The machine heads fitted to the headstock of an electric or acoustic guitar can come in many shapes and sizes: from closed oil-bed machine heads, to open-gear tuners, to the vintage tuners found blessing the heads of a Stratocaster or Telecaster, to the sunken tuning mechanics of a classical guitar. There is one flavour of machine head that is actually often demanded by guitarists: the locking tuner. Find out why right here.
Locking Tuners On Your Guitar: How & Why?

So, Why Bother with Locking Tuners?

There are two excellent reasons for switching to set of locking tuners. The most obvious is that they vastly improve the tuning stability of your guitar. Locking tuners are also great because they make changing strings so much quicker and easier. That horror-show moment when you break a string mid-gig is made that much less awkward since, with a set of locking tuners, you can swiftly remove and replace the offending string and get back into the set. One of the most well-known makers of locking tuners is the German company, Schaller, although the legend that is Fender also make some pretty fine replacement locking tuners for their American-made guitars.

More Stability In Less Time

Of course, there are little tricks you can use to prevent your strings from slipping out of standard closed oil-bed machine heads, but if you want to know with absolute certainty that there’s no way on Earth that your strings are going to move, then a set of locking tuners is able to provide this. If you’re life is far too full of more important stuff to spend a long time re-stringing your guitar, then locking tuners will slot in perfectly since they really speed up the whole process. And you won’t have to fuss and fiddle with any loops and knots either, since you can simply ‘screw’ the string into a locking tuner. This leaves your strings fully secured to the headstock and as stable as possible.

How Do You Change The Strings of a Guitar with Locking Tuners?

Before removing your old strings, turn and loosen the little knob found on the back of the tuner – as shown by the helpful image below. Make sure that you loosen each knob enough so that each string can be easily removed. Putting a new string on is just as simple. Once the string is threaded at the bridge and the other end has been threaded through the tuning mechanism, you can immediately pull it tight. This already involves a lot less faff than with standard tuners. Each string is then simply tightened by turning the little knob on the back clockwise.

Locking Tuners On Your Guitar: How & Why?
Locking Tuners On Your Guitar: How & Why?

Some Points to Pay Attentions To After Re-Stringing

There are a couple of things you need to look out for so that your extreme licks and tight riffs are played with the purity they deserve. First, always gently stretch a set of new strings until they stop falling out of tune too quickly. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the strings pass freely along the length of the guitar and aren’t touching anything they shouldn’t. Smooth movement through components like the string nut and saddles, for example, is essential for stable tuning and actually helps extend the lifespan of your strings. Lightly rubbing some graphite (so… a pencil) or wax into the grooves of the nut and saddles before stringing up your guitar is a nice little tip for making sure that the strings can shift with ease. Also checking for any fret burrs or roughness is by no means being too fussy.

Different Ways of Securing the Strings

There are also different versions of locking tuners that do things a little differently. Some guitars made by PRS have tuners where the screw is placed on top, and the sought after Gotoh tuners also offer a different method where the string is secured as you turn the mechanism. Using a plectrum or a coin, you can then easily loosen the strings and the mechanism.

Useful Links

» What Are the Best Electric Guitar Strings for Me?
» What Are the Best Acoustic Guitar Strings for Me?

Got a burning question about locking tuners? Let us know in the comments!

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