Out of many questions from the magician’s hat that contains the guitar-related FAQ, we’ve blindly selected the following one: can you put a locking nut on a Strat? It somehow even rhymes, but let’s not get into that. Anyway, here’s a brief intro to our today’s article!

Okay, so do you know what a so-called locking nut is? Or: when was it first introduced? If both of your answers sound a bit like this: well, no, not really, then we’ve got something to talk about here. In the article you’re about to read, we’ll tell you if it’s possible to put a locking nut on a Strat, besides, of course, tackling issues that are related to the topic. Stay tuned! 

Yup, it’s possible to install a locking nut on a Strat. However, know that it’s a very delicate procedure that will involve removing (or adding) the right amount of wood just so that your guitar nut doesn’t sit too low. It’s best you let professional guitar technicians handle the task unless you yourself are one.

Think reading only the preview will get you closer to finding out whether you can put a locking nut on a Strat? Okay, it will, to an extent. However, you should definitely read the whole thing!

Table of Contents

What is a locking nut?

We’ll take a “wild” guess and say that there’s really no need to define what is a Strat (or Stratocaster). Even the folks that never plucked a guitar string know what kind of a guitar model are we talking about today, here at Music Gear Heads. However, not many beginners (or total amateurs) know what is a locking nut? Let’s take a closer look!

A locking guitar nut is, of course, a guitar nut that’s designed to clamp your guitar strings in place. That way, a locking nut will help you maintain your tuning while you’re using a vibrato tailpiece. Here’s how it usually works: screws are tightened against tiny pieces of metal that, in turn, hold and squeeze the strings against the base of your guitar nut.

However, you should keep in mind that a locking nut comes with its own set of disadvantages. Even though they can sometimes eliminate certain tuning issues related to vigorous whammy-bar usage, locking nuts can also create some difficulties during breaks and stretches in a performance. Also, using these locking nuts we’re talking about can additionally result in some issues with tonal changes, compared to bone and synthetic nuts. At least that’s what some expert guitarists say that we’ve talked about say.

Speaking of guitar nuts, here’s an article about whether they can cause buzz.

Can you put a locking nut on just about any guitar?

Here’s the simplest answer: nope, you can’t put a locking nut on any guitar. Here are a few reasons why such a thing isn’t possible:

  • Besides a locking nut, you’ll also need to pair it up with a “trustworthy” tremolo that goes back to perfect pitch. It might turn out less expensive for you to simply sell your old instrument and buy a new one. 
  • Also, you’ll need some fine tuners on your guitar’s bridge since you’ll need to tune the instrument after you’ve locked your strings. 
  • Lastly, you’ll need enough room behind your guitar nut. That’s because a locking nut if mounted on a headstock, will pull the strings way too much once you begin tightening the locks. 

Now that we know that you can’t simply mount a locking nut on just about any guitar model, let’s take a look and see if you’re able to put a locking nut on probably the most widely-recognized model called a Strat!

A white Strat with a locking nut on the sofa.

Can you put a locking nut on a Strat?

So, the thing is: you should be able to work around any existing guitar neck to make it take a locking nut. However, that shouldn’t mean the process is somehow easy or something. That’s because it will involve some wood removal (or addition, in some cases). In other words: you’ll have to remove or add the correct amount of wood from/to where the existing nut is located.

It’s a very delicate operation, so if you’re not so happy with doing it yourself – see if you can get a professional guitar technician to take care of the process. Anyway, the person, regardless of the fact that it’s you or someone else, will have to remove just the right amount of wood so that your guitar nut doesn’t sit too low. Also, the person handling your guitar might even need to build up some wood under the place where your guitar’s new locking nut will sit. That’s because a locking nut is longer than your guitar’s original, built-in nut, but meets your fretboard at exactly the same point.

All in all: yes, you’re able to put a locking nut on a Strat, but the whole process will require some experienced hands. Therefore, you should better leave the whole action to someone who knows how to make it happen. Of course, we’re not saying that’s not you or something. Also, if you’ve got a Squier Strat, and you’re wondering why that model has two string trees, click here to see the answer.

