Floyd Rose Without a Locking Nut: Is it Possible?

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If you’re wondering if a Floyd Rose without a locking nut is possible on your guitar, you’ve come to the right post!

Floyd Rose Bridges Explained

Leo Fender made a huge change for tremolo bridges. Instead of complicated Bigsby or Vibrola systems, he came up with a more practical one. You can see the same principle on Stratocasters these days.

But Floyd D. Rose took this principle to a whole new level in the 1970s. The result was a so-called double-locking tremolo. This means that it locks the strings in two spots. The bridge has locking saddles, which grab every string tightly. And, on the other side, we have a locking nut, which does the same.

For this to work, the bridge also comes with fine tuners. Once you tune the instrument the regular way, you lock the strings at the nut. And then you do all fine adjustments using these.

Finally, we have their most popular feature. You can go both up and down in pitch with Floyd Rose. Additionally, you can abuse them and your instrument will keep its tuning stability.

However, there are two issues that guitarists may dislike about them. First, restringing is a lot more difficult with them. And second, they take some getting used to. Also, resting your hand on the bridge to do the palm muting technique can mess with the pitch. However, these issues aren’t necessarily reason enough to not use Floyd Rose.

The Locking Nut

The locking nut is particularly interesting. In fact, the nut design came before the bridge. It consists of three clamps, each holding two strings.

These nuts are noticeably wider. Each string rests on two points. In between, we have the clamps which hold the strings tightly in place. You can tight them using 3mm hex keys.

The whole point of a locking nut is to hold the strings. The idea is for them not to move. Regular nuts can wear out and they can lose some of the tuning stability.

Floyd Rose Without Locking Nut: Is It Possible?

And we get to the main question. So can you use a Floyd Rose bridge without a locking nut? The simple answer is yes. You’d have a fully functioning guitar. In fact, some guitar players even prefer to go this way.

Additionally, I’ve seen some guitar players remove clamps from the nut. Without them, it works like a regular nut. And it shouldn’t have many issues. You may, theoretically, experience string breakages more often. But I’ve not heard many complaints about this.

Should You Do It?

Now, as the old saying goes, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Sure, some guitar players have argued in favor of such a setup.

In practice, it works most of the time. You shouldn’t have any issues while performing. And contrary to some beliefs, your guitar won’t go out of tune all the time.

However, you do reduce tuning stability compared to the full setup. After all, the double-locking principle does work, and it has its purpose.

There’s also another issue if you’re not using a locking nut. While moving the tremolo, the strings go up and down through the slots of the regular nut. Now, you also need to bear in mind that Floyd Rose tremolos go both ways. So that means there’ll be heavier use. As a result, your guitar’s nut may get used up quicker from all the friction.

And then there’s the obvious issue of strings. As I mentioned, your strings may break more often. But you can sort it all out by lubricating the nut. Graphite from a pencil or even vaseline or similar products can help.

Now, there’s one important thing that I need to add. Believe it or not, Guthrie Govan prefers to use a Floyd Rose paired with a conventional nut. It may seem like a weird choice to some guitar players, but it obviously works for him.

When You (Probably) Shouldn’t Do It

So you can definitely make this work. However, not all guitars will work ideally with this setup. See how your instrument reacts to it. If you have a 6-in-line headstock and strings are in a straight line, you won’t have any issues.

However, I’d advise you not to do it on Gibson guitars. They come with a 3+3 type of headstock and strings sit at a weird angle over the nut. This can cause all sorts of problems. And both the strings and the nut would wear out faster than usual.

There have actually been some Gibsons with such a setup. Les Paul BFG line didn’t use locking nuts. But I personally don’t like this idea.

Floating Locking Nut? Yes, That’s a Thing

A Locking Nut That FLOATS on Your Strings...Wow!!

In case you don’t feel like adjusting your instrument to put a locking nut, there’s another solution. Believe it or not, there are also floating locking nuts. In simple terms, this means that you don’t have to adjust or modify your guitar in any way. You just put it on the headstock, attach it, lock the strings, and you’re ready to go.

The brand is called NutBuster. And you can put it on any guitar, with or without a Floyd Rose bridge. It simply clamps the strings and keeps the tuning stable. It’s not exactly cheap for its size, but it’s incredibly useful.

Check out the video above for a demo explaining how it works. Pay attention to how it managed to keep the tuning stable after heavy tremolo use!

Floyd Rose Without Locking Nut: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped clarify this topic!

And if you want to read more about Floyd Rose on this blog, check out the following posts:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!

2 Responses

  1. Hello, thanks for the info, I’m thinking what about locking tuners and normal graphtech nut?

    1. Hey Daniel! Thanks for stopping by!

      In my personal opinion, Graph Tech nuts (or Tusq nuts) would be a great option. In fact, I’d rather use them than ivory nuts. The friction is reduced significantly.

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