Keeping clarinets in tune is important to perform. However, instead of relying on physical tuners, tuning apps allow you to achieve the same results in an affordable package.
I have played the clarinet for over two decades and realized there are common struggles that happen to all musicians regardless of their instrument; keeping their instrument in tune. Through my experiences with playing on-stage as well as in general practice sessions, I quickly learned that the most important tools to create music aside from my clarinet are an audio recorder, a metronome, and a tuner.
Since I have performed alongside other instrumentalists for many years, we frequently have never-ending debates on instrument intonation – even for woodwind instruments like my clarinet. Despite these debates, we can all agree on three things: tuners are great for perfecting our craft, physical tuners come in handy when we need to correct our instruments, and tuner apps are excellent when we need more accurate options without spending the money you would use on physical tuners.
If you are an aspiring clarinetist or currently own a clarinet but are wondering how to keep it in perfect tune at times, even during on-demand performances, you are in the right place – technology has fortunately allowed many developers to create tuning apps to help you in your quest. It is worth noting that the apps we will discuss in this review and guide do not just cater to clarinet players, but also other instruments.
The best clarinet tuner applications 2022 Comparison Table
|App||Number of tuning temperaments||Availability||Check price|
|ClearTune Chromatic Tuner||23||iOS (both iPhone and iPad)||Check it here|
|TonalEnergy Tuner and Metronome||7 (also offers customizable ones)||iOS, Android, Amazon||Check it here|
|Tunable Instrument and Skill Tuner||18||iOS, Android||Check it here|
The best clarinet tuner apps Reviews
ClearTune Chromatic tuner – best for iOS devices
Regardless of the instrument you play, this is a great iPad and iPhone tuning app that assists you to tune the instrument by relying on the in-built microphone on your device, which ensures you attain perfect pitch at all times.
- Note wheel display for easier reading of music notes and more accurate reading
- Operates on iOS 9.0 or later, and the support extends up to iOS 14.0
- You can use it on iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone
- Needs a minimum capacity of 8.9 MB of space on your device
This app is a standard choice if you want to use a tuner on your iPhone or iPad with high levels of accuracy. It achieves this through using its tone generator tool or the pitch pipe or relying on the in-built microphone on your device to tune the instrument by ear.
The uniqueness of the app, however, lies in the note wheel display it employs – which ensures the tuning process is faster and more accurate. Additionally, it enhances the accuracy by using an ultra-responsive 25-cent fine-tuning display, which ensures you will always attain your best pitch spots, which are accurate to one-hundredth of a semitone.
You will like the customization option of notations and temperaments, ranging from a personalized approach to set notations like Solfège. To add to this, the app offers changeable A4 calibrations that you can use to tune your instrument in 0.1 Hz increments, as well as toggling the note selection between manual and automatic.
What we liked
- You will find it very easy to read, even if you have a smaller phone screen
- It has both a pitch pipe (with 10 octaves and 4 waveforms) and a tuner (with numerous preloaded temperaments)
- It includes complete support for transposing instruments
- Very easy to use, thanks to a straightforward display
- Its reference notes have automatic calibration
What we didn’t like
- You will need to dive into the menu to adjust certain options
This is one of the best tuning apps to get if you have an iPad or iPhone, and it is a worthwhile option for musicians and clarinetists who play live frequently.
TonalEnergy tuning – best multipurpose app
Unlike ClearTune which is limited to iOS devices, TonalEnergy Chromatic Tuner is available on both iOS and Android, as well as on the Amazon store. It is highly popular for all musicians at various levels, and many people may know it as the smiley-faced app when you successfully play a note in tune despite its less intuitive and more cluttered interface.
- Has a tone generator that can tune a wide range of instruments, including clarinets
- A very large pitch range ranging from C0 up to C8
- In-built waveforms allow you to create pitch reference notes
- Allows you to export all audio to other platforms like SoundCloud and iTunes
This app focuses on intonation and its design proves that – the tuning functions are the most versatile aspect of the app. Its main tuning screen has an easy-to-read tuner and a smiley face when you are in tune for a nice touch, while the bottom contains information like the deviation from in-tune, the exact pitch you are playing in, the current transposition, the note frequency, as well as the current concert A frequency.
