the tuner will let you know when your 3rd is in tune with that temprement. Also, the drone can be manipulated between different instrument packs and tuned to whatever key you would like (a big help to students who are just learning to transpose.) There is also also an analysis feature, where a graph will show you a harmonic analysis of your sound and how strongly your overtones are sounding – the tuner is still visible from this setting (on iPad anyway…) One can also record in this analysis screen allowing the teacher to perhaps connect where the student’s sound could be better and show them why exactly that is. The built in metronome (even though this is a review for a tuner…) is very comprehensive, allowing for a multitude of different meter and accent settings, as well as a visible feature. Overall, this app is extremely comprehensive and has an enormous range of uses from the very general to the very specific.

    1. It also has a feature where the microphone will listen to the pitch you are playing and play back that pitch (in tune, of course, and specific to the tuning temperament you have chosen). This is a great way for you to check your interval accuracy!

  37. I am currently enjoying N-Track Tuner. I find the graphic display for note identification more pleasing and easy-to-read then the spinning dial commonly found in many other apps. What’s nice about the graphic display is that allows you to see overtones as well. I found it to be quite sensitive and accurate.

  38. I like “Pano Tuner” for my iPhone. It is the only tuner I have found that will pick up the entire range of the harp, it can be adjusted to read either from high to low or vice versa, and not only reads sharp or flat, but also gives the cycle numbers.

  39. My vote goes to Practice+, but I may be a bit biased as the creator of this app! I’m also a huge fan of most of the other tuner apps mentioned here (I own most of them). Any questions about Practice+ feel free to ask! Good luck!

  40. Of all of the apps that I have tried, Cleartune on iOS is best. It has a simple, clean interface and is very responsive. I recommend it to my students as they can grasp how to use it in seconds, and it makes the act of tuning as easy as it can be, for both them and me.

  41. The Peterdon Strobe app is the most accurate I’ve hound. While other tuners say you’re ready, it keeps asking for adjustments. I think if you are using a runner, the idea is to get as precise as possible.

  42. Use a tuning fork at the appropritae pitch to take the A
    and then…your ears! Cheap. You always have them with you, also when you are performing. Pitch isn’t an absolute thing. String instruments don’t require a fixed tuning like keyboard instrument. We can apply many more nuances. Why play a G sharp like an A flat? A flat is slightly higher that G sharp. Tuning machines are not very musical…

  43. My favourite tuner app is tunable! I like how the app uses the colours (red, and green) to tell you if you’re in tune. The colour differentiation allows you to check your intonation at a simple, quick glance. It also helps that there is a metronome (albeit not the best) if you need it.

  44. Hi!
    I love Carltune. Firstly because it’s free. You can also customize it to show the notes of lots of instruments and you can hear the pitch you are looking for. If you are out of tune it will tell you by how much and it’s pretty simple to use. Hope you like it! 😉

    1. I forgot to mention that you can also set Carltune to the frequency you like with accuracy of .1 Hz.
      It also has a pretty nice interface which you can set to your likes…as they say (at least in my country) colours for likings! (para gustos los colores for those of you who know Spanish).

  45. I also use Cleartune and find it easy to use and reliable. I also like that I can set a temperament – for me as a cello player it’s sometimes handy for string ensembles, to make sure I’m not too wildly adjusting my C string to the violin E string. I did just have a quick look at it now and I don’t think it has an option for playing a tone – I usually play into it and use the ‘analog’ dial to check my tuning.

  46. I have tried a lot of iPhone apps for tuning. Tunable is by far my favorite. Why? Because it is simple. I noticed a few other descriptions in previous comments, so I won’t repeat. It is great to note that it registers the pitches I am tuning (I am a tuba player). Many of the other apps would stop recognizing lower pitches, or be confused and display an overtone. It’s my belief (and I am certainly not tech savvy) that the accuracy of the tuning comes from the wonderful devices we are using, while everyone’s favorite app is just a display that our brains can latch onto, and which one works best for me, might not work for someone else. For example, ClearTune and Tonal Energy are splendid apps, but Cleartune doesn’t register below a CC and I find Tonal Energy to be a bit busy to look at (even if there is a cute smiley face).

