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TC Electronic PolyTune 3 review

TC Electronic presents premium polyphonic tuning at an affordable price

  • £95
  • $95
TC Electronic PolyTune 3 review
(Image: © TC Electronic)

Our Verdict

The TC Electronic PolyTune 3 is their best guitar tuner yet, and for the money there are few tuners on the market with the same set of features. With an ultra-bright LED display, impressive accuracy and more useful features on board, this tuner deserves some serious consideration if there’s a gap on your pedalboard.

Pros

  • Highly accurate tuning
  • Three different tuning modes
  • Switchable buffer

Cons

  • A bit too complex for a tuner?

MusicRadar Verdict

The TC Electronic PolyTune 3 is their best guitar tuner yet, and for the money there are few tuners on the market with the same set of features. With an ultra-bright LED display, impressive accuracy and more useful features on board, this tuner deserves some serious consideration if there’s a gap on your pedalboard.

Pros

  • +

    Highly accurate tuning

  • +

    Three different tuning modes

  • +

    Switchable buffer

Cons

  • -

    A bit too complex for a tuner?

TC Electronic PolyTune 3 review: What is it?

Designed to offer easy and accurate tuning in chromatic, polyphonic or strobe tuning modes, the TC Electronic PolyTune 3 is a tuner pedal which will satisfy your tuning wants and needs at an affordable price.

TC Electronic is one of the guitar world’s biggest names when it comes to effects. They offer high quality pedals and multi-effects which are durable and sound great - and whilst the PolyTune 3 doesn’t make your guitar tone pop like a distortion or delay, it helps you stay in tune - a much more basic, but extremely necessary task.

We know that guitar tuners aren’t the most glamorous or interesting purchases you can make, but they are probably the most important guitar accessory around. No matter what other gear you’re using - if your guitar is out of tune, then it’s game over. If you’re looking for a pedal tuner to compliment your setup, then we’d highly recommend you take a look at the PolyTune 3 - it’s even the number one pick in our best guitar tuners guide. 

TC Electronic PolyTune 3 review: Performance & Verdict

TC Electronic PolyTune 3 review

(Image credit: TC Electronic)

Our first impressions of the TC Electronic PolyTune 3 are positive ones - with the pedal having a reassuring amount of heft to it. It’s solid metal enclosure - like all the other TC pedals - embues us with a level of confidence and puts any of those ‘affordable pedal’ worries about plastic enclosures or low quality parts to bed. The footswitch feels strong and secure, and the ‘notchless’ soft touch feature provides that little bit of extra comfort during use. The screen is big and bold, and even without plugging it in, we can tell the PolyTune 3 will be visible from all angles once placed on our ‘board.

Once plugged in to the rest of our pedalboard, our expectations are quickly met. In our case, the PolyTune 3 takes the place of a tried and tested classic in the form of the Boss TU-3. While the TU-3 is a near-bulletproof workhorse of a pedal, the PolyTune 3’s super bright 109-LED screen helps it take the title in the ‘readability’ category. It’s damn bright, in all three tuning modes - ideal if you’re regularly gigging on dark stages.

TC Electronic PolyTune 3 review

(Image credit: TC Electronic)

The convenience of the PolyTune 3 doesn’t stop at the big bright screen. TC Electronic has included a 9V output jack in order to provide power to another pedal in your signal chain, something which is super useful for smaller setups, or those recording sessions where you’re only using one or two effects at a time. We found it’s also super handy when you’re gagging to add that extra pedal to your ‘board, but you’ve maxed out your existing power supply. Thanks very much, TC.

Alongside the 9V in and out, the top panel features some added extras. This area of the pedal is honestly a bit too cramped for us, especially when everything is wired up. Trying to navigate the tuning and display mode buttons when fighting with two power cables isn’t exactly our idea of fun, but once we found a setup we liked, the PolyTune 3 quickly made amends. The display mode button toggles between needle or strobe tuning modes for both electric guitar and bass guitar, and the tuning mode button enables you to scroll through standard tuning, drop tunings and various capo modes - making the PolyTune 3 a versatile unit for any guitarist, regardless of the frequency register you hold down.

The in-built all-analogue BonaFide buffer is another killer feature of the PolyTune 3

Throughout our time with the PolyTune 3, we were routinely impressed by its tuning accuracy - especially in strobe mode, where the ±0.02 cent precision ended up being a total godsend in recording and live situations. The visuals of strobe mode itself took some getting used to, but once we got our heads around it, we found it simple and, like most aspects of this pedal, super convenient. The in-built all-analogue BonaFide buffer is another killer feature of the PolyTune 3, and helped preserve and protect our tone when using the pedal in a longer, more complex signal chain.

TC Electronic Polytune 3 review

(Image credit: TC Electronic)

There are a lot of tuner pedals on the market today, and they all effectively do the same thing - help you keep your guitar in tune. However, few of them do so with the efficiency, convenience and ease of use of the PolyTune 3. We’re not saying TC Electronic has created the perfect tuner pedal, but it’s not far off.

TC Electronic PolyTune 3 review: Hands-on demos

TC Electronic

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TC Electronic PolyTune 3 review: Specifications

  • Accuracy: 0.5 cents (chromatic), 0.02 cents (strobe)
  • Modes: Polyphonic, Chromatic, Strobe
  • Good for: Electric, Electro-Acoustic, Bass guitars
  • Power: 9V 100ma or 9V battery
  • Contact: TC Electronic 
James Farmer

I’m one of MusicRadar’s Junior Deals Writers. Along with the rest of the eCommerce team, I manage and update buyer’s guides, as well as bringing you deals on the latest and coolest gear. I’m a drummer and guitarist and I’ve worked in various parts of the industry for the last three years including online music distributors RouteNote, and local music store Modern Music where I was the drum department manager for nearly two years. I’ve also toured the UK and Europe with my old band Hypophora. When I’m not matching players with their perfect gear, you’ll find me getting very nerdy about coffee, writing songs, or on the beach with my dog.