Keep Your Fender Stratocaster In Tune With Locking Tuners

Fender Staggered Locking Tuning Machines
Fender Staggered Locking Tuners On The American Deluxe Stratocaster

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 V-Neck American Deluxe 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.

9 responses to “Keep Your Fender Stratocaster In Tune With Locking Tuners”

  1. That is an excellent article, I have been looking for an article since I ordered a set of Fender Delux Tuners from America a week ago as I’ve never seen them in the flesh and wanted to know exactly how they work.
    Thanks again.

  2. I thought the whole purpose of staggered posts was to eliminate the string tree all together!
    So which is it….

    On one of my strats I have taken the high E tuner out and relocated it on the underside of the head stock…and that truly fixs the problem

  3. Great! What size tuner holes/reams do these require?

  4. You say “As the posts get nearer the neck they are shorter and closer to the headstock.” Isn’t it the other way round?

  5. I have an American Standard Strat bought last year (2015) Want to replace standard tuners with locking ones. What size socket is needed to remove the nut on the front of headstock?

  6. I have a 1995 Strat Deluxe Plus.It is equipped with Fender/Schaller Deluxe Locking Tuners in Brushed Chrome.For cosmetic purpose I’d like to get these in gold along with a Schaller Bridge/tremolo package also in gold.Is it possible? Thanks

  7. Cordell, I know you can get gold locking tuners but I’m not sure on the bridge/tremolo. -Matt-

  8. Enjoyed reading your article, was wondering if there is any way you or any readers can help me….. I tried to re-string my deluxe strat with locking tuners today. When I began to tune it up the bridge was put under a lot of tension and began to lift off The body quite a bit, is there any way I can get the bridge back flush again and in tune without having to buy new strings?

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