This format is the king of live performance for several reasons: first one is that it can be integrated into our pedalboard, another is that we don’t need our hands to use it and another is that it allows us to “mute” the guitar completely while we are using it. They usually have a screen big and colorful enough for us to see it on the floor while standing up and, of course, they have a guitar cable in and out.
It should be noted that, due to the purpose for which they were designed, the pedal tuners do not have a microphone, so they will not be able to pick up the sound of a guitar that cannot be connected in any way. Most of them show string information one by one, but if there is any tuner format in which polyphonic tuners (which show the tuning of several strings at once) have had great success, it is undoubtedly this one. The pioneers in this were TC Electronic with their Polytune pedal, but Korg and other brands have followed in this trend.
Tuners integrated in other products
We may have overlooked the fact that many of the products we buy for guitars already have a tuner: most multi-effects on the market have a built-in tuner, so if you plan to buy a multi-effect, you may want to wait and see how the built-in one performs so you don’t have to buy an external one. Many practice amplifiers also have a tuner, as well as some recording or headphone devices. There are even capos with a built-in tuner, so you can turn two purchases into one.
Permanently attached to the guitar
There are also tuners with specific shapes to be integrated into the guitar. For example, many electrified acoustic guitars have their own built-in tuner, which is quite standard on the market. This tuner is usually very simple, with little or no additional function and offers a very reduced representation of the degree of detuning. Still, it might be enough depending on your tuning needs.
If you don’t have that kind of tuner or you want to look for another alternative that can be integrated into the guitar, there are tuners that have a curved shape and that are designed to be added to the sound hole of our acoustic or Spanish guitar. Only we can see the tuner, as it is partially hidden, and it goes without saying that it is exclusively for guitars with a soundboard and a circular mouth.
In the world of electric guitars, it’s not very common for the tuner to be incorporated (Gibson tried it with the Gibson Robot, which even tuned your strings so you didn’t have to do anything, but it didn’t like it very much in general), but there are also some possible intermediate solutions that could fit you. There are tuners to install under the tone controls like the N-Tune Onboard Guitar Tuner, an option that seems useful, although it modifies a little the aesthetics of the instrument, besides needing batteries, and it doesn’t work for the rest of the guitars you have.
There are other types of tuners on the market that are usually for more advanced users and that need them for specific functions. For example, rack tuners are large tuners, always about 50 cm. (19″) wide, since they are designed to be screwed onto universal-size furniture and cases (racks) that are usually used on tours and large concerts. They tend to be more expensive, not necessarily more accurate (although they are usually more professional) and with large trousers so that you can see the tuning on dark stages. It is unlikely that your first tuner will be of this type.