    Thanks for your insightful and creative blog bulletproof musician.

  47. I like an app called G-Strings, it’s only for Android. I like it not only becasue it’s free, it’s very accurate, easy to use, clear, and easy to change the frequency (which I have to change between 440 and 442 often). I have my students get this app – and I can say, I like G-Strings better than the other apps I’ve seen so far, especially from my students who have an iphone and can’t use G-Strings.

  48. My personal favorite is the Tonal Energy app. I love the UI. It is very colorful and easy to use. It’s also very satisfying to see a green smiley face to show that you’re in tune. It also has a drone function which you can adjust to equal or just temperament. There is an option where the phone will listen to what you’re playing and turn the drone on for the same note. The metronome and recording options are added perks.

  49. I love the Tonal Energy Tuner because it has so many great features all in one app. My favorite feature is that you can drone custom built chords (very useful for practicing quartet music). As far as the tuner goes, I love the green smiley face that lights up when you’ve landed on a pitch center. It makes intonation practice a lot more fun and challenging (I’ve found that wanting to see that green smiley face is a powerful practice motivator).

  50. Cleartune is my absolute favorite for iOS. Extremely effective and registers pitches better than my actual tuner!

  51. I find AccuTune pretty good : it’s stable, sensitive, and the transposition and temperament functions are really useful !

  52. I’m a big fan of the Tuner & Metronome app by onsquare for Android (“Soundcorset” is the former name they no longer use).
    The tuner is large and easy to read and doesn’t skip or jump around like some do. It also has a little waveform indicator at the bottom so you can see if your input level is sufficient.
    The metronome is also excellent, with programmable “piano roller” style custom drum beats for when you have pesky passages in 7 or 13 or whatever other odd meter.

  53. I don’t have any apps to suggest because I don’t use apps — my phone is too old and nothing works on it anymore. But I went over and read the linked discussion about whether to use tuners and found the anti-tuner sentiments depressing. I have been playing the cello for 45 years; when I started tuners didn’t exist. I developed decent intonation without them, but my feel for it took a big leap forward when I started using a simple Korg tuner about 12 years ago. For me, the visual is extremely helpful. I keep in mind that it’s only a guide, that intonation can vary depending on the context, etc., but still, seeing whether you are somewhat near that center provides excellent feedback; over time, I believe I have developed a keener sense of intonation tendencies that I use constantly in performing. I don’t like using drones — it’s too easy to fool yourself into thinking that you’re right (even though “right” can be subjective), and IMO they can be a greater crutch than the tuner because you’re listening more to the drone than to yourself.

  54. PitchLab is my favorite tuner. It has 8 different types of tuners built in including a dial, strobe, and a spectrograph. It even has a tuner for specific string instruments like violin, guitar, and even Ukulele. This is definitely the most versatile tuner I has found.

  55. gStrings
    You can adjust mic sensitivity, Target frequency ranges, Temperament, Orchestra tuning ranges, Scale range and display markers…all for FREE

  56. Peterson iStrobosoft.

    I started using a Peterson tuner in my grad studies on bass and it really was a major game changer for me. I really enjoy the accuracy of cent levels it reads when I am doing target practice drills (picking notes at random, playing them, and then checking how close to the mark they are). The fact that Peterson has taken the time, and most likely financial hit, to put their strobe software into a $10 app is fantasticfor the musician. I recommend it to my private students and class students and have even converted some to it which makes me happy.

  57. Tonal Energy is really hard to beat. It picks up a range wider than what the piano can play, which for low brass players especially is critical (why get a tuner than stops working when you get into the register in which pitch is hardest to hear?). It can also create this huge range of pitches as a drone playback using all the standard instruments and also square and saw wave forms for “purer” sounds. You can also layer the drones on top of each other, and set the whole thing to either just or equal temperament, which I love because it’s much easier for me to slot into a drone when I can hear at least one octave/fifth above the fundamental clearly.

