Snark SN-2 Tuner

412M3XM51JL._SL500_AA300_.jpegI've tried several clip-on guitar and banjo tuners over the years, and I finally found the best one: Snark SN-2. It's fast, easy to use, and very accurate. Best of all, it's cheap: $13. It's optimized for all instruments. If you only need it for guitar, get the $10 Snark SN-1. The build quality seems better than the previously reviewed Intellitouch, and the display is much nicer (glasses not required). And it's really fast and responsive. Plus, it has a "tap tempo" thing so you can tap the button along with the tune and it will tell you the beats per minute.
I've been reading about it on various forums, and I haven't found any negative comments -- except for the colors. For a little bit extra you can get a black model. -- John Walkenbach Snark SN-2 Clip On Tuner $12 Don't forget to submit a tool!


  1. That’s cute but I prefer my Intelli tuner because it folds down out of the way when I’m not using it. I can leave it on all the time. It’s got a light so I can read it in dark venues.

  2. What? No boojum?

    More seriously, the street prices are about 1/3 the MSRP on
    should be be concerned?

  3. looks pretty cool for what it is.

    personally i totally love my planet waves strobe on string tuner and my peterson stroboclip.

    the planet waves strobe on string costs 15 bucks and is extremely accurate. its actually kinda magical how it works, by projecting 2 pulsing LED’s on the string that stop flickering when the string is in tune. very good for noisy places and probably also good for beginners because it is so accurate and simple. its only downfall is that its only good for EADGBE tuning, although there is a bass version as well. i emailed planet waves about making a chromatic version but they didnt seem interested. one day maybe ill figure out how to make my own, seems like its construction isnt that difficult.

    i also play with alot of alternate tunings so the peterson stroboclip is awesome. it works on any instrument and also has special sweetened tunings for specific instruments like electric guitar, acoustic guitar, 12 string, bass, violin, mandolin etc. another fantastic feature is the drop tuning/capo mode so you can easily switch between C/C#/D/D#/E tuning and also the other direction for capos. this thing is packed with features but those are the ones i use the most. unfortunately its a peterson so its expensive, but if you play alot i find the featuers worth the price.

  4. I’ve got one of these, thought it was a great deal at $23- (which I bought at a local small town indie music shop)
    It’s changed my (very amateur) relationship with the guitar. Easy to use & read. I felt like I’d gotten an upgraded dashboard – and it can be read in the dark.
    It has also helped my understanding of the ‘map’ of the guitar neck. Being that it will show you whatever note you make, I can turn it on and go through scales or patterns with a little bit of reference which has helped my understanding.

  5. I don’t understand why anyone but a beginner would need one of these? If you play with others, you tune together. If you play with a piano, you tune a half-step down anyway. If you play alone, you only need to be in tune with yourself and not leave your bass strings flapping.

    1. Also, I hate to say this, but only a beginner would say something like this: “if you play alone, you only need to be in tune with yourself”.

    2. Tuners are not only helpful in tuning (sounds ironic, I know).
      I find them really useful not just in playing and practicing, but also good when I’m repairing, intonating and adjusting instruments.

  6. By definition, doesn’t optimization mean that it /isn’t/ optimized for all instruments?

    Hey, the thing is called a Snark. I’m just sayin’.

  7. Unfortunately, the tuner itself snaps into a 3-pronged holder in the clip, ball-and-socket style. It’s all plastic, so if someone accidentally bumps into the clip while it’s on your guitar, the ball can actually snap off one of the prongs from the clip, making the tuner useless.

    Just an FYI.

    It’s cheap, admittedly, so it’s not horribly difficult to replace.

  8. I use the steampunk version of the guitar tuner.

    My ear.

    Works perfectly, never needs batteries, and it’s free. Forty years now, and it’s never failed to tune.

    1. You’re lucky. When I was young, we didn’t even have ears. We had to tune by feel. You ever try to find A440 using only your fingers?

      1. Gar! I used to use a dialtone to get an A440 if nothing else was available! And we liked it! (And it worked pretty well too).

        I’m surprised to read Anonymous/#8 saying this is only for beginners. I’ve been playing about 25 years and use an electric tuner whenever possible, and pretty much everyone I play with, everywhere, does too, even when they’re waaaay better than me. That’s not to say I can’t also tune by ear, but in a group its much easier for people to go consult their gizmos than to insist everyone shut up while they fiddle.

  9. I’ve always found these kinds of contact tuners to be hit or miss (needing to wiggle it around on the headstock to get it to register anything) and not particularly accurate, but to be fair, it’s been a few years since I’ve even bothered to try an Intellitouch. Any thoughts on how this compares to an Intellitouch of the past 5 years or so?

    1. Times have changed. No need to wiggle this thing around AT ALL. Put it anywhere and it works brilliantly. (And I prefer this over any Intellitouch.)

      FYI, Anon above is simply dead wrong about this being cheaply made (it isn’t) and somehow falling off easily. They clearly don’t own one. Just read the hundreds of positive reviews at Amazon.

  10. I’ve got the SN-1 and it’s perfect. Fast, accurate, and a spiffy pearl-blue color. Black would be boring!

  11. I JUST bought one of these last week! What timing here. It’s aweome. Use it on my classical, acoustic and Makala Dolphin uke, and it works like a charm! Already the best investment I’ve made in a long time.

