Scour the Internet, and you'll most likely find tons of pages talking about the best guitar tuners.
You might think:
Where is all the bass player love?!
Luckily, we're here today to give you some recommendations on the best bass tuners on the market. From pedals to clip-ons, to handhelds, there are many different types of bass tuners out there.
A good tuner can last you a lifetime, so why not make the right decision right off the bat?
Let's get started, shall we?
How to Choose the Right Bass Tuner
Low Note Readings
When you’re looking for a good bass tuner, something important to look for is a device that can register low notes, such as the E-string.
Tuner manufacturers will usually advertise that their tuners work for bass, and if not, they’ll sometimes advertise the range that their tuners work within.
Your best bet is to grab a tuner that can read sub-octaves.
Pedal tuners are great for playing live gigs, as they can fit right alongside the other pedals on your pedalboard for easy travel and organization. They make tuning between songs much easier and usually come packed with different types of tuning features and modes for more professional use. Do note that pedal tuners are typically the most expensive of the bunch.
Handheld tuners come in quite a range. Some come with only baseline features, while others come with metronomes, tones, etc. Handheld tuners are best for practice, as they read the notes either through the built-in microphone or with a ¼" jack. The very first tuner that I got when I began playing was a handheld tuner, and I still have it to this day!
Clip-on tuners are the newest style of tuners, and they are easily the most revolutionary tuning apparatuses that have come about in the past few decades.
They work by clipping on to your bass guitar's headstock and reading the vibration of the strings through the wood. Because they work using vibration and not sound, you can use these literally anywhere. You can even use them when your bass isn’t plugged in!
Do note that some cheaper clip-on tuners have trouble picking up lower notes, so make sure to test them out or read reviews before purchasing one.
Best Bass Tuner Pedals
Best Overall Pedal
The Boss TU-3 is one of the top-selling tuners in the world for use on stage, and while many guitarists boast it, not many bassists realize that it was made for them too!
The cool thing is, Boss has included a small switch that allows you to toggle between guitar and bass tuning modes for extra accuracy. The tuning interface gives you a 21-segment LED meter with bright lights that make it perfect for playing on dark stages.
There is a handy little note name indicator that you can use to see the note that is being played. The best part is, the tuner will work for up to six half steps up or down, as well as for 6-string basses with low sub notes.
With a +/- 1 cent accuracy, you know that you’re always going to get the correct note when you’re tuning. Like pretty much every other Boss pedal on the market, this thing is built like a tank. The reason so many live musicians go with Boss pedals is because they’re so incredibly reliable and will last a lifetime, even when thrashed around.
Bottom Line: There’s no substitute for getting a built-for-bass tuner that is inexpensive, accurate, and will last you a lifetime. Those are the reasons why the Boss TU-3 remains the most popular pedal tuner in the world.
Best Budget Pedal
For many bassists, keeping real estate on the pedalboard is important. If you’re in the market for a mini pedal tuner without all the bells and whistles that can get the job done, the Kliq TinyTune should be the first one that you check out.
Though Kliq pretty recently hit the tuner market, they have garnered a reputation for having the fastest and most accurate tuning methods around. The precision on this little guy is absolutely wild!
Just as important is the large, colorful display, which makes reading the tuner easy, even in the darkest of clubs or on the sunniest of outdoor stages.
Another great thing about the TinyTune is that it runs completely colorless, meaning you won't get the signal dampening that can come from a buffered bypass-style pedal.
Though it may not have a reputation for being a tank like the Boss TU-3, the sturdy, aluminum body allows you to stomp it show after show without worrying about it getting busted up.
Bottom Line: With an incredibly accurate +/- .5 cent tuning and a body that won’t take up much room on your pedalboard, the Kliq TinyTune is one of the best budget tuner pedals around. If you’re just starting out and want something simple and practical, there’s nothing better around.
Other Bass Tuner Pedals We Like:
Best Clip-On Tuners for Bass
Best Overall Clip-on
The Peterson StroboClip is a smaller clip-on version of the bigger modes that brought the Peterson name to fame. With +/- .01 cent accuracy, there is no other clip-on tuner on the market that can match it in terms of accuracy.
It is easily one of the most versatile tuners around with the bright, easy-to-read screen and the included 28 tunings, as well as a variety of alternative temperaments that you can use for just about any other instrument.
