Once I discovered automatic tuning, I was hooked. It’s saved me tons of hours since I started using the technology back in 2008, but another big deal is I haven’t had to recut any tracks in the studio because my guitar was out of tune…and I’ve discovered alternate tunings too, because now they’re easy to do. While there was some resistance to automatic tuning (and I admit I was in that camp originally), for me manual tuning has become just one more thing that gets in the way of picking up a guitar and taking immediate advantage of an inspiration.
However, while most people are aware of Gibson’s automatic tuning technology, not everyone knows how it works—so here’s what happens when you push the On button and strum.G Force Each machine head contains a small servo motor that can wind the string up or down. Servo motors are a common, reliable technology and have been around for years; the Gibson G FORCE™ servos are optimized for guitar tuning (small size, light weight, and high speed) and can also be tuned manually. The manual option is helpful in case you forget to recharge the battery (it does around 100 tunings on a single charge), but also allows creating custom tunings manually, which you can then tell G FORCE to store for future recall.
The controller senses string vibrations, then measures each string’s frequency. If a string is off-pitch, the controller sends a correction signal to the servo motor to wind or unwind the string as needed to compensate. For functions like alternate tunings, Gibson G FORCE™ stores the alternate tuning’s pitches, then sends correction signals based on those pitches instead of standard tuning.
By tuning the actual string, the guitar tone remains unchanged. This is significant, because there are other automatic tuning systems that synthesize a tuned string sound from an out-of-tune string. Aside from changing the tone, the physical string’s pitch can be different from what you hear coming out of the amp.
All of Gibson G FORCE™’s functions—alternate tunings, custom tunings, tuning to instruments that are in tune with themselves but not to concert pitch, adding pitch offsets to individual strings, tuning with a capo, and the like—are all based on the same principle: G FORCE measures string pitch, then sends any needed signals to the servo motors so they can tune the strings to perfect pitch (or imperfect pitch, if that’s what you want).
Aside from new G FORCE functions that were not available in its predecessor (Min-ETune™), G FORCE™ also improves storage option because people are getting creative and discovering there’s more to tunings than just “Dropped D” and “DADGAD” (see Fig. 1). It’s now possible to have up to 36 custom preset tunings, arranged as six banks. You can change these at any time, or revert to the factory defaults.  


G Force

Fig. 1: My latest fun custom tuning is D G D G D D, essentially an open G but without any major or minor character and a strong emphasis on the fifth. I used the Pitch Assist function to create a custom tuning with each string pitched perfectly, but then added the Pitch Offset function to tune the D on the second string (normally B) just a tiny bit flat and the D on the first string (normally high E) sharp by an equal amount so they give a tasty chorusing effect when played together. Whether played as barre chords across all six strings or used with a slide, this tuning provides a strong rhythm guitar backing.
So that’s the basic G FORCE™ story. Give a try—but be aware that it’s addictive.