How do you install a Floyd Rose locking nut on a Strat?

If you’re an experienced guitar player, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of Floyd Rose. However, if you’re only starting out, you’re going to want to hear a word or two about the Floyd Rose tremolo system (that includes a locking nut, of course):

  • A Floyd Rose represents a double-locking tremolo system for an electric guitar that was designed back in the 1970s by none else but Floyd D. Rose. It’s not an overstatement to say that this device somehow revolutionized the whole guitar industry. Anyway, this system allows you to lock the guitar strings of your el. guitar in place at the two points: at the bridge itself, and at your guitar nut. Here’s another fun fact: Eddie Van Halen was one of the earliest admirers and users of the Floyd Rose tremolo system (it allowed him to do the famous “divebombs”). 

Okay, now that you’ve got an idea about what exactly is a Floyd Rose tremolo system, let’s see how you can install it on your Strat in a little step-by-step guide!

Step #0: Ingredients

Here we’ll show you what you’ll need to gather for this ordeal:

  • Your trusty Strat. 
  • Floyd Rose (obviously). 
  • A couple of screwdrivers. 
  • Allen wrenches. 
  • Drill Press with a variety of bits. 
  • Dremel tool with sanding/cutting bits. 

That should do it! So, shall we begin?

Step #1: Set your Strat apart

The first step is to set your Strat apart. You’ll want to screw the guitar neck off, then proceed to undo all the screws in the guitar body. Simply take everything out. For better organization, here’s a suggestion: keep your guitar parts in various zipper bags. Your motto should be: a different screw, a different bag.

Step #2: Measure the holes for the Floyd Rose posts

Next up, you’ll want to measure the holes of your Floyd Rose posts. This might be one of the most important tasks here since Floyd Rose tremolos work by leaning on these posts once you push down your whammy bar. So, yeah, measure the diameter of these posts.

Step #3: It’s drilling time

Now, once you’ve measured these holes of the Floyd Rose posts, it’s time you begin drilling. We recommend you use a drill press for this ordeal since you’ll need to guarantee that they’re totally straight. Also, you’ll need to cut out the portions of the pickguard in order to create some space for the posts and the bridge.

Step #4: Put in the posts

Okay, so now you’ve got everything cut out. Needless to say, you’ll have to ensure that everything is a right fit. The posts will have to slide in, but still be a bit snug. Remember that they show neither move nor fall out. Here’s a very important piece of advice: while putting the bridge in, make sure that it’s parallel to the direction of your guitar strings. 

Step #5: What about the locking nut?

Your next task is to put the locking nut in. First things first, you’ll have to measure the depth of the nut. You’ll want to sand down your guitar neck until it’s deep enough to let the strings lots go just a tiny bit above the line of your guitar neck (if you’re wondering if a guitar should be level, click right here). As you’re well aware, there are five hols in the nut piece. Three of them (in a row) serve to keep the screws for the locking tuners, and the other two that are a little smaller are meant for the screws that keep the nut attached to the neck.

Be careful when drilling where the holes are. You’ll want to drill a slightly smaller hole than the screws are just to ensure that they don’t move. Once that’s over, screw them in to make sure that they fit.

Step #6: Put everything back and you’re finished!

It’s simple, just put everything back together, screw in the nut, and set your bridge down! Once you begin to put in the springs for the bridge, you’ll want to put the strings in, too, to balance the whole thing out. Before you put your guitar strings in, simply cut off the ball at the end, then slide the string between the block in the bridge and the slot. Here’s what you’ll do next: tighten that screw as far as it will go, and then just a tiny bit farther. 

Next up, you’ll want to tune your guitar. However, you should opt for a little lower tune since the locking screws will probably raise the pitch slightly. Afterward, tune your guitar like you’d do regularly by using the bridge screws instead of the tuning pegs. That’s it! If you want to stay on the subject, follow this link to see why guitar nuts are made of bone.

The bottom line

Alright, that’s about all that there’s to say about whether you can put a locking nut on a Strat! Now you’re aware that such an action is actually doable. For more useful guitar-related info, various tips, and facts concerning this majestical instrument, pay a visit to this page.