How to Change Strings with GOTOH Locking Tuners and a Floyd Rose (7 String)

By Jason Stallworth

October 29, 2019

We all know how to change strings for the most part. But whenever you throw in something new, like Gotoh locking tuners, it kind of throws you back.

That’s okay because you and I are going to learn how to change strings with Gotoh locking tuners. But it doesn’t stop there. We’re going to change strings on a guitar that has…

  • Gotoh Locking Tuners
  • Floyd Rose
  • 7 strings

Oh man, I’m tired just thinking about it! Actually it’s nowhere near as bad as it sounds. And I’m going to take you step-by-step.

**This is an interactive post! I am including your suggestions, tricks, and methods in this post where noted. So this blog post will be updated on a regualr basis.

If you’d like to add to this post, just leave a comment with your suggestions on my YouTube video: Changing Strings With Gotoh and Floyd VIDEO.

Changing Strings with Gotoh and Floyd Video

3 Things You Need to Change Strings with Gotoh Locking Tuners and a Floyd Rose

First, make sure you have the proper tools to change strings. Here’s the cool thing…you really don’t need much!

  1. String clipper – I’m using a tool that acts as a string winder and clipper in the video; in theory, you shouldn’t need the winder end.
  2. Allen wrench – You’ll need this only if you have a Floyd Rose or floating tremolo.
  3. Strings…I know, duh!

It sounds almost too simple, right? This is due to the Gotoh locking tuners. And if you don’t have a Floyd or floating bridge, you won’t need a hex key (Allen wrench).

Now I’m going to go over each step and explain what I did to change my strings on my 7 string guitar with Gotoh locking tuners and a Floyd Rose.

**The guitar is my ESP E-II Horizon FR-7.

***If your guitar does not have a Floyd and only has locking tuners, I have a section at the bottom of this page going over the steps for guitars with just Gotoh locking tuners.

Unlocking Your Strings from the Floyd Rose Locking Nut

Floyd Rose locking nut

The first few steps are all about removing that first string from your guitar. Since my guitar has both Gotoh locking tuners and a Floyd Rose, we need to follow the usual guidelines of changing guitar strings with a Floyd.

So the very first thing you need to do is loosen the screws on your locking nut located between the neck and headstock of your guitar.

If you have experience changing strings on a guitar with a Floyd Rose, you know to only change one string at a time. If you’re like me, you’ve made the unforgiving mistake of taking all of your old strings off only to be left with to suffer in tuning and intonation hell!

If you’re new to this, make sure you change one string at a time!

However, you can loosen all of the screws from the locking nut. And if you have a 7 string guitar like me, there will be four screws to loosen.

**If you want to become more familiar with the parts and components of a Floyd Rose setup, you can read about each part on Floyd Rose website:

Remove the First String from the Gotoh Locking Tuner

Gotoh locking tuner changing strings

The next step is to release the string from the Gotoh locking tuner. I was a little freaked out at first because I had never owned or played a guitar with any sort of locking tuners. So yeah, the video above is from my first time doing this.

It’s fairly simple. You just twist the locking tuner, which is on the backside of your headstock. This locking mechanism is actually what’s holding the string tightly in its place.

I typically start the process by removing the heaviest string first. In this case, it’s that 7th B string.

Once you twist the locking tuner, you’ll notice that much of the tension from that string is gone. Your string will be somewhat flabby (I made a horrible pun in the video saying the flabby string needs to go on a diet).

From here you can turn your tuning key so that your string is straight so that you can pull the string through the Floyd Rose locking nut piece.

Here are the steps:

  • Start with your heaviest string
  • Twist Gotoh locking tuner to release that string
  • Turn your tuning key to where the string is straight lining up with the neck
  • Pull the string through the tuning keyhole and the Floyd locking nut

**Making sure that you turn the tuning key to line up with the path of the neck will also help you later when you go to feed your new string through. This will save you a little time and frustration later.

Removing the String (from the String Lock Insert Block)

Floyd Rose String Lock Insert Blocks and Scews

Finally, to remove that first string you’ll need to loosen the string lock screw on the Floyd Rose bridge.

This will allow you to pull the string out from the grip of the string lock insert block (these almost look like miniature Lego blocks).

Because of the tension released from that first string, your bridge will be pointed downward, going into the hole (seriously, it’s a Black hole in this case because my guitar is black!).

So one little trick I use is that I apply a little pressure using my whammy bar to make the bridge float evenly. This way I can easily unscrew the string lock screw.

Here’s what you do:

  • Level the floating bridge by applying some pressure with your whammy bar
  • Loosen the string lock screw
  • Pull the end of the string out from the string lock insert block

**Remember, you’re only replacing one string at a time. So once you get to this part, it’s time to replace that old string with a new one before removing the next string.

