The other day on Deluxe Guitar I wrote a post about the synchronized 2-point tremolo found on the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. The synchronized 2-point tremolo is only half the equation when it comes to keeping your Stratocaster in tune. That’s why Fender staggered locking tuners come as standard equipment on the American Deluxe Stratocaster. They are not found from the factory on the American Standard Stratocaster but they can be purchased and installed as an aftermarket add-on.
First of all, if you’re not familiar with how locking tuning machines work let me explain. With a locking tuner you simply slide the string through a hole in the middle of the tuning post and pull the string as tight as you can with your hand. Then you turn a locking knob on the bottom of the tuner to clamp the string in place in the hole. After that you simply tune the string up to pitch and clip off the extra bit of string length. You are usually in tune within a half a turn of the locking tuner!
I absolutely love the locking tuners on my American Deluxe Strat for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason of course is the fact that they help keep the guitar in tune so well. They accomplish this by eliminating string slippage on the tuning post of the tuner. You never have to wind the string over itself with locking tuners and having no wraps on the tuning post eliminates snagging which can lead to tuning problems.
The thing I love the most about my locking tuners is the speed at which I can change the strings. If you’ve ever had a Floyd Rose locking bridge and nut system then you know what a pain in the ass it is to have to get out the wrenches, clip strings, tune, clamp, un-clamp, re-tune, clamp and eventually get your Floyd Rose in tune after severly crushing your strings at the nut. With the Fender locking tuners and the 2-point synchronized tremolo you simply pull the string through the bridge, across the nut, through the locking tuner, clamp the string, tune and clip. I can literally have my strings changed and tuned in 5 minutes. The convenience is simply unbelievable compared to conventional tuners or locking nut systems.
Another thing that’s nicely designed on the Fender locking tuners is the stagger of the tuning posts. As the posts get farther from the neck they are shorter and closer to the headstock. This gives you a better angle for the string pull across the nut. By having a staggered design to the tuning posts Fender has been able to eliminate one of the string trees on the headstock of the Stratocaster. This also gives you better tuning stability.
I do have one tip when stringing your locking tuners. I like to have no windings at all touching the string post of my locking tuners. So I actually press down on the tremolo arm when I’m pulling the strings tight through the locking tuners. Then when I let up on the tremolo arm the string is almost in tune and I only have to turn the tuner 1/4 turn to be in tune. This makes it so the strings never wind around the post. They only touch the edge of the hole where the string inserts into the locking portion of the tuner. This has given me excellent tuning stability and once the strings are played on for about 30 minutes they hardly ever go back out of tune. I do use a some Big Bends Nut Sauce to lube the friction points at the bridge, nut and across the string tree and it really makes my tuning stable.
So if you purchase a Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster or American Deluxe V-Neck Stratocaster you’ll have locking tuners shipped with your guitar. You can purchase Fender Locking Tuners as a replacement for the tuners on all the other strats.