D'Addario Ukulele Clip On Tuners - REVIEW

10 Sept 2016

D'Addario Ukulele Clip On Tuners - REVIEW

Product review time and not an instrument itself in this feature,

rather a set of gizmos that no ukulele player is really ever without. Today we are looking at a pair of clip-on tuners from D'Addario.
Ahhh, the clip-on tuner... the blessing and curse of the ukulele world. Why a blessing? Well that much is surely obvious - they are cheap and make it much easier (and quicker) to tune than using pitch pipes or a tuning fork and you just kind of leave them there ready to do their thing - a great invention. And why a curse? Well I think that in many cases with the ukulele beginner they rely too much on the tuner. "But my tuner says so, and therefore it must be right". And with that I fear that a new generation of players are losing the ability to actually listen to notes and certainly the ability to tune by ear from another instrument... 

Please don't get me wrong though. I love them, and I use them all the time for the convenience factor, but I would still urge all of my readers to learn to use your own ears as well as using a tuner!

Rant over, and on to this pair. You will surely agree that D'Addario is a trusted name in musical instrument products, so you would expect these to have a certain decent quality level to them. You would not be wrong. The market for clip on tuners is pretty excessive in my opinion and I have seen so many that are flimsy or badly designed. Neither of those complaints apply here.

D'Addario Ukulele Tuners

First up is a tuner I have featured before on Got A Ukulele in the form of the NS Micro Headstock Tuner (the PW-CT. I first starting using the Micro because I had become sick of the overly large clip on tuners I was using before such as the Snark. Sure, they do their job, but not only do I think they look ugly, but I lost count of how many I broke, in many cases as a result of being on stage, turning the ukulele and whacking them on a microphone stand. No, I wanted something smaller and the Micro from D'Addario is now what I have been using for clip on tuning for some time.

D'Addario Micro NS Ukulele Tuner

The form factor is tiny, to such an extent that when performing, most in the audience would not know it is there. And it becomes even more unobtrusive when you hit the 'reverse' button and put the tuner on the other way around so the display is behind the headstock. Brilliant.  

D'Addario Micro Ukulele Tuner in reverse

Not that the diminutive size means it is hard to read though.. the screen is extremely bright and easy to read, and also importantly in operation it registers notes quickly and accurately. Some cheap tuners can fail in this department leading to sights of people on stage endlessly plucking notes trying to get the tuner to even register. This works as you would expect with both a note and needle display showing you whether you are sharp or flat, together with a colour guide (green in tune, red out of tune).

The clip part is not spring loaded like so many others, rather you adjust the size to fit the headstock and push it on.

Together with the ability to flip the screen, the micro also has adjustment buttons allowing you to 'tune the tuner' (meaning adjust the frequency of the A note up and down from the standard 440 Hz). It also has a cool Metronome feature the displays a bouncing light back and forth to the beat setting you choose. Handy for practice.

So I say all that about my dislike for larger clip on tuners, and then out of the package from D'Addario falls their standard Chromatic Headstock Tuner which is clearly much larger than the micro. Would I rekindle my love for the larger tuners? 

D'Addario Chromatic Headstock Tuner

Well actually, yes I really rather like this one too. First of all, you could really not say it was ugly like the Snark. It's  modern looking, sleek and best of all it folds down flat when on the headstock. I like that.

And when you unfold it the tuner immediately springs into life showing off its large and very bright screen that is super easy to read.

Attaching it is simple as it employs the more standard spring loaded clip mechanism, but the whole thing feels solid and it doesn't have the flimsy hinge so often the plague of these things.

Operation wise it's exactly the same as the Micro, just larger - the same note and needle display with colour coding and the same ability to reverse the screen and mount it underneath the headstock. Whilst it also has buttons to tune the tuner, it lacks the metronome feature of the micro, which is a shame as that large screen could have shown that off really clearly.

D'Addario Chromatic Headstock Tuner screen

But that is a minor gripe for a clip on tuner that I really rather like. It's the look of it for me, coupled with the ability to fold it down and that super clear screen that I really rather like.

