Are Guitar Tuner Apps Accurate?

are-guitar-tuner-apps-accurate

Guitar tuning is a term with which every guitar enthusiast is familiar with. It refers to the act of assigning specific pitches to the strings of the guitar. Due to advancements in technology, several mobile phone apps are available that claim to tune guitar. But are these guitar tuner apps accurate?

Yes! Guitar tuning apps can be pretty accurate within a difference of two to three cents when used to tune in a quiet environment. For noisy environments, like during live performances and concerts, you may need to invest in a physical tuning gear for your guitars.

In order to understand the accuracy of guitar tuning apps, in this post, you about learn about how guitar tuning apps work, how accurate they are as well as their pros and cons.

How Does A Guitar Tuning App Work?

In order to understand the working of guitar tuning apps, let us first understand the concept of sound and frequency. Sound travels from one place to another in the form of waves that travel through the ear, making us hear things. The pitch of a sound depends upon its frequency which can also be defined as the number of waves that pass through a certain point within every sixty seconds. A higher pitch leads to a greater sound frequency.

guitar tuning with app

When you play any string of the guitar, it produces a sound of a specific frequency. Guitar tuning apps, when downloaded on your android or iPhone, use your mobile’s microphone to access these produced sounds. When you play any guitar string near the microphone of your mobile while using any of these apps, the guitar tuning apps identify the frequency of the produced sound. The guitar tuning app then compares the received sound from the guitar string to the target pitches that are pre-set in it. If the received sound from the guitar has a lower or higher pitch than the pre-set pitch of the apps, it informs the user in the form of feedback and helps the user to adjust his guitar’s string accordingly.

The zero-crossing method is the procedure that these guitar tuning apps mostly employ to detect sounds. It involves the detection of periodicity of the repeating wave cycle of the sound that the outside environment produces. It is important to note that environments like hot or cold temperatures may affect the pitch of the strings. Moreover, using the guitar repeatedly may also affect the accuracy of the string’s pitch.

How Accurate is a Guitar Tuning App and What Does it Mean?

Thanks to the advancement in modern technology, the microphones built in today’s mobile phones are sensitive enough to detect the sound of guitar strings accurately when played in a quiet environment. Most of the guitar tuning apps can tune the guitar within the accuracy of 2-3 cents. Keep in mind that humans can only notice the different sound pitches that have a variation of 5 to 6 cents, which means that these guitar tuning apps can be pretty accurate when it comes to tuning your guitar to perfect pitches. Except for high-fidelity sound recordings, these guitar tuning apps can be effective and accurate for guitar tuning.

Pros and Cons of Guitar Tuning Apps:

Pros:

Guitar tuning apps are pretty accurate due to the highly sensitive built-in microphones present in today’s smartphones. Most of the guitar tuning apps are free of cost, and thus using a guitar tuning app instead of clip-on or plug-in tuners, which you need to buy separately, is much more cost-effective. Even the subscriptions offered by these guitar tuning apps are cheaper than the physical tuners!

Furthermore, guitar tuning apps are easy to use. You just need to open the app and prepare the settings for tuning. Then find a quiet place and play the string of your guitar. The app will recognize the pitch and give you feedback accordingly. To lower the pitch of your string, you can loosen the string, and to increase the pitch, you can tighten it up.

You can use guitar tuning apps at almost any place and at any time. You do not need any special equipment along with you all the time to be able to tune your guitar. This makes guitar tuning apps quite convenient and easily accessible.

Cons:

Even though guitar tuning apps can be pretty accurate, we cannot use them in noisy environments. As mentioned earlier, the guitar tuning apps use the phone’s microphone to detect outside sounds. As outside sounds from the environment can not only come from the guitar but from other sources as well, the app will also detect these other sounds, which can hinder the correct recognition of guitar string pitches. In some cases, the app might not be able to pick any sound from the guitar string due to the noise in the outside environment. Therefore for noisy environments, physical tuning equipment might be needed. Moreover, for high-fidelity recordings, you will need more sensitive devices.

Guitar Tuning Solutions Other Than Guitar Tuning Apps

Apart from guitar tuning apps, some physical equipment that can also be used for guitar tuning are mentioned below:

Guitar Tuning

Clip-ons

Clip-on tuners are lightweight, portable, and compact. They are very accurate. They are detachable, too, allowing you to use them on multiple guitars. Surrounding noise doesn’t affect them; their only con is that they operate on batteries.

Plug-in tuners

As the name suggests, plug-in tuners, or pedal tuners, are directly plugged into the guitars. These are mostly used in professional settings. These are highly accurate and do not get affected by the surroundings’ noise. They have many features, but they are expensive as well.

Best Guitar Tuning Apps:

Here are some of the best guitar tuning apps you can find out there:

  • Pano Tuner
  • Guitar Tuna
  • Chromatic Guitar Tuner
  • Fender Guitar Tuner
  • Roadie Tuner
  • Pitched Tuner
  • Guitar Companion
  • insTuner
  • gStrings

Conclusion

The guitar tuning apps can act as a cheap, easy-to-use, and accurate solution to the tuning of guitar strings. Although guitar tuning apps are very beneficial yet they require a noise-free and quiet background to work properly. Hence, the choice of using guitar tuner apps for the tuning of a guitar depends upon the environment and purpose for which you want to tune your guitar.

Sourav Biswas

Music is my life and I love to play guitar so much. It's been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a musical family, and my parents were always supportive of my passion for music. I am also a freelance writer who has been writing for over 10 years. I have written for both online and offline publications, including Amazon and Medium.

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