I tested 4 of the best Les Paul tuners and rated them by installation, stability, control, weight, and appearance. In this post, I’ll share my research to help you find the best tuners for your particular Les Paul guitar model.

At A Glance

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best Overall
Grover 135N Vintage Tuners

Grover 135N Vintage Tuners

  • Intended Instrument: Guitar
  • Item Weight: 3.52 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 4.8 x 1.8 inches
  • Configuration: 3+3
  • Finish: Nickel
  • Gear Ratio: 14:1
  • Peg Diameter: 0.390″ (peg hole)
4.8
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Best Tuning Stability
Schaller M6 135 Tuners

Schaller M6 135 Tuners

  • Intended Instrument: Guitar
  • Configuration: 3+3
  • Finish: Chrome
  • Locking: Yes
  • Gear Ratio: 18:1
4.5
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Budget Option
Grover 502C Locking Tuners

Grover 502C Locking Tuners

  • Intended Instrument: Guitar
  • Configuration: 3+3
  • Finish: Chrome
  • Locking: Yes
  • Gear Ratio: 18:1
  • Peg Diameter: 0.391″ (peg hole)
4.8
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Runner-Up
D’Addario Auto-Trim Locking Tuners

D’Addario Auto-Trim Locking Tuners

  • Intended Instrument: Guitar
  • Configuration: 3+3
  • Finish: Black
  • Locking: Yes
  • Gear Ratio: 18:1
  • Peg Diameter: 0.375″ (peg), 0.390″ (10mm peg hole)
4.6
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The 4 Best Les Paul Tuners

Best Overall
Grover 135N Vintage Tuners
4.8

Brian's Take: These are some of my favorite tuning machines, and they're well-suited to Les Paul guitars. While a bit less universally suited to most players because of trickier installation, the Grover 135N vintage tuners look great and function well. If you're looking for stability, control, and style, these are a solid option to consider. Plus, they feel great in your hand!

Pros
  • Stability
  • Control
  • Aesthetics
Cons
  • Trickier installation
  • Slightly lower gear ratio

The Grover 135N Vintage Tuners offer a unique blend of features that cater to musicians seeking both function and aesthetics. While the installation process might be more challenging, requiring adjustments to the headstock holes and possibly the expertise of a professional luthier, the effort is rewarded by their remarkable tuning stability. Many players, from electric guitarists to mandolin enthusiasts, have lauded the tuners for their ability to maintain tuning precision, making performances and recording sessions smoother.

These tuners boast a 14:1 gear ratio, striking a balance between precise control and responsiveness. This makes the fine-tuning process smooth and effortless, a boon for those frequently shifting between alternate tunings or engaging in note bending. Furthermore, they manage to balance durability with weight, ensuring they don’t add unnecessary heft to the instrument, preserving the comfort of playability.

Aesthetically, the Grover 135N Vintage Tuners are a nod to the past. Their nickel finish and tulip-style buttons imbue instruments with a classic charm, resonating particularly well with those who have a penchant for vintage designs. This makes them suitable for a variety of guitars, from electric and acoustic to archtop styles, and they seem particularly apt for models like Les Paul-style and hollow body guitars. In essence, while the installation might be a hurdle for some, the overall benefits of tuning stability, control, and visual appeal position the Grover 135N tuners as a worthy addition for musicians.


Best Tuning Stability
Schaller M6 135 Tuners
4.5

Brian's Take: These tuners are German-engineered and built like little tanks, as one would expect. They are very well-liked and do their primary job (of tuning) perfectly, but do add a little extra weight to your headstock. They're also a bit more expensive. With that said, You get what you pay for in this case - the Schaller M6 135s are extremely well-made and a great purchase if you're looking for tuners that will last.

Pros
  • Easy installation
  • Exceptional stability
  • Precise control
Cons
  • A bit heavier
  • Potential installation issues
  • Is the aesthetic for you?

The Schaller M6 135 Tuners are a testament to precision engineering, offering a harmonious blend of functionality and aesthetics for guitar enthusiasts. Installation stands out as notably user-friendly, typically completed in minutes, and while there may be occasional need for minor adjustments, the process is generally seamless. Their defining feature, however, is their unmatched stability. Thanks to a sophisticated locking mechanism, these tuners can uphold precise tuning even under rigorous playing conditions, making them particularly favored by performers who engage in intensive sessions or utilize the whammy bar aggressively.

Their 18:1 gear ratio is another commendable aspect, providing guitarists with an unprecedented level of control during the tuning process. This precise adjustability makes them an asset for musicians involved in intricate playing techniques or those recording in studio environments where tonal accuracy is paramount. Furthermore, their robust construction, albeit slightly heavier than some non-locking counterparts, is indicative of their durability, ensuring longevity in usage.

Visually, the Schaller M6 135 Tuners enhance the look of any guitar with their sleek design and immaculate chromed finishing. Catering predominantly to modern aesthetics, they seamlessly integrate into a variety of guitar styles without compromising on form or function. While their slightly increased weight might be a concern for a select few, their overall contribution to tuning precision and stability more than compensates. For those seeking a blend of durability, control, and aesthetic appeal, these German-engineered tuners emerge as a compelling choice.


