#1
Hey all,

So I've got this beautiful PRS SE Custom 24 laying around not getting the love it deserves. I'll pick it up from time to time, but I mainly find myself playing my Vintage brand Les Paul. The PRS, I believe, is a potentially much better guitar, but the issue I'm having with it is that it can't keep a tune to save its life. The strings go out of wack whether or not I use the tremolo -- either way the guitar sounds horrible after a couple minutes of playing because of this.

I've only recently been informed about locking nuts, but I've been told they may be the solution to my problem. So I suppose my question is:


Will installing locking nuts on this guitar keep the guitar perfectly in tune, even with the use of the tremolo?


I would rather not invest in them if they will not, so any input is greatly appreciated. The guitar currently has stock strings on it (which I assume are 9's, since they are very floppy), but I plan on restringing it with D'addario Jazz Mediums (13-56) as I intend to keep the guitar in Drop A#. This information may not be of any use, but just some more context if it makes any difference.

If anyone has owned a PRS and experienced a similar issue and have solved it by the locking nut or by another method, I would love to hear it!

Thanks!
#2
Is the trem decked? Does it only go out of tune while you're playing it, or does it go out of tune more than you would expect when it is left unplayed? If the latter, then the neck might be unstable. I've had this happen, and I don't know it there is a cure other than a new neck. If the former, then a locking nut and decking or blocking the trem might help. Also check that the string can move smoothly in the nut slots.
#3
When the guitar is untouched, it tends to keep whatever tune it had when I put it down. The problem is just when I'm playing it; so I guess that's a good thing?

But what do you mean by 'decking' the tremolo? Sorry, I've played guitar for years but never been much into any kind of modding, hahaha.

Thanks for your response!
#5
Ah, okay. Thanks! I think I'll take my guitar to my local music shop and have them advise me on the best way to go about setting it up. I'm excited to see if I can get this thing in performing shape - it definitely deserves some work for it to be able to play up to its full potential.
#6
Find a good tech ( ask around the music store or find out who the local professional musicians are using ) - then get your guitar professionally setup - explain what your issue is. 

Tuning issues are almost always setup related.  The nut may have issues that need addressing. You don't need locking tuners for a guitar to stay in tune - my Strat stays in tune through almost a whole gig's worth of abuse and it has classic Strat tuners. My other guitar has locking tuners, but those primarily make changing the strings much easier. 

You also need to make sure that you put on your strings properly - youtube  the proper way ( I was doing it wrong for years) -  if you do it right your guitar will hold it's tune much better.

I'm guessing a good setup will solve your issues.
#7
You're going to need heavier strings than 13-56 to tune down to A# on a guitar like that. The 56 is going to be very floppy. I would suggest getting something like a 12-62 at least. The 13 on the high A# is imo a bit unnecessary. Also bear in mind with a gauge so heavy that you may need a wound G string. Wound G strings intonate in almost the opposite place to where a plain G intonates. So the guitar is going to need to be totally re-set up. You are also going to need to get the nut re-cut for that particular gauge of string. If you do not have the appropriate files to do this, I suggest taking the guitar to a tech.

You cannot expect flawless tuning stability with non-locking bridges. The friction at the nut creates when the strings slide back and forth can never be totally eliminated. And the only way you can stop the strings from moving out of their exact position at the bridge and the nut is getting a Floyd Rose. So you need to curb your expectations a little. That said, you can help to improve tuning stability by widening the nut slots a bit to prevent the nut 'grabbing' the strings as they move back and forth. It also helps to lubricate the slots by writing a pencil into them; the graphite that's found in pencil lead which helps to make the pencil write smoothly can also serve to lubricate the nut where the strings pass through.

I would strongly suggest keeping the bridge decked so that you cannot pull back on the bar whatsoever when the bridge is in its neutral position. This makes the bridge's job of moving back to the exact same position it was before the whammy bar was moved a whole lot easier. Thus, tuning stability is improved.

I would also revise how exactly you're restringing the guitar. The 'locking' method of restringing makes your guitar tuners function much like locking tuners do, as they help to keep the number of string wraps around the tuner post to a minimum.

http://www.stringthis.com/howtostringu.html
Quote by TheSennaj
And well yes, I'll enjoy the carpal tunnel and tendonitis, because trying to get one is clearly smarter than any word you have spoken thus far.
#8
You will need some attention to the nut (and quite a bit I would imagine) with the string change, or you'll have strings hanging up in the nut after trem use and bending. You're also likely to need some work with the trem springs. I'd honestly not have chosen a 25" scale guitar for this tuning, but it can certainly be done. You'll need another setup, likely, and a new nut if you ever return it to its current state. 

Locking nuts are off the table unless the trem itself has fine tuners. 
#9
Alright, so after reading everyone's input:

-The 13-56s I have in mind do have a wound G string, so that's taken care of, and when replacing the strings, I'll definitely have to try out that pinching method. I have used these gauge strings on my les paul and have found they work excellently with the tuning.

-Before I do any kind of operation, I will have someone who works on guitars advise me on what I will need to do to the tremolo springs and nut to avoid problems with intonation/any other miscellaneous problems I might fail to consider

-I will not go with locking nuts unless an expert looks at my guitar and specifically recommends them

Again, I greatly appreciate everyone's input and I will keep this thread posted when I get around to getting this thing taken care of!