Putting on Your First New Guitar String: Part 1 (Floyd)

The hard part is over. Your old string is off and it’s time to put your new string on.

I want to reiterate that we are replacing each string one-by-one; we are NOT taking all of the old strings off at once.

You’re basically going to go in reverse order at this point. So you’ll start by taking the new string and placing the end of it in the hole where the string lock insert block is.

Before I do this, I cut off the ball-end piece of the string. This is that part shaped like a barrel and is used to anchor the string to the body, bridge, or neck of the guitar. In our case where we’re working with a Floyd Rose, we really don’t need it. So, as Alice says, off with your head!

**There’s a pretty cool write-up of ball-ends of strings, the different types, and their use (and more techy guitar-related stuff) on

You can use the same method of applying some pressure to the whammy bar to make sure the bridge is floating level. This just makes it easier to tighten the string lock screw.

But don’t tighten it too tight! I’ve actually broken a few of these blocks before and it’s not cool!

Putting on Your First New Guitar String: Part 2 (Gotoh Locking Tuner)

Next, you’ll feed the other end of the new string through locking nut, and then through the tuner keyhole. Remember me saying that you’ll want to line that hole up with the neck? Now you know the second reason why – the string should feed straight through.

Once the string is fed through, you’ll want to pull that string from the end coming out from the tuning key. You don’t have to do a deadlift or anything crazy here, but make sure the string isn’t too loose.

As you’re pulling the string, twist Gotoh locking tuner tight. At this point, your string is locked and secured. All you have to do now is turn your tuning key until your string is in tune.

For the most part, this will be about a half turn. In other words, you won’t have the string wound several times around the tuning key peg. This looks better cosmetically but also serves the greater purpose of holding your guitar in tune when you’re doing those crazy bends and dive bombs.

Here’s are the steps from Part I and 2 of putting on your new string:

  • Cutt off ball-end (ouch, that sounds so painful!!)
  • Secure end of string into the hole where between the string lock insert block and inner bridge
  • Tighten the string lock screw (but not too tight!)
  • Feed other end of new string through the locking nut and tuning keyhole
  • Pull the string tight from the end coming out from the tuning keyhole
  • Twist the Gotoh locking tuner to secure the string
  • Turn tuning key until the string is in tune

Gotoh Locking Tuner Only

If you just have Gotoh locking tuners and do not have a Floyd or any type of floating tremolo, you can just follow the steps below:

  • Loosen Gotoh locking tuner
  • Turn tuning key so that the string lines up with the neck (facing down the neck)
  • Pull the old string out from the bridge
  • Replace with new string
  • Pull string tightly with your hand from the end sticking out of the tuning key peg
  • Twist Gotoh locking tuner tight so that the string is secured
  • Fine-tune with the tuning key

Pretty simple, eh?

**You can read more about Gotoh locking tuners on the G-GOTOH website.

Why Did I Wait a Year and a Half to Change Strings?

I know it sounds crazy but yeah, it was about a year and a half before I changed strings on my ESP E-II Horizon FR-7 guitar. Why? I was afraid!! Lol…

Seriously, I was scared I’d screw up the setup because this guitar plays better than any guitar I’ve ever owned. And not only does the Floyd Rose make me nervous when changing strings (I’ve yet to nail down this process), the Gotoh locking tuners was completely new to me.

Also, I typically don’t change strings unless I’m getting ready to record an album. And I had bought this guitar to record my recent album Masterpeace. I’m not looking to start recording anything new for another few months.

But after finally pushing myself to go through the process, I found that the Gotoh locking tuners actually make it fairly easy. I still have issues with the Floyd, and though I now have new strings, my action is a little higher than it was before. So I have to go back and mess around with that some more.

Final Tip of Changing Strings

One final tip I can give you, and this is more specific to guitars with a Floyd or floating tremolo, is to try to stick with the same gauge strings.

My 7 string has .10 to .56 gauge strings. Although I stayed with the same gauge, I did switch brands. And I think the slight difference may have been what caused my action to be a little off from before.

My guitar came with Cleartone strings. For some reason, I thought it came with Elixirs so that’s what I bought for new strings. Now, I’ve been using Elixirs for several years but I actually prefer the way the Cleartone strings felt and sounded.

Of course, I’m not going to purposely go through the process of changing strings again for a while. At least not for this guitar! So the Elixirs will do for now.

I hope you found this post helpful. If so, please share it!

Keep it Metal,


And don’t forget, if you have anything suggestions or tips you’d like for me to add to this post, just leave a comment on the YouTube video: Changing Strings With Gotoh and Floyd VIDEO

Jason Stallworth

About the author

Jason is a melodic metal solo artist, songwriter, acoustic performer, and co-founder of Metal Mastermind.

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