The unique thing is that it’s made of a carbon-fiber material with a tough, rubber grip, making it the most hardcore clip-on tuner in the market in terms of sheer design.
The firm grip that the Peterson StroboClip offers makes for optimal signal tracking, making sure that every vibration is felt and rendered quickly. Another awesome thing about the Peterson StroboClip is that it comes with a sustain mode, allowing you to pluck one of your bass strings and see the note sustained on screen. This makes it perfect if you like to play with a cloth tucked under your strings for that more percussive-style funk.
Bottom Line: In terms of versatility, build-quality, and accuracy, the Peterson StroboClip is the best clip-on tuner on the market. Beyond bass, it works for just about every headstock instrument out there, essentially making it the ultimate tuner for the well-rounded musician.
Best Budget Clip-on
If you’re on a budget, yet still want a clip-on tuner that will do the job well, the Snark SN1X is an excellent choice. With a colorful, easy-to-read screen that can be adjusted to just about any angle you can think of, it’s very practical for use on stage and off.
Included in the SN1X is the new Snark processing chip, which is one of the most accurate on the market. Even on the inexpensive side, this little guy does such a great job reading low, sub octaves that come from the bass guitar.
I’ve been using Snark clip-ons for years and I can 100% say that they are fast, accurate, and versatile, allowing you to tune to a variety of sharp and flat notes too.
Another great thing about the Snark SN1X is the size. You can pretty much leave this thing clipped on to your headstock all the time, as it is super tiny and weighs about nothing. The battery lasts forever as well and even turns off after a bit when not in use to conserve energy.
Bottom Line: With sharp accuracy, a colorful display, and an ultra-portable design, the Snark SN1X is one of the best budget clip-on bass tuners on the market.
Other Clip-on Tuners We Like:
Best Handheld Bass Tuners
Best Overall Handheld
The Peterson StroboPlus HD has been hailed as the king of handheld tuners for many years now. This is thanks to the wide variety of built-in features and insane accuracy.
To start, you can use this tuner with just about any instrument you can think of thanks to the ¼” jack and the built-in electret condenser microphone.
You don’t even have to use batteries with this bad boy, as it is rechargeable. Just like your smartphone, you can plug this thing into your computer or an outlet to make sure it’s charged. With tuning results of +/- .01 cent, no tuner gets as accurate readings as this thing.
Some of the flagship features include the 90 built-in tunings, tone generation via the onboard speaker, tripod mounting, and an upgrade feature that allows you to use the Body Beat metronome. The body beat metronome is perfect for practice, as it allows you to feel the beat rather than just hear it, adding an extra dimension to help you stay in the pocket.
Bottom Line: With a large, easy-to-read HD screen, a variety of built-in tunings, and an ultra-accurate, customizable design, the Peterson StroboPlus HD is one of the most serious tuners around. Bass and beyond, this tuner will stick with you until the end.
Best Budget Handheld
If you’re looking for a handheld tuner that is more on the affordable side, you have to check out the Korg GA1. It is pretty much the staple budget handheld tuner for bassists and guitarists everywhere.
Thanks to LCD needle-style tuning, you get a tuner that is both accurate and easy to read. Just watch the needle, wait for it to stabilize, and you’ll know that you’re in perfect tune.
The cool thing about the Korg GA1 is that they have a dedicated Bass Mode. This creates support for basses with both five and six strings. Beyond that, you can even use the Quinta Flat Tuning mode for tuning up to five semitones flat!
If you want to go old school, you can use the reference tone that comes from the built-in speaker. Let's say you're done tuning, but forget to turn the tuner off, you'll be happy to know that it powers off after a specific amount of time to help conserve battery. Beyond that, you get 100 hours of battery life with just two AAA batteries.
Bottom Line: With a tuning accuracy of +/- 1 cent, an easy-to-read needle-style display, and a budget price that won’t put a dent in your bank account, the Korg GA1 is a classic bass tuner.
Other Handheld Tuners We Like:
Getting the correct bass tuner doesn't have to be difficult. All you have to do is make sure that the tuner you are looking at can read those lower notes and is accurate.
The rest is up to you!
Decide whether you want to go for a pedal tuner, a clip-on tuner, or a handheld tuner, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. Once you've decided that, check out the accuracy and consider some other features that you may want to be built into them.
We hope that our bass tuner guide has helped narrow down your choices. Stay tuned our funky friends!