X
    Categories: Guitars

The Best Tuners for Bass Guitars

There are so many tuners out there for bass guitars that choosing the right one can be overwhelming. We spent hours sifting through all of the bass guitar tuners we could find. We reviewed every detail to carefully select only the best tuners for bass guitars.

We pride ourselves on performing extensive research prior to sharing our recommendations. Our goal is to simplify the shopping process for our readers by taking the guesswork out of deciding which products best fit your needs.

After reviewing various vuners for bass guitars, we were able to narrow down to six top choices, which we then scrutinized further to carefully select our top choice.

Credit: SNARK

Top Pick: Snark SN1X Clip-On Chromatic Tuner

Buy from Amazon

A chromatic tuner with sensitivity vibration sensor, capable of tuning to any note. The clip rotates 360 degrees for easy viewing from any angle.

Benefits of a Bass Guitar Tuner

Many musicians who try to tune by ear end up with off-key music. It’s unfortunate when those who are not truly capable of doing this effectively try to use this as their means of tuning their guitar.

Your music will be your absolute best when tuned right and the best way to ensure this is achieved is through the use of a bass guitar tuner. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a tuner that meets your needs.

What you spend is up to you, but you will find tuning a breeze when you have a tuner that is made for the job. You will no longer have to struggle in trying to find the right notes. It will be a much simpler process with minimal cost in most cases.

Choosing a Bass Guitar Tuner

When you are looking for a bass guitar tuner the first thing you want to consider is if you need just a standard bass tuner or a chromatic tuner:

Standard – can seem limiting as it only has the ability to tune the E, A, D, and G notes for a 4-string bass. It will usually also include the low B for 5-string basses.

Chromatic – includes all 12 notes making it possible to tune to any note you wish. The plus side of standard bass tuners is they are generally relatively cheap to purchase, but you are limited on tuning capabilities.

If all you will ever need is to tune are the standard bass notes, then a standard bass tuner would be fine for you. If you ever plan on playing in non-standard tunings, then a chromatic tuner would be the better choice for you.

There are three tuner design options you should consider:

Handheld – generally small and usually only possesses basic features
Pedal  – most commonly used among bass guitarists who play a lot of gigs
Rack – contained within rack enclosures and remain hooked up ready to go for any gig or performance.

While a handheld is usually the least expensive, a rack tuner is usually the most pricey. It’s all a matter of what you’re looking for. Not all handhelds are basic. We actually tend to prefer handhelds because they’re small, most of the time have a clip to stay put and are easy to use.

Bass guitar tuners can be found with three different display options:

Mechanical Needle Display – good for guitarists who plan to only play in well-lit areas.
LED – good for if you’re a bassist who plays primarily in dark areas or on stage.
LCD – can be accommodating for any playing environment as long as it’s backlit.

It is up to you to decide which display option would be the best fit for you. We tend to prefer the LED’s, but that’s just a personal preference based upon your normal playing environment.

Brand – When it comes to choosing a good quality bass guitar tuner, you should look for well-trusted brands.

There are many suitable off-brand models available, but if you want something that is long-lasting, then a name brand that is trust among bass guitarists should be what you’re looking for. Some of the top brands among tuners include Fender, Korg, Rowin, Donner, Snark, and D’Addario to name a few.

Price – While most bass guitar tuners are very affordable, you should have a budget in mind. This will help you to choose a tuner that is within your budget and meets your needs.

With so many tuners available for bass guitars, you should have no problem finding a tuner within your budget regardless of what your top dollar is that you’re willing to spend.

The Competition

After hours of testing and research, here's the final competition.

InstrumentRatingCurrent Pricing
Snark SN1X Clip-On Chromatic Tuner
high accuracy rate and quick response$12.05
Korg GA40 Large Display Guitar and Bass Tuner
Large LCD needle display for easy viewing while tuningCheck on Amazon
Rowin LT-23 Mini Clip-On Tuner Digital Tuner
Auto shutoff feature$5.55
Donner Dt-1 Chromatic Guitar Tuner Pedal True Bypass
Makes tuning a quick and easy process$19.99
Fender Clip-On Tuner FT-004
needle makes it easy to know when notes are out of tune$13.20
D'Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner
compact design and easy initial setup$11.95

Top Recommendation: Snark SN1X Clip-On Chromatic Tuner

Credit: SNARK

View on Amazon

After carefully reviewing many different tuners for bass guitars, we found the Snark SN1X Clip-On Chromatic Tuner to be the best choice. We like the ease of accessibility with the clip and how it rotates 360 degrees for easy viewing from any angle.

This is a chromatic tuner making it capable of tuning to any note, which can be nice when you’re really tinkering with your sound and modifications.

The high sensitivity vibration sensor makes for on the spot accuracy, which is necessary for perfecting any musician’s music. The high definition LED display makes it very easy to see and make any necessary adjustments.

The fast processing chip also makes tuning a quick and simple process without any lag, which is nice for any musician who just wants to get the job done. This tuner is very fast to start up and to respond. It maintains a very high accuracy rate.

The size is also very convenient when you want to take it with you to gigs just in case you need to tune on the spot. We also like that it can rotate 360 allowing it to be viewed from any angle. We were also really pleased with how affordable this tuner is at $12.05.

One thing we did notice about this tuner is that it does not allow for a lot variation in pitch. Other than that, we were very satisfied with this tuner and feel it is a top choice for any bass guitar musician looking for an affordable option.