    You can also scale how picky it is, with the pro setting being maddeningly difficult to satisfy and the beginner mode simple enough to help actual beginners. When you’re off, you get multiple kinds of feedback, with both color coded half-rings above or below the pitch and a rotating slice a wheel which shows you where you sit among the twelve pitches, adding a vivid reminder of how close you may be to the next pitch. And when you’re on, the wheel changes colors and you get a green dot in the center that smiles at you (it’s the little things).

    Besides its wonderful tuning abilities, the app also has a respectable metronome and a wave-form analyzer. The analyzer is fun for seeing how your overtones are staying consistent (or not) throughout your range, but it’s real use is to test the shape of your notes. Growing up, I always had teachers tell me that your average note should be relatively block shaped, even from start to finish. No other app I’ve ever seen shows me just how far from that mark I usually am in such an intuitive way. It’s also useful for checking the pacing of your dynamic changes, judging articulation, etc. And you can record yourself and play back both for the tuner and for the analyzer, which means you can focus on doing it how you normally would and then be really honest with yourself using the recording.

    I don’t know any other app that really touches Tonal Energy. Cleartune would be my second; I’ve used it before and it works well, but it doesn’t have as many features that I would normally use. Definitely Tonal Energy.

  58. Cleartune for sure. The best thing about – that I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere – is the large readable analog dial. I play trumpet and it’s very easy to read Cleartune when my iPod is on the music stand.

    I started out with iStrobosoft and rejected that pretty fast. Those images of blue and white wheels (that resemble a slot machine out of control) flying past at warp speed will give you a headache!

  59. Guitar Toolkit. Not just a tuner,but a metronome, drum machine with chord diagrams, scale patterns etc. best value app for the guitar player. For the price it’s a no brainer!

  60. This thread is inspiring! I never gave much thought to using tuner apps, but after reading the thread I searched them and got Tunable for my Smartphone and Tonal Energy for my iPad. I got Tonal Energy because I want to work with drones, and being a bassist, I like the lower-pitched tones on this app for drones. So far, I think both are great, and I was drawn to each of these by how nicely laid out they are.

  61. I found cleartune and just can’t go back. With its wide range of pitches and it being so easy that you can figure out how to use it within seconds, why not? The display is also bigger than an actual tuner it makes it easy for me to tune with my phone on the stand. I also like how I can set the temperament which is really helpful when playing with ensembles. It is also very responsive and sensitive, even more so then my actual tuner. Even though it’s $5 it is totally worth it. Clear tune is the way to go

  62. I love my iStroboSoft HD. I have it constantly at the ready for my scale and arpeggio work, since my iPad is my constant companion. I also use the Peterson Strobo Clip. Both are amazingly accurate!

  63. I am a band Director in Los Angeles and I turn all my kids on to the Clear Tune App. It has so many features that most kids wont use, but once I show them it opens their eyes. My favorite part about it is the sign wave broadcast pitch that it produces. It is very clear, especially when I run it through a loud speaker for my whole band to tune to. I can also switch it to saw tooth wave form so that the saxes can hear how ugly they sound compared to the sign wave producing instruments. Then they try to change their tone to match the trumpets, flutes and the tuner app. Its great for that alone, but it also has awesome transposition for when I transfer kids from trumpet to french horn. I have them set it to F transposition and they can see 1st if they are playing the same pitch since it does not feel like trumpet and 2 if if they are in tune. I do the same for teaching my E-Flat, and Bb- instruments. Plus up at the top it has an easy octave selction for when I tune the whole band, Tubas, tenor voices, alto voices and soprano voices. Then there is the poor piccolo trying to tune to the tuba, what shot does he have? So i can set it to Bb-6 and he can finally hear how flat he is, even though he thinks he is sharp! 🙂

  64. I have been using Tonal Energy Tuner for some time. I like the fact that it’s possible to get it to play a sustained drone note or chord while at the same time playing a tuning note myself and getting visual feedback on the in-tune-ness of my own note.

