Locking Tuner Upgrades: Pros and Cons

Mod Guitar How to Locking Tuner Upgrade Pro & Con

Locking tuners eliminate the slack at the peg head end of the guitar string by clamping the string to the tuning post which stabilizes the guitar’s tuning. Are locking tuner upgrades always the best option? Read this article and find out!

Fender Strat Plus Sperzel brand Locking Tuners and LSR roller Nut

Locking tuners first made their appearance with the Fender Strat Plus in 1987, which featured Sperzel locking tuners and included a LSR roller nut [above]. Combined with a 2 point floating tremolo, tuning stability is greatly improved over a standard 6 point tremolo. Locking tuners really provide the greatest benefit to guitars with tremolos. Locking tuners are available for every style of guitar including Fender and Gibson models, imports, and even Bass instruments.

Pros and Cons of Locking Tuners:


  • Better tuning stability for tremolo equipped guitars.
  • Cleaner headstock look and feel (no excess string windings).
  • Quicker string changes.


  • Harder to fine tune at times as the string goes from slack to full tension very quickly.
  • A loss of some of the flex in the feel of the instrument as played.
  • Locking tuners can add weight to the headstock Vrs. stock tuners.
  • Locking tuners tend to be more expensive than standard tuners.
  • Non-stock upgrades that require drilling.

Gotoh brand locking tuners for Stratocaster style Guitar

I’m a fan of locking tuners for modern guitars where more extreme playing styles are expected during performance. Big whammy dips and dives and heavy tremolo use comes back to tune better with a combination of locking tuners, a graphite/lubricated nut material, and well installed strings. For players looking for live playing solutions, locking tuners are a good idea because stage lights, trucking gear around, and a variety of environments reap havoc on instruments.

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Just for fun! Get Your Lunch On, Mod The Ramen!

HowTo Instrument Build MODS

Basic Tool Kit

Every mod, repair, set-up, or build project begins with the use of tools. Some specialized some common. Here we run down the basic Luthier’s tool chest as well as additional tools required to do mods, set-ups, wiring, building and making guitars. Doing your own set-ups and seasonal adjustments requires a basic set of tools.

Most of these you may already have, some you may need to acquire before doing your own set-ups or mods. Remember to always use the correct size tools for the job. Particularly screwdrivers and hex wrenches.

Once you’ve gathered you tools, put them to use: Set-up Guide

Screwdrivers, Phillips & Standard

Mini, small, medium and large. Extra long or short shafted sizes optional.

Hex wrench/Allen Keys

These are often supplied with guitars purchased new for truss rod adjustments. Sizes most commonly found for truss rods: 3/16″, 3.5mm


24″ and 6″ recommended in both metric and imperial (inch) markings.

Feeler Gauge Set

For measuring the relief of necks, nuts, saddles and more.

String Cutter

Wire cutters work fine for this application.

String Winder

A very helpful tool for changing strings.


Used to assist when measuring neck relief.


Used to drive screws and drill holes.

Other tool guides: Wiring Mod Tools, Fretwork Tools, and Building and Assembly Tools

HowTo Instrument Build MODS

Modder's Tool Kit Essentials

Wiring and other mods require a few more tools than the basic tool kit.

Remember: Follow all manufacturers instructions when using any of the tools or materials listed here. will have no liability for injury or damage caused by the use of any of our instructions.

Soldering Iron

40 watts or an adjustable temperature model suitable for fine electronics work.


High quality non-corrosive solder for fine electrical work (preferably lead-free for health).

Hook-Up Wire

Anything from high quality cloth shielded to regular copper plastic coated wire are suitable for guitar wiring. Cost and availability vary.

Electrical Tape

For wrapping soldered connections.

Wire Stripper

Many models available vary in price and quality.

Safety Glasses/Goggles

Essential for avoiding painful and potentially blinding and/burning accidents when soldering.

Other tool guides: Wiring Mod Tools, Fretwork Tools, and Building and Assembly Tools

HowTo MODS Tutorial

Quick Nut Fix

Pinging And Buzzing Are The Symptoms. How To Fix It Fast.

If you’ve ever worked on your nut, you know how easy it is to go a little too far in the search of comfortable low action ending up with some string buzz. The nut can wear down in time, or you may notice a pinging sound when tuning up or playing. Fortunately, there is a quick fix that can get your guitar up and running again in just a few hours. Ideally, you would cut and shape a new nut or have your tech do it for you. On the road or on a budget, sometimes a quick fix is needed.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  1. Cyanoacrylate glue; gel or liquid. Krazy Glue is one brand name. Follow all manufacture’s warnings and instructions when using Cyanoacrylate glues.
  2. Masking Tape. Low tack blue painters tape preferred
  3. Sand Paper: 600 grit or higher.
  4. Small files (gauged nut slotting files for the perfectionists). Your choice of files range from a fingernail file, cheap hobby shop files (as pictured) or specialized nut slotting files.
  5. Cyanoacrylate glue thinner. For clean-up of glue runs or unsticking glued fingers.


1. Loosen the strings and pull them aside. If you’re working on just a single nut slot set the string in the next slot or hang it off the fret board edge. You can use tape to anchor the string(s) to the side of the neck to keep them clear of work area.

2. Apply a small piece of tape firmly into the crevice between the front of the nut and the fingerboard. This creates a dam to hold the glue in the nut slot. The tape should come all the way up the face of the nut and can overhang the top of the nut slightly.

3. With the guitar on a stand apply a drop or two of glue in the low slot. It’s better to apply a small amount and let that layer dry, then apply more glue if you need to build up a really low slot. A pinch of baking soda can be sprinkled on the wet glue to build up the slot if it’s needed.

4. Set the guitar aside and let the glue dry for about four hours. When the chemical smell of the glue evaporating is gone, it’s dry and should be hard. If you can indent the dry glue with a screwdriver tip it still needs more time.

5. Use the small files to re-cut the nut slot. Careful you don’t go too deep this time! Use a feeler gauge to measure the relief over the 1st fret while pressing down at the second fret. Gibson and Fender specs call for between .014″ and .020″ (this amount varies for string gauge and fret style).

The animation above shows where to press the string to gauge the amount of relief over the 1st fret. The relief should be just enough to see, hear, and feel that the string can move freely over the first fret. Getting this just right is essential to a low comfortable playing action.

Use sandpaper to smooth out the repaired and re-cut nut slot.

Pencil lead rubbed into the slot helps keeps the string from binding.

Done! What once buzzed or pinged is again playable. This type of fix is permanent but not ideal. Replacing a nut with one that’s solid and cleanly cut is always the best for tone and playability.