Why I Gave up My Gibson G-Force Auto Tuner

Why I Gave up My Gibson G-Force Auto Tuner

I couldn’t have been more thrilled with my 5th anniversary wedding present — a 2015 Gibson SG Standard electric guitar, complete with all the trimmings (great pickups, a warm tone, a rich mahogany finish, etc.). But when I went to tune the thing, twisting the knobs in the same way I’ve twisted knobs for the past 20 years, one of them came loose.

After convincing Gibson to send me a replacement knob, I made the 30-minute pilgrimage to Orange, Conn., to “authorized retailer” Guitar Center, where I met an awesome guitar tech named Ed.

The diagnosis: my beloved anniversary guitar was equipped with a G-Force automatic tuner!

Now, before I get into the multiple trips to Guitar Center, hours spent reading the Gibson Owner’s Manual, etc., I ended up making, I want to say that my husband is a very good man. He thought he was getting me my dream guitar, not a guitar-size headache! Neither of us had any idea that automatic tuners were a “thing” for 2015 — every single Gibson I’ve played up until this point in my life has possessed standard tuning knobs.

After Ed fixed the knob and explained how the G-Force worked, I gave the guitar a chance. I turned on the automatic tuner, and strummed my guitar once or twice, and let the knobs do their magic. So far, so good.

The Gibson G-Force auto tuner, which came with my 2015 Gibson SG

But then one day, about a month later, the guitar tuned itself to some kind of obscurity. Suddenly, my A string and low E string were both registering “E” on my regular tuner. It sounded kind of cool, but I couldn’t play any of my songs!

So I did what any disgruntled guitarist would do: I called the manufacturer. Nice as the Nashville-based Gibson team was, however, they couldn’t figure out how to help me tweak my instrument. They just told me to read the manual. Days later, after leafing through a 29-page manual, I still couldn’t make it work (and yes — I tried recalibrating and resetting and all that).

Apparently, I’m not alone. Lots of videos featuring disgruntled Gibson guitar owners — just Google “Gibson g-force sucks” to see them — are filled with complaints about the auto tuner’s inability to magically tune guitar strings in a timely manner. Because of this, said Ed at Guitar Center, hundreds of Gibson users opted to have their 2015 Gibsons refurbished with basic tuning knobs.

I joined the ranks of Gibson SG owners who asked for such minor guitar surgery last week, after considering the pros and cons.

Without the G-Force, I wouldn’t be able to easily switch between 10 different types of tuning during a set — which I would never do anyway! Also, the value of my guitar would decrease if I swapped the auto tuner for regular old knobs (potentially by a few hundred dollars).

The pros, however, were that I’d finally be able to play my guitar without worrying that I’d reset it into some kind of geeky-musician setting.

The choice was easy.

At the end of the day, I’m just a soccer mom who plays guitar and writes songs. And my time is precious as heck, now that I’m balancing kids, work, marriage, and exercise — all while managing a household.

My newly refurbished Gibson SG plays like a charm and I couldn’t be happier.

  • Richard Handal
    Posted at 08:09h, 13 April Reply

    Scary. I never heard of such a thing.

  • Scott Cragle
    Posted at 20:40h, 06 November Reply

    I had initial problems with Min-Etune on my LP-S’ b-string off and on with standard and drop settings, but eventually I learned to tune multiple times before being satisfied. I use four different tunings and it really is convenient. HOWEVER, I’ve added two more guitars since then, both of which are specifically for drop tunings, so I’m going to get the auto tuner replaced on my LP in the next few months.

    • rockmommyct
      Posted at 17:39h, 07 November Reply

      Hi Scott — I think that because you use four different tunings, the min-etune makes a lot of sense. Personally, I can’t be bothered with more than regular standard tuning, plus the occasional Drop-D, so it was just a headache to have the auto tuner!

  • Erik Zenhausern
    Posted at 17:33h, 07 September Reply

    I just bought a 2015 Les Paul Special with the GForce tuners. I didn’t want to like the robo-tuners but so far, so good. I did have problems at first because the battery needed charging. When the battery gets low, my experience is the tuner malfunctions. When my battery started dying, I couldn’t get it out of open G. I am assuming you checked the battery although sounds like at this point it’s moot.

    • Johnne
      Posted at 21:28h, 08 February Reply

      Jason Lollar Imperial 4 wire pickups – I digress….

