The Les Paul guitar has made quite an impact on music since its first appearance. The first model arrived as early as 1952 and, at the time, was simply called the Gibson Les Paul. As it only came in one finish, it has since become known as the “Goldtop.” It had two P90 pickups and nickel-plated tuners.
You might ask yourself why we need to go looking for the best locking tuners for Les Paul Guitars. The reason is simple, the style of the guitar has changed. Not the way it looks; that is timeless. But at one stage, it was way, way behind the Strat and the Telecaster.
But the Strat and the Tele had a bit of a problem. That 60-cycle hum. The Les Paul had it, too, because the P90, albeit a great pickup, had hum and buzz issues. They were also prone to feeding back quite early. So, what was the solution?
Patent Applied For
The Patent Applied For pickup, or as it is better known, the “PAF” pickup. Seth Lover’s solution to hum brought a whole new style to the Les Paul. The humbucker in its original form had been around since the 30s. But Lover made it work on the Les Paul.
The way you could play the guitar changed. Strings were being bent all over the place to go with this ‘new’ sound. But that brought a new set of problems. Keeping it in tune.
The existing tuners weren’t really up to the job of handling extreme note bending and heavy use of the “whammy bar” on Les Paul’s that were fitted with Bigsby’s. So once again, the Les Paul needed something different.
Schaller, a musical hardware company in Germany, came up with the idea of the locking tuner and hold the patent. They had been supplying Fender and Gibson since the 60s, but now they made a real impact.
It didn’t solve the problem completely, but it did make it a whole lot better. Now they are commonplace. However, a lot of guitarists still sometimes use them incorrectly, defeating the object of having them. I will talk a little more about that later.
So let’s take a look at some of the best Locking Tuners for a Les Paul. Plus, it might be worth noting that these tuners will fit both Gibson, Epiphone, and ‘other’ versions.
Top 6 Best Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars You Should Buy in 2021 Reviews
1 Grover Accessory (502C) – Most Versatile Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars
Let’s start with one of the big players in the tuner world. Grover is a name recognized all around the world for quality guitar hardware, and these tuners are no exception. And as well as being great tuners, they look the part as well.
Easy To Use
It has a simple and easy-to-use operation when changing strings. Just insert the string into the post hole. Then tighten and lock using the thumbscrew. Be sure to only wrap the string around once.
They have a very efficient design using the 18 to 1 ratio Rotomatic system. And the thumbscrew mechanism ensures a good hold on the string. The layout is designed for three per side on the headstock.
As you would expect from Grover, this is a well-made tuner with a high-quality chrome finish. They are strong and sound and feel secure when winding. The components in the locking operation and the shaft are also high-quality and going to last you a while.
Easy to Fit
They come with all the mounting hardware you need and will fit a 0.391-inch hole size. Making these some of the best replacement locking tuners for a Les Paul Standard.
You might need to check if your guitar has the pilot holes for these tuners. Gibson has pre-drilled the holes in the headstock on many of their Les Paul models. Clearly, they were talking to Grover about this, and some were prepared in advance.
If you find they are not drilled, then take the guitar to a Luthier to fit them. If they aren’t drilled in the correct places, then the tuners won’t fit properly and will not work at their best. Nevertheless, a very good set of tuners at a very attractive price.
- Well-made with good materials.
- Effective gear ratio with easy-to-use operation.
- Maybe there are some issues with pilot holes.
2 Hipshot 6GLO Grip-Lock Locking Guitar Tuning Machines – Best Budget Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars
Established in 1982, Hipshot has made very quick strides to become a well-known brand name in tuners.
These tuners are pretty tough with a standard 18 to 1 ratio. The action is smooth and precise and offers efficient tuning stability. A nice touch to the design is the exposed gearing.
Whilst they are well put together with a reasonable design, the metal used is a little soft. That can sometimes cause problems when tightening the screws.
Simple to Fit
The 6GLO tuners are easy to fit and come with a metal mounting plate. This will act as a stabilizer giving you improved tuner performance. Alignment is also made easier. They are designed for a three by three configuration. As a result, they are suitable locking tuners for all Epiphone and Gibson Les Paul guitars.
Easy as pie and avoids all the hassle you can have with non-locking tuners. The grip-lock design holds the string firmly to avoid any slippage. A good buy at a decent price point makes them an attractive option.
- Quite an attractive design.
- Holds the string well, and they have an attractive price point.
- The metal is a little soft and, therefore, can be vulnerable.
3 Gotoh Magnum Lock-Trad 3+3 Guitar Tuners – Best Premium Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars
Our first look at some tuners from the Japanese company Gotoh. For those that like to add a bit of glitz and glamor to their guitar, this is a great option. Not only do these locking tuners do the job, they certainly add a visual aesthetic.
If you have a quality guitar like a Gibson or an Epiphone, they deserve quality tuners. These tuners from Gotoh are certainly that.
Additionally, if you have a non-locking tremolo or do a lot of extreme bending of your strings, then locking tuners are essential. This set will cope with most things you can throw at it. It does the job, and it does it with a certain elegant styling.
A Traditional Design
Other than the gold finish, they have quite a traditional design. A standard 18 to 1 ratio gives precise tuning and a traditional thumbscrew locking function.
The string posts are made to get rid of any looseness and with two post heights eliminate the need for string trees. This creates a very stable tuning environment.
As with all movement systems involving gears or moving parts, they need to be lubricated for best performance. These have a process known as “Lubri-coat.”
This electro-coats the gearing with a layer of polymer. Ensuring you won’t need to apply any oil. This kind of lubrication is permanent and will last for the life of the tuner. In turn, these are some of the most reliable locking tuners for Les Paul guitars you can buy.
