Where To Put Tuner On Pedalboard To Achieve The Best Possible Sound?

where to put tuner on pedalboard

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Have you been trying to put together a pedalboard, but don’t know where to put the tuner? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is something many beginners have trouble with.

Putting the tuner on pedalboard is a piece of cake if you know in which order you should put it. The tuner should always go first in the signal chain, as it’ll allow the cleanest signal to pass through.

In this article, you’ll get to know all about tuners on pedalboard, where to put tuner on pedalboard, where does tuner go on pedalboard to get the best possible sound, and in which order to put the pedals to maximize the tuner’s effects, among others. So stick around to get all the answers.

Where to put tuner on pedalboard?

The tuner pedal is arguably the most humble and one of the most significant pedals on the pedalboard. The reason is that no amount of expensive gear will sound remotely good if the pedalboard isn’t in tune. Yes, it’s true that ordering the pedals can be tricky to get right, especially if you’re new to setting pedalboards. For that reason, it’s important to know where does tuner go on pedalboard.

The tuner pedal must go first in the effect signal chain. This is the case as it’ll allow the cleanest signal into the pedal for the most accurate tuning pitch. Positioning the tuner pedal after other effects like distortion, EQ, modulation, etc. can easily distort the notes in the signal, affecting the accuracy of the pitch.

The other reason why tuner pedals go first in the pedalboard is that they’ll mute the signal for silent tuning. This will be a requirement for guitarists who perform live. This is the case as no audience will want to hear the annoying, irritating sound of the live guitarists tuning up on stage. It’s highly unprofessional and very annoying.


Different ways of putting the tuner in the pedalboard

Technically, the tuner pedal can be positioned anywhere on the pedalboard. It can either go first, last, or in the middle of the chain. Ultimately, pedal placement is highly subjective and will always vary from individual to individual. Actually, there is no right or wrong way of ordering the pedal chain. However, that doesn’t imply that there aren’t any guidelines to follow to get the best out of your pedals.

After distortion and other effects

If you’re going to order a tuner pedal after the chorus or distortion pedal. This isn’t the most ideal option when it comes to getting the clearest signal to the tuner. The reason is that a chorus pedal will automatically detune the notes, which makes it difficult for the tuner pedal to receive the correct pitch. This will give you a false reading when you’re trying to tune the guitar accurately.

Likewise, if you’re placing the distortion after the tuner pedal, the distortion will naturally color the signals and notes. This will end up masking them again, giving the tuner a hard time picking up notes and effectively tracking them. Moreover, it means that you’ll need to turn off the effect pedals when you wish to tune the guitar.

Experiment to get the best sound

If you’re new to pedal placement, the traditional method is to position the tuner pedal first. It’ll be a solid and safe way to go when it comes to the pedal order. If you’re going to look at the rig rundown videos on YouTube, you’ll find that almost 90% of the professionals and expert guitarists use the tuner first in line.

With that said, there is absolutely no harm in experimenting with other potential orders. This will allow you to see what suits you, your musical style, and your personal preferences. It’s always recommended that you should experiment with the gear to find a combination that works best for you.

Chromatic vs. Polyphonic

Have you been using a tuner pedal or looking to upgrade from the headphone clip-on or other types? You will find it useful to know about the different types of tuner pedals in the market. The most common pedals will be Chromatic and Polyphonic pedals. To use them properly, you’ll need to understand the difference between the two of them.

Chromatic pedals

Chromatic tuners are easily the most common type of guitar tuner. Moreover, they’re also the most versatile option when compared to a non-chromatic tuner. The advantage of having a chromatic tuner is that you’ll be able to tune the guitar to any note in the scale. This means that you’ll be able to tune to alternate tuning, including drop and open.

Meanwhile, non-chromatic tuners will only be able to interpret and register standard tuning (EADGBE). If you’re playing a high E string, the tuner will only be receiving how sharp or flat the pitch is in relation to the note E. For that reason, the chromatic tuner has become the industry standard option when selecting one for tuning the guitar on your pedalboard.