      • Johnne
        Posted at 21:28h, 08 February

        See comment below…

  • Johnne
    Posted at 21:24h, 08 February Reply

    I am skeptical of anything ‘automatic’ in the tuning department, sure it seems like the millllllions of options maybe define some musicians idea of a tuning moment, but give me the knobs to adjust to MY liking not some machines liking….and as for making a guitar less attract money wise, I would take it off, get the replacements, and give it to the next owner to figure out, maybe they would like all the new-age nonsense….so my 2007 Classic Antique Fireburst LP with Jason Lallaro PU’s will never see the light of day with auto-tune on its headstock….amen.

  • Paul Monroe
    Posted at 01:01h, 13 April Reply

    I’m with you. I’m going to replace my sg future with grovers. My original 75 custom sg was my favorite but got stolen. Haven’t been able to get that action back after buying 2 more sg’s but working on both. Thank god the new standard came with locking grovers. I’m customizing the sg future with new knobs and grovers. Also rewiring controls to Jimmy Page modifications. I think it will increase the value no matter what Gibson has to say.

  • James
    Posted at 01:33h, 16 January Reply

    I just recently bought a NOS Gibson SG Future from 2013 that has MinE-Tuners and I love it. So far there have been no problems. I love alt tunings and this guitar can bring them up in 15 to 30 seconds. I don’t think it was a bad idea to offer this capability. It’s really pretty extraordinary. I just don’t think it would be everyone’s thing especially if you never play outside of normal tuning. But if you’re fascinated by alternate tunings, these guitars are pretty cool.

  • Pablo Santiago Sánchez
    Posted at 05:38h, 01 October Reply

    Hi. So, do you still have the tuner around? What would be a fair price for a broken one? I work with IT with over 33 years of experience in programming, maybe I can figure it out and fix it (or not, some things would require more investments than buying a brand new, so I’ve gave up a lot of hobby projects on my life because of the cost). Let me know. Cheers.

    • rockmommyct
      Posted at 18:32h, 03 October Reply

      Hey Pable. I still have the tuner — it was removed from my guitar. I think it was fine, it’s just not for me. I like easy stuff, like standard tuning and only 1 pedal per gig. So I think the G-force tuner itself just not a good fit for me (the guitar works fine without it).

    Posted at 22:04h, 11 March Reply

    The quality of the materials used is substandard that is why the teeth on the cogs break and low grade metal and plastic cogs …not good….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IYgQ1Lo8GA

  • jac
    Posted at 02:39h, 04 March Reply

    Why would anyone opt for this crap in the first place???

  • BZ
    Posted at 19:34h, 02 August Reply

    I think why your point makes sense to so many people is that so few guitarists actually play on stage professionally, where due to normal playing conditions, guitars constantly go out of tune. And even with the help of pedals, quickly and effectively tuning a guitar on stage can be a challenge. Particularly if you had to change strings, and the new strings need to be stretched out. Back when I was playing four or five nights a week on in live venues, I would have given my front teeth and maybe more to have had an automatic tuning system. Unfortunately, my Life as a professional guitarist was ending just as these things were coming out. They would have been a real life saver back then, and I can only imagine how much easier my life would have been.

    • rockmommyct
      Posted at 21:42h, 02 August Reply

      I hear you! I am not a professional guitarist, though I get paid for some gigs. I tune 1-2 times per hour. But it is still easier for me than the stress of these knobs doing their own random things.

  • Steve
    Posted at 18:02h, 18 December Reply

    Question. If I remove these tuners from my 2016 Firebird, will I have to do any drilling on the head stock to install say, stineburgers or banjo tuners?

  • gert jan mul
    Posted at 20:06h, 16 March Reply

    a machination of the devil herself. Scary. It’s is by the mercy of the Lord that you are still alive.

    Yet I had the pleasure of testing such wonderful machine (gibson) including the auto-tuner for a whole month. Love it. Love it. Perhaps all those who labeled me a son of the devil were right. But Gibson/w autotune. that’s the sh!t man! I’m telling you. the sh.t.during playing on stage you realize your tuning is off? no sweat… takes no more than a second…

    Posted at 15:27h, 16 April Reply

    I buy used working G-force tuners for my Les Pauls that take type A. Keep me in the loop, and if I need one, I will be wiling to give $50.00 if batteries are included. Email me insidesnowman@gmail.com

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