Locking tuning machines, as seen on our article: 3 Easy Guitar Mods on a Budget, are one of the few mods out there that almost always show an obvious improvement on your guitar. Traditional tuners, especially high quality ones, are perfectly fine mechanisms, but locking tuners can make your life a lot easier. Easier restrings, better stability, and better sustain are some of the benefits of upgrading to locking tuners. Today we are gonna look at our top 4 favorite locking tuners (in no particular order).

Let’s get right to it!

1. Hipshot Grip-Lock

Hipshot Grip-Lock are probably my favorite that I’ve used, let me tell you why. I really wanted some locking tuners for my RGA and went on a search for some that I didn’t have to drill any holes for. (I just didn’t want to drill into my RGA, okay?!) I found out that the Hipshot Grip-Lock tuners come with a Hipshot UMP (Universal Mounting Plate), which made installing the tuning machines super easy, without having to drill any holes! Some people may not like the way this looks on their guitar, but I don’t mind it one bit.

The Hipshot Grip-Locks are also fairly versatile. They offer post holes that fit strings up to .60” gauge, but can special order up .90 as well. Yeah you read that correctly, .90” guitar strings. They are available in staggered and standard configurations, as well as a ton of different color options. The 18:1 tuning ratio makes it easy to make super fine adjustments as well!

In my experience, these have been the best bang for my buck and it’s hard not to buy them for all of my guitars.


2. Schaller Locking Tuning Machines

Schaller was the first company to actually mass produce locking tuners, so I suppose this gives them a bit of seniority. While not as small of a ratio as the Hipshot tuners, the Schaller’s 16:1 ratio still offers the ability to make fine adjustments to tuning.

Unfortunately, they don’t come with a UMP like the Hipshot do, but as long as you get the right model for your guitar, it should be a fairly straightforward drop-in replacement.

The Schaller tuners are for sure the heaviest of the different ones I’ve listed today. While this may add a bit of weight to your headstock (doesn’t bother me), it adds some nice resistance to the strings and are less likely to slip. These are definitely some of the more “stable” tuners on the market.

Schaller also offers some “Mini” tuners that are a little bit more condensed in size and sit closer to the headstock for a classy look.


3. Sperzel Trim-Lok Guitar Machines

The Sperzel Locking Tuners, while are still a great product, are not as precise as the Hipshot or Schaller tuners. The 12:1 ratio still offers a more accurate tuning than a standard tuner that you might find stock on a guitar though.

These tuners are actually very easy to install when compared to any of the other brands because these actually do not require any mounting screws at all. The pins snap right into the pre-drilled holes on your headstock, and you seal it off on the other side with a washer and nut. It doesn’t get much easier!

The Sperzel tuners are one of the more affordable products on our list today, so they are probably the best choice for the guitarist looking for  simple, quality tuners on a budget!


4. Planet Waves Auto-Trim Locking Tuning Machines

The Planet Waves Auto-Trim have a unique feature that makes them stand out in this list. These tuning machines will actually trim your string for you while you are locking it in place. This sounded gimmicky to me, but they actually do a really great job of keeping your guitar looking clean without the need for wire cutters or anything.

They offer an 18:1 tuning ratio (same as the Hipshot for a bit cheaper) and do a great job of holding stability. My only complaint is the way they look. While they don’t really feel cheap, they look sort of cheesy to me. Other than that, they come in a variety of colors and have probably the coolest feature of any tuner I’ve seen!

These are also on the more affordable side and offer a really good bang for your buck.


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This article was written by Zac Buras, our editor located in Louisiana.

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