  65. I use “Guitar Tools”. Firstly, I got it for free several years ago via some promotion. Since I am a guitarist, tis one app has a number of useful tools besides the tuner: scales and chords in particular, even a feature where you can put in a particular group of notes and it will attempt to name the chord for you. As for the tuner, it has both a strobe and a dial and needle configuration. Oh, and there’s a metronome too. Works on both iPhone and iPad.

  66. Cleartune definitely.

    I use it for electric bass, guitar, alto sax, tenor sax and, believe it or not, vocals. Works great for all of them. (Don’t be impressed, by the way, the only instrument I can actually play in the above list is the bass – the rest I just “play at”.)

    It has options that I don’t need (being a weekend warrior amateur) but that I imagine might be useful to the professional musician: e.g. changing the notation to solfege, among other things.

    I also like the big easy to read screen on my iPad.

  67. I love Tonal Energy Tuner. I am a middle school band director and I can get my students to do great work when they are trying for the Smiley Face. We work on sustained playing in tune on individual pitches, tendencies across pitches, etc. The tone generator with multiple timbres is also a great feature and I am just scratching the surface. Been hoping for an android version for quite a while. For my personal work I generally use Pitch lab since I have an android phone.

  68. I love tonal energy. Not only do my students love getting the “smiley face,” it goes above and beyond by offering the ability to change instrument timbers, play with a drone, record yourself, see a readout of your sound, and includes a metronome. You can even record yourself playing scales with a metronome over a drone and then watch your intonation more closely on the playback…ok, I may have geeked out a bit!

  69. My favorite tuner app of the dozens I’ve used is called “Musician’s Kit” by Kevin Murphy, it is the best because it hase an accurate tuner, plus it also includes a recording device and a metronome! I use it pretty much every day and I love it! It has everything that a musician would need on an average day in the practice room. (FYI- this app is for the iPhone)

  70. Wow, I can’t believe the great responses! Thanks for all of the great suggestions everyone. As a percussionist, I don’t use a tuner that much :-), but when I am working on timpani, I use insTuner. Here are the reasons why:

    1) Tuning Units – There are 4 basic and 2 advanced types of tuning units, including: Fine-Tuning Unit, Instant-Tuning Unit, Strobe Unit, Historical Curve Unit, Fast Fourier Transform, Spectrogram Unit. I prefer the strobe unit, especially when working with timpani.

    2) The Presets – There are 9 presets optimized for different instruments, including: Plucked String, Bass, Bowed String, Trumpet (C), F Transpose, Eb Transpose, Bb Transpose, A Transpose, G Transpose

    3) Input Channels – If you are using the iPhone Microphone, you can choose which microphone to use (Bottom, Front or Back).

    It also has the basics all tuners should have: Calibration, Temperament, Transposition, and Waveform.

    For $3.99, it is the a great tuner.


  71. Tonal Energy for iOS is my favourite. Easy to use and besides from the tuner and metronome it has so many other great features. I perticulary like the part that gives you a graphic read out of your tone and shows your overtones. Both great for practicing dynamic changes!

  72. My personal favorite is gStrings, but for a very personal reason. I playthe Highland Bagpipes, and gStrings has a setting to account for it’s scale. Plus, I can change the base frequency to accomodate my “A” and “Bb” chanters. Oh, and it’s free! 😉

  73. I have always loved the Tonal Energy Tuner for iOS. Not only will it generate pitch in any instrument you want, it will also tell you if you are too sharp or too flat, includes a metronome, analyze the pitch, and you can even import and export recordings. There is so much more you can do with this app, and it is totally worth the five dollars you have to pay for it.

