Tuning your guitar by ear can be a pain, and there’s no guarantee that the instrument will be in tune with the others around it, although the strings may ring harmoniously with each other. For this reason, a computer-based online guitar tuner is likely the best option for most users. The guide below will review the top 5 free browser based online guitar tuners available today, and provide advice about which of these tuners to make use of when getting your precious instrument in tune.
Classic Guitar Tuner
The Classic Guitar Tuner from http://www.gieson.com/Library/projects/utilities/tuner/ is based on the method of tuning by ear, but provides you with the ability to listen to a realistic guitar sound in order to give a better idea of how to tune each string. The retro interface allows you to select the string to be tuned and play the sound in the form of either a realistic guitar sound file, or a computer generated tone.
The interface also provides an ‘auto advance’ function, activated by the space bar for quick access, thereby allowing you to tune each string without having to switch between the guitar and computer each time you change string. If the significant delay between notes is beginning to frustrate you, the ‘delay’ wheel on the left of the interface provides you with the option to reduce the interval between notes, and the ‘kill’ button, activated by the return or enter keys, affords you the option to mute a particular note if the string is already tuned correctly.
Pro Guitar Tuner
Although for some reason it requires both camera and microphone access, the Pro Guitar Tuner found at http://www.proguitartuner.com/guitar-tuner/ is a real gem. The no-nonsense interface is the perfect way to tune your guitar quickly and easily: simply turn your microphone on and pluck away. The analogue needle will tell you exactly how tuned your guitar is, and will give an indication of whether the string needs tuned up or down. It will even tell you the note currently being played so that there are no more mishaps with broken strings due to picking the wrong tuning peg after plucking the wrong string. The note will light up green when the string is in tune, so the interface really couldn’t be simpler!
There’s no need to click any buttons after you start the applet; simply watch the needle as you play away. In addition to these features, the page also brandishes a small chart showing the notes of the six strings, and can be modified for a variety of different guitar tunings. This handy reference will save you from hours of incorrect tunings, and from the headache of trying to find just the right tuning for you elsewhere online.
JamPlay.com (http://www.jamplay.com/tools/online-guitar-tuner) offers a fantastic dual tuner; those of us without a microphone or line in cable can select the ‘tune by ear’ option, while those with a microphone can pick the digital tuner. The tuning by ear interface is stunningly effective, providing a list of almost 40 alternative tunings in addition to the standard ones, as well as a convenient graphic of a guitar designed to help you get to grips with how the instrument sounds.
When the button below each of the strings is pressed, a realistic guitar sound can be heard for each, meaning that you’ll have no problem tuning your guitar in no time. Switch to the digital tuner and you’ll see an analogue needle displaying a note, turning green when the string is tuned faithfully to that note, and red when the tuning is between notes.
Although Jam Play’s analogue tuner is one of the best available, the digital tuner leaves a lot to be desired. The microphone control achieved through the input level slider and audio source dropdown are a nice touch, but these things are available through the flash player interface, and some critical sacrifices are made in order to facilitate this addition. The needle movement is less than fluid, and there are often sticks and catches in the graphical interface when attempting to tune an instrument using the meter. As well as this, there is no handy reference chart for the strings in case you need to quickly check the notes required for an unfamiliar tuning. Jam Play’s analogue tuner is gorgeously designed, but the digital reader is a poorly assembled alternative feature.
This online guitar tuner is an example of a completely minimalist application, designed to get the job done without the bells and whistles of many of the other web apps available today. Upon opening the page, you are presented with a small slider and an already bouncing graph. When a note is played, the slider jumps into action and the graph calms as a pure note is detected, with red lines signalling that the program’s autocorrelation function has detected the repeating frequency of the note, and that it is pure enough for the app to make sense of. When you pluck a string on your guitar, the closest note is displayed in the centre of the slider, with the note a semitone higher and lower displayed to the left and right side of the slider respectively, and the frequency in hertz is displayed towards the left of the graph. The slider is incredibly responsive, as is the graph. The functionality, yet simplicity of this interface is an attractive feature; the app doesn’t sacrifice functionality for a few pretty pictures, and instead, it just works. The short guide found below the tuner itself provides some additional information about exactly how the tuner works, and about the best way to tune a guitar using this app. The only downside of this app is that it provides no reference containing options for alternative tunings, a must if you’re used to quickly switching between them in order to play your favourite songs.
The tuner available from guituner.com is the simplest reviewed here, but it is included because of its usability and functionality on almost all today’s smart devices. While it does not offer the same hands-free experience that several of the other tuners offer, and is not as cleverly put together as the digital tuners which dominate the list, it is a colourful and creative guitar tuner relying entirely on MIDI files to get the job done. Simply click on the note required and let it play. The recording will keep repeating until you hit the stop button to the left of the interface, so you have ample opportunity to get the note just right with a few attempts. The arrow keys can be used to cycle through the strings, repeat a particular note, or stop the sound all together, thereby making tuning your guitar with this app even easier. Despite this app’s stunning design, yet again the major downside to this tool is its lack of alternative tunings for the user to choose from. Including these would surely revolutionise this tool and allow it to progress much higher up the listings.
Although all the browser based applets reviewed above have their merits, the hands down winning online guitar tuner is the Pro Guitar Tuner. This tuner combined accuracy and responsiveness, and provides a gorgeous blend of style and functional design. This incredibly user friendly app is easy and intuitive to use, and while it doesn’t provide the raw frequencies calculated by an-online-guitar-tuner.com, and doesn’t offer a purely MIDI-based tuner alternative as do guituner.com and jamplay.com, it provides the best digital guitar tuning capabilities of any of the apps reviewed, and gives the best response when tested with a standard microphone.