The strings of a baritone guitar have a different gauge that places their tuning lower than other guitars. This special guitar requires a chromatic tuner equipped to detect the intonation of low-sounding strings. There are a number of chromatic tuners designed to pick up low notes (as well as high ones) that are appropriate for use with a baritone guitar. Options are available across a variety of price points.
Korg OT-120 Chromatic Orchestral Tuner
The Korg OT-120, which costs about $75, is designed to detect the frequencies of a wide range of acoustic instruments, including a baritone guitar. It can hear and analyze any instrument frequency range or type you throw at it, including baritone guitars, pianos (which have a much lower and higher range than any baritone guitar), violins or tuned percussion. This means you can use it with any additional instruments you own.
Korg has been making chromatic tuners since 1975. They know their stuff, and your baritone guitar will be well-served by the Korg OT-120, which can handle the entire range of a philharmonic orchestra. Key features include:
- A full 8-octave frequency range, from the lowest (A0) to the highest (C8) notes
- Needle-style meter that makes it easy to see the intonation
- Plays a reference note from built-in speakers across five octaves (including the range of frequencies used by a baritone guitar)
As reviewers note, this tuner can handle anything, including low stringed instruments (which would include the baritone guitar), with wonderful precision and a visual display that's user-friendly. Its $75 price is on the low side for a high-performing tuner like this one.
Reviewers also observe what is a common complaint for high-performing tuners: it works a little too well sometimes. In other words, it can be too sensitive. The tuner sometimes picks up ambient noise and get confused. Players can get around this by using their instrument's pickup (if it has one) and plugging directly into the Korg.
Boss TU-3 Chromatic Pedal Tuner
There's really nothing like a Boss pedal tuner, especially the TU-3 Chromatic Pedal Tuner (which costs about $99). It can handle a variety of tuning ranges with a very sensitive chromatic frequency range. Although it does not have the acoustic tuning capabilities of the Korg, it has the advantage of being a pedal tuner, which means you can step on the switch and tune (if your guitar has a pickup) in the middle of a performance. Additional robust features include:
- A sensitive 21-segment LED meter that will easily pick up any baritone tuning you play
- Special brightness feature that makes LED readings clearly visible in bright outdoor settings
- Visual verification that proper intonation has been reached
- Tuning range from C0 to C8
- Automatic muting feature that mutes signal when tuner is on
Boss pedal tuners are known for their superb quality and performance, factors that make them popular with professional musicians. This reflects in the more than 85 positive customer reviews on MusicansFriend.com.
A limitation of this tuner is that it can only work on a baritone guitar that is electric or electric-acoustic. The very few reviewers who rated this pedal poorly still give it credit for being a quality tuner, but indicate a preference for the higher-priced Waza chromatic pedal tuner (also made by Boss), which costs about $150.
Boss TU-01 Chromatic Clip-On Tuner
The Boss TU-01 Chromatic Tuner provides musicians a more economical solution to keeping your baritone guitar in tune. At about $18, this tuner is priced about as low as you can get for a quality chromatic tuner.
Key features of this very inexpensive tuner include:
- Tuning modes for chromatic, guitar, bass, and ukelele. Since the baritone guitar is a combination of a bass and standard guitar range, you would set it to "chromatic." This setting allows the tuner to use its entire frequency range to zero in on the baritone guitar's tuning location, which is between a bass and standard guitar's tuning.
- Clips to your guitar's headstock
- Small enough to fit in a side pocket on your gig bag
- Extremely long battery life (about 25 continuous hours)
This tuner's chromatic setting can pin-point the lowest notes on your baritone guitar. Because it has a microphone, it can be used on any baritone guitar, whether the guitar is electric or not. Additionally, it's rock-bottom cheap and can fit anywhere (due to its tiny size).
A few reviewers have reported a lack of durability for the piece between the tuner and the clip. The majority of reviews posted online, however, do not mention this problem.
Unique Baritone Guitar Tuning Requirements
The baritone guitar is perhaps ones of the most interesting instruments in the guitar family. It mixes the powerful lows of a bass with the richness of a standard six-string guitar. Although it requires a slightly different approach and specialized equipment, its unique tone character is worth the trouble to get the right equipment.