  74. Since I play the great highland bagpipes, my favorite tuner app for them is, hands down, Bagpipe Tuner by Murray Blair. It can be set to record the chanter pitch so that the drones can be tuned accordingly, and, for practicing, it has a bold visual display to help keep pitch and tone steady.

    For other instruments I use hand held Korg tuner. I’m eagerly awaiting the results of the poll, for help choosing a “regular” tuner app.

    For the record, Google helped me find your blog when I was looking for a good recording device. I found that thread and poll here, which enabled and inspired me to get a TON of use out of my iPad at a music workshop. I’ve been a regular reader ever since. I enjoy your weekly posts, and just might have become a better player because of them. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  75. I have never used an app for tuning and have relied on clip-on tuners. In particular I use the Intellitouch tuner which even picks up the low E on my stand-up bass. I find it quick and easy but would love to try an app like Practice+. Thanks to everyone for posting such great recommendations – it gives me a great place to start exploring 🙂

  76. Oh, you would all so hate my world. (the following is meant to be humorous, but the tuning numbers are true)

    When I competed in 2000-2001, in Grade 4 Senior bagpipe solos, my A was at 467-468, depending on the day and weather. 468 is not even competitive right now. I come in around 471-473, which should be OK. I’ll find out at the end of the month. A few years ago, when bands started playing at 473, there was a lot of concern. When it got to 475, quite a backlash erupted. But some people hung tight to the promise of a better future. The rumor is that the last time Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band won Worlds (not including this year), they played as close to 480 as you can get!!! Ska-deem-ing!!

    I use a Korg CA-30. I only ever tune one note – A – wherever it happens to be that day. Once the pipe major tunes his drones, someone takes his reading, and tunes everybody else. If there are 20 pipes, so that means 60 drones, which tend to go out of tune every 5-10 minutes, depending on the day and the weather. It takes 90 minutes to tune a pipe band (differential equations at their cruelest), and it only takes one stray cloud overhead to make a band have a real bad day real fast. The pub tent can fill up very fast when the weather turns so quickly.

    And y’all are worried about 440, 441, and 442?

    1. Sounds like a beginning to 1st year band or orchestra to me. Those who are in the teaching trenches can commiserate. So, are the pipe bands to blame for the rising pitch? Ha! I love pipes, really.

      1. I’d definitely blame the pipe bands! Each one wants to have a brighter sounds, so the pitch goes up each year! Pretty soon, only dogs will be able to hear them! 😉

  77. I love the Tunable app! I have it on my iphone and I’m not sure if it’s available on android. It does everything. Metronome, tuner, pitch generator, recording device. The metronome is adjustable in a way that lets you alter B/measure and the subdivision. The tuner gives you wave options, transpositions, can generate any pitch (A7? no prob. A3? Got you.) You can also account for vibrato in your settings, as well as adjust how sensitive the tuner is (Beginner/intermediate/advanced, within 10/6/2 cents). It turns green when you’re in tune. You can adjust the reverb in your recording so that it sounds pretty close to a concert hall even if you’re in your living room. You can also record with the metronome on and have the tuner open at the same time. Go back and listen and still hear the metronome so you can double check your accuracy in rhythms.


  78. I prefer apps that just do one thing at a time and do it really well. For that reason, my preferred app is GuiTune because it’s specifically for the guitar and has the many various tunings required of the guitar nowadays (half step down, drop D, Open G, etc). As a Ukulele teacher, it also includes a Ukulele tuning which is a bonus! I’ve been happy with it for a long time 🙂

    Because so many are mentioning it, Cleartune is pretty great too but it takes a long time to get the intonation right and I haven’t always found it to be 100% consistent. Though for the orchestral string instruments, I would imagine they really love Cleartune as it’s clearly the best app out there right now for that section.

  79. Hi,

    Don’t know if I’m to late…can’t seem to find the date for when the related post was posted…

    Anyway, I have two favourites, Poly Tune by TC Electronic and iStroboSoft by Petersen.