Polyphonic pedals

Polyphonic tuners are more or less new technology when talking about guitar tuners. While they haven’t revolutionized the wheel by any means, they are definitely an alternate option. But what makes them so unique? The key difference here is that you’ll have the ability to tune the strings of the guitar at once. 

When you’re hitting all the strings at once, a polyphonic tuner will display the strings’ pitch. This will give you the option to tweak the strings that might have slipped out of tune. 

The advantage here will be that you can easily tune the guitar with one sweep of the open strings. This means you’ll need to put in less effect compared to chromatic tuners. In reality, it’ll only shave a fraction of the time than individually tuning each string. While it isn’t a huge time saver, it’s still a cool feature regardless.

How to chain the guitar pedals in the pedalboard?

The tuner will go first, which is a fairly obvious choice. This is the case as it will not want to hear any affected signals. Instead, it wants to see the direct input from the guitar. Another reason why you should put the tuner first is that if you’re using true-bypass pedals, the tuner will give a buffered signal. This protects the tone from any loss of signal in the cables when other pedals are off. This is yet another one of the reasons why there are normally many tuners in pedalboards worldwide, even the ones using nothing other than boutique true-bypass stompers.

Then, you can include the wah pedal, acoustic simulator, and super octave pedal. These will change the basic tone of the guitar. To get more variety in your sound, you’ll want all the other pedals to have a decent shot at the sound of the pedals. It would be best to have these pedals as close to the guitar as possible.

After these pedals, you’ll need to include the overdrive/distortion pedals. The inclusion of a compressor will improve the sustain and tone in the pedalboard by increasing the signal t it. This is why they’re placed before the overdrive/distortion. Many guitarists prefer using a compressor just for that reason and the fixed wah sound. This is essentially a wah pedal turned on but not swept continuously. It is extremely common in rock and metal lead tones.

The equalizer will be good to have after the overdrive, especially if you’re using it to scoop mids or bump the frequencies for solos. However, there are no hard rules. It’ll work well even if the EQ is put after the compressor but before the overdrive. Although, it’ll change how the EQ sounds as you’ll be distorting it with the overdrive. It’ll be good to have the EQ before the noise suppressor, as EQs can add some noise as they’re boosting the tone at different points in the frequency spectrum. It’ll only add to the noise that is already present.

tuner on pedalboard

The Noise Suppressor will give the best results when used in the middle. It’ll take out the noise created by the amp pedals before the signal goes into the modulation and ambiance pedals. Modulation stompboxes and flangers should be placed after the tone-producing effects like wah, distortion, etc. This will help them process and modify the tone that has been built by the pedals previously.

If you’re putting it before the distortion, then you’ll be distorting the sound of the flanger. This might be what you’re after. In general, you should put it and other modulation effects after the tone-shifting pedals. Then, there will also be ambiance effects like reverb and delay.

Reverb and delay, depending on the space, should be the last thing placed before the sound finally reaches your ears in the physical space. Delaying the reverb could sound muddy. So, it is normally better to put the reverb after the delay.

Last, but not least, will be the Loop Station. Loopers aren’t actually effects, they’re recorders. Normally, you’ll want the loopers to be able to record and playback the sounds. Of course, it means that you need to place it at the end of the chain. This way, you’ll be able to hear and record the pedal combinations you’re using.

Why does every guitarist need to use tuner pedals on the pedalboard?

Assembling a perfect rig is something that every guitarist aspires to have. Even if it isn’t your goal, it’ll still be extremely fun and engaging. You’ll want to find out your favorite pedals and set them in a way that helps you get the best sound. There are almost as many unique pedalboards as there are guitarists.

However, there are some things that always remain the same. Regardless of your preferred genre or your skillset, you’ll almost always require a tuner. Whether it is for live gigs or for practice sessions, you’ll require one to get things done quicker.

