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Best clip-on guitar tuner guide: Snark vs Korg, Ibanez and Crossfire

Best clip-on guitar tuner guide: Snark vs Korg, Ibanez and Crossfire

by Stephen Charlton2018/01/15

A good budget clip-on tuner is a quick and easy way to get your guitar ready to play. However there’s quite a bit of junk on the market. We’ve rounded up a selection of the popular choices and sorted the best from the rest to save you time. Our contenders are: Korg Pitchclip ($16 US), Snark All Instrument Tuner ($15 USD), Ibanez PU3 ($12 USD) and Crossfire CHST-65 ($24 AUD).

Best clip-on tuner: Snark SN-8 Super Tight All Instrument Tuner

Budget clip-on guitar tuner shoot out Snark red

Snarks come in a variety of colours.

The Snark (official listing) is a great little tuner with a bright display. It can accurately tune a guitar from standard to drop C without any problems. It can also tune a bass as low as drop D. However if you go any lower than that it will struggle unless you use the harmonics. I haven’t found a budget clip-on tuner that will do any better with dropped bass tunings though.

The tuning display is on a fully adjustable arm so it’s super easy to get the Snark into position, either on the front or back of the headstock. Admittedly this adjustable arm does make the Snark an easy target for hard knocks in a gig bag. Nonetheless it’s pretty durable for a tuner at this price-point. The Snark is a little ugly admittedly, but hey this ain’t a beauty contest. Overall this was the best-performing tuner in the shoot-out.

The Snark SN-8 Review

Best cheap clip-on guitar tuner: Ibanez PU3

Budget clip-on guitar tuner shoot out Ibanez

The Ibanez PU3.

The Ibanez PU3 (official listing) is a great deal at only $12. It turns on and off automatically when you clip it onto the headstock. I thought this feature might glitch out, but it works perfectly. Unlike the Snark, there’s no option to change the pitch frequency from 440. I actually prefer tuners not to have this function though. I’ve never ONCE had to alter the pitch frequency of my guitars, so having the option on my tuners just increases the chances of a mishap at a gig.

The Ibanez will tune guitars and basses in standard tuning without any issues. It can handle moderately low tunings but don’t expect it to tune a low B on a bass easily. The low-profile design is pretty nifty and allows it to be adjusted on the headstock fairly easily. The screen is small and a tad hard to read though. It works fine in a well-lit room but I’d rather take the Snark for a live show.

The Ibanez PU3 on Amazon.

Best no frills option: Crossfire CHST-65

Budget clip-on guitar tuner shoot out Crossfire

The Crossfire CHST-65.

Crossfire makes a number of budget products available in Australia. The CHST-65 is a very basic, no frills tuner. There’s no option to change the pitch frequency or any other extras.

The Crossfire will tune guitars and basses easily in standard tuning, although it does struggle with drop-tuned basses. It’s bulky and the screen is OK, but not quite as bright as I’d like. Overall it’s a decent tuner but not a stand-out. The Snark is roughly the same price so I’d recommend that over the CHST-65.

The Crossfire CHST-65 on

Avoid at all costs: Korg Pitchclip

Budget clip-on guitar tuner shoot out Korg

The Korg Pitchclip.

The Korg Pitchclip (official listing) is just a total waste of money. There’s seven lights that indicate how close you are to being in tune, but they aren’t marked with cents and are fairly inaccurate. The Pitchclip can’t seem to decide if your guitar is in tune or not and the indicator lights jump around randomly.

The tuner does indeed have a low profile as advertised but that doesn’t make up for its inability to tune a guitar in E standard. Looking around at other reviewers, some said their Pitchclip tuned accurately. However, there’s quite a few other reviewers who experienced similar issues to me. I can’t find any reason to recommend this tuner.

The Korg Pitchclip on Amazon.

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About The Author
Stephen Charlton
Stephen Charlton is a musician and journalist based in Melbourne, Australia.

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