There is nothing more annoying than having to tune your guitar halfway through a song while you are on stage performing. When you are about to rip into a face melting guitar solo, its necessary to know your strings are actually in tune. It pains me to see other guitarists tuning in the middle of a song because their Bigsby equipped axe is a little tempermental.

I got sick of the hassle and started looking for solutions. Lets see, there is the locking nut system like you find a Floyd Rose equipped guitar. Not bad, but ends up being more a hassle than its worth….in my opinion.

What else is there? There is the fancy automatic guitar tuning system. You know the one I mean? It’s a big piece of tech that you mount to the back of the headstock. That’s it, Tronical Tuning Systems Self Tuners. Besides the fact that it requires batteries, it’s going to set you back $250. Pass!

Oh there is that fancy behemoth of a guitar bridge. Evertune Electric Guitar Bridge or something? It’s actually kind of sweet now that I looked at it. Still, that’s going to set you back at least $295, not to mention the headache of trying to properly install it.

There has to be a reasonably priced option out there. One that I can install myself without too much trouble. So I kept looking for a solution to my guitar tuning problem.

G&L ASAT Classic Bluesboy Guitar AxeDr
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 I found the solution. I’d seen a few guitars in my day with “locking tuners”. Didn’t fully understand the principle of locking tuners beyond that they locked the tuners. So I did some digging, a little product research and settled on the Sperzel Locking Tuners. 

Disclaimer: I had in the previous week listened to a guitar podcast that featured the owner of the Sperzel Tuners company. The way he spoke of their products engineering and manufacturing just totally won me over. However it was not a great experience I had once I tried installing the Sperzel tuners.

Sperzel Tuners, Locking Tuning Machines:

Fast forward a week and I’m opening and installing my brand new brushed chrome Sperzel Locking Tuners on my G&L Bluesboy. The Sperzel Tuners themselves looked great, they were hefty. I was impressed by the Sperzel Tuners sturdy construction. The very last Sperzel tuner was about to be tightened down when I noticed the threads were not catching.

This particular model of the Sperzel Tuners was the variety that uses a threaded sleeve on the topside of the guitar headstock. That threaded sleeve acts like a nut on a bolt, the bolt being backside of the tuning machine, allowing you to tighten the entire assembly into the tuner hole. Turns out the last sleeve I installed had some improperly cut threads. I tried to work past it, but it only further stripped the tuning machine’s threads. 

    I was ready to give them a pass and wait for replacement parts. I sat down and started tuning the five Sperzel tuners on my guitar. Those things felt absolutely atrocious. Most locking tuners for guitars are very smooth with plenty of travel to allow for accurate tuning. I’m sad to say these sperzel locking tuners were anything but.

Sperzel Tuners: Disappointing Locking Tuning Machines

They were not smooth at all, and had horrible gearing ratios. I couldn’t turn the knobs without drastically changing each string’s tuning. That is the last thing you want in a locking tuner. It was like trying to tune a $20 pawn shop harmony special. I took them off and sent them back. So I had to remove the sperzel tuners, and reinstall my old stock tuning machines.

 

Hipshot 6GLO Grip-Lock Locking Guitar Tuning Machines 3+3 Black

Hipshot Grip-Lock 6 inline Non-Staggered Locking Tuners - Chrome

Sperzel 6TL Locking Tuner 6 Inline Green

Sperzel 6LTLCP Trim-Lok 6-In-Line Locking Tuners Chrome

Hipshot Grip-Lock Locking Tuning Machines to the rescue:

I should tell you, I don’t give up easily. I was still determined to solve this tuning issue. So I went back to the old interweb and found some stellar reviews on the Hipshot Grip-Lock locking tuners. Locking tuning machines for guitar come in a ton of varieties. You can find super cheap locking tuning machines on Amazon, but I’m not into that kind of gear. Whatever I choose to put on my guitar, needs to increase it’s value, not decrease it.

    I ordered a set of 6 Inline Hipshot Grip-Lock locking tuners, with the open gear back in chrome finish. The reviews and ratings were quite good, and I have only ever heard great things about Hipshot products. I don’t think at that point, that I’d ever used any locking tuning machines from Hipshot. I do remember the first time I saw a Hipshot product. It was a Drop D lever on a bass. Instantly drop the Low E string to Drop D with the flick of a lever.