Runner Up: Korg GA40 Large Display Guitar and Bass Tuner

Credit: KORG Inc

View on Amazon

While we were completely satisfied with our number one Snark recommendation, we did have a close runner-up. The Korg GA40 Large Display Guitar and Bass Tuner was our very close second choice.

While this is not a chromatic tuner capable of tuning all 12 notes, it is capable of tuning seven-string guitars and six-string basses. So, this tuner isn’t entirely limiting. It just isn’t meant for someone who may want to tune to any note.

We were very pleased with the accuracy of this tuner and the fast response time. We also liked the large LCD needle display for easy viewing while tuning.

The two factors that kept this in the number two spot instead of landing itself in number one is the fact that it is not a chromatic tuner and it is more expensive than our number one choice at Check on Amazon. Other than that, we were very satisfied with this bass guitar tuner.

We like how simple and easy to use this tuner is. While it’s not a chromatic tuner, it can tune seven-string guitars and six-string basses. Most standard bass tuners can only tune up to five-strings max.

We liked the LCD display but did find it was hard to see in low-light area. Though if you tune at home that shouldn’t be an issue. The cost of just under $20 is reasonable but did put it in second place when compared with our top pick.

Other Tuners to Consider:

Rowin LT-23 Mini Clip-On Tuner Digital Tuner

Credit: Amazon.com

View on Amazon

We really liked the small design of this swivel clip allowing it to rotate 360 degrees for easy viewing from any angle. The backlit LCD screen also provides a nice clear view in any playing atmosphere. We were also really happy that this is a chromatic tuner allowing the tuning of all 12 notes without limitation.

The LT-23 is a great tuner for beginners because it displays which string you’re tuning. We also really liked the auto shutoff feature because many musicians get so excited to play after tuning that they forget to turn the tuner off. This feature makes it so the battery doesn’t get worn when it’s left on.

One thing we did find with this tuner is it is somewhat sensitive to background noise making it difficult to tune while at gigs with crowds. So, it would be wise to tune before leaving for your gig.

Overall, we were very satisfied with this tuner and are happy to recommend it to our readers. It is also very affordable at under $10 making it an affordable option for even the most frugal musician.

Donner Dt-1 Chromatic Guitar Tuner Pedal True Bypass

Credit: Donnerdeal

View on Amazon

While we do typically prefer the handheld tuners, we liked this pedal tuner. There was no hesitation with this tuner and it tracks instantly without delay. This makes tuning a quick and easy process.

The LED display is bright and easy to read even from a distance. We were especially impressed with the pitch indicator. Notes will appear in a blue-grey color when out of tune and green when in tune.

There were a few things we weren’t completely satisfied with. First, you do need a power supply for this tuner to work, and that is not clearly outlined in the product description. And while it does track instantly, when you switch strings it takes a few seconds to catch on.

The price is very affordable for a pedal tuner at $19.99 and we can recommend this tuner.

Fender Clip-On Tuner FT-004

Credit: Amazon.com

View on Amazon

This tune had a variety of options available. You can choose to have it strictly for bass, chromatic, as well as a few other options. This is a great product if you’re looking for a versatile tuner.

We really liked how compact the design of this tuner is with a swivel clamp allowing it to be viewed from any angle. We were really happy with the accuracy of this tuner even in noisy playing environments. The needle makes it easy to know when notes are out of tune, appearing white when out of tune and green when in tune.

Our main complaint with this tuner is with the initial setup. The battery does not come installed. It does come with the tuner, but you have to install the battery yourself. It is a very small screw holding that can be difficult to remove and will require a very small Phillips screwdriver.

But at just $13.20 we were happy with the affordability of this simple clip-on tuner for bass guitars.

D’Addario NS Micro Clip-On Tuner

View on Amazon

We approve of the accuracy and quick response time of this chromatic tuner. With its small, compact design we liked that it is able to be discretely placed behind the guitar head for in-gig tunings when needed.

The display isn’t full of different colors, making it easier on the eyes in any playing environment. The setup on the D’Addario NS is easy, nice when you’re excited to tune for the first time.

However, we were not impressed with the battery life. And we found that the clip gets worn out over time. We were a little disappointed that there was nothing to protect the guitar from minor scratches from the use of this clip-on tuner.

We still feel it is an adequate choice for our bass guitar musicians, especially with a cost of just $11.95.

Sources:
  • Pouska, A. (2003). Bass Tuners Guide | Bass Gear. Retrieved from StudyBass, https://www.studybass.com/gear/bass-tuning/bass-tuners/
  • Choosing a Bass Guitar Tuner. (2016). Retrieved from Best Guitar Tuner – Reviews, Tips And Info For Guitarists, http://www.bestguitartuner.co.uk/choosing-a-bass-guitar-tuner/
  • Buying Guide: How to Choose Guitar & Chromatic Tuners. (2013, November 5). Retrieved from The Hub – Musicians Friend, http://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/guitar-buying-guides/guitar-and-chromatic-tuners-how-to-choose
Penni :Hi! I'm Penni. I've been obsessed with playing and teaching music since I was 10 years old. I've had hundreds of students over the years who have at some point asked for my advice on what to buy to support their learning. When you buy certain products from some of the sites which we link to, Hear the Music Play receives a commission that supports our work.Here is an explanation of what we do and how to support our work.