You’ve finally bought the electric guitar you’ve always wanted and haven’t put it down since bringing it home. But as you begin to learn the basic chords, you may notice that the guitar slowly starts to sound different, and eventually produces a tone that sounds completely off. It’s time to tune your guitar, and an electronic tuner is the best option for getting the perfect sound out of your beginner’s electric guitar.

How Do Guitar Tuners Work?

In their simplest form, tuners use a notification system (either LED lights or a needle) to indicate whether the pitch of each string is lower (flat), higher (sharp) or approximately equal to the desired pitch. Guitar tuners come in two basic varieties: Those with a built-in microphone or those with an input you can plug your guitar directly into.

When using a tuner with a built-in microphone, the device needs to be placed close enough to your electric guitar to be able to pick up the sound when you play. The tuner has a computer chip that analyzes a string’s pitch and tells you whether it’s sharp or flat. The plug input style guitar tuner uses the same cable that plugs your guitar into an amp. The chord transfers the notes you play to the tuner, which in turn interprets the pitch.

Considerations When Buying an Electric Guitar Tuner

For an aspiring guitarist, a quality guitar tuner is a necessity for getting the best sound from your instrument. There are a few things to keep in mind when investing in your tuner.

First, consider the power source for your tuner. Some designs can be plugged into a power outlet, but it would be a good idea to search for an electric guitar tuner that can also run on batteries, such as the Korg GA1 Guitar & Bass Tuner. That way you can take it your tuner with you without having to worry about finding a power outlet. A tuner with a built in microphone will save you trouble if you also play an acoustic guitar, as most acoustic guitars don’t have an output that works with the plug input models.

You should also find an electric tuner that has chromatic note detection. Some tuners are only capable of tuning the standard guitar string pitches (E,A,D,G and B). With chromatic note detection, you will be able to tune your beginner’s electric guitar for any note, including sharps and flats. The GA1 has this feature, but if you’re looking for an alternative, you may want to try the Hartke HT20 Chromatic Tuner. Finally, it’s important to look at the display of each tuner you are considering and find the one that is easiest for you to read. Eventually you may be able to tune your guitar by ear, but most beginning guitarists need time to develop this skill. In the meantime, a tuner will help you get the best sound from your instrument while developing an ear that lets you tune your beginner’s electric guitar without any aid.