October 5, 2011 - ModGuitar Senior Editor
Locking Tuner Upgrades: Pros and Cons
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!
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.
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.