I have tried a variety of free tuning apps in order to be able to make recommendations to parents. Points to note are:
- Most tuners allow you to swap instruments. If you are going to be tuning another instrument as well – say a guitar – then look for one where it easy to change from one to the other.
- Some tuners have a very technical interface – showing Hertz and other details that I don’t think you need and may be confusing for a child.
- There are apps that have an interface showing a picture of the scroll of the instrument with the peg for the string that you are playing highlighted. You may find this helpful.
- The app should have an option for you to play the sound of each string so that you can tune by ear if you wish.
- The in-app adverts in some tuners are more intrusive than for others.
- There are many apps that I haven’t tried and my advice will become out of date over time. The list below is just a starting point.
Universal Tuner – This is the one I use. It is easy to swap between instruments. The interface is clear and uncluttered with the pitch represented as points on a line (no scroll picture). It beeps when you are in tune and gives you a reassuring tick, although sometimes I find the beep doesn’t sound. There are no adverts.
Violin Tuner, Tabs4Acoustic – It is easy to swap between instruments (it can be used for cello, despite the name). It shows a picture of the scroll and pegs. There is an in-app advertisement bar at the top of the screen which I find a bit irritating, but otherwise the interface is good.
Pitched Tuner, Stonekick – It is easy to swap between instruments. It has a dial display which is clear (no scroll picture) and has friendly messages telling you to tighten or loosen the string. There is an advertisement bar, but it is at the bottom of the screen and I don’t find it too instrusive.