Should I remove my guitar's string trees?
People often ask us why some guitars have string trees and some don't.
The reason behind the trees is to increase contact between the string and the nut. They are generally found on Fender Guitars, but not Gibsons. To understand why, you need to look at the angle of the string from the tuner to the nut - Fender headstocks are generally "straighter" with the neck than a Gibson for example which is on more of an angle and therefore gives more downward tension keeping the strings more solidly lying in the nut.
Many bass guitars have string trees for the same reason; it's a way of getting the string to sit firmly in/on the nut, to produce the best possible sound. There are many types and shapes of string tree, from simple bent "w" types, through circular 'button' types to elaborate and expensive ones with anti-friction linings, as pictured here.
Although most guitars would still 'work' with their string trees removed, it is not something we would recommend. It is likely to reduce sustain, cause tuning problems and affect the tone of the guitar. Trust the guitar's designer - he put them there for a reason!
If you have problems tuning the strings that go through string trees, try lubricating them - see http://guitarstringguide.com/drupal/content/why-wont-my-g-string-stay-tune