Best Banjo Tuner: Why an Electronic Option?

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For a good sound, you need to tune your banjo properly. But what is the best banjo tuner? I tried a lot of them. Tuner apps will never give you immaculate notes — they are usually accurate within 2-3 cents when tuning up in a quiet environment. The human ear is accurate within 5-6 cents. The electronic banjo tuners are incomparable when it comes to making a tuning quickly and well-made.

So many options are available, making it very hard to pick the best one in the market. I reviewed tuners based on my personal experience and information online.

6 Best Banjo Tuners Reviewed

The sound depends significantly on how the banjo is tuned. Let’s take a closer look at 6 good models that can change your tuning schedule and make it easy.

1. D’Addario Micro Headstock Tuner Clip-On 2 Pack: Best Banjo Tuner for the Stage

Tuner Type: Headstock
Calibration Range: 410-480Hz

D’Addario Accessories (formerly Planet Waves) has been leading the industry in products for musicians worldwide for over 20 years. This tuner with a comprehensive calibration range is suitable for many stringed instruments, including banjo, and is quite accurate. The main authority over other tuners — it’s tiny! The size is its only advantage, and it is not inferior to other tuners.

It has 3 buttons to adjust to your preferences and a button to set the calibration. You can adjust the display up, down, left, or right, making it very convenient. You can live it on while playing and check tuning during the session if it sounds off. They are accurate, even in noisy environments. This tuner is the best by price, size, and functionality.

Things You’d like
  • Compact size
  • Very flexible
  • Great value for money
  • Visible even in darkness
  • It can be on instantly while using and turned off automatically while not
  • Practically invisible on an instrument.
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Doesn’t have a dial type indicator
  • Offers minimal information on the screen

2. Fender FCT-2 Professional Clip-On Tuner: Best Banjo Tuner for Long-Term Usage

Tuning Range: B0-B7
Includes: CR2032 battery

Fender is a famous brand for its excellent quality of gear for stringed instruments. It is a compact tuner and does the job very well. It can be freely turned while being mounted to the headstock because of the dual-hinge. It has one button for turning on and off and tuning accurately. The screen has letters representing different instruments, so you should first pick the correct one before using it. You need to continue until the arrow goes to the display’s center and turns green.

My friend has been using this tuner for a few years and is pretty satisfied. The screen can also be swiveled in multiple directions. Some people online complain that it’s hard to read, but I strongly disagree. Just don’t forget to remove a covering sticker.

Things You’d like
  • Fits different banjo sizes
  • Bright display
  • Cheap and good value for the price
  • Very accurate readings
  • Concise and easy to fit into any banjo case
Maybe You'll be confused
  • The battery cover is hard to remove; it needs to be unscrewed with a screwdriver
  • Display too small to read results

3. D’Addario NS Micro Banjo Tuner for an Open-Back Banjo

Display: Multi-color
Calibration range: 435-455 Hz

This tuner is designed to slide under the brackets and connect to the banjo between the hooks. I think it’s very cool! This micro banjo tuner might not fit with a resonator, but it’s a perfect choice for an open-back banjo. With its multi-color display, non-marring hoop bracket, and fast, accurate response, this tuner has thousands of satisfied users worldwide. And its affordable price won’t deal a blow to your budget.

Things You’d like
  • Very small and easy to handle
  • Accurate readings
  • Relatively unlimited viewing angles possible
  • Wide calibration range
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Easy to lose because of its size
  • The strength of the clip could be a little bit better

4. Real Tuner Chromatic Clip-on Tuner: Great Choice for Singing on Top

A4 calibration: 430-450HZ
Tuning range: E0 (41.20Hz) – B7 (3951Hz)

This tuner is a real deal! It has an Internal Mic mode, which can detect a note even if you are singing on top of it. You need to press the “mode” button to turn it on.

