Upgrading PRS SE to Phase II Locking Tuners - Installation Piicture Story


New Member
May 15, 2012
Philadelphia, PA
As part of my project to upgrade my new SE Tremonti Custom I took the plunge on drilling one of my guitars for the first time.
I do most of my guitar work, but never installed tuners before. As with everything I try for the first time, I do a lot of research on the best way to do all steps and then adapt to a homemade version.

Installation of PRS Phase II locking tuners on an SE requires re-drilling pilot holes for the alignment pin screws and covering the old ones for aesthetics. No modification required on the big holes.

Wanted to share the pictures and steps on how I did it. I didn’t call this a “guide” or How-to as I am not a repair tech and don’t want to be responsible if you damage your guitar doing this.
In my case it worked perfectly :) This should help you decide if you are not confortable with doing a procedure like this and better leave it to the trusted PTC guys.
Feel free to add your own tips…

We start with the before pictures. Stock SE Tuners, good but not enough for me on a Trem guitar. Note the screw location is at an angle at the corner.


Here are the Phase II babies ready to go in. Note that the screw location runs straight down.

You can see the little bars on the back of the tuner wall that look like Roman numerals (IIII, III, II). Some people have the incorrect notion of those indicating their placement on the headstock. They are just casting mold marks and can be ignored. All of the tuners are the same.


You will need a 10mm metric wrench to remove the top nut. Strongly recommend using a box/ring side from a “combination” wrench like pictured. Don’t go cheap and use those open ones that can lead to scratches on the guitar or thread damage

Remove the back screws and they are out. Love those Tremonti big letters.

Bye, bye :hello:

They will leave these ugly holes that won’t be covered by the Phase IIs… Time to get creative.

Part 2

Some people use molding to do this. I didn’t want to get messy as I am not refinishing the paint.
I used toothpicks and measured the depth needed to cover the hole. These toothpicks are fatter than usual so don’t go all the way in.

Cut the pieces with a razor

Used pliers to hold the small pieces, applied super glue and then inserted. Made sure to mask all the area, once that glue touches the wrong area it is there forever. Carefully sanded a little to level.

Had a little bottle of car touch-up paint from an auto parts store. My car is also black, so perfect fit.

A little touch is enough. I went a little overboard here, but they are very hard to see with the tuners on. :flute:

Gave time for it to dry.

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Part 3...

First key point is to ensure the angled headstock is leveled with the table you are using. In my case I had to use a stool/towel to put the body higher than the coffee table I was using work on.

The most important thing for me was to ensure that the screws are placed in the perfect location so the tuners end up horizontally aligned.

I masked the area, put the two lowest tuners and tied the nut enough for them to not move too easily. Used a straight edge to align the top of the tuners, then used a wood drill bit of the same width of the hole to ensure I marked the center point of the screw hole. With my hand did some turns and pressed to ensure the point was marked on the wood.
Added the next two and repeated.

After that it was all piece of cake. Removed tuners and had the exact guides for the pilot holes.

It is very important to drill a pilot hole first and not try to insert the screw directly on the headstock or you may splint the wood. The maple on this neck is a very hard wood. The width of the drill bit must be the same as the middle solid area of the screw NOT including the threads. Put the screw on the tuner and measure how deep you need to drill. Mask the drill bit so you don’t go over to the other side of the headstock!!

It is not common, but as you can see, the screws on this Schaller made Phase IIs have a short smooth shank section at the top. A larger diameter drill bit had to be used to make space for it. More info here: http://www.home-dzine.co.za/diy/diy-pilot-holes.htm

Then the tough part!!! :box: Drilling the holes. Used a small regular drill that is sensitive to how hard you press the "trigger". Just went veery slowly and worked my way in. I was able to get them vertical enough by hand. Some people use a drill guide like this http://www.v-drillguide.com/ to get them perfectly vertical but I think that is overkill for such a short screw.

All Done. Screw in the tuners, and place the nut tightly. Follow the PRS guide to install strings: http://www.prsguitars.com/csc/tuners.html It is so easy with locking tuners.





Love the look of these tuners. I am still getting used to the smaller knob buttons on the Phase IIs but that can be replaced later.
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Wow, thanks for the post. I was just thinking about doing the same to my Tremonti Custom. Incidentally my ser# is 21088, only 2 past yours.
I did the same on my sons Tremonti SE, changed the tuners and put an sc250 hb in the bridge.
Wow, thanks for the post. I was just thinking about doing the same to my Tremonti Custom. Incidentally my ser# is 21088, only 2 past yours.
And here it is with the Tremonti pickups installed. Holding off on the locking tuners, for now.
Exactly! Sorry for the delayed response. That is an US Tremolo and strap knobs. US Arm is wider than the import one and won't fit into that tremolo.

So the (6 screw) hole spacing on the Korean trem and the USA trem are exactly the same?
Wow, this looks great!

Are the Tremoni Custom's bodies thicker than the regular Tremonti? It looks as thick as a SE 245 I played.