Unless you have perfect pitch, a great violin tuner can make a massive difference in the quality of your practice and performance. Note that these tuners aren’t just compatible with violins but guitars, ukeleles, and some other string instruments as well. You just want to ensure the tuner detects all 12 pitches of the chromatic scale.
Why buy a violin tuner?
Violin strings go out of tune for several reasons. Strings need routine tuning and require frequent adjustments until you’ve broken them in. Tuning pegs may slip. The forceful use of the bow and left hand can affect the string positioning, and changes in temperature and humidity can cause your strings to expand or contract. Like applying rosin to prevent slippage and tightening the horsehair on your bow, keeping your violin in tune is fundamental to the quality of your performance.
What should you look for in a violin tuner?
- Design: Four out of five of the tuners we review here are clip-on tuners. Quality clip-on tuners are lightweight, compact, and clamp securely to the headstock of your violin. Look for clip-ons that you can rotate to get the right angle and adjust the LCD digital screen. Another design to consider is the free-standing tuner. A quality kickstand should be on the back to see it as you tune. If there’s not, look for a different product. A free-standing tuner allows you to tune without fussing with the angle of a clip-on.
- Function: Yes, a tuner does what its name implies. But some models do much more than indicate whether the tone is off or accurate. Additional features include built-in metronomes, built-in microphones, high vibration sensors, and more. You may or may not want the whole kit and caboodle. Some violinists don’t want to use the microphone feature because they feel it can be less accurate. However, there are three-in-one tuners to consider if that’s something you’re interested in.
- Display: Most, perhaps all, tuners with digital LCD screens are advertised as easy to read, but there’s no way to tell how easy of a time you’ll have reading a tuner’s screen until you try it out. We recommend you look carefully at the product images to determine which might be your favorite. Some tuners feature black LCD displays with colorful LED indicators, while others have colored LCD displaces with white LED indicators. You might try looking at other devices you have at home, like digital alarm clocks, home security digital displays, and so forth.
How much should you expect to spend on a violin tuner?
You’re in luck; most tuners are pretty affordable, at least compared to other electronic equipment. The KLIQ MetroPitch runs about $24, the most expensive tuner we review here. And the least costly is only about $7. With a quick search, we couldn’t find violin tuners with a price of over $50.
Fender FCT-2 Professional Clip-On Tuner
This Fender tuner features an easy-to-read LCD and a built-in vibration sensor.
Pros: Fender has been heralded as a leading brand in guitars, amps, and audio. The FCT-2 clip-on tuner works just as great on violins as guitars because it’s made to read pitch on the chromatic scale. This tuner has a large colored LCD screen, making it easy to read the tuning needle. It shows you how close each note is. Turn the peg for each string, and the needle will move toward the center if it nears the correct pitch. There’s also a built-in vibration sensor for playing in noisy environments. With the dual-hinged design, you can mount the FCT-2 on either side of your violin’s headstock.
Cons: You may have to deal with glare if you play outside or under bright lights, making it hard to read the LCD screen.
Bottom Line: This basic but reliable violin tuner does the job, takes up little space, and includes the CR2032 rechargeable battery it needs to operate.
KLIQ MetroPitch Metronome Tuner
This compact, multipurpose metronome tuner comes in several colors.
Pros: Use the MetroPitch to tune your violin, keep time, and train your ear. It’s a powerful three-in-one device that’s only 4.3 x 0.6 x 2.4 inches and features a built-in folding kickstand. It features a tuning range of A0-C8, a calibration range of 410-450 Hertz, and preset tuning modes for the violin. The metronome offers a range of 30-250 beats a minute to assist you with tempo. There are a variety of rhythm patterns to choose from to improve your timing in various musical styles. The large, digital LCD needle-type display turns red to indicate that your violin is out of tune and green if you’re good to go.
Cons: The high-sensitivity built-in mic can be a quick way to tune, but it may pick up ambient noise.
Bottom Line: In addition to all the quality fundamentals of a decent tuner, the MetroPitch comes with two AAA batteries and a nifty carrying pouch. Choose from colorful metal finishes like red, gold, and blue, as well as black and pewter gray.
An energy-saving, rechargeable tuner with piezo sensor accuracy.
Pros: This clip-on tuner has a rechargeable lithium battery and an all-around great economic value. This tuner features a microprocessor and a piezo tuner. What’s a piezo tuner? Good question. We know that electric polarization is involved, created by applying mechanical stress. Also called a piezo sensor tuner, this instrument looks for the exact frequency of vibration, not just the sound of a note, to test its pitch. The tuner has a large, bright display and can be adjusted to three angles. You get a USB cord with the tuner to charge the battery from about any device.
Cons: A few users say the tuner is large and clunky.
Bottom Line: The price is right, and the rechargeable battery lasts up to six hours when fully charged. Its sensor makes it unique and effective.
Clip on Tuner Cute Owl Cartoon
This owl-shaped tuner is so cute that no one would notice if you were off-key. But it works well, too!
Pros: Well, this chromatic tuner is so cute it would be hard to pass up. It’s an owl! Clip it on your violin as you would any other clip-on tuner. It has a clear LCD, a tuning range from A0-C8, and a calibration frequency of 440 Hertz. It covers the basics. Use it on a guitar, bass, or ukulele. It would dress up any stringed instrument.
Cons: It doesn’t have the highest-quality material and durability.
Bottom Line: This owl-shaped tuner will make violin practice more fun for kids and adults. The owl comes in black, white, brown, blue, and pink. And there’s a green alien design option, too.
JOYO Violin Tuner Clip
This metronomic clip-on tuner makes an excellent option for beginners and teachers.
Pros: Rotate the tuner clip 360 degrees and adjust it up to 90 degrees forward and back to get the best view of its LCD digital display. A needle on the screen indicates low, high, and accurate tone states. The tuner’s range is OA-8C (27.5-4186.01 Hertz) and can be used for almost all 6C standard pitch stringed instruments. When you tune your violin for practice or performance, relax knowing that the tuner’s high vibration sensor reacts so quickly it occludes background noise. The FCC and CE-certified JOYO tuner comprises environmentally friendly ABS plastic and weighs only 0.81 ounces.
Cons: The tuner does not come with the necessary CR2032 battery.
Bottom Line: This lightweight, compact, clip-on device makes tuning an easy job. Just press the button to turn it on. If you forget to turn it off, the tuner shuts down after five minutes of non-use. That’s a clever way to save battery juice!
We hope that we’ve set you up to find the best violin tuner for you. It should be easy to use and improve your sound, making you a better performer.