Guitars feature a traditional tuner, am I right? So deciding to switch from the traditional version to the best locking tuners is quite a common response. But this transition requires an easy, quick headstock modification.
With that in mind, you might not like the notion of drilling holes in the guitar. So at such times, the only thing to remember is that locking tuners offer a major advantage over their traditional counterparts. What they do best is lock the strings in the right place. Therefore, eliminating intonation changes often accompanied with the loosening of the winding. Or when the string tends to slip!
But here’s the most significant benefit. Locking tuners speed up the changing of strings. You can lock in the new strings only by twisting the screw. So there’s no need to waste time in tying those strings. And frustration while doing so goes out the window too!
Top 10 Best Locking Tuners for Your Guitar!
Photo credit: guitarplayer.com
If you’re serious about facilitating that switch from traditional to locking, you might love what lies ahead. The 10 models reviewed in the article are all popular choices suitable for professional playing. And they are, by far, the highest rated in the current music industry.
Locking Tuner Name
Fender Locking Tuners Chrome (Editor's Choice)
#1 Editor's Choice
1. Fender Locking Tuners Chrome – The Best Affordable Locking Tuners
The Fender Chrome Locking Tuners are exactly like the ones that come with the company’s American Deluxe guitar series. So if you own a locking tuner equipped Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster, these will drop right in. Even if you’re working with another model or brand, you’ll have to make a slight, easy modification.
Now it’s time to talk about the design and features of these budget-friendly best locking tuners. The chrome finish is responsible for both strength and looks. Fender is a brand that pays attention to all aspects of a guitar. Including the hardware! So expect the Fender Chrome Locking Tuners to provide you with years of reliable, consistent performance.
When dealing with the Fender Chrome Locking Tuners, you’ll spend more time on the sound. And less time struggling with your intonation! They perform the job in the most efficient manner. And that means the tuners will do everything in their power to keep your instrument in tune. Even if they tend to bend constantly!
The greatest thing about the Fender Chrome Locking Tuners is their locking mechanism. All you have to do is attach the new strings before locking and tuning. Make use of that tremolo bar to stretch your strings, then re-tune them and that’s it. They won’t and don’t go off tune. Even if you bend those strings a few times!
So if you’re fed up of straying away from the tune, this is the only tested solution that I would like to offer.
The most unfortunate news comes in the form of the “too tall” posts of the Fender Chrome Locking Tuners. If they were any shorter, you wouldn’t have to wind those strings as much to achieve the correct break angle. But it looks like you have to go through the trouble of doing just that.
- The Fender tuners keep the strings in tune longer than expected.
- They make the task of re-stringing seem like a breeze.
- Tuning stability improvement is inevitable.
- You might have to drill holes.
- The posts are taller than they should be.
2. Grover 502C Roto-Grip Locking Rotomatic Tuners – The Best 3X3 Locking Tuners
For guitars with a 3X3 configuration, you might want to check out these drop-in Grover 502C Roto-Grip Locking Rotomatic Tuners. They feature a gear ratio of 18:1. That includes popular guitars such as the Yamaha models.
The product is equipped with all the mounting hardware. So you don’t need to head to your local repair shop to get the accessory installed. On top of that, you might admire the unique Roto-Grip structure. It’s because such a design, in each sense, maintains the tune of the instrument. And that too every time after making string adjustments!
In short, the Grover 502C Roto-Grip Locking Rotomatic Tuners continue to provide a steady, reliable tone for long-term. All you have to do is insert that string, wrap it around once, and lock it by tightening using your thumb. The last part is not only possible but plenty convenient too. Thanks to the remarkable thumb screw system. So you can discard all your worries related to installation and performance.
It’s the exclusive design of the Grover 502C Roto-Grip Locking Rotomatic Tuners that most guitarists appreciate. The Roto-Grip structure is the only component responsible for delivering excellent tuning. The kind that you can rely upon endlessly! It keeps the tune steady, no matter what, after every string adjustment. And that’s the best part!
The drawback I’m about to discuss is a common problem with many locking tuners. So it’s not really an error made by the manufacturer. The Grover 502C Roto-Grip Locking Rotomatic Tuners fail to accept bigger guitar strings. So anything larger than 54 gauge doesn’t go through.
