Do Locking Tuners Keep Guitar Tune?

Maybe your tired of constantly tuning your guitar. And think I’m going to get locking tuners to keep my guitar in tune. Well I hate to ruin your day, but locking tuners are not going to keep your guitar in tune.

So if your wondering do locking tuners keep guitars tuned: Locking tuners keep guitars tuned the answer is no! Locking tuners bolt on the headstock of the guitar, the same as traditional tuners. Stringing the guitar is easier with Locking Tuners. Locking tuners are more efficient. Locking tuners take the hassle out of replacing your guitar strings.

Well if they don’t keep your guitar in tune why are so many guitarists using locking tuners?

Locking Tuners Compared to Traditional Tuners

Let’s get to the nitty gritty. A lot of guitarist talk about the bridge and why one bridge makes a guitar sound better than the other. But very few are looking at the headstock. And keeping the strings in tune. When you look at the headstock your looking at the style to see what kind of guitar is being played. After all the headstock is a signature of a guitars brand.

But let’s take a look beyond the style of headstock. And look at the mechanics of the headstock. First take a close up look at the traditional tuners and then locking tuners.

Traditional Tuners

Guitar tuners have been around since the advent of the guitar. Which were acoustic guitars long before electric. Some of the beginning players were CF Martin and Washburn, Then later new players in the guitar manufacturing seen came about. And with them brought to life the Electric guitars Fender and Gibson.

But all have traditional tuners. They are also known as the machine head. They bolt on the guitar headstock with screws. The guitar string goes through the hole in the post. You turn a tuning peg. Which in turn moves the gears and spins the string post. So that the strings wrap around the peg. If you have a string winder tool. The tedious task of winding the strings on the post becomes more efficient. And I don’t know about you but time is a commodity.

Related Article: How to replace acoustic guitar strings.

On an acoustic guitar the tuning pegs are bolted on each side of the guitar headstock. Where as on an electric guitar the tuners are bolted on the back of the headstock in a line.

Most guitarist simply put up with the slow winding inefficient tuners because that’s what was on the guitar to begin with. For many years now on electric guitars the traditional style tuners have been used by Gibson and Fender and knock off manufacturers of those brands. You know the saying if it’s not broke don’t fix it. For more than half a century these manufactures have been using “traditional Tuners”, and they seemingly do the job quite well. And that is to keep the strings in tune.

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When Strings Get out of Tune

It’s not to say that the strings can’t come out of tune. Especially when you are bending strings to hit that perfect pitch. Or even if you are using a capo your guitar will come out of tune. Sure your guitar strings will get out of tune. But most of the traditional tuners when you pick up your guitar after a short break from playing it. For the most part will still be in tune.

Replacing the strings; To me I always feel like replacing the strings is a hassle, and time consuming. But there are lots of guitarists that like to replace guitar strings. Because the strings sound really good when they are fresh & new. Because of this. These guitarist become really good at replacing strings. And can replace them a little bit quicker. But even the best guitarist its going to take time and patience to get the strings replaced.

Related Article: What’s the use of a guitar Capo.

What’s The Pro’s & Con’s of a Traditional Tuner

The guitar industry has been using Traditional windup tuners since before the world war. And a lot of things have changed since then. But the traditional tuner remains the same. And there are some Con’s of the traditional tuner. Which is the time that it takes to install each and every string. It’s all most painstaking.

Related Article: When Changing Guitar Strings do You Change One at a Time?

What are Locking Tuners?

A locking tuner locks the string on the post. So you don’t have to wind the string around the post. You may think that the locking tuner keeps the string in tune. No it just makes it easier to replace your guitar strings. Your strings just like on traditional machine heads can get out of tune. When playing the strings hard. Like a rock god. Bending the strings causes the strings to become out of tune. Using a tremolo or “Whammy bar”. Also after using a guitar capo you should check the tuning as the strings most likely are out of tune.

Pro’s for Using Locking Tuners

Time is the number one reason you would use a locking tuner. It is just so much easier than winding and wrapping the string around the pole. And if you don’t have a peg winder tool. Things just got even longer. But with the locking tuner simply put the string through the hole in the post. And turn the knob at the back on the headstock to lock the string in place.

There are a lot of brands of locking tuners and you can get them to replace the traditional tuners. So that they bolt into place without having to drill new holes in the headstock. (This is a plus).

Related article: Gear spotlight -James Tyler Variax Guitar.

Construction of the Traditional Tuner

There are two parts mounted to the headstock of the guitar. Which is called the machine head or tuner. The Pinion Gear and a Cylinder or warm gear.

The cylinder is mounted at the center of the gear. AT the top of the cylinder is a button. You turn the button which in turn terns the cylinder. Which turns the pinion gear.

The capstan or post has a hole in it where the guitar string is put through it. And by turning the gear the string becomes tighter. The warm gear sets the gear from slipping or becoming tighter without actually turning the knob.

The Machine head mechanism does not prevent the strings from becoming out of tune. The strings will stretch and become out of tune with traditional tuners or locking tuners.

Who Makes Locking Tuners?

There are many brands of locking tuners but here are the Top 10 Locking Tuners:

The ones I use are the GraphTech custom tuners. Get the Current Price on Amazon.

  • Sperzel Trim-Lock
  • Grover 406 Rotomatic
  • Schaller Locking Machine heads
  • Hipshot Grip-lock
  • Wilkinson Easy Lock Tuners

Why consider Locking tuners? 3 Reasons: 1. Ease of use. 2. Ease of installation. 3. The Convenience when replacing strings.

How Much are Locking Tuners?

Traditional Tuners are $30.00 on up from there. And the locking tuners are anywhere from $50.00 and up. A nice set of custom tuners can cost $120 bucks and up. But the amount of time that they will save you stringing your guitar. Makes them will worth it. Also if your on a gig and you break a string. You don’t have to freak out you can simply replace the broken string with a new one. Just with a half twist of a knob and your and back in business.

Different types of Traditional Tuners

Depending on the kind of guitar and the manufacture the Machine heads are a little different. But they are all traditional tuners. You have Classical guitars, Acoustic Guitars and various electric guitars Gibson Style and then of course Fender guitars.

  • Classical guitars – use nylon strings that need less tension. The wirm gear’s are exposed and the strings are wound inside pins in grooves in the head.

Acoustic & electric guitars – The worm gear is incased in metal or plastic and has lubricant for the gears.

Vintage Tuners – Have Machine head gears that are exposed. And vintage replica’s you can see the gears. (Individual open Gear Tuners).

Electric Tuners Fender Style – Have a single diagonal row of tuners.

Gibson Electric Guitars – Have Rectangular head of two rows of 3 pin tuners.

12 String Guitars – Rectangular head of two rows have 6 pin Tuners.

All Traditional Tuners with slight variances of there own brand. Source

Related Article: What is a Good Electric Guitar for Adults?


If you haven’t tried a locking tuner. Then it’s time to try one. I have guitars with traditional tuners. And like I say I find them to be a pain to have to replace guitar strings. Even though it’s a big part of owning a guitar.

Unless your guitar just sits in the corner of the room to look good, but never gets played. My Variax has locking tuners. I still don’t like changing the strings, but at least the time that it takes is cut down by 20 minutes. The locking tuner makes replacing guitar strings so much easier and faster. I love my locking tuners!

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