Updated: October 7, 2020 by Richard Cole
Tuners are by far one of the most important pieces of hardware on any guitar. It’s funny how this seemingly simple device can make a perfectly good guitar become completely useless.
A good set of tuners can save you a lot of trouble, especially when you frequently change the tuning on your guitar.
The quality of tuners on any guitar depends on their type, and the brand which makes them. Usually, affordable guitars will have simple tuners that were made by the same brand as said guitar.
More expensive guitars will come with quality tuners made by a dedicated brand. ESP guitars used to come with Sperzels locking tuners, but that has changed.
These days, ESP has been installing their own tuners or guitar in their lineup. The question now is, whether or not these are as good as Sperzels.
Answering that question is partially the subject of this article.
What are locking tuners?
There are generally two types of tuners out there. You have your standard version where you need to pull the string through a hole on the machine, and then wind it several times by hand around the cylinder. Winding the string this way is what holds it in place. Once you do this, you can tune the string to the desired pitch.
The other option are locking tuners . These work a bit differently, as they don’t require you to wind the string around the machine’s cylinder in order to keep the string in place. Rather, you pull the string through a hole, lock it with a mechanism, and then tune the string.
The reason for locking tuners comes from the inherent design flaw of regular tuners. As you probably know, guitars drop out of tune. When you bend the strings, or play aggressively, the portion of the string that is wound on the tuner tends to shift around ever so slightly. In order to solve this issue, brands needed to come up with a different design, hence locking tuners.
The reason why these work better is because the locking mechanism eliminated the need for winding the wire around the tuner. Instead, the string is wound one-quarter of the turn. That is enough to give you tuning flexibility, but not nearly enough to cause string shift.
How to use it
ESP guitars used to come with Sperzels locking tuners which were regarded as one of the better brands in the business. For one reason or another, ESP decided to make their own locking tuners and install those instead. Is there any substantial change in the performance of the guitar? Not really.
One of the main reasons why ESP gave up on Sperzels is because they had specific requirements in terms of finish. Sperzels couldn’t keep up, so ESP came up with an in-house solution.
The truth is that ESP probably just bought a license from an established locking tuners brand, and put their own logo on each unit. Believe it or not, ESP’s decision to install their own locking tuners caused quite a bit of drama among their fans.
Some were convinced that the performance of ESP guitars was going to suffer due to this decision, while others saw this decision for what it really is.
If you are in the market for an ESP guitar and you see that it comes with ESP locking tuners, you shouldn’t be worried at all. They’ve began installing these quite a while a go, and so far the feedback is positive. Having locking tuners with ESP logo on them wouldn’t be the first time a guitar brand has done something like that. Just look at Fender.
On the other hand, having a set of locking tuners on a guitar at all is what you need to strive for. Standard tuners are pretty much obsolete at this point, and are only installed on guitars where locking tuners would increase the price way too much. With that said, ESP’s set great.
Would you want to install them on a guitar that doesn’t come with locking tuners?
There are probably better solutions, but ESP guitars which come with them as default won’t have an issue when it comes to tuning them.