When I started out playing guitar about twenty years ago, I would tune my beat-up old acoustic to my piano. It was a bit of a process in the beginning but a great way to become comfortable tuning by ear. When I finally bought a guitar tuner I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world. Wait a minute - this little box can hear the pitch of each guitar string? Amazing! A guitar tuner is certainly a huge help when playing live, allowing you to adjust your tuning quickly if necessary.

Fast forward a couple of decades to 2013 when Gibson introduced the Min-ETune™ system, and its subsequent follow-up Gibson G FORCE™ the next year - it was a revolutionary tuning technique. Your guitar can be tuned for you, and not only that – you can choose any type of tuning, not just the standard EADGBE, and even create your own tunings.

Gibson G Force

There are a number of advantages to a G FORCE™ equipped guitar – first and foremost it’s a great way to stay in tune, eliminating the time spent getting in tune.

Where I think G FORCE™ has the most use is when you want to play in various non-standard tunings. Let’s say you’re into playing slide guitar; it can be quite a tedious and time-consuming task to change among various open tunings, as well as returning to standard tuning. This is precisely the reason why I got myself a G FORCE™ equipped guitar. I picked up a 2015 Gibson Les Paul Special Double Cut last year and simply fell in love with the instrument! In the past I shied away from open tunings, simply because of the pain involved in going from standard to open tuning, then back again.

Now I’m basically using my Les Paul Special as my dedicated slide guitar – I have plenty of other guitars to use for standard tuning. G FORCE™ really came in handy the other day when I wanted to play “When The Levee Breaks.” Within a minute I was tuned to Jimmy Page's tuning and jamming along! It’s worth noting here that if you’re going to use these extremely dropped tunings, it's a good idea to use thicker strings than what you would normally use. For example, I have .009-.042 on all my guitars, but I use .010-.046 for the LP Special (I should probably go even thicker, but it’s all a matter of preference).

It's also worth mentioning that you can tune the guitar two different ways with G FORCE™ – either with a single strum that tunes all strings at once, or by strumming one string at a time and waiting for G FORCE™ to tell you when to move on to the next string. The first method works great when just switching from standard to E-flat tuning or vice versa, but when you’re making major changes like going between various open tunings or from standard to open, the second method is preferred as it often provides improved accuracy.

Now, these are the reasons I got G FORCE™. There are of course many other uses, like for example the reference tuning feature whereby you can set up a custom reference tuning for the guitar. Suppose you’re playing with a piano that's slightly off key; you can tune one string to your piano, then tell G FORCE™ that's the reference pitch so that your guitar and piano are in tune with each other! Another situation where G FORCE™ comes in handy is when your band regularly switches between standard tuning and E-flat - now you can change tuning in an instant.

All guitars that are part of Gibson’s High Performance series in the 2016 Model lineup come equipped with the latest G FORCE™ tuner, Check it out if you want to make your life easier – and spend more time playing than tuning.

More on alt. tunings here.