Budget Option
Grover 502C Locking Tuners
4.8

Brian's Take: The Grover 502C tuners come in as my pick for best budget option. A great choice for replacement tuning machines, with strong scores in all areas and a great reputation among musicians. The 502Cs are very reasonably priced and a very solid option to consider.

Pros
  • Easy installation
  • Enhanced stability and control
  • Versatile aesthetic
Cons
  • Potential alignment issues
  • Plain aesthetic
  • A bit expensive?

The Grover 502C Locking Tuners are esteemed for their hassle-free installation and robust tuning stability, making them a preferred choice among guitar enthusiasts. Designed as “drop-in” replacements, these tuners typically don’t demand any substantial modifications, ensuring a straightforward setup process. They exhibit a notable tuning stability, which is crucial for guitarists, and with an 18:1 gear ratio, they offer precise control for tuning. While they are fairly standard in terms of weight and appearance, there are some aesthetic variations available, such as the unique “keystone buttons” style and different colors like black and gold.

The Grover 502C Locking Tuners cater to a wide range of guitarists. From those who frequently perform live or in studios, to guitarists fond of techniques like string bending and vibrato, these tuners ensure consistent tuning throughout performances. They’re especially ideal for players seeking an easy upgrade without intensive modifications. Moreover, these tuners are known to maintain the tonal quality of the instrument, making them a favorite for tone enthusiasts.

In terms of compatibility, the Grover 502C is versatile, suitable for both electric and acoustic guitars. Their classic design ensures they fit seamlessly with various guitar aesthetics, both traditional and modern. With a balance of functional and visual appeal, the Grover 502C Locking Tuners stand out as a reliable choice for guitarists looking to enhance their instrument’s performance and appearance.


Runner-Up
D’Addario Auto-Trim Locking Tuners
4.6

Brian's Take: These tuners are well-reviewed online, tune accurately, and hold that tuning. However, you may have to pull out the drill to install them, and their look may not be for everyone. These tuners tend to be more polarizing - they're great for some, and not for others, and I think that's ok. If you like their look and their functionality, go for it! D'addario is a trusted brand.

Pros
  • Easy string changing
  • Good tuning stability
  • Precise control
Cons
  • Installation concerns
  • Is it the right aesthetic for you?

The D’Addario Auto-Trim Locking Tuners are a modern solution for guitarists prioritizing ease of string changes and consistent tuning. With an innovative auto-trim feature, these tuners automatically cut excess string length, making the string replacement process more efficient. Moreover, users have reported a significant enhancement in tuning stability, thanks to the locking mechanism that prevents string slipping. The 18:1 gear ratio further ensures precise tuning adjustments, an essential aspect for those engaged in intricate performances or studio recordings.

However, these tuners are not without their potential drawbacks. Some users have faced challenges during the installation process, sometimes needing to modify their guitars to accommodate the new tuner posts. Additionally, while many appreciate the modern aesthetic these tuners provide, others find the design a bit too conspicuous and potentially distracting.

In conclusion, the D’Addario Auto-Trim Locking Tuners offer guitarists a combination of innovation and functionality. While they streamline string changes and improve tuning stability, potential users should consider their personal preferences regarding installation and appearance. As with any musical gear, understanding one’s unique requirements will help in making an informed choice.


Buying Guide

Here are some of the main things to consider before purchasing new tuning machines for your Les Paul guitar:

  1. Type of Tuning Machines: There are two main types of tuning machines for Les Paul guitars: locking and non-locking. Locking machines have a mechanism that locks the string in place, which can help with tuning stability. Non-locking machines are more traditional and rely on the tension of the string to stay in tune.
  2. Gear Ratio: The gear ratio determines how much the tuning machine rotates for each turn of the tuning key. A higher gear ratio means more precision, but it can also make tuning more difficult.
  3. Material: Tuning machines can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and wood. Metal tuning machines are generally more durable and offer better tuning stability.
  4. Brand: There are many brands of tuning machines available for Les Paul guitars. Some popular brands include Grover, Kluson, and Gibson.
  5. Price: Tuning machines are available at a wide range of price points. Decide on your budget before you start shopping.

FAQs

  1. Can I use any type of tuning machines on a Les Paul guitar?
    • No, Les Paul guitars require specific types of tuning machines that fit the headstock. Make sure you choose tuning machines that are designed for Les Paul guitars.
  2. What is the benefit of locking tuning machines?
    • Locking tuning machines can help with tuning stability by locking the string in place. This can be especially useful for guitarists who use a lot of bending and vibrato.
  3. Do I need to replace all the tuning machines at once?
    • No, you can replace one or more tuning machines at a time if needed. However, it’s generally a good idea to replace all the tuning machines at once to ensure consistent tuning stability.

Final Thoughts

After swapping out these 4 best Les Paul tuners, I recommend going with either the Grover 135N Vintage tuners or the Grover 302Cs. Grover is a well-respected brand and I loved the look, feel, and functionality of their products. They hold tune really well and remain very affordable.

The Schallers are great, but a splurge purchase at their price point. The gold Schallers, however, are a thing of beauty, so if you’ve got the budget, definitely check those out!

The D’Addarios are still a great option, but I personally didn’t resonate with their look and feel. But, to each their own! You may love them and their priced similar to the Grovers.

I hope this review has been helpful. If you need more information, be sure to check out my reviews of each individual Les Paul tuner product, linked in each respective section. Whichever product you go with, I hope it improves your instrument!