Product advisor

Find your product in 3 simple steps

Back to overview

Daniele Galassi by Daniele Galassi
On December 07, 2020

How to choose an electric guitar (pt.3) - Machine Heads

What are the best machine heads for an electric guitar?

The machine heads are an important part that allows to use your instrument at its best, as they influence, together with the nut and the bridge, a crucial aspect of any guitar: the tuning stability, mixed blessing of any guitar player.

Guitarists spend half their time tuning and the other half playing out of tune
said once Andrés Segovia, one of
the greatest classical guitarists of all time.

From a technical point of view, the tuners are geared machines used to tune the instrument acting on the tension of the strings. Each string is paired to a pin and a tuning knob. The two most common types are the standard machine heads and locking machine heads.

With standard machine heads, each string is wrapped around the capstan, linked to its tuning knob using a worm gear. Most guitars have these kind of tuning machine as a standard dotation.

Locking machines
Locking machines are used to maximize the tuning stability, ruined by strings settling down or intense string bending and use of the tremolo bridge.

There are several technical solutions, but the most common employs a rotating mechanism on the rear of each machine that locks the string in place without windings around the shaft, eliminating the need of a “settle down” process and countering the tension created by winding the string around the capstan.

Locking tuners on Soundsation RIDER-PRO guitar

Technical innovation: automatic guitar tuning systems.

To complete our description, we would like to remind you that the latest technologies allow for robotized tuning systems we couldn't even imagine only a few years ago, (Tronical Tune system), able to tune a guitar in seconds and very accurately, choosing among many preset tunings. The systems employs a PCB board on the rear of the headstock (invisible to the audience) e 6 robotized locking tuning machines, that definitively solve the problem presented by Segovia (even if they are available only for electric and acoustic guitars!). These breakthrough systems are a real godsend particularly for all those players using standard, dropped, open or custom tunings.

And to conclude
Which tuning machines are best then? Our advice is to use locking machines on guitars with a whammy bar and/or if your playing style requires strong bending and vibrato, keeping in mind that these are only one of the elements contributing, within your set up, to a stable tuning.

Soundsation offers electric guitars both with traditional machine heads and with locking tuning machines.

The guitars with locking tuning machines are in the RIDER-PRO series.

Related articles
How to choose an electric guitar Pt #1 - The Body
How to choose an electric guitar Pt #2 - Neck and Fretboard