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The Snark Clip-On Chromatic Guitar Tuner

Updated on February 15, 2011

A guitar tuner is one of the most useful accessories to have, since most guitarists don’t have perfect pitch, and there isn’t always a piano or other reference handy to tune to. There are lots of digital tuners available, some of which are better than others, but few are as distinctive as the Snark SN-1 Clip-On Guitar Tuner.  

The Snark SN-1 is a relatively new addition to the digital tuner market, but has already got rave reviews from many guitarists. It has quite a chunky appearance, and is made from bright blue plastic with a round screen and coloured display - a bit like a toy really. The aesthetics may or may not be to your taste (personally, I think it looks cute!), but looks don’t really matter either way if it does a good job – which it does. Here’s what this Snark tuner has to offer.

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Clip-On Feature

As the name suggests, the tuner just clips on to the headstock of the guitar (either at the front or back), and is designed not to damage the finish. It fits securely, so you can leave it in place while you’re playing without fear of it rattling or falling off.

If you have multiple instruments, it’s a simple matter to just unclip the tuner and move it over, but really, these are so cheap that you could even get one for each of your guitars without breaking the bank.

Rotating Display

The tuner’s display rotates through 360 degress, so you can view it from a comfortable angle. It’s important not to twist it too vigorously though, or it could come off.

It has a rich colourful display, with the colours changing depending on whether you’re playing flat, sharp or in tune. Unlike some other tuners, the display is uncluttered and nicely laid out, making it easy to read – a big advantage, especially for anyone whose eyesight isn’t perfect!

In general, it’s much more convenient to use than conventional tuners, since you can clip it to your instrument and just leave it there as you play – there’s no need to stop playing and find the tuner, and no need to plug it in as you do with jack-in models. This makes it a great choice for anyone who plays live a lot (and the backlit display means it’s easy to read even in dark halls). It might even encourage you to play more - really, the fewer hoops you need to jump through before you start practising the better, so using this tuner is a great idea for anyone who is prone to procrastination at practice time.

Sensitivity & Accuracy

So it’s easy to use, but it’s the accuracy that’s really the most important factor. This one performs well, and although a few people have noted that it’s not quite as accurate as their more expensive tuners, there are few complaints. In particular, it handles the first (low E) string well – many other tuners have problems with this due to the harmonics produced. The tuner has an internal mic, but since it also has the ability to sense sound vibrations directly, ambient noise is not a big problem, and it’s has an advantage over those tuners that just rely on a microphone alone.

It displays both the letter name of the note you’re playing and a needle indicator, so you can do fine-tuning easily. The display resets quickly, so it doesn’t take long to get all your strings tuned.

You can calibrate the pitch (from 415-466Hz), so you’re not stuck with the 440Hz standard, and there’s a transposition mode, which you can use when playing with non-standard tunings.

The tuner is designed to perform optimally within the pitch range of guitars and basses, so may give better results than ‘universal’ tuners that are designed for all instruments. This tuner can also be used with a capo, if you’re using it within the first four frets.


As well as the tuner, the Snark also has a metronome function. This is a visual metronome, with a little beating heart icon on the display that flashes in time to the beat (there’s no audible click or beep), plus it displays the BPM figure too. It’s a tap-in metronome, so you set the speed by tapping it in, which can be quicker and easier than trying to figure out exactly what BPM you want to play at.

The Snark Chromatic Tuner For All Instruments


The tuner can be used with both acoustic and electric guitars and basses. Some people also use it for related instruments such as the ukulele, mandolin, banjo etc. If you’re not a guitar player, you might like the Snark Clip-On Chromatic Instrument Tuner (right), which is designed to work with other types of instrument too.

At just 2.1oz / 68g the SN-1 isn’t going to weigh down your guitar or case, and it’s small enough to fit unobtrusively onto the headstock and not draw too much attention to itself. It also fits easily into your guitar case or bag, so carrying it around is no problem.


This tuner uses a small round watch battery (not sure offhand which one!), and it’ll shut down automatically when not in use, so you won’t end up with flat batteries if you forget to turn it off.


There aren’t any really bad things to say about this tuner. As mentioned earlier, its design won’t be to everyone’s taste, but really its appearance is a strength - the bright blue finish isn’t obnoxious, but it’s also distinctive enough that the tuner will stand out, so you’ll be less likely to lose it. It does also come with a protective bag though, so it won’t get damaged by other items in your case, although it has quite a sturdy-looking build anyway.

The Snark isn’t quite as feature-rich as some other, more expensive tuners, but if you’re looking for a tuner that will tune accurately while being very easy to use under a variety of conditions, this is it. Overall, this is a low cost and very useful little tuner that outperforms many of its more expensive counterparts, and is a great buy (or gift) for just about any guitarist.

Where to Buy The Snark Clip-On Guitar Tuner

This is a pretty well-known tuner so is likely to be stocked in many local music stores, but if you’re looking for a bargain, you’ll probably find lower prices online.


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