At the end of the day, if you play ukulele you WILL be buying a clip on tuner. In fact if you are like me, you will go through lots of them. I say, avoid the cheap and nasty. Some of those are hard to actually operate and not that accurate and I've far too many fall apart. I consider D'Addario to be a name you can trust, and these are certainly well constructed with no flimsy hinges. If you think clip on tuners are expensive, I can assure you they are not. I remember the days where tuners were huge bulky things that you had to plug a cable into and cost a fortune. I also remember the first clip on tuners from Intellitouch and they cost close to £100 and this was 20 years ago! No, clip on tuners today are NOT expensive.

Which one do I recommend? That's hard to say - get both! Take a look at the video below to see them in action. Seriously - both will perform well for you.

The Chromatic Headstock Tuner retails for around $27 and the NS Micro for around $21 (though shopping around will get you them much cheaper!)


  1. Barry, I agree with your sentiments, and just got a pair of the new NS Soundhole tuners. They fit in the Soundhole and are very unobtrusive. They have two buttons, one on/off, and one to change pitch. I push the buttons by putting my big fingers between the first and second strings and stretching the first string a bit. So far, love it. Much more comfortable to look down at the sound hole than up at the headstock. Great aid, but I continue to listen first, then use the tuner. Thanks.

  2. I have tried several different tuners but the one I ended up standardising on was the NS Micro Tuner. They are small and unobtrusive and I can keep them on the headstock so I have several. All my regular ukes have one as they are also cheap enough to buy one for each ukulele. I have them on the top of the headstock as most of my ukes have friction tuners and under the headstock, the tuner interferes with the tuner buttons. Even on top of the headstock they remain unobtrusive.

  3. When I bought my Snark it was for a guitar and it doesn't look as hideous on that size instrument. I was looking at the Micro, but it was my first clip-on tuner and I wasn't sure how well it would stand up to being moved back and forth between 2 guitars. After reading this, I think I'll pick up a Micro (kind of always wanted to anyway).
    I just watched Grace VanderWaal on YouTube and it almost made me cringe to see that Snark on stage on a major TV show. Don't get me wrong; I love my Snark, but it's not pretty on a uke. Jake uses a really gigantic tuner - either it has some cool features or he needs reading glasses? ;-)

  4. Hi, Baz. Just fitted the micro tuner to my Makala soprano, which goes out of tune if looked at sideways. My Lanikai LU21P is much more reliable, needing tuned once a week just before a ukulele lesson. Once I realised that I had the metronome switched on by mistake, I found it quite easy to use, except that the instructions say it can be calibrated from 410 to 480Hz. What means this? And how do you do it, as on mine pressing the buttons doesn't seem to do anything? Apart from all that, as always, a great review. Your reviews are my bible if I'm looking to buy anything.

  5. The tuning option is if you wanted to tune it up and down to match an instrument that is hard to re-tune (like a piano). Standard tuning is 440 and I would leave it at that!

  6. Picked up a Micro and it's awesome. Very discreet. One thing I would say is I have to be more deliberate as to where I place it on the head stock, so I wouldn't want to be moving it between instruments all the time. The clip doesn't look like it would be up to the back-and-forth task either. The Snark-style is more convenient for sharing between instruments. But to sit on your uke all the time, the Micro is great. And I've got my old Snark for sharing anyway.

  7. I bought and returned a couple of the d'Addario micro tuners. Both of them buzzed annoyingly if I left them clipped to the headstock while I was playing (one more than the other). A lot of the customer reviews on Amazon have the same complaint.

  8. Hey Ken, mine started to do that as well after a few weeks. Returned it and the 2nd one started to buzz a bit and then it went away so I kept it. Not confidence inspiring. Must be some loose piece inside vibrating. Maybe it was a bad production batch. Too bad because I like it otherwise.

  9. I've got about seven of the micros around - they live on various instruments and a couple of guitars. No buzzing here!


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