2020 Best Trumpet Tuners & Metronomes
Posted in Trumpets | Last Updated on May 1, 2020
A tuner is one of the most important practice aids for a trumpet player. They allow us the ability to work on tuning, intonation, and pitch stability, all while giving meaningful and immediate feedback that will help make us better. There are many tuners on the market from clip-ons to smartphone apps. In this article, we will break down a few specific tuners to help find the one that will cover all of your bases.
The Korg TM-60BK is one of the most common tuners there is. A step up from the basic Korg CA-2, with the TM-60BK you get not only a tuner but a built-in metronome giving you two essential devices in one. The screen is backlit, and its simple digital layout provides you all the information you need without trying to provide you with too much information at once. The TM-60BK not only gives a visual meter for working on your tuning you can also easily use it's a built-in speaker to play a pitch which you can match. Like most Korg products it is compatible with a wired microphone clip to let the tuner work as a clip on tuner as well.
The Korg line of products are so common for a reason, they work and work well for all instruments. While many other products will struggle with instruments in the very high and very low ranges, the Korg performs at a very high level. The TM-60BK runs on AAA batteries that should last from 130 hours without the backlight on.
As far as negatives go for this one, there really aren’t any. It has been an industry standard for years, and that is for a reason.
KLIQ UberTuner Clip-on tuner
The KLIQ UberTuner is a clip-on style, this means it works by clipping on to the bell of the trumpet and using a Piezo disc it detects the vibrations of the instrument to let you know if you are in-tune or not. The KLIQ has a large, easy to read, colorful display that gives you the basic information you are looking for.
Though one downside to how it provides the tuning information is it uses a progressive color bar display compared to the simple digital version of an analog needle that the Korg uses. Too many that won’t be a deal breaker but if you are a more advanced player working on tuning chords this can be a drawback since the information is not detailed enough.
The KLIQ’s display can be adjusted to make sure you can see it well, and since it works with a clip system you can use it in the noisiest of environments, this is the feature which is sought after with clip systems. The KLIQ runs on CR2032 batteries, while not as common as AAAs they do last for a long time. The last point of mention is that as it is very simple it lacks the features of more robust models such as the ability to play a pitch for you to match.
The KLIQ does what it was designed to do very well, so if you don’t need extra features and a clip style only tuner works for you, it fits the bill.
Like the Korg, the BOSS-TU30 is a long time standard when it comes to quality products. It shares many of the same functions that you find in the Korg including the ability to generate sounds, a tuner, and metronome works well in all ranges, simple to use, and runs on AAA batteries. Like the Korg as well it provides a digital needle and lights when tuning which unlike the KLIQ more advanced players will appreciate the ability to have that information available.
The BOSS-TU30 also has a line in port which would allow you to buy a wired clip-on microphone to use with it giving you that added level of versatility.
Much like the Korg, there isn’t much to say negatively about this one. You can buy one as a beginner, or a professional and you won’t be hindered by it. Sure it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the expensive tuners, but most people do not need all of those extra features anyway.
Now that you have an idea on what kind of tuner you may be looking for, and some of the options that exist, there are a few questions you may have that will be explored in the next section.
What do tuners actually do?
First off it useful to understand exactly what a tuner does. When we play a pitch on the trumpet, we need to be able to play it in a way that allows it to blend and match with other sounds. As you improve, you gain the control to change the pitch slightly with the lips or by adjusting slides. In large ensembles, we all tuned to the same pitch. In many concert bands, it will be a Bb, and in orchestras, everyone tunes to an A.
When we do this, we make sure we tune to the same frequency since when we are playing, we can be either sharp or flat. Tuners give us that information for practice. They analyze the note we play and display a visual reference to if the note is sharp or flat, allowing us to adjust it to match others.
Do I really need one?
The short answer is yes, yes you do.
As we explained above when we play with others we need to make sure we are all tuning to the same pitch and aren’t sharp or flat. The reason for this is that when we play in-tune with others the music we play simply sounds better.
You may think that just playing with others will make you better at that. Though that is partially true tuners allow us to fine tune this skill and become more consistent with how we play in regards to pitch.
Another great benefit to having and using one is it will increase the overall quality of your practice. When playing long tones we can use a tuner to make sure we are holding the pitch steady and not allowing it to fluctuate up and down in pitch, which is an essential skill for a musician.
What kinds are there?
There are a few different types of tuners out there from cellphone apps to stroboscopic tuners. Each one has its own purpose and place for the player. Next, we will outline the most common types and their benefits and use.
External chromatic tuners
The Korg and BOSS tuners are examples of these. They allow the musician to place the device on a stand or table and play while the tuner responds to the sound. These also tend to have the most features as we aren’t clipping them to an instrument which allows them to be larger and heavier than the clip-on versions.
Clip-ons are chromatic tuners that make use of a vibration sensor, often Piezo discs to analyze the sound and pitch you are making. The benefit of these is that they work well in loud environments when others are playing. There are some drawbacks to clip-on ones though.
Due to the fact that they must be clipped on they need to stay light, which means they generally have no extra features. This means you won’t be able to have it make a sound, will be very rudimentary in the information it displays, and they often run on expensive batteries.
Stroboscopic or strobe tuners were developed by the Patterson Company. Like other tuners, they analyze the sound you produce. These tuners actually analyze all the overtones in the sound allowing not only for the sounding pitch to be in-tune but all the harmonics as well. Consider this a very specialized device.
Physical tuner vs phone apps
With the accessibility of smartphones and tablets, there are many options for tuners available in app form. There are a few things to consider if you go with an app. With apps, you are relying on the quality of the microphone on your phone, and more importantly, the actual coding of the app. Many free tuner apps are inaccurate, so often you are paying the same amount for a phone app as a physical tuner.
With a physical tuner, you are not as stuck to your phone and today many schools and rehearsals don’t allow you to have a phone leaving you without your tuner. Where with a physical tuner can just be left in your instrument case and always available.
It is highly recommended that every player from beginner to professional have a tuner, and use a tuner. So when you are deciding on what one to buy, it is best to go with one that you will actually end up using. Using a tuner will make you better and increase the enjoyment of playing with others.