In terms of the pitch pipe, the app has three varieties: a piano, a string, and a wheel, which you can use depending on your needs. Additionally, the tuner has automatic transposition that you can use when you pick a specific sound and instrument, and this will set the pitch pipe to match the estimated range of the instrument you chose. If you want greater accuracy, you can set this up manually as well.
What we liked
- It comes with a full set of features that handle different tasks
- Its pitch pipes have plenty of soundscapes and automated transpositions
- Includes three skill levels for a wider range of ‘in-tune’ sounds
- Its tuning function has several temperament types and allows you to create new ones
- It has an analysis screen that shows intonation and harmonic content
- Metronome includes every time signature and subdivision you require
What we didn’t like
- App design is not as intuitive as other apps despite the rich features
- Lacks a way to make quick adjustments for the metronome tempo
If you want a multipurpose app that handles tuning, metronome functionality, and tone generation, the TonalEnergy app is the best choice for you. Its design allows it to be sensitive to a wide pitch range, allows you to use the metronome or tuning function to record yourself, and has a wide range of ‘difficulty’ settings for greater accuracy.
Tunable Tuner – best premium tuner option
Coming from AffinityBlue, the Tunable Tuner app features a recorder, metronome, and tuner, and is available on the iOS and Android stores.
- Tuning Accuracy of up to 1/100 of a cent
- Allows calibration to any pitch standard, with the default being at A=440
- Offers a tuning history menu to check your sustained note abilities throughout periods
- Large tuning indicator to show when you are playing in tune
- Up to 20 tuning temperaments and vibrato settings
- Auto Octave rounding to improve your access to notes
- Tempo markings allow you to move quickly across standard tempos
As the name suggests, the tuner function is the main attraction of the show, with no damping or sensitivity options. We noticed that its tuning accuracy was impressive, ranging from 1 and 2 hundredths of a cent, and the app can tell you any deviations you make in cents from the original note. The only drawback is the lack of indicators where the original temperament is in tune and altered temperaments are also in tune.
We like the design modification of adding the pitch pipe function to the tuner screen for more convenience. Its range covers almost 7.5 octaves, which is quite big, and you can choose among four timbre options easily. Automatic adjustments are available as well – when you choose an alternative temperament, the pitch pipe adjusts the sound automatically, and can even handle polyphonic scales for the days when you feel experimental.
On the other hand, the metronome has nothing much to write home about. It is functional, but simple enough for the average tempo marks, but it cannot adjust sounds. The recorder is also simple, but it lacks the fine-tuning you would expect from a frequency range in many instruments.
What we liked
- Features necessary features that any musician needs
- The screen has plenty of information but remains easily navigable
- Good for beginners due to the various intonation ‘difficulty levels’
- Plenty of features in the pitch pipes and tuner
What we didn’t like
- Lacks a landscape view
- The recorder and metronome functions seem to lack certain features
This app is a well-rounded option, and despite its imperfections, its tuning functionality is excellent. It is simple to use even for beginners and offers several temperament settings as well.
Buying guide for the best clarinet tuner apps for 2022
Before getting a tuning app, it is essential to know why it is important in the first place. Each instrument has its unique tendencies, including naturally having notes that are flat or sharp. At times, the notes are consistent with the instrument, but many times the notes that may sound great on a specific instrument will be flat on another instrument.
Therefore, using a tuner is essential because it allows you to know the natural tendencies of your instrument, which allows you to make adjustments before playing it, whether you are playing it with others or alone.
In the past, musicians used to carry tuners alongside their instruments, with some tuners also offering metronome functions while others forced the musician to carry a metronome, a tuner, and the instrument. The smartphone changed all that, however; as tuning apps came up and were cheaper than the most affordable tuner – some tuning apps are free, while you need to pay for others to get extra features.
