Locking/Clipping Tuners

Raising the strings to pitch automatically clips the strings.

While auditioning parts as part of the ongoing Mongrel Strat Project, I tried out my first set of Planet Waves Auto-Trim Locking Guitar Machines. I’m really digging them! They lock to pitch via a little button on the back, much like Sperzel locking tuners. But when you raise the strings to pitch, they automatically get snipped by the tuners. Smooth!

They’re nicely made, with an 18:1 ratio and a substantial feel. (I got the six-in-line set, though they also have a three-on-a-side model.)

I’m especially digging the fact that, once you’ve snipped a string, it’s easy to loosen and remove the strings for changing pickups, pickguards, and so forth. There’s no curled or barbed end on the strings, so they slide right back into the tuner when your work is done. The only catch: The snipping process can be a bit tough with heavier strings. I installed am .011-.052 set, and it took a bit of work to slice through that fat E string. Not a problem in the end, but it could be an issue with higher gauges.

Now back to messing up some mongrel strats! :satansmoking: In the meantime, what are some of your favorite tuners these days?

14 comments to Locking/Clipping Tuners

  • Excuse my ignorance, but what exactly are locking tuners?  I mean, like the name implies they lock a string in place?  Does the string not wrap around the peg?  Does this help the guitar stay in tune?  What about string stretching?  Do they counteract trem-bars?  Ha ha.  I have no experience with locking tuners.
    On the other hand, I have plans to get all black hardware for a New York Pro Strat clone that I just recently picked up.
    Would it be worth my time to pop out a few extra bucks & get locking tuners?  I have been drooling over the stuff at Guitar Fetish.

    I just noticed, I went to add a happy/laughing emoticon, and you have none, so I’ll leave you with the most pleasant…

    • joe

      Oh, a locking tuner just means that the post includes some sort of clamp to grip the string, so there’s no bending or wrapping — just pull it straight through, lock, and snip. This design is probably most associated with Sperzel.

      The new wrinkle (for me, anyway) is that after you lock the strings on these Planet Waves pegs and start raising the string to pitch, the increasing tension actually snips the strings for you — you don’t need a wire clipper at all.

      Are locking tuners cool in general? Just a matter of taste. I usually put them on guitars that need new tuners, but don’t go out of my way to replace otherwise decent non-locking tuners. Though as mentioned, I like the locking ones because they make it easier to loosen/remove and then reinstall old strings — something I have to do incessantly these days ’cause I’m doing so many projects based on guitar electronics.

      Thanks for the Guitar Fetish link — real purdy stuff! 🙂

  • Nuno Carmona

    Never tried but I’m anxious for an opportunity to try those! Nice hint, Joe.

  • Sam Geese

    I also have the Planet Waves Locking Tuners.
    They work great.  Wish they were chrome all over, but that’s ok. 

  • Oinkus

    Had these installed in my strat when I rebuilt it a few years ago just put a 2nd set on my Les Paul. Cheap and good stable ,hold tune well , zero issues.

  • DohminSemper

    Hello, just a question: Do you use .011-.052 to all your guitars?

    • joe

      In general I’m a heavy-string guy, though I usually prefer fairly low action. I usually use .011 through .052 for standard tuning, but .013 through .056 if I’m tuned down to CGCFAD. If I drop all the way to AEADF#B, I’ll use something like .013 through .070.

  • Hey Joe, it’s been a few months since you wrote this. Are you still digging these tuners?

    • joe

      Thanks for asking! Yep, I still like them — though I also wish they offered more cosmetic options. But the functionality is tops! I’ve even been able to snip the fatso .056 E strings I use. 🙂

      • Nice. That’s about the only complaint I’ve heard. I’m getting ready to put a set on my Hamer. The headstock is black so I think they will look pretty beast.

        Thanks again for all the good content here!

        • joe

          Oh yeah, I have a Hamer with a black headstock, and those would be really nice on it. 🙂

          Love those Hamers — I was very tempted by a P-90 thingie I saw in a shop the other day.

          Thanks for your kind words, Derick. 🙂 

  • Oinkus

    I am about to order my third set for my Tele build , think they are just the greatest.Wish they made sets with Keystone buttons though,can be pricey to buy them .