- The Grover tuners are easy to lock and tune.
- Well-constructed with a flawless finish.
- They come with complete mounting hardware.
- The Grover tuners don’t accommodate bigger string.
3. Sperzel 6 In-Line Locking Tuners Black – The Best Staggered Locking Tuners
If you’re in the market for the highest rated aftermarket locking tuners, this is the ultimate pick to take into account. Sperzel is a brand that manufactures the best locking tuners. What’s the proof? Ask any professional guitarist, and he/she will swear by the performance of their products. Especially the Sperzel 6 In-Line Locking Tuners!
The current model features an in-line design. In simple words, it is crafted for guitars that feature all tuners on a single side of that headstock. So what’s the advantage of using staggered sets? Such an orientation does more than just offer the normal benefits of using locking tuners. It utilizes the post height to eliminate the need to work with string retainers. Therefore, providing you with a more sensitive and open string response!
And that’s the thing about tuners like the Sperzel 6 In-Line. They free up the tone, which explains the reason for their popularity as an aftermarket boost. So now you know why you should consider buying these best locking tuners!
If you want your guitar to maintain its tune without having to deal with locking nuts, this is what you can do. Purchase the Sperzel 6 In-Line Locking Tuners. The working mechanism of this particular option improves the tonal response to a great degree. Plus, the staggered height of the equipment ensures that you don’t require string retainers.
As for the installation part, it’s a bit cumbersome. You have to drill holes on your precious guitar to fit these tuners. And the idea of doing something like that does make you feel a bit skeptical, doesn’t it?
- The Sperzel tuners are perfectly engineered.
- They stay put without having to make constant adjustments.
- Tuning stability and tuner quality are quite impressive.
- Installation demands drilling holes.
4. Hipshot 6GLO Grip-Lock Locking Guitar Tuning Machines – The Most Versatile Locking Tuners
Let me begin by stating that the Hipshot Grip-Lock Guitar Tuners are equipped with a unique UMP. It stands for Universal Mounting Plate. So what does that tell you? It means that these best locking tuners are super easy to install. And that they don’t require you to drill unnecessary holes on your expensive guitar! So if that’s what you’re aiming for, you’ve found the right pick.
The Hipshot Grip-Lock Guitar Tuners are also relatively more versatile. It’s because they provide post holes, which can string up to a larger gauge as well. To be more specific, you’re looking at a model that works well with .60-inch and .90-inch guitar strings.
What’s more is that Hipshot has made the product available in both standard and staggered configurations. And that too in many color options as well! On top of that, the tuning ratio of 18:1 allows you to make easy, quick adjustments each time.
In my opinion, the Hipshot Grip-Lock Guitar Tuners offer an excellent combination of price and performance.
It’s the versatility of the Hipshot Grip-Lock Guitar Tuners that leaves a positive impact. The fact that they can accommodate bigger strings is a huge plus. And to make it all better, the company has supplied the tuners with a remarkable mounting plate. One that doesn’t demand drilling holes into the instrument!
When installing the Hipshot Grip-Lock Guitar Tuners, you might encounter a slight problem. Routing those peg holes to make the equipment fit is quite a struggle. But that’s a common issue with most drop-in locking tuners.
- The Hipshot tuners offer smooth operation.
- They feature a universal plate for drill-free mounting.
- The looks are as tough as performance.
- Routing the holes is troublesome.
5. Planet Waves Auto-Trim Tuning Machines – The Most Advanced Locking Tuners
The Planet Waves Auto-Trim Tuners stand out on the list. And let me tell you why. These best locking tuners do more than just lock those strings in place. They have the ability to trim the strings as well.
Now, doesn’t that sound gimmicky? Of course, it does! So you’ll be glad to know that I’ve tested this model through and through. And here’s what I found. The Planet Waves Auto-Trim Tuners do trim the string. They keep the instrument looking clean. And that too without having to cut wires or anything! This is what sets them apart from the rest.
Moving on, the tuners feature a tuning ratio of 18:1. Much like the majority of the best locking tuners! So holding stability is not a concern. If you have a guitar with vibrato, you might go for the remarkable locking feature. As it improves the tuning stability to a great extent! Especially when dive-bombing!