How Not to Use Your Hipshot Locking Tuners :

Let me tell you, these locking tuning machines ROCK! They turn as smooth and as accurately as the most expensive {insert major brand here} on the market. They are sturdier than a brick shithouse, and the open back gears add that extra bit of cool to your axe. The only downside to locking tuning machines is operator error. There is absolutely a wrong way to use locking tuning machines. You have to read the manual for Hipshot locking tuners, or any locking tuner for that matter.

The key to these special locking tuners is to not string them up like regular tuning machines. Locking tuning machines are advantageous for one reason. They require only 3/4 of a wrap on the string post. You never want to put 2 or 3 wraps of string around these posts. Locking Tuning Machines eliminate the need for extra wraps by locking the string in the post with an adjustable pin. Therefore the string only needs 3/4 of a wrap to stay put, and won’t loosen AT ALL once the string is “stretched” after tuning.

G&L ASAT Classic Hipshot Grip-Lock locking guitar tuners
G&L ASAT Classic Hipshot Grip-Lock locking guitar tuners

   It took me about an hour to install the new hipshot grip-lock locking guitar tuners. There were some minor fitment issues that were easily fixed with a rat tail metal file. I can’t say enough about how sleek and unique these tuners make your headstock look. These hipshot locking tuners function perfectly!!! 

The string posts could be a little bit thicker on these hipshot locking tuners, but I never need to tune, even after heavy soloing and bending songs. I could throw my guitar in the back of the car, hit the road, and pull it out of the case 5 minutes before showtime, and I would be totally confident that my axe is in tune. 

Hipshot Grip-Lock locking tuners are an excellent and affordable addition to any guitar. If you have a bigsby equipped guitar, floyd rose equipped guitar, these locking tuners will stop your strings from slacking on the string posts…for sure.

In all honesty, you could easily get rid of the annoying locking nut on floyd rose guitars, and never have to worry about the strings slipping. Hipshot locking tuners can save you a lot of time and frustration if you are someone who loves to dive bomb, or add that added bit of tremolo to your tone. The build quality of the Hipshot grip-lock tuner is outstanding. Super solid construction. The gearing in these is unsurpassed. You can tune every string with ease and ultimate precision. I will absolutely use Hipshot locking tuners on all my guitars from now on.

Tele Hipshot Grip-Lock Locking Tuners
Tele Hipshot Grip-Lock Locking Tuners

My conclusion on Hipshot Locking Tuners:

If what you need is tuning stability with a little extra bling, these Hipshot Grip-lock locking tuners are the way to go. I don’t normally endorse products, but this is a special case. I have used these hipshot locking tuners for well over 3 years, and with solid gigging every single weekend. They have exceeded my expectations in every way they can. 

    Do not hesitate to upgrade your axe today. You will be glad for the peace of mind they provide. Plus they look cooler than most of the other locking tuning machines out there.

Sincerely,

The Axe Dr.

Hipshot Grip-Lock Locking Tuners for guitar
Hipshot Grip-Lock Locking Tuners for guitar

Hipshot Grip-Lock Vintage 6 Inline Staggered Closed 8.5mm Tuners with Universal Mounting Plate, Chrome

  • 1. What are Locking Tuners?

    One very cool upgrade for any guitar. Locking Tuners are aftermarket tuning machines that lock the guitar strings to the tuning posts. The benefit of this is superior tuning stability. Guitarists are constantly tuning. With this upgrade, extra tuning of the strings drops to an absolute minimum.

       I rarely have to tune more than once an hour (during a live set with solos) with Hipshot’s Griplock tuners. This is one of my all time favorite guitar upgrades!

  • 2. What are the best locking tuners for the money?

    After having used many brands of locking guitar tuners, Hipshot Grip-Locks have been the best for the money. If what you need is dependable tuning stability, beautiful tuners, and value for the money...these Hipshot Griplocks are the way to go. They have exceeded my expectations in every way a tuning machine can.

  • 3. Do locking tuners actually work?

    The short answer is yes, they do. The key is to use them properly as per manufacturer instructions. The key to stability with locking tuners is to use only 1/2 to 3/4 of a string wrap on the post. This ensures no slack is able to slip the post and detune your string.