I’ve been casually shopping for a portable electronic guitar tuner for several months. My daughter Katie has a Korg tuner and I steal it it occasionally, but it’s really hers. I have a tuner built into my digital effects box and that’s mostly what I’ve been using to tune up my acoustic-electric and my electric guitars. That won’t work on a pure acoustic guitar, though, since there is no cable to connect to the tuner.
I think my guitar practices of late can best be termed “fun but sloppy.” I’ve broken the one main rule which is to not just play songs, but also work on cleaning up technique, learning new chords and riffs, and practicing scales. As long as you are doing all those things, working on songs is fine. I’m just thrilled enough when anything resembles part of a song that I’ve heard that these other more formal practice elements have fallen by the wayside. It’s time to clean up my act.
In particular, I’m approaching the second anniversary of my getting an acoustic guitar, and while I’m not trying to stress myself, I need to get more serious in the time I do have to practice.
For all these reasons, I decided that I need a metronome. A metronome keeps constant time to some preset number of beats per minute. I was hanging out in the local big guitar chain store yesterday and broke down and bought a combination tuner and metronome. I haven’t used it very long, but it appears to be exactly what I had in mind. The model I purchased is the BOSS TU-80. Its use if pretty straightforward, but if I have anything deep or wise to share about its features or foibles, I’ll mention them in a future entry.
This and the BOSS tuner I bought are chromatic tuners. A chromatic tuner can tune an instrument to any note in a range of octaves. A simple inexpensive guitar tuner might just tune to the standard six string tuning E-A-D-G-B-E, but a chromatic tuner can handle the notes in between, like a C#. The tuners usually work either via the built-in microphone or via a 1/4 inch jack for a guitar cable. It’s the microphone, of course, that lets it work with acoustic guitars or other instruments.
If you plan to use alternative guitar tunings, you need a chromatic tuner. For example, an open E tuning is E-B-E-G#-B-E.