  12. I just ordered one — first time ordering something as a result of Cool Tools, so well done y’all. My old mic-based tuner ran out of 9V battery a week ago, and it’s always taken me forever to tune in a noisy venue, so I figured it was time to upgrade. The SN-2 only costs 4¢ more than the SN-1 right now (not $13 vs. $10), and I like red better than blue, so while I don’t plan to use the microphone I did order the SN-2.

    1. Where do you get the non-standard battery?

      It comes with a CR2032 Lithium 3 volt battery, and replacements are readily available online or from places like Office Depot.

      1. Be prepared to pay $4-5 for a single battery like that at retail, assuming you can find it (it’s not always easy to find non-standard batteries these days).

        I’d guess battery life would be pretty good for something like this, though, so it’s probably not worth buying extra batteries online. But if it does go through batteries quickly, I’d feel pretty silly, personally, spending as much on batteries as I spent on the device after only a couple of runs through a battery.

        1. Be prepared to pay $4-5 for a single battery like that at retail, assuming you can find it

          Have you priced 9V batteries lately? I have — this tuner cost less than two 9V Duracells at the grocery store. That’s one reason why I bought a new tuner instead of re-batterying my old one.

  13. I have the SN-2 and I love it. My dog knocked my guitar over while the tuner was still attached, breaking the clamp but mercifully not hurting my guitar. I emailed the company asking if I could purchase a new clamp attachment, and they just mailed me one free of charge.

    Also, this has a built-in backlight and a drop-tuning/capo mode as well.

    Excellent tuner and excellent customer service.

  14. Excellent tuner. Cheap, easy to read, charming design, highly accurate, nice bright display. Highly recommended.

    re: If you play alone, you only need to be in tune with yourself – okay, yes, except you’ll never learn to hear pitch accurately, which will seriously hamper your ability to play with other people.

    Tuning even a fraction of a semitone off, over time, will skew your ear in strange ways. Much better to get a tuner, get used to it, and (in time) realize that you don’t need it anymore because your ear has become just as accurate.

    There’s a reason these things are standardized – unless you’re planning on playing, by yourself, in the basement forever. If so, more power to you, but IMHO you’re missing out on half the joy of playing an instrument.

  15. Here in the UK you can pick up a CR2032 from pretty much anywhere, including Currys/Dixons/PC-World, Maplin, Argos, most camera shops and a lot of PC shops.

    Not sure why anyone calls it non-standard! ;-)

  16. Personally I use an Intelli IMT-500 and it’s pretty good (sometimes it’ll pick up the harmonic/5th instead, but only for a moment, and most musicians will understand what’s going on and how to work around it / fix it (ie. dampen something!) – it’s certainly never a problem :) — but I would like to check out one of these anyway.

    The only time I’ve found that a clip-on vibration-detecting tuner (my Intelli) doesn’t work properly with respect to background noise is when trying to tune an acoustic guitar (classical) whilst a french horn is playing in the same room (studio rehearsal) — the sound from the horn makes the whole guitar resonate so much that the tuner might as well be clipped on to the horn instead!!! :-/

    Other than that, I’ve had no real problems :) but I might get a Snark for comparison / my other guitar(s).

  17. Since my old, but somewhat expensive Roland Tuner was stolen during a Gig, I had returned to a small but trusty tuning fork… until I got my first Android Handy and tried gStrings Free. I liked it so much that I bought the full version (at 0.99€, a real bargain); now I carry my tuner with me wherever I go and never have to bother with clip-ons.

  18. CR2032 is about as standard a battery as you can get. I have a strip of 5 in my toolbox. They fit computer motherboards, remote starters, keychain flashlights, digital watches (though they’re a little too thick for the F91w,) some models of the TV B Gone, some remote controllers, etc.

  19. I’m a (very) novice guitar player. I’ve been using a chromatic tuner app on my iPhone, which has been working well for me. One of the advantages is that I always have my phone with me, so I’m never without my tuner (and metronome and chord book).

    Am I missing out on something by not having a dedicated tuner?

  20. As for the batteries, Dealextreme has a 20 pack for $3.43 including global shipping.

    Question: is there some free Windows or Android app that lets you use the webcam or phone microphone to achieve the same functionality as this device? (I’m not asking anyone to google for me, I’m asking if anyone has experience enough with such a program to recommend it.)

    1. The key functionality here is the clip-on-osity. It tunes by picking up vibrations through the neck of your instrument, and not by using a microphone (though it has one of those too if you want it), so you won’t be dealing with ambient noise. There are free tuner apps, but AFAIK they all use the mic, which means they all have the problems of mic-based tuners.

      With my current tuner, I literally had to leave the hall if I wanted to tune during a gig, because the mic picked up everything. I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of my Snark.

  21. I sell these things for a living and have seen just about all of them. My complaint against the Snark is the dim display. You’re going to have a hard time reading it out of doors.

    What I want is a clip on tuner is a smooth and bright display. Smooth, so that you don’t see the “needle” bounce around while you’re tuning, and bright because I spend a lot of the summer doing outdoor show, and the Snark seriously underperforms here. Also, I want adjustability. I want to be able to tighten up the screws on the clip so that it stays tight. And I want the door to the battery compartment to fit tight, so as not to fall off and get lost.

    Of all the clip-ons I’ve tried, and as I said, I’ve tried just about all of them, the best in class is the TuneTech TT1000, which also costs less than the Snark. It’s the winner in all categories. The only thing it doesn’t do is change colors when you hit your note. But, for the working pro, this is the piece. Here’s the Blurb on Amazon

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