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Top 5: Best Locking Tuners

There are a load of benefits to fitting locking tuners but with so many options available, it can be difficult to work out which to choose.

We’ve got it covered.

Here’s our Top 5 list of the best locking tuners on the market…

Hipshot Open Gear Grip-Lock Tuners

The Open Grip-Lock Tuner Kits are awesome, no question. These M6-mini-sized tuners are compact but pack in an 18:1 ratio thanks to their open back design. The exposed bronze gear coupled with their ‘HS’ button produces a unique tuner that is suitable for any acoustic or electric guitar.

All Hipshot tuners come with a set of UMP’s: Universal Mounting Plates. These useful little plates makes fitting Grip-Lock tuners to any guitar without the need for any modifications!

Schaller M6 Locking Tuners

German designed and manufactured; the Schaller tuner is by far the most luxurious on our list. The M6 is a classic casing shape, and their familiar hex button fits in well with most guitar designs.

Their 16:1 gear ratio may not be as sharp as some of the other machine heads on our list, but would still be considered accurate.

Available in 3+3 or 6-in-line configurations, in a variety of finishes.

Gotoh SGL510Z

The 510 is an excellent choice for price and performance. Relatively affordable compared to some of the other options on our list but packed full of quality.

Denoted by a “Z” in the part number, the larger SG version of the 510 packs a larger gear than its smaller counterpart, resulting in a finer, more accurate tuner.

The two model numbers you want are either the SGL510Z or SGV510Z; the difference between the two being the position of the mounting screw.

For a 3 by 3 headstock, the “MG” post will do just fine. You’ll want to go for the “MG-T” version for 6-in-line headstocks as they have staggered height posts.

Graphtech Ratio Machine Heads

The Ratio tuner is fairly unknown to guitarists, which is odd considering everyone knows about TUSQ guitar nuts.

The premise is simple: each tuner has its own individual gear ratio suitable for the string it’s tuning. The thicker the string, the finer the tuning; the thinner the string, the coarser the tuning. Each set includes tuners with gear ratios as low as 12:1 all the way up to 39:1. All of this is to make tuning and retuning easier, accurate and more intuitive than any standard set of tuners.

The ratio machine heads share a similar shape to Schaller M6 so will feel familiar in use. They are 2-pin mounted rather than screw mounted, but Graphtech have included individual mounting plates to fit Fender, 135 degree, 90 degree and Kluson-style mounting positions.

Hipshot Directrofits

Hipshot make our list again but it wasn’t a simple decision.

This last entry came down to two sets of guitar machine heads: Fender Locking Tuners or the Hipshot Directrofits. We’ve gone with the Directrofits purely for their 21:1 gear ratio – super accurate!

Fender’s modern tuner is 2-pin mounted but is not the same as the Schaller M6 with the same pattern. The two pins are set slightly forward than the M6, albeit with the same spacing. This makes finding replacement tuners difficult, and you only really have the two options as mentioned before or Graphtech’s Ratio tuners using the mounting plates.

But the look and feel of the Directrofits makes them more than just a direct Fender replacement. It’s worth exploring a workaround to fit them (try a drill jig like this) because they do make a great upgrade part or fixture for your next guitar build.

Top 5: Best Locking Tuners

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