What to look out for in a clarinet tuning app
These are the most important features to look for in a tuning app on your smartphone, and you should note that these tips will also apply to tuning other instruments as well.
It should be visually easy to understand
Once you get used to tuning instruments, doing so for your clarinet or any instrument should take a few minutes. If you are using an app, the last thing you want is trying to figure out a very complex interface when you just want to find out which exact pitch you are playing in, so that you fix it quickly in case of issues.
Accuracy in the semitone
Other than the apps showing you the exact pitch you are playing, the best clarinet tuners will also show you the accuracy of the specific pitch, even down to the specific semitone you are playing. While you may not need to worry about this aspect in all cases, you may need to know it at times when playing orchestral arrangements.
Playback for the pitch pipes
Some musicians prefer the old-fashioned way of tuning, where you hear a pitch and make tuning adjustments on your instrument to make them sound the same. If you are using a tuning app and prefer this approach, ensure the app can handle the playing of different chromatic pitches throughout several octaves. This will help when you are accommodating both high and low-register clarinets, such as a soprano clarinet or bass clarinet.
Many tuners will let you specify the calibration you prefer using. Since you are using a digital tuner in this case, always ensure it is set to 440 Hz before using it, as this will ensure the tuning readings you get are as accurate as possible. Keep in mind that tuners tend to display different notes than what you are playing because clarinet ‘home base’ notes are set to Bb rather than C.
Whether it allows for ensemble tuning
In most orchestral arrangements, clarinets will tune to concert A due to all string instruments in the arrangement having open A strings, and it also ensures stability when playing different compositions. At their heart, clarinets are transposing instruments, so another lower-placed instrument like the oboe will be used to tune clarinets in this setup because it has a stable and distinct sound.
On the other hand, most band ensembles like high school and middle school bands tune clarinets to concert Bb or C standards, as most clarinets are in a Bb ‘home’ key setup. This also applies to euphonium, tubas, and trumpets.
The tendencies of your clarinet’s pitch
Each clarinet has unique tendencies, with some producing flat notes and others producing sharp notes. Therefore, knowing your instrument is important – and so is knowing the note tendencies it has.
An instance would be in throat notes, which tend to be sharp, and you can change by pulling the barrel outwards. The problem is that you cannot always perform this adjustment in the middle of a rehearsal or performance, so you can implement the method of alternate fingerings to raise or lower the pitch instantly. This method can affect the sound quality, so you will need to ensure the tonal and sound qualities are excellent.
If you are inexperienced with tuning or your clarinet is quite new, you may not remember all the tendencies a clarinet produces in different notes – so this is where a clarinet pitch tendency chart comes in. To use it, you will check the clarinet tuner for any long tones it has, and play each note on it. You then fill the chart with the clarinet note tendencies, then keep this chart in a music folder or your case for easy access when you need to do some quick tuning.
At the end of the day, the best tuner app for your clarinet largely depends on the specific requirements of the instrument, and your personal preferences as a player, as the choice is not as clear-cut as it is with metronome apps. The apps we have discussed in this review should give you a good starting point though, as they offer the best services catering to a wide range of needs.
Why are clarinets usually tuned to Bb?
This is because the Bb key is the best for a clarinet to produce the most consistent intonation and sound qualities.
How should I tune my clarinet?
The key to clarinet tuning is changing the tube or barrel length to match your preferred playing style and note range. Shorter tube lengths will result in sharper notes, while longer tube lengths result in flatter notes. A tuning app can also help you to achieve the best note qualities depending on the pieces you are playing.
What are the steps I should follow when tuning my clarinet?
Always start by warming up the instrument to avoid playing flat notes. After this, check the tone by using a tuner or an ensemble, adjust the clarinet by changing the tube length or adding barrel rings, and examine the individual notes. Additionally, adjust your diaphragm and embouchure as posture is essential to playing the correct notes.