Pressing the mode button again enables you to select the instrument for tuning. Still, it does not have a banjo mode despite mentioning that it is compatible with banjos. The chromatic mode is suitable for tuning banjos. With the “Mic” button, you can select clip-on or microphone mode. It enables the tuner to record the notes and give the reading, while the clip-on mode picks up sounds of the vibrations.

The Real Tuner has a tuning range between E0-B7. It is easy to use and suitable for very loud environments. This tuner has a bright full-color display to read and comes with a battery. I have this tuner, and I recommend it!

Things You’d like
  • You can store the device in your gig bag because it’s compact
  • It has a very bright color display
  • It also features a microphone for tuning, so you have a wide range of options
  • It has a 360-degree swivel display
  • Because of the rubber grips on the clip, it won’t budge while you’re tuning
  • It comes with a battery
Maybe You'll be confused
  • No dedicated mode for banjos
  • The battery doesn’t last long

5. JOYO JT-01 Clip-on Digital Electronic Tuner: Best Low-Cost Banjo Tuner

Tuning Range: 0A(27.5Hz)-8C(4186.01Hz)
Battery: CR2032
A4 Frequency: 440Hz

JOYO is suited for a banjo, but it doesn’t have a special mode for it. You will need to use a standard chromatic mode. It also has a metronome mode and is suitable for noisy environments. When the display turns green and the needle is located in the middle — good job, your string is tuned!

My friend has had it for a long time and is very satisfied. He said that it is tuning his banjo to perfection. The JOYO tuner has a battery and a bright LCD which is easy to read and clip-on. This digital device definitely is worth its money.

Things You’d like
  • Easy clip-on
  • Small and compact
  • Chromatic tuner
  • Great value for money
Maybe You'll be confused
  • The plastic exterior makes it look and feel cheap
  • Inaccurate registering of notes

6. Snark ST8-HZ Chromatic Clip-on Tuner With Hertz Tuning: Best Banjo Tuner for Beginners

Hertz Tuning Function: Accuracy to 1/10th of 1 Hz
Display: HD display

This company has a huge line of tuners, and Snark ST-8 has been an improved version of the ST-2 model and looks very similar to it. ST-8 offers a better and tighter adjustment than the previous models. Unfortunately, ST-8 does not have an internal microphone option, unlike ST-2. Still, since it is a clip-on model with a vibration sensor, you might not need it. Both have an LCD screen, colored needles, and soft plastic coating. An upgraded model shows one or two needles at a time until you reach a blue needle representing perfect tuning.

This tuner cannot be used with Gibson banjos because of the nitrocellulose finish. Shark tuners are not compatible with instruments having finishes composed of nitrocellulose lacquer, French polish, and polyurethane.

It’s a great simple tuner with an easy-to-read screen and bright display. It has a tap tempo metronome installed, which is pleasant to practice with.

Things You’d like
  • 360-degree swivel head
  • Multi-instrument tuner
  • HD display
  • Tap tempo metronome and transpose features
  • Hertz tuning
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Does not have an internal microphone
  • Not durable enough

Best Banjo Tuner Buyer’s Guide

No matter if you have a banjo tuner 5 string or banjo tuner 4 string, having to tune a string instrument every time you play might be a hassle when you first start. However, when you play the music, this is just something you have to deal with. To put it another way, it’s like checking the tires before a race. When you’re just getting started, it’s hard to tell which wheels are the best. But enough with the analogies. Before playing, your banjo must be tuned, and better if it is made quickly and easily as with an electric tuner.

