Korg Guitar Tuner Comparison

Korg is known for their tuners and metronomes, particularly their hand-held units.  But in recent years, they have added capabilities that go beyond the basic tuners and metronomes.  Much beyond.  So, here is a Korg guitar tuner comparison, with a focus on the hand-held units, along with descriptions of all the new capabilities.

korg guitar tuner comparison

Click here if you are interested in the models that clip-on to a guitar’s headstock.

Instruments

The table below shows which instruments can be tuned with each model.

ModelInstruments
GA-1Guitar, Bass
GA-2Guitar, Bass
GA-40Guitar, Bass
GA CustomGuitar, Bass, Keyboard, Orchestral Instruments
TM-50Wind, Strings, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass
TM-50TRWind, Strings, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass
TMR-50Wind, Strings, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass
CA-1Wind, Strings, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass
CA-2Wind, Strings, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass
CA-40Wind, Strings, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass
OT-120Wind, Strings, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass

Features

Guitar / Bass Tuning Mode

Allows the user to select between dedicated modes for guitar or bass.

Flat Tuning

This mode allows the user to set the number of semitones below pitch, called flat tuning.  You can set up to 5 semitones below pitch.  Korg’s system is named Quinta Flat Tuning.  Available only on the GA-1, GA-2, and GA-40 models.

Change Reference Pitch

This feature allows the user to change the reference pitch away from 440 Hz.  The range available varies by model.  Some models show the pitch on the meter, allowing the user to tune to something other than 440 Hz without having to manually set the reference pitch.

Input from External Microphone

All models come with an internal microphone for detecting sound.  On some, an external microphone can be used in place of the internal mic.

Sound Out

This mode plays the reference pitch to allow tuning aurally instead of relying on the meter.

Sound Back

In this mode, the tuner generates a reference tone that’s closest to the input sound, allowing for aural tuning.

Metronome

This feature is just what it says:  a metronome.  However, these metronomes do more than just generate clicks or tones at a specified rate.  They come with a number of rhythm variations to aid the player.  On the TM-50TR model, it even has a periodic function that alternates between sound and silence to test your rhythm ability.  Interestingly, the metronomes can be used in conjunction with the tuner to test both pitch and rhythm at the same time.

Tone Trainer

This is a really cool feature, found only on the TM-50TR model.  Unfortunately, it only works on woodwinds, brass, and bowed strings (think: violin), and not on guitars.  Bummer.  What this feature does is analyze your sound as you play.  It detects not only pitch, but also volume and tone (brightness).  The display shows the stability of each (pitch, volume, and tone) after the note has finished, allowing you to see how those factors change during a note.

Headphone Jack

Allows the user to listen to output from the device.  This is particularly useful for the metronome feature.

Stand

Some models come with a flip-out stand to allow the tuner to sit upright, while others have a slot that will hold a guitar pick that serves as a stand

Recording

The TMR-50 model includes the ability to record as you play.  It can hold up to 20 minutes maximum, or up to 100 tracks.  Recording quality is high (44.1 kHz, 16-bit monaural), and uses WAV format for all files.  A USB port allows you to download tracks on to your computer.  It also allows you to upload files to listen to on the device.

Pure Major Third or Pure Minor Third

This allows you to tune to the pure major third or pure minor third relative to the displayed pitch.  This feature is only available on models used for band or orchestral instruments.

Meter Mode

The GA Custom model gives you the option of three display modes for checking your tuning.  These are:

Regular Mode

In Regular Mode, meter bars light up from the far left and extend to the right, depending on tune.  If the meter bars stop at the top of the semi-circle, the instrument is in tune.  When the bars are only on the left side – flat.  If the bars are to the right of center – sharp.

Strobe Mode

In Strobe Mode, when the lines move to the left – flat.  If the lines move to the right – sharp.  You know you’re in tune when the lines stand still.  This mode is more accurate than Regular Mode.

Half-Strobe Mode

In this mode, one line in the center of the meter shows when the instrument is in tune.  When flat, only the meter segments to the left of center are shown.  When sharp, only the meter segments to the right of center are shown.

Orchestral Features

The following features are available only on the OT-120 model, designed for a variety of orchestral instruments.

1.  Transposing Keys – 12 types of transposing keys allow you to tune any wind instrument.

2.  Multi-Temperament Function – comes with eight presets that cover the most popular historical temperaments that are often used with period instruments.  These include Pythagorean, Werckmeister III, Vallotti, Mean Tone E-flat, Kirnberger III, Young, Mean Tone D-sharp, and Kellner

3.  Speed of Response – select slow, medium, or fast response

4.  Manual vs. Auto Note Selection – In Auto mode, the device detects the pitch of the note being played, while Manual mode allows the user to specify the note name

Auto Power-Off

All models will power off if the tuner hasn’t been used for a period of time.  How long this takes depends on the model.

This table shows the major features that can be found on each model.

ModelGuitar / BassChange Ref. PitchSound OutSound BackMetronomeStand
GA-1Yes430-450 Hz on meterYesguitar pick
GA-2Yes430-450 Hz on meterYes
GA-40Yes430-450 Hz on meterYesbuilt in
GA CustomYes (436-445 Hz)guitar pick
TM-50Yes (410-480 Hz)YesYesYesbuilt in
TM-50TRYes (410-480 Hz)YesYesYesbuilt in
TMR-50Yes (410-480 Hz)YesYesYesbuilt in
CA-1Yes (410-480 Hz)Yesguitar pick
CA-2Yes (410-480 Hz)Yes
CA-40Yes (410-480 Hz)Yesbuilt in
OT-120Yes (349-499 Hz)YesYesbuilt in

Displays

Below show the case and displays for each model.

GA-1

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GA-2

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GA-40

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GA Custom

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TM-50

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TM-50TR

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TMR-50

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CA-1

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CA-2

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CA-40

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OT-120

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General Information

The table below shows some general features of each model, along with the approximate cost.

ModelPower OffBattery LifeApprox. $
GA-120 min.100 hours$17
GA-220 min.100-200 hours$18
GA-4020 min.85 hours$20
GA Custom3 min.50 hours$25
TM-5020 min.24 hours$30
TM-50TR20 min.24 hours$48
TMR-5020 min.11-24 hours$110
CA-120 min.100 hours$22
CA-220 min.100-200 hours$15
CA-4020 min.85 hours$17
OT-12020 min.100 hours or AC$80

External Microphone

Last, but not least, in my opinion, is an almost essential add-on – an external piezo microphone that can be attached to virtually any instrument, from winds, to strings, to guitars.  Because it senses vibrations, instead of sound, it’s effective in more noisy environments where traditional sound microphones don’t work well.  If you only play in quiet settings, you may not need this external microphone.

CM-200

korg guitar tuner comparison

Issues

Overall, there are few complaints about these tuners.  Here are the ones I know of.

For the units advertised as being for piano, some users have found the units fail to register notes in the lowest and highest octaves.

Sometimes the meters can be a bit jumpy.

The metronome volume can be an issue.  Although, the headphone jack is there to help overcome this.

One owner even complained about the unit being too small.  I guess you can’t please everyone…

Summary

I like these tuners from Korg.  There contain a good range of features and capabilities; with a positive personal experience.  My daughter uses one of the chromatic tuners, and has been quite rough with it.  Yet, it just keeps on working, kinda like the Energizer Bunny!

I hope this Korg guitar tuner comparison has been useful.  Whatever you do, keeping on playing.  Music makes the world a better place!

Rock On!

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