Reasons why you need a tuner pedal

The primary reason why your pedalboard needs a tuner pedal is to stay in tune. After all, who would want to listen to a guitarist playing out of tune? However, it isn’t just about staying in tune, but also about having practical access to the tuner. This is why tuners in the form of pedals will be a great choice for every performing guitarist.

Firstly, stomping on the tuner pedal will give you the option to mute the signal and focus on tuning it. There is no need to have the audience listen to you tuning the guitar, as it can be quite annoying. It’ll be even worse if you’re doing this multiple times per gig. This is why it’s recommended to use a guitar pedal tuner over a conventional one.

This feature is also an advantage when compared to clip-on tuners. Although these are great things to have, you’re still required to cut off the signal by using the guitar’s volume knob. It’ll be more practical to have everything done with a simple stomp on the pedalboard. What’s more, tuners generally come with a visible display, which will help you take care of things easier and faster. All this without needing to look at the small display attached to the guitar’s headstock.

More than just a tuner

As you’ll probably already know, instruments like electric guitars and electric bass are never simple. In fact, regardless of how much time you spend learning, there are also more things to learn. You will always come across new things, no matter how informed you are, and it can impact the tone.

After all, playing music has turned into a science, and you’ll need to learn new stuff to excel at it. One that many guitarists overlook or aren’t well-informed about is the buffered bypass. This is the alternative to the so-called “true” bypass. It’s a description that you’ve probably heard on many effect pedals. It is sometimes shoved down the throats as an important feature. The choice between buffered and true-bypass pedals will be mostly about personal preferences.

However, most tuner pedals come with a buffered bypass circuit. This is where things started getting interesting. A buffer in the signal chain can save your tone, which is contrary to what some guitarists may think. Often, you’ll see a pedal like Boss’ TU-3 tuner at the start of the signal path. As it’s a device with a buffered bypass, it’ll buffer the signal to all the pedals that come after it in the signal chain.

In other words, it means that you’ll have to balance the signal if you have true-bypass pedals that you’re turning on and off. This is why tuner pedals are very popular among pedal enthusiasts, as they can offer a buffer at the start of the signal path. It’s also important to remember that electric guitars are high-impedance devices. If you’re using longer cables and many pedals with patch cables in between, you’ll likely experience signal quality loss.

This isn’t as pronounced with guitars that feature active pickups, although they can suffer from this as well. For dealing with this potential signal loss in signal chains and when you’re using longer cables, a buffered pedal will swoop in to save the day. This is why many professional guitarists prefer having guitar tuner pedals at the start of the signal path.

Use non-pedal tuners with the pedalboard

Of course, guitar pedalboards these days come with a lot of versatility. Sometimes, they even feature options to use different loops there. In most cases, they’ll come with a separate output for a tuning device and feed it a clean signal. This is easily one of the best alternatives to using a tuner pedal. These days, even pedal switches and other devices come with a separate tuner output. It’ll be useful for a regular setup.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about tuners on pedalboard, where to put tuner on pedalboard, where does tuner go on pedalboard to get the best possible sound, in which order to put the pedals to maximize the tuner’s effects, and more. Ideally, you will want to put the tuner at the start of the signal chain. Although there are no hard and fast rules for creating tones, there are some basic principles that help you get a better sound. By using the tuner first, you’ll be able to keep the noise to a minimum, get the most tonal flexibility, and produce the tone in a more natural, organic way.

However, you should still be open to experimentation. The tone you are seeking might come in after you’ve added the tuner, after the wah and distortion. It might be a bit noisy, but it will be cool. Ultimately, every guitarist and every pedalboard is unique, so experiment to see which order suits you the best.

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Rick is the founder of All Stringed. He started playing with a classical guitar when he was 10, but changed soon to electric guitar and later also to an acoustic. You can find more about him here.