Easy to Fit and Use
You will get all the mounting hardware you need. This includes six bushings, the washers, and the screws. You will require peg holes with a diameter of 10mm (13/32″). They are designed to be installed in a three by three configuration.
The string is easily secured with a twist of the thumbwheel. This will lock the string in the post, and with only a couple of turns, you will be up to pitch. You will only need a partial wrapping of the string around the post.
A good design with lubricated gearing at a competitive price. A good all-rounder and a contender to be one of the Best Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars.
- Nice design within a good gearing system.
- Easy to fit and to use at an attractive price point.
- Some may not like the gold finish.
4 D’Addario Auto-Trim Tuning Machines – Easiest to Use Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars
D’Addario is a company with a proud history. They can trace their string-making activities back to at least the 1680s in Salle, Italy. They may well have stayed there enjoying and profiting from their reputation but for an earthquake that devastated Salle in the early 1900s.
The two brothers responsible for the company decided to emigrate to America. Arriving in New York, they set about establishing their reputation. They did a rather good job, and now D’Addario is involved in producing many accessories for guitarists. Tuning Machines being just one.
One of the things that sets D’Addario above much of the competition is the quality of the build. These locking tuners are well-known for their stability and their design. They have a standard 18 to 1 ratio, and the worm-gearing guarantees you accuracy in the tuning process. And they come with a black finish.
Something that sets this set of tuners aside from most of the others is a very imaginative design feature. As you insert your string, the tuner will automatically cut off the excess you don’t need.
There is no struggling around with scissors or cutters; the first rotation clips the string. String changes, therefore, are easy and very quick. Just insert the string, the clamps hold the string, and the tuner does the rest.
They are set up to be fixed to a standard three by three configuration. You will need to ensure the hole for fitting is 10mm or 13/32”. The package comes with six tuners and all that is necessary for easy mounting. Set at a very competitive price.
- Good build with attractive black finish.
- Automatic string cut off when fitting
- A competitive price point.
- Some might not like the black finish.
5 Gotoh Locking Machine Heads (SD90) – Best Vintage Style Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars
Gotoh was established in Japan in 1960. At the moment, they are the only Japanese-based machine head manufacturer. They are known to be used by some manufacturers to supply machine heads, and these are the SD90 locking tuners.
These definitely have the look. So, if you want to have that vintage look on your Les Paul, then these are a good option. The gold-colored metal workings and casings and the mother of pearl-colored pegs give these tuners a great look. You might even say they are the best classic-looking locking tuners for Les Paul guitars.
They have been designed and made to fit vintage-style peg holes. That means there should be no drilling or other modifications required for fitting to the headstock in those guitars.
They are, of course, set up to fit the standard three by three configuration. However, they are not set on a metal fixing plate but are individual tuners. All the mounting hardware you will require is included.
The Locking System
This particular set of tuners has a design that includes a collar built inside the post. That will lock the string in its place as you tighten the string and the pressure is applied. A good locking set of vintage-style tuners at a very competitive price. These are good value.
- Great vintage-style design.
- Good string locking system at a competitive price.
- Some may prefer to have a fixing plate rather than individual tuners.
6 Schaller M6-135 3l3r LMB SL Machine Head Set – Best Value for the Money Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars
Let’s finish by looking at a set of locking tuners from the company that created them in the first place. Just a glance, and you will immediately recognize the quality of German innovation and engineering.
Setting the Standard
The original M6 tuners from Schaller set the pace for others to chase for closed tuning machines. These are an upgrade that includes all the finer points that made its predecessor one of the best tuners around.
It has a standard 18 to 1 ratio and features the Schaller designs Velvet-Tec and LX6 Lube. These are improvements that increase the already impressive tuning precision. It has been designed to have the same footprint as its predecessor, so it can be changed without the need for modifications.
Another new feature is the step washer. This ensures that the string posts can be perfectly centered. Therefore, there is no need to drill any holes to make the fitting. This addition also reduces the amount of tension felt by the string post by eliminating tilting.
Quality comes at a price
Clearly, these are one of the Best Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars. German engineering means we don’t need to say too much more. A little more expensive than most, but if you want real quality, then you usually have to pay for it.
- German engineering and design guarantee a quality tuner.
- Some great features to improve the tuner’s functions.
- Some may think them too expensive.
No Complete Guarantee
No Locking Tuners can ever fully guarantee your strings are not going to slip, especially with extreme use. But good locking tuners will reduce the potential of it happening greatly. I mentioned earlier about some guitarists adding to their problems with locking tuners.
What I mean is that some people do the very thing that the locking tuner is designed to do. That is, wrap the string around the post. This makes it easier for the string to slip. You don’t need any wrapping with locking tuners unless you use alternate tunings, then you will need some additional string length to allow for dropped tunings.
Looking for Great Guitar Accessories?
We can help you find just what you need. Check out our in-depth review of the Best Grover Tuners, the Best Locking Tuners for Stratocasters, the Best Electric Guitar Strings, the Best Clip-On Guitar Tuners, the Best Guitar Cables, the Best Guitar Tuners, and the Best Guitar Pedalboard you can buy in 2021.
You may also enjoy our detailed Epiphone Les Paul-100 Review, our Epiphone Les Paul Custom Pro Review, our Epiphone Les Paul Special II Review, our Epiphone Les Paul Standard Review, our ESP LTD EC-1000 Deluxe Review, and our Oscar Schmidt OE20 Review for more quality guitars currently on the market.
What are the Best Locking Tuners for Les Paul Guitars?
If I were to replace the tuners on my Les Paul, be it the Gibson or Epiphone model, then I would choose the …
Great design with some nice features and German-built. My choice for the best locking tuner for a Les Paul Guitar.
Until next time, let your music play.