Tuner Talk - CAUTION: POSSIBLY CONTROVERSIAL OPINION - I hate the clip on tuner.

Pukin' Ukin'

Well-known member
Aug 29, 2015
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This is an opinion piece and I sincerely do not want to offend anyone. I came across a post on using tuner apps and clip ons so that made me want to post this info that I believe is helpful. I understand that some of the purpose of this post is to pat myself on the back but I truly hope it can help out a lot of players.

This is all just my opinion but I don't think this is subjective. A uke with a tuner clipped to the headstock is silly looking, ugly, and it looks ridiculous. No? For the most part ukes are beautiful instruments. Having a clip on tuner, literally every model I've ever seen, hanging off the end of a uke disrupts the design and I believe it is possible that it can have a negative effect on playing. This even applies to the Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner.

The solution to this isn't so dificult or expensive. You can have a highly functional "on board" tuner that isn't permanently cut into your uke and mounted inside like an eq housing. But the solution actually does involve the Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner, modified.

Take the clip off the back of the Micro Tuner and file down the piece of plastic that remains on the back of the actual tuner unit. I am no craftsman or handyman but this was easy to do. Then continue filing the back of the tuner unit until it is completely flat. Use a piece of double sided tape, foam or rubber not double sided scotch tape, and mount the tuner onto the back of your headstock (pics below!) so you will be able to see it easily but it also remains completely out of the way and hidden unless you are looking to tune.

This works very well and I've been using this for my ukes for a while.




My concern would be the adhesives and their possible impact on the finish. This may be an unfounded worry, I don't know. I'm not super comfortable with the clip-on tuners, either, and I don't leave them on the headstock, which is why I bought a 440hz tuning fork and am practicing tuning by ear. I'm not really there yet, but I hope to get my ears trained enough to be able to do this reliably. Working with a reference tone from a recording might be easier in the beginning.
I think it's great you found a solution with which you're satisfied and some other will likely want to do the same.

I'm not sure what "negative effects" you have in mind on having a tuner on while you play. Can you clarify? Even so, with many clip-ons you can simply put 'er on to tune up, then take 'er off to play.

For me personally, (a) I agree with the earlier comment about concerns of adhesives on the wood long term; (b) I don't notice any difference of having the tuner on when I play (and many professionals leave them in place); and (c) I don't find them to be quite so offensive looking. In fact, I sort of dig my Peterson Strobe Clip-on.
Like UkeEd, I tune then take off the tuner and clip it to my music stand.

I don't feel I should be taping anything to my Moore Bettah and French Polished Griffins. Good idea though for the ukes with a tougher finish.
I like the D'addario slim profile tuners for this reason alone - that they are not so noticeable. This is taking that to the Next Level. I would only worry about the gumminess/ stickiness. But on a lower priced uke, go for it!
The clip part of your tuner might increase the sustain because of a wee bit more mass. You might be missing out...

But really, I'd rather see a room full of ugly tuners and have everyone in tune than see a bunch of bald headstocks that are attached to ukes that sound like garbage. Just my thought as a teacher: big picture = get everyone in tune by whatever means necessary. And at a gig I would guarantee you the tape would come unstuck and the tuner would bounce under the stage not to be seen again for 40 years. Murphy's law.

Glad you found a solution. You might try angling the tuner towards you so you can look at it between the tuning pegs as opposed to having to tilt the uke up every time.
I use that mini tuner and just flip it to be on the bottom side of the headstock, it has a button to flip the readout, then just a thin piece of plastic is showing on the front. All but one of my ukes have a preamp with built in tuner, and I have a preamp/tuner to install in that one.
I don't understand why anyone leaves a tuner on their Uke. Many Ukers I've read on the UU seem to be concerned about the ukes's peghead weight, but I don't understand that either. Can't they hold up the peghead of a ukulele? Anyway, if one is concerned with peghead weight, then why would he/she add the tuner's weight to it?

I think all my Ukes and banjos can stay in tune for at least one or two tunes. Then, if necessary, I can retune it. Unless I'm missing something, it's another tempest in a teapot.
I'm a big believer in people finding a solution that works for them, and then not judging them for the solution they choose. I'm glad the OP has found a solution, but like some others who have posted here, I would not want to attach double-sided tape even to the back of my headstock. I use a clip-on tuner, and sometimes I remember to take it off before playing and sometimes I don't. The clip-on tuner works for me. I hope people don't judge me on those occasions where I forget to take it off.
Peghead weight is no issue for me since I mostly play tenors and/or with a strap.

I use the NS Micro tuner, but have it on the BACK of the headstock with only the little 1.25" clip part showing on the front, which you can BARELY see.

All of NS Micro tuners I've owned and used allow you to flip the display with a simple button push.

ALSO, having the NS Micro on the BACK of the headstock, it does not get in the way when closing your uke in a case, but this depends upon how much clearance you have on the inside of the case that is over the face of your headstock.

If the case is PRESSING DOWN on the headstock, with the way the neck is typically held underneath, you have a perfect fulcrum to snap the headstock clean off, right at the scarf joint, if you drop the uke case (with uke inside) with enough force.

