Every guitar player ever has had some of those moments where their guitars suddenly go out of tune, and locking tuners are a great way to fix that. It can be extremely frustrating to have to constantly tune up your guitar, in the middle of practice, and worst even if it is in a live show.
Sometimes it is not only the tuners that affect the tuning, it can be the wearing of the strings, temperature changes, or even the simple loosening of the screws. So many things can easily alter the tuning of a guitar, and all guitarists want a solution for this. If you have faced similar circumstances, locking tuners might just be the thing you have been looking for.
Locking tuners for guitars have been around for a while now but there are still some doubts as to what benefits it actually brings to a player. Before jumping into that directly, let’s get a clearer understanding of locking tuners.
What is a guitar locking tuner?
A guitar locking tuner is almost exactly the same as a normal tuner but with a small clamp at the top. Once you put the string through the hole on top, the clamp helps tighten the string on the peg. This simple clamp gives your string a lot more grip and stability. Eventually, all this means, you are much less likely to have an out-of-tune guitar.
Advantages of using a guitar locking tuner
Locking tuners can help you in a multitude of ways. For most guitarists the main advantages of using a locking tuner are:
- Stays in tune longer
- Save time tuning your guitar
- Greater tuning stability
Stays in tune longer
The absolute core objective of a locking tuner is to help keep your guitar in tune for much longer. The clamp-on top holds on to the string strongly and that means that it stays in tune for a longer time. You are able to play longer sessions without having to worry about your guitar going out of tune over and over again.
Save time tuning your guitar
Changing strings is generally a time-consuming process. With a regular tuner, you have to manually tighten the grip around the peg as much as you can so that your tune has stability. With locking tuners, you just pass the string, give it 2-3 rounds and cut the excess string. The clamp will make sure you save time changing strings, and also reduce the number of times you need to tune your guitar.
Greater tuning stability
One of the core reasons why strings go out of tune is string slipping. That’s why you will see guitarists trying their absolute best to make the strings as tightly wrapped around the tuner peg as possible. Locking tuners just tighten that grip a lot more, which improves the tuning stability.
Disadvantages of using a guitar locking tuner
If your songs have a lot of open tunings or alternate tunings, you might not want locking tuners. This is because to set up locking tuners, you usually give fewer turns around the tuning peg. This makes it difficult to use alternate tunings on your guitar. This forces you to bring another guitar every time you have to play live.
Lastly, that little bit of extra weight on your headstock might affect your playing, and that is one of the reasons some guitarists avoid locking tuners.
Why locking tuners are better than the regular tuners
The basic idea is pretty simple, locking tuners are just a lot more reliable. As a guitar player, there is nothing more frustrating than having to constantly tune your guitar. So tuning stability is the main benefit of having a locking tuner.
Regular tuners can obviously do the work and a lot of even great artists have never used locking tuners. But for the average guitarist, a locking tuner will just make the tuning a lot smoother. If you are a beginner and you have a hard time tuning your guitar, this might be a great solution for you.
Lighter gauged strings are generally a lot more likely to go out of tune very quickly as the grip is never as strong. So, if you are a player with lighter gauge strings, make sure you have a locking tuner to provide you with the perfect tune stability. You will then finally be able to get that perfect tuning at all times.
Lastly, you just save a lot of time and effort with a very inexpensive device. With locking tuners, you can change your guitar strings far quicker. Locking guitar tuners along with strap locks are some of the cheapest guitar accessories that can really make a difference.
Best locking tuners in the market
There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right locking tuners for your guitar. Depending on your budget, looks, and also if the tuners will fit in your guitar.
Here are our top 5 choices:
Fender Locking Tuners
These Fender locking tuners are one of the best solutions for Stratocaster and Telecaster-style guitars. Compatible with almost all Fender guitars, these tuners are affordable and get the job done. You can choose between chrome, gold, or black, depending on the guitar you have and the style you are going for.
These tuners are used in the Fender American Deluxe series, and on most of the top-of-the-line Fender models. If you have a Stratocaster or Telecaster, this could be a great addition.
Grover is a well-known and reputable brand of tuners, and these tuners can usually be found in Gibson guitars. If you are using a Les Paul, SG, or even an ES-335 style guitar, these Grover locking tuners are ideal. A classic design, that does exactly what you need.
Hipshot 6GLO locking guitar tuners are a little more affordable than the Grovers. However, they do pretty much the same, and it comes with a brilliant grip lock-bearing system tuner from Hipshot.
This is mainly designed to accommodate 3 sets of gear on both top and bottom whilst maintaining a precision ratio of 18:1. These are high-quality locking tuners with limited installation required and it is also one of the most affordable options.
Schaller M6 Locking Tuners comes with a polished design and the brand name that is known for making some of the best tuners on the market. The great thing about Schaller locking tuners is that they can be used for almost any guitar you can think of.
A high-quality product that bears the mark made in Germany. These tend to be more expensive, but they are also regarded as some of the best tuners on the market.
D’Addario Planet Waves Auto-Tune
Planet Waves auto-tune tuning machine comes in a modern design and at an affordable price without compromising on quality. Planet waves have generally always delivered great accessories and they haven’t let their standards drop on these tuners.
Just keep in mind that you can use these tuners for several electric guitar models, such as Strats or Teles and even Les Paul-style guitars. Offering a choice of black, gold, or silver means you can choose the color that better suits your guitar.
I have been playing guitar for the past 15 years, and my knowledge and passion for guitars prompted me to start Guitaresque to share my knowledge, tips, and tricks with other guitar players. The sole purpose of this website is to help and inspire guitar players worldwide, to improve their playing and their love for guitars.