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.

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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.