How to choose the right banjo tuner

Many tuners are available, and choosing the finest and most up-to-date banjo tuner might be difficult. When looking for the best banjo tuners, you need to keep in mind the following factors:

  • Compatibility. Make sure the tuner can tune the banjo. Keep in mind that not all devices are suitable for a banjo.
  • Physical features. Tuners may make things easier, but they’re of no help if they make things more complicated. Clip-on tuners that can be turned and adjusted vertically are highly recommended. You can attach it to the headstock and swivel the screen toward yourself to watch the screen alter notations in real-time while you are tuning the guitar. So although it is certainly not “necessary,” a rotatable clip-on tuner comes in handy. Consider its compactness. There is no need for a tuner to have the size of a power bank since it is a basic gadget. Even a tiny one will do the job. It’s a lot lighter to carry and doesn’t draw attention.
  • Vibration sensor. A musician knows how challenging it is to quiet down the crowd before a performance, and you can’t even ask them to tone things down. The difficulty is that most tuners are focused on sound. Thus, it is a problem. However, if you find yourself in a loud situation where they won’t operate at all, you’re out of luck. For those who play the banjo regularly, I recommend purchasing a banjo tuner with a vibration sensor. Instead of depending on the sound, it uses the vibrations created by the strings to tune your banjo. This is quite amazing. A standard sound-based tuner will cost you less, but this one is worth every penny.
  • Convenience. As far as benefits go, this is the most important one. Some individuals appreciate the “process of tuning,” but for me, it has never been enjoyable. As someone who agrees with that perspective, you’ll likely benefit from a tuner as well. Although tuning may be done with strings or ears, it still takes time. Developing the ability to tune your banjo with your ears in seconds requires a lot of practice!
  • Accuracy. An electronic tuner is reliable. There is always the possibility your hearing hasn’t been properly trained, even if you think it has. To be in tune and confident, you should join in if you are just starting. Even seasoned pros should have a spare on hand.
  • Cost. In certain cases, a banjo tuner’s price does not correlate with its quality. However, the more quality banjo, the more expensive it is. So before making a purchase, you need to weigh the pros and cons, and if the quality is above all for you, then be prepared to spend a lot of cash.
  • Compactness. This is a lot more critical than you may expect. You don’t want your audience to be distracted by a huge gadget when you’re playing your banjo.
tuner for bonjos
Tuner for banjo

How to tune a banjo with a tuner

  1. Make sure to check each string’s pitch before tuning. Use a clip-on banjo tuner to check each string’s current-sounding pitch.
  2. Loosen if sharp, tighten if flat. Tuning pegs can be tightened to raise the pitch of a string if it is too low or flat. Tuning pegs can be loosened if a string is too high or too low in pitch.
  3. Tune each string and adjust it depending on the pitch. Repeat the process of tuning each string until all strings are in tune. As you tune the next string, other strings may experience changes in tension and pitch.
banjo head, black and white photo

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FAQ on Best Tuner for Banjo

Lots of people keep asking some common questions about banjo tuners. So I’ve decided to provide some helpful answers for those who are going to buy this helpful device.

Can you tune a banjo with a guitar tuner?

Yes, most tuners are compatible with banjos. Some tuners, particularly clip-on tuners, may work better depending on where and how securely they are attached to the headstock. Although using your phone’s microphone and a free tuner app will work, it may not be as accurate as a clip-on banjo tuner, especially in loud or noisy circumstances. Guitar tuners also work for every stringed instrument, including the banjo.

What kind of tuner do you use for a banjo?

I have a variety of electrical tuners. There are several of them, but clip-on tuners are one of the most convenient tools for tuning your banjo. When it comes to banjos, the clip-on is the most common style. A wide variety of manufacturers produce these tuners.

Did You Find Your Perfect Tuner Already?

A tuner is a must-have for all musicians, making tuning easy. Once you buy it, you will be shocked at how much time you wasted doing it with other methods. Electronic models are the best option if you value your time and a clean sound. If you haven’t made up your mind after reading the review yet, try D’Addario Micro Headstock Tuner. In my opinion, that’s a top pick.

Which tuner would you like to try? Or maybe you already have one? I would like to read your impressions. Leave a comment below, and stay tuned!

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About the author

Country Music Singer, Tayo Reed, grow up listening to Country Music as a child in sweet home, "Alabama". "I am authentically a true country girl at heart. I have only desired to sing one style of music. I have never wavered, in spite of disappointments, delays, rejections, and detours."

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