Choosing replacement locking tuners

Meeotch

Supporting Member
Messages
163
I'd like to replace the stock non-locking Grover tuners on my LTD MH1000-ET with these Gotoh SG 381 Magnum Lock tuners. https://www.philadelphialuthiertool...d-locking-tuning-machine-pre-configured-sets/ Philadelphia Luthier Tools is recommending I purchase them in two different sizes to get the correct downward pressure at the nut. 3 long (20mm) and 3 extra long (21.5mm), with the longer size on the strings farthest from the nut.

This all seems ass backwards to me so I'm hoping for advice. The headstock on my ltd is angled, and 15mm thick. My current Grover non-locking tuners are all the same length (23mm posts). First, I don't understand how switching to locking tuners would require switching to staggered sized tuning posts. Second, I understand the logic of staggered tuning posts for straight headstocks, but for angled this just seems weird. And I thought with staggered, it was the SHORTER size that is furthest from the nut. Please help!
 

Meeotch

Supporting Member
Messages
163
Ok thanks, is there a quick way to tell if drilling is required with a given tuner? I already verified the hole diameter, but are you saying the little mount screw could be in a different location?
 

Steve_U1S

Supporting Member
Messages
732
Ok thanks, is there a quick way to tell if drilling is required with a given tuner? I already verified the hole diameter, but are you saying the little mount screw could be in a different location?
There are a wide range of different mounting tab geometries out there. Even within one company's offerings.

testing1two outlined your most direct choices - the direct fit locking versions (great solution) or...

The Hipshot locking tuner upgrade sets which include the UMP plate set allows the installation of the tuners with literally no drilling, regardless of whether the new tuners' mounting tab holes line up with the exiting screw holes or not - the plate system goes on between the headstock and the tuners, and has 'shelf' tabs built into the shape which prevent the Hipshot tuning machines from rotating on the headstock.
It's quite ingenious, invisible from the front, looks perfectly clean from the back, and to top it all off, they are truly excellent tuning machines.
I've done an installation like this onto a friend'd Gibson SG to replace Kluson style non-lockers; the results were excellent.
 

John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
Messages
9,580
I'd like to replace the stock non-locking Grover tuners on my LTD MH1000-ET with these Gotoh SG 381 Magnum Lock tuners. https://www.philadelphialuthiertool...d-locking-tuning-machine-pre-configured-sets/ Philadelphia Luthier Tools is recommending I purchase them in two different sizes to get the correct downward pressure at the nut. 3 long (20mm) and 3 extra long (21.5mm), with the longer size on the strings farthest from the nut.

This all seems ass backwards to me so I'm hoping for advice. The headstock on my ltd is angled, and 15mm thick. My current Grover non-locking tuners are all the same length (23mm posts). First, I don't understand how switching to locking tuners would require switching to staggered sized tuning posts. Second, I understand the logic of staggered tuning posts for straight headstocks, but for angled this just seems weird. And I thought with staggered, it was the SHORTER size that is furthest from the nut. Please help!
Not to start a "thing", but why do you want to switch to locking tuners? Generally speaking, if you wind the strings properly, there is really no advantage to a locking tuner. 99% of tuning problems are related to the nut, and occasionally the bridge. Even the crappiest tuners will keep a guitar well tuned if the nut and the bridge are OK.

Again, not trying to start anything, but hate seeing people toss money and time at the wrong problem.
 

Meeotch

Supporting Member
Messages
163
No prob John, thanks for the discussion. I am getting deeper into my own setups and am practicing nut filing. I still need to improve my efficiency with each step in the process, but at the moment I find myself tensioning and loosening the strings several times while making the nut, and in the process I am breaking strings left and right.

I'm hoping a locking tuner can put less stress on the string through repeated tensioning and loosening. It is also just a convenience thing for me. I understand that they will not improve tone. I'm an enthusiast and don't mind spending $50 on an experiment with my guitars. It's fun and worth it to me, that is all :)
 

Steve_U1S

Supporting Member
Messages
732
No prob John, thanks for the discussion. I am getting deeper into my own setups and am practicing nut filing. I still need to improve my efficiency with each step in the process, but at the moment I find myself tensioning and loosening the strings several times while making the nut, and in the process I am breaking strings left and right.

I'm hoping a locking tuner can put less stress on the string through repeated tensioning and loosening. It is also just a convenience thing for me. I understand that they will not improve tone. I'm an enthusiast and don't mind spending $50 on an experiment with my guitars. It's fun and worth it to me, that is all :)
To be honest, locking tuners, when strung up in their intended fashion, are more prone to breaking than a regular tuner's string wrapping - that's because locking tuners are meant to essentially arriving at pitch with less than one full wind of string on the post - whereas standard tuning machine posts generally require an average of 3 wraps.
So, to loosen off a string to allow displacing it during nut slot adjustments, the string in a locking post will actually begin to back-bend pretty quickly in the loosening phase - thereby flexing the string repeatedly at a single spot which will result in that string breaking at that spot, sooner than later.

I've experienced this on occasion.

If I'm doing nut slot work on a given guitar with locking tuners, I'll tend to be temporarily 'generous' with the wraps in order to allow for loosening them without that back-bend becoming a factor... with the knowlege that I'll either pull and shorten that string afterward, or correct it on the next restring... with the knowledge that those extra wraps around the posts are part of the 'enemy' of the locking tuners accomplishing their goal to their best potential.
 

KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,243
Far be it from me to discourage using locking tuners - I even replace new tuners with lockers because I'm so convinced they're a wonderful thing. But, I'm afraid locking tuners aren't going to help the situation you describe. In fact, in my experience, I tend to break more strings using locking tuners than the traditional type. But, that's only happened in the past with Floyd bridges, as intonating those things was causing frequent tension changes to allow me to move the saddles.

The problem, for me anyway, was the strings were work-hardening at the tuner post, where the string bends off the post at an angle and ends up getting flexed repeatedly. But, I was able to mitigate that by buying a little tool that makes intonating that bridge design much easier, without all the detuning/retuning cycles.

Your description says you're doing a similar thing to facilitate working on the nut. I'm not sure why you're going through so many tune/detune cycles to work on the nut. I actually go through very few, even though I often fab nuts from scratch. It might be helpful if you described how you're going about doing that.

Another thing to keep in mind, though, is strings are fairly cheap - especially if you buy in bulk or set the guitar up with some cheapies and put better ones on for daily use. Just add $3-$5 for an extra set of strings to the cost of the nut. Consider the first set scrap, even if you don't break them right away. They're just there to get slot heights, intonation, etc. set right.
 

Meeotch

Supporting Member
Messages
163
All very helpful info! Hmm, I think I am tuning/detuning at least a few times per string to get the height just right. I believe I broke 2 10's and 2 13's (E and B) on my last nut, but nothing higher gauge than that. And they definitely are breaking at the tuning posts...my slot widths are accurate. I'll also be sure to use the non-locking tie when wrapping the strings.

Proceeding with the knowledge that even a single pass with the nut file can take off too much material, one can understand how several tuning/detuning cycles might be inevitable. The strategy I'm working with now is to use the pencil trick, where I first sand down half the pencil to flat, then get the lead tip about .020" high off the base, and finally trace the radius of the first frets on to the blank. Then after rough shaping down to the line, I'm only needing to take off a hair more to get it just right.

I guess I could measure clearance with the strings off by placing a straight edge bridged between the nut slot and fret 2 (like the Fret Guru), but I always find that using the strings to measure clearance gives me the real-world results I'm striving for.

Well the topic of discussion is drifting a bit, but I still really appreciate the conversation. I'm having a bit of trouble visualizing the back-bend, but I'll take your word for it. Sounds like I should stick with my stock tuners for now and yeah, a few bucks extra on a nut job for the broken strings is no big deal (I just don't like breaking strings in the first place!)
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,524
The problem, for me anyway, was the strings were work-hardening at the tuner post, where the string bends off the post at an angle and ends up getting flexed repeatedly.
yep, that sharp bend results in a bit of string that's harder but now more brittle.

i tend to turn locking tuner posts so that i have just enough string on there to get it wound past that sharp bend, just enough that normal tuning doesn't cause the bent part itself to move at all.
I'll also be sure to use the non-locking tie when wrapping the strings.
which tie is that? you mean just straight-up winding down the posts, not that martin-style thing where you bring the leftover bit around from the back and hook it over?

agreed, the "lockover" thing is not necessary, i find it makes no improvement in tuning stability as long as you have sufficient wraps on the post. that method also makes it harder to get the string off of there.
 

Timtam

Member
Messages
2,042
I guess I could measure clearance with the strings off by placing a straight edge bridged between the nut slot and fret 2 (like the Fret Guru), but I always find that using the strings to measure clearance gives me the real-world results I'm striving for.
I find that Fretguru function using the thin corner quite useful. Being solid, it works well with a feeler gauge, which is more likely to lift an actual string. But sometimes I just pull the string in and out of the slot without de-tensioning.


I know some people have little homemade string lifting tools to go back and forth. I haven't found the Stewmac one very useful ...
https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Tools_for_Nuts_and_Saddles/String_Lifter.html
 
Messages
243
Save your money and learn the best way to string a guitar on YouTube or other places. No need for locking tuners ever. Not trying to be snarky...just helpful.

Happy Thanksgiving.:)
 

KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,243
I know some people have little homemade string lifting tools to go back and forth. I haven't found the Stewmac one very useful ...
https://www.stewmac.com/Luthier_Tools/Tools_by_Job/Tools_for_Nuts_and_Saddles/String_Lifter.html
Hmm. Well, then I guess I'm not the only one... ;)

Something that works well and is very inexpensive - crochet hooks...


You can get them by the dozen for $6-$7, they come in a million sizes, with/without handles, etc.

I often don't need anything at all. For slot height, shape, etc., the strings don't need to be under full tune tension. String size doesn't change, so you just need enough to straighten them out at the exit end of the slot. Then they're easy enough to pull up/out by hand without help.
 
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John Coloccia

Cold Supporting Member
Messages
9,580
Hmm. Well, then I guess I'm not the only one... ;)

Something that works well and is very inexpensive - crochet hooks...


You can get them by the dozen for $6-$7, they come in a million sizes, with/without handles, etc.

I often don't need anything at all. For slot height, shape, etc., the strings don't need to be under full tune tension. String size doesn't change, so you just need enough to straighten them out at the exit end of the slot. Then they're easy enough to pull up/out by hand without help.
Definitely. Most of the work isn't done by ear...and perhaps I'm being presumptuous how you're doing it, but when I do it most of the work is done by eye. Sometimes by ear by tapping down on the fret and listening for a ping, but full pitch isn't necessary.
 




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