I just bought an electric guitar (stratocaster), and I'm a beginner, so setting it up is a welcome and annoying challenge.

The issue I have is with the intonation. The high E is fine on the open string and on the 12th fret.

The problem comes on the rest of the strings:

  • On the B string, I get a high E on the 12th
  • On the G string, I get a high E on the 12th
  • On the D string, I get a high E on the 12th
  • On the A string, I get a high G on the 12th
  • On the low E string, I get a high D on the 12th

Even if I moved down on B, G, D, it still stays on high E.

Also it looks like when going down from 12th to open chord it looks like it moves only 1-2 tones.

I tried to lower the saddles to be closer in height to high E, but I still have the same issues.

Any ideas what it could be?

Edit: Yeah, the problem was using the wrong tuner.

  • it seems that your tuner is in a mode where it will only recognize the open string pitches. Mar 8, 2019 at 22:38
  • Yes, are you using an electronic tuner, and if so, what make and model is it? Mar 8, 2019 at 23:11
  • @YourUncleBob You are right, I was not using a chromatic tuner Mar 9, 2019 at 11:27

1 Answer 1


Sounds like you're using a tuner. Don't bother. Intonation can be set without. Use your ears, and press the string (any) on the 12th fret. Then play the 12th fret harmonic. Adjust the saddle for string length as needed, until they both make the same pitch. Then do the same on 19th fret. I think there's too much reliance on gadgets, and we are better off believing our ears!

Or, set up the tuner properly for guitar, or, try a different tuner. But, as said before, relying on tuners isn't always the best option. I've had a student tune an octave higher than normal; the tuner told him the string was in tune!

  • 1
    Aren't the harmonics of plucked string slightly different from "ideal" harmonics, and therefor not a good reference for tuning and intonating? See e.g. newt.phys.unsw.edu.au/jw/strings.html Mar 8, 2019 at 22:37
  • 1
    This requires good pitch memory and only can set the intonation at the 12th fret. I prefer to set my intonation at other frets (usually 7th, 8th, or 9th) and my tuners have much finer resolution than my ears. Also the natural harmonics that are not perfect octaves (e.g., 19th fret) are not quite at the same pitch as equal tempered tuning, and frets are laid out to be as close to ET as possible. Mar 8, 2019 at 23:10
  • Assuming both the statements are true, then using a tuner will be of no help anyway!
    – Tim
    Mar 9, 2019 at 1:01

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