TC Electronic POLYTUNE 3 Tuner Review

The TC Electronic POLYTUNE 3 is a polyphonic tuner pedal designed for guitarists and bassists. It’s the third iteration of TC Electronic’s popular POLYTUNE series of tuners, known for their accuracy, speed, and innovative features. Here are the key features and details of the TC Electronic POLYTUNE 3:

Polyphonic Tuning

One of the standout features of the POLYTUNE 3 [link] is its polyphonic tuning capability. This means you can strum all your guitar or bass strings at once, and the tuner will display the pitch of each string individually, allowing you to quickly identify which strings are out of tune. This feature is a significant time-saver for tuning your instrument.

In addition to polyphonic tuning, the POLYTUNE 3 also offers a traditional chromatic tuning mode. In chromatic mode, you can tune one string at a time, and the pedal will display the exact note you’re tuning to.

The tuner provides two primary display modes: strobe and needle. The strobe mode offers a highly precise and responsive tuning display, while the needle mode provides a more traditional tuning needle that reacts to pitch changes.

True Bypass and Other Features

The POLYTUNE 3 [link] features true bypass switching, ensuring that your guitar’s signal remains unaltered when the pedal is not engaged. This helps preserve your tone and signal integrity.

This tuner has a wide tuning range, covering all standard guitar and bass tunings. It can accurately tune from A0 (27.5 Hz) to C8 (4186 Hz).

You can set the reference pitch of the tuner to your preferred tuning standard, whether it’s A440, A442, and so on. This flexibility is useful if you play in ensembles that use different reference pitches.

The POLYTUNE 3 includes a built-in buffer that can be switched on or off. Using the buffer can help maintain your guitar’s signal strength and prevent signal degradation due to long cable runs or complex pedalboard setups.

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Display Modes

The tuner features a high-resolution color LED display that is easy to read even in various lighting conditions. You can choose between different display modes, including a horizontal mode and a vertical mode to suit your pedalboard setup.

The pedal includes a polarity switch that allows you to change the polarity of the power output, making it compatible with a wide range of pedals and power supplies.

The POLYTUNE 3 can be powered by a 9V battery or an external 9V DC power supply. It also includes a DC output for daisy-chaining other pedals.

The pedal’s compact design and rugged metal enclosure make it suitable for gigging and touring musicians. It can withstand the rigors of the road and easily fit onto most pedalboards.

Overall, the TC Electronic POLYTUNE 3 is a versatile and advanced tuner pedal that offers polyphonic tuning, precise tuning modes, and various useful features for guitarists and bassists. Whether you need to quickly tune all your strings or fine-tune each one individually, this pedal provides the flexibility and accuracy needed to keep your instrument in perfect tune.

How to Use

blankUsing the TC Electronic POLYTUNE 3 is straightforward, and it offers both polyphonic tuning (tuning all strings at once) and chromatic tuning (tuning individual strings). Here’s how to use this tuner:

1. Power On the Tuner:

  • Make sure your tuner is properly powered. You can use a 9V battery or an external 9V DC power supply. Connect your guitar to the input of the tuner pedal.

2. Select Tuning Mode:

  • The POLYTUNE 3 offers both polyphonic and chromatic tuning modes. To use the polyphonic mode, press and hold the footswitch for a few seconds until the display shows “Polyphonic” or “Poly.” For chromatic mode, simply press the footswitch once, and the display will show “Chromatic” or “Chro.”

3. Play All Strings (Polyphonic Mode):

  • In polyphonic mode, strum all your guitar strings simultaneously. The display will show the pitch of each string individually. You can quickly identify which strings are out of tune, and adjust accordingly.

4. Tune Individually (Chromatic Mode):

  • In chromatic mode, play each string one at a time. The tuner will display the pitch of the string you’re tuning. Adjust the tuning peg for that string until the display indicates that it’s in tune. The display typically uses a needle or strobe pattern to guide you.

5. Read the Display:

  • In chromatic mode, the display will indicate whether the string is flat, sharp, or in tune. Adjust the tuning peg until the display shows that the pitch is correct.
  • In polyphonic mode, each string’s pitch will be displayed separately. Look at the display for any strings that are out of tune, and adjust them accordingly.

6. Tune to Your Reference Pitch:

  • If you need to tune to a specific reference pitch (e.g., A440), make sure the tuner is set to your desired reference. Some tuners have a reference pitch adjustment. Refer to your tuner’s user manual for details on how to change the reference pitch.

7. Check for Proper Tuning:

  • After tuning each string, strum all the strings together to ensure that the guitar sounds in tune across all strings. Make any additional adjustments as needed.

8. Bypass and Save Battery:

  • If you’re not actively tuning, it’s a good practice to bypass the tuner by pressing the footswitch again. This ensures that the tuner is not affecting your guitar’s signal, and it helps conserve the battery life if you’re using a battery-powered pedal.

9. Power Off:

  • When you’re done using the tuner, power it off to save battery life. If you’re using a pedalboard with a power supply, you can simply switch off the power to the pedal.

The TC Electronic POLYTUNE 3 is a versatile and user-friendly tuner pedal that simplifies the tuning process. Whether you’re tuning each string individually or using the polyphonic mode to tune quickly, it’s an essential tool to ensure your guitar or bass is in tune and ready to play.


Several other tuner pedals on the market offer similar functionality and compete with the POLYTUNE 3. Here 10 competitors and alternatives that you can consider:

  1. Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner: The Boss TU-3 is a highly regarded chromatic tuner pedal known for its rugged build quality and accurate tuning. It offers a bright LED display and can power other pedals with its built-in power output.
  2. Korg Pitchblack Pro: The Korg Pitchblack Pro is a compact and versatile tuner pedal with a large LED display that’s easy to read on stage. It offers both chromatic and strobe tuning modes and has true bypass switching.
  3. Peterson StroboStomp HD: If you’re looking for a highly accurate tuner with strobe tuning, the Peterson StroboStomp HD is an excellent choice. It’s known for its precision and customizable tuning options.
  4. PolyTune 3 Mini: If you like the POLYTUNE 3 but prefer a more compact size, TC Electronic offers the PolyTune 3 Mini. It retains many of the features of the larger version but in a smaller footprint.
  5. D’Addario PW-CT-20 Chromatic Pedal Tuner: D’Addario’s tuner pedal offers chromatic tuning with a bright and easy-to-read display. It features true bypass and can be powered by a 9V battery or power supply.
  6. Snark SN-10 Pedal Tuner: Snark is known for its clip-on tuners, and the SN-10 is their pedal tuner offering. It provides accurate tuning and a bright display while being budget-friendly.
  7. Planet Waves NS Micro Tuner: Another option from D’Addario, the NS Micro Tuner is an ultra-compact pedal tuner that can easily fit on any pedalboard. Despite its small size, it provides accurate tuning.
  8. Mooer Baby Tuner: Mooer’s Baby Tuner is a mini-sized pedal tuner that offers chromatic tuning with a bright LED display. It’s known for its small footprint and affordability.
  9. Digitech HT-6 Polara Harmonic Tuner: The Digitech HT-6 offers a unique harmonic tuning mode in addition to chromatic tuning. It provides an alternative approach to tuning for players seeking different tonal possibilities.
  10. Joyo JT-305 Chromatic Tuner: Joyo’s JT-305 is an affordable tuner pedal with a straightforward design. It offers accurate tuning and true bypass switching.