Overall, the Planet Waves Auto-Trim Tuners are not just an excellent replacement. They rank as the most reliable upgrade on the current market.
When you get access to an optimal tuning ratio, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The fact that you get the convenience of dialing in the specific pitch! And in the most accurate and fastest way possible! So it does seem like an unbeatable affordable upgrade, doesn’t it?
If you expect the screws to be exactly in the same position as shown in the product image, you’re wrong. The picture is misleading, so the screws are wrongly positioned.
- The Planet Waves tuners auto-trim the strings.
- The individual clamps offer the most secure string hold.
- Precise gear ratio for smooth, minimal-slippage tuning.
- The overall quality is only above average.
- Placement of the screws is incorrect.
6. Schaller Electric Guitar Machine Heads Locking Tuners Chrome – The Most Stable Locking Tuners
Did you know that Schaller was responsible for mass producing locking tuners? They were the first brand to do so. And that means their products will always enjoy the upper hand. With that in mind, don’t disregard the smaller tuning ratio of the Schaller Electric Guitar Locking Tuners. The ratio is just what you need to initiate fine tuning adjustments.
Once you purchase the correct model for the guitar you’re using, there’s no problem with installation. These are ranked as one of the best drop-in locking tuners.
But here’s something that might attract your attention the most. The Schaller Electric Guitar Locking Tuners add optimal string resistance. And that means the chances of your strings slipping are minimized. No wonder they are also the most stable in the current industry!
So you can’t go wrong with these best locking tuners. As long as what you’re looking for is more stability!
In terms of reliability, the Schaller Electric Guitar Locking Tuners score the highest marks. Thanks to the high-quality, mass-produced manufacturing process of the company!
In terms of performance, the Schaller Electric Guitar Locking Tuners again score the highest marks. Thanks to their ability to offer enough string resistance.
So in terms of overall performance, leave no room for doubt.
Instead, what’s disappointing is the heavy weight of the equipment. This tends to add some weight to the headstock. But that might not bother you too much!
- The Schaller tuners are plenty durable.
- They keep the strings from slipping.
- You might have to drill holes for installation.
- They are not light in weight.
7. Gotoh MLG3-G 3-On-A-Side Locking Tuners – The Best Locking Tuners for Higher String Gauge
Hunting for locking tuners to fit your PRS SE guitar type? If so, please continue reading the review of the Gotoh MLG3-G 3-On-A-Side Locking Tuners. Gotoh is yet another reliable brand that offers solid options for all kinds of guitar configurations. And the MLG3-G is an ideal pick for the PRS SE guitar.
But that doesn’t mean the tuners don’t fit other 3X3 headstocks. So you can breathe a sigh of relief. The feature that defines these best locking tuners is the rock-solid design quality. The fact that they are equipped with an auto-locking mechanism says a lot. It means you can switch between strings as quickly as possible.
And as far as precision goes, the Gotoh MLG3-G 3-On-A-Side Locking Tuners don’t disappoint. What you’re dealing with here is fine gearing as well as great feedback. So for higher string gauge, opt for nothing other than this particular model by Gotoh.
Solid tuning; that’s what you get with the Gotoh MLG3-G 3-On-A-Side Locking Tuners. The precision ratio, cast housing, detachable metal knobs, and sealed lubrication. These are components responsible for the success of the MLG3-G. So don’t expect to come across major design flaws.
If I wasn’t obliged to follow the current format, I wouldn’t list down a single flaw in this case. But only for the sake of discussing both pros and cons, here’s the latter for you. Drilling those undesirable holes for installation is a part of the process.
- The build quality of the Gotoh tuners is rock solid.
- They make swapping strings a fairly quick task.
- Suitable for higher string gauge.
- You might have to drill holes.
8. Grover 406C Rotomatic Mini 3 per Side Self Locking Machine Heads – The Best Auto-Locking Tuners
Grover is the biggest company name in the guitar industry. They have developed an unbeatable reputation simply by manufacturing the best locking tuners. And the Grover 406C Rotomatic Mini 3 per Side Self Locking Tuners are no different.
