Locking Bass Tuners – Are They Really Needed on a Bass Guitar?

Author: Dedrich Schafer | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

While shopping for a new instrument, you might have seen that many guitars are advertised as having something called a ‘locking tuner’. You might have also noticed that basses don’t seem to have this feature.

But what even is a locking tuner? And why does it seem like basses are being left out from having it?

Let us take a look at this mysterious feature, why basses don’t have it, and if there is any benefit to them having it.

What Are the Benefits of Locking Tuners?

The biggest benefit of having locking tuners on an instrument is that they keep the strings in tune for longer. Bending them using a whammy bar or playing very aggressively will stretch the strings out, causing them to go out of tune faster.

Locking tuners counter this by basically pulling the strings back into a set position. This then keeps them in tune.

The other minor benefit is that it makes your headstock look a bit neater. The strings are put inside the tuning post before being wrapped around it. This means that you won’t have small pieces of string still sticking out the side of the post.

Locking tuners can also make changing strings a bit quicker and slightly easier. This is great if you need to quickly swap out strings or just don’t like changing strings.

Why Don’t Basses Come with Locking Tuners?

Unlike many modern guitars, you might have noticed that basses don’t come with locking tuners as a standard feature. This is simply because locking tuners aren’t really necessary on a bass.

Because bass isn’t generally played as aggressively as a guitar,  strings don’t get stretched as much. That is why bends and whammy bars are not common on basses. Combined with their naturally higher tension, the strings on a bass tend to stay in tune longer than on a guitar.

This means that manufacturers don’t really bother putting locking tuners on basses. What little benefit they do add doesn’t really justify the increased cost.

Are There Basses with Locking Tuners?

As I mentioned above, locking tuners aren’t really a thing on bass guitars. You won’t find a Fender P Bass with locking tuners as a feature.

The closest thing you might find are Strandberg basses like the Boden Bass Prog 5. Because of their headstockless design, these basses don’t have normal tuners. Instead, Strandberg uses what they call String Lock to lock the strings in place at the top of the neck.

Can You Put Locking Tuners on a Bass?

Basses with locking tuners do exist, but they are very rare.

The only company that I am aware of that makes locking tuners specifically for bass is Sperzel. They have two locking tuner designs, Trim-Lok and Sound-Lok, with Trim-Lok also available in a bass version.

Conclusion

If locking tuners aren’t found on any basses, it is clearly for good reason. They simply don’t provide the same benefit that they do on a guitar. But if you really want them and are willing to pay the price, they are an option for bass.

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About Dedrich Schafer

Dedrich is a guitar player, songwriter and sound engineer with extensive music production and studio experience. He mostly listens to classic rock and punk bands, but sometimes also likes listening to rap and acoustic songs.

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