Locking tuners have become increasingly popular among guitar players looking to improve the functionality and performance of their instrument. But, like all modifications, they come with both pros and cons. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and drawbacks of locking tuners, so you can decide if they are right for you and your guitar.
What are Locking Tuners? Locking tuners, also known as locking machine heads, are a type of guitar tuning mechanism that securely locks the string in place, reducing the chances of slipping and going out of tune (especially when using a tremolo bar). This is achieved by a locking mechanism that clamps the string against the post when the string is wrapped around the tuning peg during restringing.
Advantages of Locking Tuners
Faster String Changes
The most significant advantage of locking tuners is the ease and speed of changing strings. Traditional tuners require you to wrap the string around the peg, crimp it, tighten the string, and trim the excess wire, which can be a time-consuming process, especially if you change your strings frequently. Locking tuners, on the other hand, only require you to pass the string through the bridge, wrap a few times around the peg, and cut the excess, making string changes much quicker and hassle-free.
Better Tuning Stability
Locking tuners are designed to help your guitar stay in tune longer, preventing string slippage, which is one of the most common causes of going out of tune. String slippage occurs when the string loses tension, causing it to go flat and out of tune, particularly when you bend the strings. With locking tuners, the string is clamped securely in place, reducing the chances of slippage and maintaining the strings’ tension.
Neater Looking Headstock
Locking tuners can also add a touch of style and elegance to your headstock, making it look neater and more professional. The way the string is wrapped around the peg with locking tuners can create a cleaner, more organized look compared to traditional tuners.
Disadvantages of Locking Tuners
One of the main drawbacks of locking tuners is their cost, which is usually higher than traditional tuners. A full set of locking tuners can cost anywhere from $50 and upwards, depending on the brand and quality. While the extra cost may not be an issue for some, it’s a consideration for those on a tight budget.
They Can Be Heavy
Locking tuners are usually heavier than traditional tuners, weighing anywhere from 0.5 to 1.0 ounces (15-30 grams) more. The additional weight can affect the balance of your guitar, particularly if you play standing up, and can take some time to get used to. However, the difference is often negligible, and many players don’t even notice it.
Locking tuners can be challenging to install, especially if you’re not familiar with working on guitars. While some players are comfortable making the upgrade themselves, others may prefer to have a professional install them, which can add to the overall cost.
Final Thoughts Locking tuners are a great option for players looking to improve the tuning stability of their guitar and make string changes quicker and more efficient. However, they come with additional costs, can be heavier, and can be difficult to install. Ultimately, the decision to upgrade to locking tuners depends on your individual needs, budget, and skill level.