Guitar Tuner Apps like Guitar Tuna Are Nice and Simple!


Guitar tuners have long been an essential tool for guitarists. In yesteryear, tuning a guitar was almost an art form. You had to use a tuning fork and learn how to use it. Usually, you will only be tuning the E string and you have to go through each string and tune it by ear by comparing the tune to the adjacent string. Suffice to say it takes some practice and it takes a while for each complete tuning session. Luckily, nowadays tuning is a much simpler affair! With electronic guitar tuners, tuning has become quite easy. Recently, some tuners were even launched that detects all the strings at the same time, so all you have to do is strum all the strings once and you'll know immediately which strings are out of tune. Even more impressive are robotic tuners that do all the tuning for you. Talk about convenience! Nonetheless, there are times when you won't have any automated tuner on hand and but still have access to your phone. It is during these times that guitar tuner apps become extremely useful! There are a few guitar tuner apps available now and this article will investigate some of them. These apps are mostly available on Android devices because I am an Android user.

Guitar Tuna

Guitar Tuna is made by the same company that created Yousician which I wrote extensively about here. If you happen to my read article you'll know that I'm quite a big fan of that product. So naturally, I had high hope for their tuner as well. The description in the Play Store description page saying something along the line of: all other tuners on the play store sucks so we decided to create a good one only heightened my expectation.

So did the app live up to expectation? Well, yes and no. First of all, if you already have Yousician then Guitar Tuna is basically the very same tuner you can find within that app. For what it is, it does do the job well. In the free version, you get standard tuning. To use it you pluck each string one by one and the app automatically knows which string you're trying to get in tune. If automatic tune selection fails, you can choose which string you want to tune manually. The detection rate is fast and the graphical elements look great. Most importantly, it is accurate. So all in all, Guitar Tuna does a simple job really well and is easy to use. One thing I expected, which was lacking is the ability tune multiple strings at once with one strum the way Polytune tuners do so well. At first there doesn't seem to be one available on the Play Store. Then just a few months ago I spotted one that does just that! Which is:

HT6 FastTune

One day I was just looking through the Play Store and just on a whim typed in "guitar tuner multiple strings" and viola the HT6 FastTune came up. A quick read of the description shows me that it is indeed a tuner that can tune all six strings of your guitar in one strum the way PolyTune tuners do! (The technical term is Poly Chromatic tuner for all the technical inclined out there). I suddenly thought WOW! Could this tuner do what Guitar Tuner couldn't? And since the app is very affordable, retailing at the price of 0 aka absolutely free, I quickly downloaded it and tried. The result? It does work! Kinda.

In terms of performance, the HT6 FastTune does what it advertised but the result depends on how good the microphone of your phone is. I tested the app on my Samsung S7 Edge and the result is as follows:

On an acoustic guitar using the phone's mic:

The app seems to be able to detect every string fine and within around 2 to 3 seconds was able to give me the result of each string. I found that I had to strum louder than I would have liked at times to get the phone to pick up every string. When I found out which string is out of tune and proceed each string individually, the accuracy of the app in picking out the string as well as the tuning accuracy seems to diminish, which I found surprising. Somehow this app is better at tuning all the strings at once than one string at a time.

On an electric guitar using iRig:

When connected using the iRig, the app detects every string much faster at almost always less than 1 second. The accuracy also improves tremendously. Switching between multiple string mode to single string mode shows noticeable improvement but is still somewhat hit and miss. I'd say with an acoustic it knows to switch to single string mode five times out of ten whereas when it's connected with an iRig the ratio improves to 7 times out of ten. Still surprising is the fact that the app still performs better in multiple string mode as opposed to single string mode.

All in all the app is quite alright. It's not as fast as a polytune and not as accurate. Switching to one string mode is hit and miss at times, but I think it terms of speed it'll be faster to tune than a conventional tuner simply because you won't be wasting any time tuning strings that are already in tune. If the developer is able to improve the accuracy and speed as well as getting it to switch between multiple and single string modes effectively this would be one awesome guitar tuner app indeed.

Conclusion

Guitar tuner apps are definitely getting better and better. In overall performance, they still are not on par with dedicated tuners and still has a long way to go before it can catch up to the likes of Polytune. Nonetheless, since they are free they are definitely worth installing on your phone just in case you are stuck with an out of tune guitar and can't get your hands on a dedicated tuner.

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