When you are buying a guitar, there are a lot of things that will catch your eye and draw your attention before the tuners do. We are going to dedicate this article to the best locking tuners, since they are actually a very important part of your instrument.
Many newer players don’t know the differences between tuners, and in some cases, especially with beginners, they may not know what a locking tuner is.
In this article we will explain what locking tuners are, then we’ll dive deep into our four top picks, and finally we’ll give you a guide to finding the best locking tuners if you want to shop around. To start though, here are our top 4 picks for best locking tuners:
The Best Locking Tuners
What Is A Locking Tuner?
Tuners, when talking about guitars, can actually refer to both a device that helps you determine if your guitar’s pitch and notes are correct, and ones that help you tighten and loosen the tension on your strings.
The locking tuners in this article are of the second type.
Early guitar tuning pegs often would start to slip after being played for a while or especially hard. Locking tuners were the solution to this problem.
The best locking tuners were developed and designed to prevent this problem, known as backlash. These anti-backlash tuning pegs uses either a machine head or cam and screw to prevent string slippage.
The drawback to these tuners is that, regardless of design, they put more pressure on the string and thus can shorten the lifespan of a set of strings significantly.
Guitarist who often switch between playing their guitar in standard tune and dropping down to tune their guitar half a step, or even a full step down during playing probably want to avoid locking tuners as this will shorten the lifespan of strings even more.
Guitar Locking Tuning Peg Reviews
In this section we’ll dive into detail on each of our four picks for best locking tuners. We’ve pick two 3+3 setups and two for a straight six, so regardless of your headstock setup you’ll have a few choices!
Hipshot 6GLO Grip-Lock Locking Guitar Tuning Machines 3+3
Amazon’s Choice, and our top pick for a 3+3 headstock, the Hipshot 6GLO are a great set of locking tuners with several options for color and style. These grip-lock tuners have an 18:1 gear ratio and come with a universal mounting plate to make a DIY installation much easier to do! We found that some models did require drilling new holes though.
- 3+3 headstock configuration
- Grip lock
- 18:1 gear ratio
- 18:1 gear ratio
- Hipshot's Grip-Lock guitar tuning pegs grip your strings for positive, accurate tuning
Fender Locking Tuners
Our top pick for the best locking tuners for a straight six lineup of pegs. Since both the Telecaster and Stratocaster use this setup these are commonly used on Fender instruments. Just like the Hipshot, these have a gearing ratio of 18:1 and come in chrome, black, or gold color options.
Unlike the 3+3 tuners, you will need to pick out a right-handed or left-handed pack of these tuners, depending on the setup of your guitar!
- Set of six tuning machines (3 long post and 3 short post)
- Gear ratio 18:1
- Dual guide pin mounting
- Bushings and washers included
- Used on American Deluxe and American Elite Series guitars
D’Addario Auto-Trim Tuning Machines, 6 In-Line setup
Our 2nd option for the 6 In-Line headstock setups, the D’Addario name brand is best known for strings, but these tuners are made with surprising quality that won’t disappoint.
We do like the setup on these, with the string clamps that are used avoid having to wind the string around the post multiple times. This helps with both precision and extending the life of your strings.
- 6 High quality precision tuners that automatically cut excess string while the guitar is tuned; 6 In-Line format
- Individual string clamps securely hold the string in the tuning machine, avoiding the need for multiple wraps around the post
- Excellent for tremolo use and other demanding applications
- Precise 18:1 gearing ratio for smooth, exact tuning with minimal string slippage
- Limited lifetime guarantee
Guyker Guitar Locking Tuners (3L + 3R) – 1:21 Lock String Tuning Key Pegs Machine Head Set
The 2nd option for a 3+3 setup is the Guyker set. These are our favorite looking tuners of all, especially the chameleon rainbow color finish. You won’t find to many other sets of tuners that will stand out like these!
The gear ratio is also higher on these tuners than the others on our list, being 21:1 instead of 18:1. We suspect this is because of the internal gear they use as a clamping mechanism. These tuners are the cheapest option on our list, but we’ve been using a set for almost a year and had absolutly no issues!
- Package includes: 6 pieces (3 for Right, 3 for Left Handed) lock guitar tuners pegs, 6 mounting screws, 6 threaded bushings and 6 ferrules, good replacement for Strat Tele style electric or acoustic guitars.
- Guitar tuning machines with heavy duty internal gear, sturdy and convenient. Easy to install, easy to replace your old or dirty guitar tuning pegs.
- Guyker locking tuners help to provide finer tuning and greater stability. Comfortable and easy for adjustment of string tension.
- Gear Ratio - 1:21, designed to fit modern 10mm headstock holes. Semicircle shaped button with sealed housing and 45 degree fixing tag.
- Please check the parameter drawing in the attached pics before placing your order.
Locking Tuner Buying Guide
While we recommend you stick with one of the four options we have given you for the best guitar tuners, we realize that they may be out of stock, discontinued, or you just prefer to shop locally.
If this is the case, here are a handful of things you should look out for when buying locking guitar tuning pegs.
Tuners are normally sold for guitars with certain headstock configurations. An SG for instance, will have three pegs on each side of the headstock, while a Fender Telecaster has six all on one side.
Make sure to pick up a set of locking tuners that specifies either three per side, or six on top.
Locking tuners are made to keep your guitar in tune over a long period of time, but even these will start to slip after a while.
If you are careful with your choice of locking tuner, this can be prevented to a large extent. If you don’t pick a set of tuners we’ve recommended here, make sure to do proper research to get a good set!
Easy to Install
Frankly, this only applies if you are planning on doing the installation yourself. We actually recommend having a professional do it. This is especially true if you are a beginner.
Some tuning pegs will come with both installation instructions as well as a small toolkit to help, so if you are going the DIY route stick with a set of pegs that come with these things!
Ok, this has nothing to do with the playability, durability, or getting a quality product. That being said, lets be serious, the look of a guitar and it’s parts comes 2nd only to the sound of the instrument!
The Final Note On Locking Guitar Tuners
Mostly for electric guitars, locking tuners might be a great idea if you are commonly having to adjust your tuning due to bad tuning pegs that came on a guitar or if you play aggressively and put a lot of strain on pegs. Might want to steer clear if you’re commonly adjusting your tuning setup though!
Last update on 2021-06-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API