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Locking tuners seem like a no brainer when it comes to any guitar with a tremolo; ease of re-stringing and positive hold on strings prevents any slippage that results in being out of tune. Graph Tech took the concept of locking tuners to the next level, with their new Ratio tuners.
Our test subject was a Fender Mexican Telecaster, which had a stock, sealed back tuner. Locking tuners are great on tremolo guitars, but even on non trem guitars like the Tele, they can hold tune better, as well as making re-stringing go a lot quicker. Upon removing the old tuners, we noticed that there are two small holes drilled next to the tuners. The stock tuning peg has two “teeth” that align and fit into these holes, providing stability for the tuner.
The Graph Tech Ratio Tuners have a similar design. However, these didn’t align up with the factory drilled holes. Included with the tuners were a plethora of Graph Tech’s Invisomatch mounting adapter plates. We did consider drilling new holes for these teeth, 12 holes in all. But using the adapter plates that fit our Tele, we would only have to drill six (one per each tuning peg). We decided to go this way.
Installing the adapter plates went easy, using a straight edge to align them, and then tightening up the tuning pegs, they seemed to sit nice and even across the board. Careful inspection from every angle possible showed they were all aligned. At that point we drilled holes for the alignment screws, being quite careful to drill just enough depth for the screw. After that, using a screwdriver to fasten the adapter plate to the headstock. Overall a pretty simple installation. However, if there’s ever any discomfort into drilling into your beloved instrument’s headstock, ALWAYS consult a qualified guitar tech.
Installing strings is easy; undo the threaded thumbwheel on the back, slide in a string, pull tight, and tighten the thumbscrew. Now tune up, and it’s done. The big deal with the Ratio tuners is the gearing for each tuning peg is optimized for THAT specific string; therefore the amount of winding is minimized. So, no extra turns on that high E string, for example.
The guitar came up to pitch VERY quickly without extra turns, or any slippage or fuss. For bands on the road, the speed and ease in which strings can be changed is well worth fitting a set of these. No muss with having to wrap strings around, under, etc. Since the tuners have their own individual gear ratios it also means going up or down a whole tone easily with one turn. This is great for players who might use open or alternate tunings in the same set, so they can get in and out of standard tuning very quickly, without having to go back and forth while strings stretch against each other. They also work across a variety of string gauges.
Overall, it’s a well thought-out and executed design that works in real world situations. Some manufacturers are starting to make these standard on their guitars, but for those looking to upgrade to a locking tuner, the Ratio tuners from Graph Tech are certainly well worth a shot.
Super quick re-tuning, nice locking mechanism.