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Buying an electronic tuner

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May 25, 2020 - 4:07:58 AM



94 posts since 10/30/2019

My tuner is broken and I need a new one, however the two tuners I've used have not been very good at tuning a banjo.

So basically, will a super cheap tuner still do the job? or should I buy some kind of professional grade tuner?
What am I looking for in a tuner for a banjo (in this case a long neck open back)?
And what brand? Planet waves? Fender? Korg? Snark?

Edited by - LzChase on 05/25/2020 04:08:12

May 25, 2020 - 4:18:02 AM

261 posts since 4/27/2020

This one works well for me.

D'Addario micro tuner

Edited by - reubenstump on 05/25/2020 04:18:38

May 25, 2020 - 6:48:30 AM

542 posts since 8/14/2018

I use the Pano tuner app on my phone. Works rather surprisingly well.

May 25, 2020 - 7:03:43 AM

957 posts since 1/9/2012

One person's opinion:

The main issue with cheap tuners is whether they'll catch the note at all. If you're in that situation, try tuning to a harmonic or "chime," e.g., at the 12th, 7th, or 5th fret.

An expensive tuner will likely get you into the mysterious and contentious realm of what it means to be in tune -- not for the faint of heart. A plucked note decreases in pitch while it decays away. What pitch is in tune anyway? E.g., do you really want equal temperament? People who really care really don't. And getting in tune, even for the instrument with itself, will depend on what chords you're featuring in the next tune you play.

The good news is that most banjo notes are very short. That gives considerable tuning latitude compared to more respectable instruments.

May 25, 2020 - 7:04:36 AM
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Players Union Member



144 posts since 4/14/2020

Snark works fine for me. If you have a 24 bracket Mastertone style pot, you can get the mounting bracket for about 5 bucks. Nice to keep it off the headstock.


May 25, 2020 - 7:51:06 AM



98 posts since 3/26/2014

I have the same one on her my client hammer and a cheap little bay tuner on my composite fire side. The super tight seems to do the job. But there’s other ones out there that are to the task

May 25, 2020 - 8:18:50 AM

10822 posts since 6/2/2008

Snark SN8 works for me. People above like the super tight.

I had an earlier version of the Planet Waves tuner and liked it a lot, but it didn't come home from my 2018 St. Patrick's Day gig. 

May 25, 2020 - 8:23:44 AM

10822 posts since 6/2/2008

Originally posted by LzChase

So basically, will a super cheap tuner still do the job? 

Super cheap? No.

A few years ago I bought a $2 tuner. Its tuning was not very accurate and after the second use, it wouldn't turn on. Wastebasket.

May 25, 2020 - 8:40:31 AM

356 posts since 3/26/2009

I've been a fan of the snarks for a while but i manage to lose the rubber cup off the clip on all of them.    I recently picked up this one and I think it picks up a little better.   I haven't tried it out yet (stupid virus) so I don't know how it will do in a jam with all the extra noise.


At home I use a phone app mostly but they are useless in a jam.

May 25, 2020 - 8:50:52 AM

97 posts since 12/9/2018

I just started using the D'Addario Micro and am pretty happy with it. It seems to tune as well as the D'Addario Eclipse and the Snark I already had, but is considerably smaller so it can just stay on the banjo full time. They can be had on Amazon pretty cheap; I got mine in a two for $20 deal.

May 25, 2020 - 8:51:09 AM

10803 posts since 2/12/2011

I agree with Deadwud.

May 25, 2020 - 9:04:11 AM



132 posts since 3/9/2017

I have a cheap clip on tuner that offers settings for different instruments inc banjo. It gets quite lost in the ‘banjo’ setting if I deviate much from standard G tuning. I very quickly discovered that keeping it on ‘chromatic ‘ setting was good for all occasions

May 25, 2020 - 9:18:50 AM
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54845 posts since 12/14/2005

I agree with Chief Brody, from the charming seaside village of Amity.


May 25, 2020 - 10:00:21 AM



196 posts since 8/9/2019

Mike, were gunna need a bigger boat!

May 25, 2020 - 11:39:42 AM

Paul R


12870 posts since 1/28/2010

I've gone to the Snark HZ-1, accurate, a slightly lower profile, and a much better clip.

May 25, 2020 - 11:50:01 AM
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261 posts since 4/27/2020

In addition to the micro tuner which attached to the headstock, D'Addario makes a banjo-specific tuner which slips between the pot and the hooks.

D'Addario Micro Banjo Tuner

Edited by - reubenstump on 05/25/2020 11:51:47

May 25, 2020 - 4:32:10 PM

1862 posts since 2/10/2013

I probably have 7-8 tuners lay around. My two favorites, for different reasons, are -

1, D'Addario Mini Tuner - very inexpensive, small, and surprisingly accurate. It is more accurate than some of my more expensive tuners. I have one on all of my guitars and banjos. I only have one for my fiddles.

2. Kliq - It has outstanding visibility. It is reliable and easy to use. I especially like using it when I am in a hurry.

Both of the tuners I described are clip-on tuners.

May 26, 2020 - 11:58:37 AM

17 posts since 12/12/2019

I have the clip on SNARK and it's fine. Maybe about $15-$17, easy to change the battery.

May 26, 2020 - 12:35:53 PM

26 posts since 4/16/2020

Do you have a metronome or need one? I have a couple of the Snark tuners. The Red ones with both a mic and chromatic ($12 on Amazon). I'm very happy with them and they are accurate.  The latest models are the SN-XX. They state they have a tap metronome, but just be aware that it's a little visual led heart metronome and these tuners metronomes do not create any audio/sound. I also have a KLIQ Metropitch ($26 on Amazon). It's tuner is also accurate, has a few more options and capability and includes a very good visual and audio metronome with lots of settings/adjustments and an easy to use thumb wheel, volume and a tone generator. If you don't need a metronome and want something that clips on to your banjo head the Snarks fit the bill. If you want a audio metronome the KLIQ is great but doesn't clip on the banjo. Having one of each works for me and the cost for either is pretty nominal considering the convenience and accuracy.

Edited by - coherent on 05/26/2020 12:39:10

May 26, 2020 - 12:43:50 PM

566 posts since 1/27/2005

If you have a smart phone, then I would recommend a phone app. There are some free ones available that are quite good and, if you've got your phone with you, then you'll always have a tuner with you. Plus no batteries to fuss with.

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