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You might have never thought about upgrading the tuning pegs on your guitar, especially if it’s a newer instrument.
If you’ve never replaced your pegs before, you can almost always upgrade to a set of tuners that will make playing your guitar much easier and help to keep your tuning more stable over time.
Also, if one of your pegs is loose or rusted, you’ll be happy to find that you can replace them easily.
Read on to discover five of the best guitar tuning pegs if you want to upgrade the set on your electric guitar. I’ll also share a brief buyer’s guide to help you know what to look for in a set of guitar tuners!
What are the Best Guitar Tuning Pegs?
Guitar Tuning Pegs Reviews
These electric guitar tuning pegs fit Stratocasters and Telecasters, two of Fender’s most popular guitar models. If you have a Strat or Tele, the Fender Locking Tuners are the natural choice for you.
These are chrome-colored with Fender’s signature “F” on the side and should match the pegs already fitted on your Strat or Tele. They come with removable tuner caps and mounting hardware, as well as easy instructions that should make installing them a snap.
They fit virtually every Strat and Tele made in the US and Mexico. However, keep in mind that they do not fit the American Vintage series of instruments that was released in 2012. For this line of guitars, more tuning pegs will be explored below.
Like nearly all the rest of the tuners on this list, these tuning pegs also serve as locking guitar tuners. That means that they’re fitted with a small pin feature that keeps them from coming loose or going out of tune. We will explore more of the best locking tuners below.
- Perfect for Stratocaster and Telecaster owners.
- Locking mechanism will prevent strings from going out of tune.
- Comes with mounting hardware and simple instructions.
- Slightly more expensive than off-brand tuning pegs.
- Do not fit the American Vintage line of instruments.
These Grover Rotomatic Tuners come with an 18:1 ratio and locking mechanism. This means that they will keep your strings in tune for much longer than whatever tuning pegs you have fixed to the guitar.
These also serve as extremely reliable locking pegs. Furthermore, they aren’t linked to a particular guitar manufacturer, so they’ll work with (and look good on!) on any guitar you own.
Mounting hardware is included with these pegs, so you can affix them to your old guitar without a hassle.
However, keep in mind that some players reported difficulty putting their Rotomatic pegs on their guitars. If this happens to you, you may want to call a luthier or another guitar repair professional. That said, experienced guitarists who have made this replacement before should not have any trouble.
- Strings will remain taut and in tune.
- Will work for a wide variety of guitars.
- Make string changes significantly easier.
- Costlier than some other locking pegs on this list.
- May be more difficult to install than others.
The D’Addario Auto-Trim Locking Tuning Machines boasts a major advantage over other locking pegs: they automatically remove any extra string once your guitar is in tune. This means you don’t have to work about poking an eye out with sharp string bits hanging off the head of your guitar.
They also come with clamps that make sure the pegs stay locked in place and in tune, even when using a tremolo bar. Locking tuners often face trouble with tremolo bars and note-bending, so this can come in handy. If you’re wondering why other tuners face issues, check out the Buyer’s Guide below.
These guitar tuning machines are available in a matte black finish and will look great on dark guitars. The neutral color also means you don’t have to worry about them clashing with your guitar design.
- Will take excess strings off of your guitar.
- Black finish may look better on some styles of guitars.
- Lock in place, so you stay in tune longer.
- You will need to be careful not to remove too much string.
Graph Tech’s vintage locking tuning pegs have a precise gear ratio that keeps tuning consistent. One full turn of the peg will move guitarists roughly one tone up or down.
Not only will that give you much more accurate tunings, but you can move to alternate tunings much more quickly than with other tuning pegs. If you want to quickly tune down to drop D tuning or even an open C or G tuning, simply memorize how many turns of each peg you need to do to get to the right tuning.
The Graph Tech pegs come in two different styles: a six-in-line set or a three-and-three set. For more on which set of pegs you need, check out the Buyer’s Guide later on in this article.
- Vintage style will look great on older guitars.
- Can come as either a six-in-line set or a three-and-three set.
- Precise tuning ratio helps players find and keep alternate tunings quickly.
- Much more expensive than some other on this list.
If you have a vintage Fender and their locking tuning machines won’t work for you, you’re in luck. The Fender American Vintage tuning machine set will fit both Fenders Classic and Road Worn Strats and Teles.
Additionally, unlike the Fender Locking Stratocaster/Telecaster Tuning Machine Set discussed above, it will also fit the American Vintage line. The design of the pegs also ensures they don’t mess with the look of your classic-style guitar.
Like all the other guitar tuning pegs listed, these come with six bushings and mounting hardware, so you’ll be able to easily attach the pegs to your guitar.
Keep in mind that these are the only pegs listed that aren’t locking pegs, so they won’t keep the strings from coming loose with a pin or other mechanism. That means that they’ll likely fall out of tune more often.
- Significantly cheaper than some of the other pegs on this list.
- Look great on classic Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters.
- Come with mounting hardware to make installation a snap.
- Will only fit on a limited set of Strat and Teles.
- No locking mechanism like other guitar tuning machines on the list.
Guitar Tuning Peg Buyer’s Guide
Getting new tuning pegs can be mildly stressful, especially if you haven’t replaced your original pegs before. Read on to find out what to look for in the best guitar machine heads when you buy them.
How To Choose the Best Set of Tuning Pegs
- Look at the manufacturer of your guitar and see if they sell tuning pegs: You may have noticed a recognizable brand name on this list: Fender, a guitar company that produces many popular guitars. If you have a Fender guitar, you’re in luck, and you can buy pegs like the Fender Locking Stratocaster and the Fender American Vintage Stratocaster-Telecaster Tuning Machine Set right from the manufacturer. If not, go to your guitar manufacturer’s website and see if they sell pegs.
- Consider buying locking tuners: Locking tuners like the Graph Tech Electric Locking Tuned Machine Head, the Grover 502C Roto-Grip and D’Addario Auto-Trim Locking tuners keep your strings from coming loose and falling out of tune. That means you’ll have to tune up much less often. Keep in mind that locking pegs will make bending notes with your tremolo bar much more difficult.
- Check to see if you need a set of six-in-line pegs or three-and-three pegs: If your headstock is shaped so that all the pegs are set over to one side, you need a six-in-line set of pegs. However, if the headstock has three pegs on one side and three on the other, use a three-and-three set.
How Often Should You Change Your Guitar Tuning Pegs?
If you use the cheap set of tuners your guitar likely came with attached to its headstock, you may notice a difference in smoothness after two or three years and find that some of the pegs twist differently than others.
When you find that this is true, you might want to look into replacing the pegs.
If you have a set of locking tuners on your guitar, you will probably have to replace them a lot less often. When any of the pegs begin getting stuck or quickly becoming loose, look into replacing your pegs.
If you’re looking for new tuning pegs for your electric guitar, any of these pegs will make your guitar look and play great, as long as you take care when installing them. I’d recommend using a high-quality guitar setup tool kit.
Keep an eye on your pegs to ensure they are still in good shape and turn the way they’re supposed to. When you eventually want to upgrade to locking pegs, you will find that they’re much easier to tune and use.