The technology used in this case is quite impressive. I’m particularly talking about the automatic locking feature. Once you pull that string and begin tuning, the initial quarter of the turn activates the locking system.
As for the gear ratio, it’s 18:1. That means you’re working with tuners that deliver precise performance. You’ll also be thrilled to know that these are also an ideal pick for the PRS SE guitar type. But you can just as easily use them for guitars with other 3X3 layouts as well. All you have to do at such times is make slight adjustments.
So the Grover 406C Rotomatic Mini keeps you in tune at all times. And no matter what!
The two significant advantages of using the Grover 406C Rotomatic Mini 3 per Side Self Locking Tuners are as follows. The first presents itself in the form of easy tuning. And the second benefit is the highly effective string lock. So these best locking tuners have whatever it takes to maintain that perfect tune on your guitar.
Now here’s something that might discourage you from buying this particular pick. The pegs of the Grover 406C Rotomatic Mini are prone to snapping off the higher string. But you can fix the problem by smoothening out the string hole’s rough edges.
- The Grover tuners are of high quality.
- They make the process of tuning extremely stable.
- String breakage and slippage get eliminated.
- Holes are not big enough.
- The pegs tend to break the higher string.
9. Kmise A2421 3L3R FA-21 Auto Lock Tuning Pegs Tuners – The Best Locking Tuners for Both Acoustic and Electric Guitars
It becomes a bit confusing to find a suitable pick for either an acoustic guitar or an electric one. So here’s the best solution to such a problem. And it comes in the form of the Kmise A2421 3L3R FA-21 Auto Lock Tuning Pegs Tuners. They are crafted for acoustic and electric guitars. So you don’t need to waste any more time looking for the right kind of model.
The machine heads are of the highest quality. And the proof of that is the sealed nature of the equipment. This brings both strength and good looks into the picture. The tuning pegs are automatic, so there’s your convenience too.
Moreover, the internal gear is completely heavy-duty with a tuning ratio of 18:1. Much like most of the models reviewed here! This brings tons of precision into action.
But here’s the most convincing part. The Kmise A2421 3L3R FA-21 Auto Lock Tuning Pegs Tuners are the cheapest upgrade. Cheap only in terms of price! So to get access to quality locking tuners, there’s no need for you to spend big money.
Without any hesitation, I would describe the Kmise Auto Lock Tuning Pegs Tuners as a great product. You calibrate the guitar after installing them. Don’t forget to bend and stretch those strings a few times during the tuning process. And once you’ve completed the tuning, you won’t feel the need to tune them again. No matter what!
The thing about locking knobs, especially those built using plastic, is that they tend to rank low in regards to long-term performance. So that does sound like a deal-breaker in this case.
- The Kmise tuners are well-machined with a nice finish.
- They offer a perfect fit.
- Plastic-made locking knobs are a disappointment.
10. Musiclily 6-in-line Guitar Locking Tuners Chrome – The Bonus Pick
After reviewing and testing many chrome and black finish models, I choose to select this Musiclily creation as the ultimate bonus pick. The tuning ratio of this thing is 18:1. So it has the ability to increase pitch tensions quickly. And there’s more than meets the eye. Allow me to elaborate.
The integrated pin follows the locking knob. But why am I telling you this? So you know that as soon as that knob turns, the pin gets retracted easily. As a result of which the Musiclily tuners are less prone to getting stuck. Unlike the expensive models that feature a short pin.
Now it’s true that 3X3 locking tuners are nice. But when the staggered sets are equipped with such functionality, the tuning process becomes even better. As for the re-stringing part, there are no concerns in that arena either. The Musiclily 6-in-line Guitar Locking Tuners simplify re-stringing during set up and assembly.
Needless to say, these are a far superior upgrade to factory-installed tuners. The metallurgy, saddles, and tone are nothing but consistent with the instrument.
Installing the Musiclily 6-in-line Guitar Locking Tuners is a piece of cake. Even spending on the model is easy on the wallet. On top of that, you couldn’t be any more pleased with the quality, key tightness, and overall appearance.
To be more specific, you’ll appreciate the remarkable internal winding system. It boasts of high quality while also performing like the more expensive models on the list.