    I have had iStroboSoft for quite some time (Probably 3-4 years) and used it recently when putting new strings on a Kala UBass. For regular tuning I mostly use the PolyTune. It’s a perfect tool when I teach as I easily can move around and tune at a moments notice since that tuner is always around! 🙂

  80. Tunable is the best tuning app that I have come across.

    It allows you to adjust temperaments, which is, in my opinion, necessary for any aspiring orchestral musiciananybody who likes to play in tune… The HUGE advantage it has over similar tuning apps is that it also has a very good tone generator, providing you with some great drones to practice with and an invaluable tool to teach others about pitch.

    Its clean, visual interface is also easy enough for even an absolute beginner to understand. I love the Peterson Strobosoft app as well, but many people have no clue what they’re looking at when they see it.

    Tunable works well immediately after installing, but tweaking a few settings can make for an even better experience (for example, I like to make the pitch line horizontal instead of vertical). I’ve also spoken to their support a few times to recommend some features and offer feedback on updates and can say they are very involved in continuing to make a great, valuable product for musicians.

    Oh, and did I mention that it also has a tuner and recorder built-in?

  81. I like Tunable. It offers more or less the same characteristics as Practice+.
    Pretty awsome the way it shows the time evolution of the pitch.

  82. I’ve been using the Peterson for a few years and been happy with it; actually prefer it to my stand alone korg tuner and it’s close to my Peterson strobostomp that’s on my pedalboard.

  83. I am a fan of Cleartune. As a guitar player it’s perfect for when I need to tune up before a practice session or some guitar lessons. I think it was $2; that is a great deal.

  84. Tonal Energy Tuner – (TE Tuner only for iPhone/iPad) it combines everything you could possibly need to use – metronome – tuner (with happy face) able to set appropriate accuracy from student to pro – record – spectrum analyzer so you can check your overtone production – AND you can choose the instrument sound you wish to tune to 🙂 LOVE it!!

  85. As a private teacher, I screen apps before I recommend that my students purchase them. After trying at lease a half dozen tuner apps, I think “Cadenza” is best as a tuner. “Read Rhythm” is excellent for rhythmic training -humbling, truly. I ask them to purchase Ricci Adams’ “Tenuto” for note identification and music theory.

  86. My vote: Istrobosoft is fantastic and allows you to get a visual representation of high/low, which I appreciate! Thanks for all the new recommendations!

  87. Tonal Energy has been the best tuner app I’ve ever downloaded or seen on the App Store, it has a magnificent quality and it gives you a smiley face whenever you are perfectly in tune.

  88. For a responsive, accurate and precise chromatic tuner, try the Accord Chromatic Tuner. Available on Google Play ( and Amazon.

    If you are looking for a Bagpipe tuning app, then there is the Accord Bagpipe Tuner, which uses the same advanced tuning software but is customized for the pipes. It is also available on Google Play ( and Amazon app stores.

  89. If you’re 15 years old like me and can’t really buy a tuner online Bandmate chromatic tuner works really well on bass clarinet & clarinet. It’s on Google play btw.

  90. Oh boy I remember when my instructor would train my ears to match pitch, hardest lessons ive ever had not because it was hard, but because it was so repetitive. I would admit though it did help a lot with intonation and tuning as well. Tuner Lite by Piascore would probably be what i would nominate since its very minimalistic and simple.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Join 48,000+ musicians!

Get the latest research-based tips to level up in the practice room and on stage, from one week to the next.

You'll also receive other insider resources like the weekly newsletter and a special 6-day series on essential research-based practice strategies that will help you get more out of your daily practice and perform more optimally on stage. (You can unsubscribe anytime.)

Download a

PDF version

Enter your email below to download this article as a PDF

Click the link below to convert this article to a PDF and download to your device.

Download a

PDF version

All set!

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.

Hello. Add your message here. Learn more
Beat nerves with a friend, with BOGO pricing on the Beyond Practicing course Join Today