String tension alone will NOT prevent this, especially if something is already PRESSING DOWN on the headstock, i.e., case >> tuner >> headstock>> BIG empty space underneath.

For a while I experimented using a small bead of blu-tak or fun-tak with the NS Micro, after removing the clip of course, but ultimately found this too fiddly. The fun-tak does not really leave any residue that cannot easily be removed with a damp paper towel and water, but I decided to stop using it.

After buying many NS Micro tuners, I got fed up with needing a constant supply of batteries to keep them all alive, and constantly opening/closing the clip to move it from uke to uke WILL break the clip part. I use that cheap $1.99 Reverb tuner a lot now, and remove it after tuning.

I should mention that whether I use any of these tuners, or an app, most of the time, I need to tune a bit by ear (depending upon the instrument and it's intonation variance), so I only use a tuner to 'ballpark' the pitches I want, and then fine tune by listening.
I use a clip on tuner - my understanding is once in tune you remove it & put it away.

I can understand that while strings are settling in, you may want to leave the tuner clipped on whilst playing, & no doubt it can be fun to watch your strings go out of tune, but they are ugly & do not enhance the look.
I like the OP's innovation, and if technology wasn't continually "improving," whose to say why we couldn't have replaceable and upgradeable built-in headstock tuners come into vogue. Otherwise, I'm happy with clipping on and taking off before every session. It's fine by me.
I use the planet waves micro tuners and leave them clipped on the headstock. They're relatively unobtrusive. I have no issues with others doing the same with whatever is their favourite tuner. Whatever works.

As far as I'm concerned if others don't like it, that's their problem, not mine.
I don't understand why anyone leaves a tuner on their Uke. Many Ukers I've read on the UU seem to be concerned about the ukes's peghead weight, but I don't understand that either. Can't they hold up the peghead of a ukulele? Anyway, if one is concerned with peghead weight, then why would he/she add the tuner's weight to it?

I think all my Ukes and banjos can stay in tune for at least one or two tunes. Then, if necessary, I can retune it. Unless I'm missing something, it's another tempest in a teapot.

I'm with Dick on this one. Take it off when you're done if you can't stand the looks. And if your uke can't keep it's tuning for a couple of songs you have far worse problems than the looks of a clip-on-tuner.
Yes i too like others mention that the tape will affect the finish.
If you dont want to see the tuner on, take it off after tuning
I only use the tuner to get a ball park tuning, if its way off or its not one my ukes
After that i fine tune mostly always by ear and pitch.
You dont need to do that or have a tuner always on.
But if it work for you thats good, isnt it har to see the tuner behind the headstock while tuning?
Maybe I am lucky, but my uke holds it's tuning really really well :). I only retune once a week or so, if that (and I play everyday), and even then I mostly find that it was unnecessary. On those occasions I dont mind clipping on the Snark tuner, it lives in the uke case the rest of the time.
I am among those who don't like the look of a tuner clipped on to the headstock. In my opinion, it detracts from the integrity of the look of the instrument (i.e. it's ugly) and I don't understand the need for it unless you are breaking in a new set of strings. I tune my uke and then put the tuner back in the uke case, it's as simple as that. If your uke can't hold a tune for the length of your playing session whether that be minutes or hours, then you have a problem with your uke. In the last week in which I've been playing daily, my uke only required tuning once. Even then, the strings were equally off just a couple of degrees from in tune so relative to one another, they were still in tune. I'm not a fan of the double-sided tape solution. I too would be concerned about what the adhesive would do to the finish. And what happens when you need to change batteries? Then you have to rip it off and stick it back on again. In the end, it's all totally unnecessary. When you're in need of a tune, just clip it on, tune it and take it off or accept the look of leaving it on. To me, it's just as ugly stuck to the back of the headstock as it would be clipped to the edge the only difference being, I'm the only one who's going to see it unless someone is behind me.
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I never realized that having a tuner on your ukulele was an issue worth discussing, until someone brought it up in a thread a year of so ago. The reason I leave mine on the ukulele, is so that I don't put it down somewhere and lose it.
Wow, nice. I had no idea this would get so much press. Really I live by "to each their own" and as I stated I honestly was just putting my own opinion out there and was not trying to ruffle any feathers.

The adhesive has zero effect on the finish. Ive used this type of tape and others on my martin guitars and ukes for years. I will absolutely agree that caution should be used when applying it but I just removed a large piece of pretty strong velcro from my 80's martin guitar thats been on their for over five years and it came off completely clean. I understand people's hesitation though.
Back in the day...

...when contact (aka clip-on) tuners first hit the scene, Sabine came out with an intriguing stick-on version, the AX2000 guitar tuner. It had a permanent, washable sticky pad on it that adhered to any finish without causing any issues. Very cool, but more expensive and less convenient than the clip-ons. They don't make them anymore, but there are a few pictures here: http://www.music123.com/frames-casters-legs-corners-for-pa-speakers/sabine-ax-2000w-guitar-tuner

I have one floating around here somewhere. Too big to be practical for Ukuleles, though and not as accurate as today's offerings. I have a Peterson Stroboclip for fine tuning situations and have become a big fan of the D'Addario micro for everyday Uke tuning.

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