Here’s a major drawback. The Musiclily 6-in-line Guitar Locking Tuners go off tune quite easily. But you can avoid such a tragedy from taking place. You need to keep making adjustments, which doesn’t sound so convenient.
- The Musiclily tuners have a nice chrome finish.
- The product includes all hardware for installation.
- Slipping of strings is out of the question.
- Tuning pegs seem a bit cheap.
- They don’t maintain tune easily.
Everything You Need To Know About the Best Locking Tuners
All the models discussed above perform so well that an improvement on the guitar is inevitable. Now, there’s nothing wrong with traditional tuners. Particularly if they’re of high quality! They are fine mechanisms. But it’s the locking tuners that make the string changing process much more convenient.
Better sustain, improved stability, and easier restrings; the three noteworthy benefits of using locking tuners. So let’s find out more about the difference between the two!
But first, here’s how to install locking tuners on any guitar:
Locking Tuners Anyone Can Install On Any Guitar.
Traditional Tuners vs. Locking Tuners
When the instrument just doesn’t agree to maintain the tune, does your technique or gear make any difference? The answer is NO, right? Not many guitarists talk about or discuss the importance of tuner models and styles. At least not as much as the other guitar components such as pickups, strings, and bridge. These parts are certainly crucial to the tone, but they don’t and won’t make any difference if the intonation is off.
This is where the best locking tuners come to the rescue. What they do is prevent the instrument from sounding off-tune. The strings naturally shift and stretch as per your finger movements. On top of that, environmental factors such as humidity and temperature don’t interfere with intonation.
Locking tuners drastically reduce the playing effects on the intonation. Translation: you don’t need to tune the guitar more frequently. Something that you normally do with the traditional version!
But here’s the thing, not many guitarists use locking tuners for the purpose of intonation. More often than not, they purchase the best locking tuners to bring more convenience to the table. When changing strings with the help of traditional tuners, you tighten the strings by tying them in a knot. But in the case of locking tuners, all you have to do is turn that tuning peg. The latter is a process that’s a lot more convenient and quicker.
Photo credit: prsguitars.com
So what’s the drawback of using locking tuners? The most notable disadvantage is the appearance factor. Since these parts feature a huge mechanism, they tend to look unsightly and bulky on the headstock. But you can always opt for aesthetically attractive looking versions. Like the ones reviewed in the article!
Even so, do you prefer the physical appearance of the tradition tuner? If yes, then you might not appreciate even the slim, attractive design of their locking counterpart.
Making a switch between the two requires some modification. There’s no denying that! But the good news here is that the modification is unobtrusive. Unlike the extensive modification of altering pickups or installing a bridge!
Choosing the Best Locking Tuners
Photo credit: leftyfretz.com
When buying the best locking tuners, you have to take certain factors into account. For one, the tuner size plays a major role in the selection process.
There are models specifically designed for different guitars. It means they require that perfect fit. In that case, you might have to broaden the headstock hole. But if you somehow manage to get your hands on an exact set, you’ve hit the jackpot. Even if that’s not the case, making adjustments is no reason to not get locking tuners.
The next feature is tuner orientation. The staggered sets are suitable for guitars that have all tuners on one side of that headstock. Then come the 3X3 sets, which are an ideal pick for Les Paul type headstock designs.
My Choice: Fender Locking Tuners Chrome
Aftermarket tuners are affordable performance boosters. But, sometimes, they’re very crucial to the process. Guitars, no matter how expensive, are only as great as their key retention abilities. If they can’t match up to your rudimentary requirements, they’re of no good.
With that in place, a basic set of the best locking tuners has the capacity to deliver professional performance. And the most convincing part is that they are inexpensive, easy, and logical in the majority of cases. Especially the Fender Chrome Locking Tuners!
You’ll find this equipment on the company’s phenomenal American Deluxe guitar series. So you can easily use them on your locking tuner equipped Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster. But they work on other models as well. In that case, you’ll need to make slight, easy modifications.
The chrome plating is a feature responsible for strength and looks. So don’t expect the Fender Chrome Locking Tuners to not deliver reliable, consistent performance. With these magical tuners, you’ll spend most of your time and energy focusing on the sound. Instead of wasting time on intonation! Now that’s something, isn’t it!