How to Set the Intonation on a Les Paul Guitar

Things You'll Need

  • Tuner
  • Flathead screwdriver

How to Set the Intonation on a Les Paul Guitar. You finally got your dream guitar, a flamed maple wood top Les Paul. To your disappointment no matter how many times you tune it, it just doesn't sound right. Chances are you've got an intonation problem. When set properly, the strings will be at the correct pitch on each fret giving you that perfect sound synonymous with the name Les Paul. Here's how to set it.

Tune your strings with a tuner.

Starting with the first string, play the 12th fret or more preferably the 12th fret harmonic. Playing a harmonic is simply placing you finger on the string directly over the 12th fret wire but not pressing down on the string. Basically you're just muting the string and getting a more stable note. If the 12th fret harmonic is dead on, then your string is intonated. If it's flat or sharp, continue to Step 3.

Adjust the intonation on your Les Paul by moving the individual saddle on the bridge forward or backward, using a small flathead screwdriver. If the note is flat, then you'll need to shorten the string by moving the saddle up. If the note is sharp, lengthen the string by moving the saddle back. You may need to loosen the string in order to move the saddle.

After the saddle has been adjusted, re-tune your guitar string and check the 12th fret harmonic again. It may take several tries to get it just right.

Follow Steps 1 through 4 above for each string.


  • Setting the intonation sometimes may take just a minute adjustment. So be patient and take your time setting the intonation on your guitar. It's recommended to check the intonation on your guitar each time you change the strings, especially if you're using a different gauge string.

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