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How can I purchase a GFI pedal steel guitar?


GFI pedal guitars are sold worldwide through our Dealer network and available to be ordered directly from the GFI factory for orders in the United States.  You can get in touch with one of our dealers regarding further purchasing information from them or visit the Purchasing page for further information about purchasing directly from GFI.


What is the cost of a GFI pedal steel guitar?


The list prices of the products GFI has available are published on the Prices page of our website.  Dealers will set their own retail prices which are generally discounted somewhat from the list prices.  Contact a dealer for their specific retail pricing information. GFI factory direct pricing is also listed on the Prices page.


Do you have any used pedal steels or take trade-ins?


No, we don't deal in any used instruments at all at the factory.  Most of our dealers do, though. Get in touch with them regarding the possibility of trade-ins or what used instruments they might currently have in stock.


Where can I try out a GFI pedal steel guitar?


Most of our larger dealers will have GFIs in stock and it would be possible to try one out there.  There are also a number of steel guitar conventions throughout the year and we usually attend the larger ones (St. Louis over Labor Day, Dallas in March, Phoenix in January) and bring steels for potential players to try out.  You can also try one at the factory if you find yourself in the area, though what we may or may not happen to have available at the time is subject to change.


I don't live near a dealer, what do I do?


Steel guitar is a pretty small niche market especially when compared to the standard 6-string guitar world.  There just aren't that many full time steel shops, and if you happen to live near one, consider yourself lucky.  However, it is not really necessary to live near a dealer to be able to purchase a GFI pedal steel guitar; our dealers will ship worldwide and will be happy to answer any questions you might have.  You can also order an instrument directly from GFI.


What is the difference between the Ultra and the Expo?


The Ultra would be considered the GFI top of the line and the Expo a more affordable professional level pedal steel guitar.  While they share virtually all of the same mechanical features, the main difference is their appearance.  The Ultra has a brushed aluminum finish and clear coating as standard on the frame, pedal board and some body parts.  The Expo has a gray hammertone coating on those parts instead, and the main cost difference is not having to do the brush finishing work.  Additionally, the Expo features angled rails, a wrap-around endplate look and is limited in how many pedals and knee levers are available (3 pedals 5 knees max. on an S-10 E or S-10 PE, 8 pedals and 5 knees max on a D-10 E).  The keyless tuning system is an option only available on Ultras.


What is the difference between the Expo and the Expo X1?


The Expo X1 has a different finish and a few more options that make a bit more expensive than the standard Expo.  The Expo X1 will have a gold vein hammertone/clear coat finish on the frame, pedal board and some body parts as opposed to the gray hammertone finish for those same parts on the standard Expo.  The Expo X1 also features a split front rail design which lends itself to mixing different mica colors.  The Expo comes standard with the GFI-II pickup, the Expo X1 comes standard with the GFI-III and the Expo X1 has the same pedal and knee lever potential as the Ultras while the standard Expo is limited to 3 pedals and 5 knee levers on S-10's, 8 & 5 on D-10's.


What is the difference between the Pro models and the Student model?


The GFI Student Model is our entry level steel and while more affordable, it is very capable of performing at a professional level. Entry level steels are generally more limited in the types of tunings and setups they will do and how those may be changed, if at all.  There will also likely be some other aspects of design or component choices that help keep the cost down and they are often lighter in weight than comparable professional models.  However, entry level pedal steels can provide excellent musical value for the money, and this is especially true of the GFI Student Model.  It has the same basic tone environment as our Pro models, uses the same pickup and most of the mechanical linkage parts are the same.  The main difference between the GFI Student and Pro models is the changer design.  The Pro Models utilize a triple finger, "all pull" changer mechanism and the Student Model utilizes a single finger, "pull release" changer.  The tuning procedures between the two changer designs are also somewhat different and with the single finger Student Model changer, lowers can only be accomplished on right moving knee levers, which limit its capabilities to the standard E9 tuning with the "Emmons" setup.


What is the warranty on GFI pedal steel guitars?


All GFI pedal steel guitars have a limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.  It does not cover normal wear and tear or any issues due to abuse or neglect.  If we determine a particular issue is covered under the warranty, GFI will repair/service the guitar at no cost and will also pay for any shipping costs.  All warranty work is done at the GFI factory.


How can I adjust the knee lever angles?


There is a set screw on each knee lever that can adjust the angle.  On the Pro models and the RR of the Student models, the set screw can be found on the face of each knee lever that contacts the leg, near the bracket.  For the other knee levers on the Student model the set screw is located on the rear of the lever near the bracket and is secured by a 1/4" nut.  A vertical knee lever on a pro model will also have a locking set screw on the side face of the lever that locks into the knee lever bracket connector that will have to be loosened before an angle adjustment can be done.


How can I adjust the pedal height?


Each pedal rod connector is held in place on the pedal rod by a 5/16" nut.  Simply loosen the nut, turn the connector up or down as desired and that will change the resting angle of the pedal.  Be sure the pedal can travel its full range and won't be obstructed by hitting the floor.


How do the pedal rod connectors work?


Our pedal rod to pedal connection design is a feature unique to GFI.  The pedals have delrin studs so there is no metal to metal contact at the connection for quiet operation.  Each connector has rod number stamped on it and there is more room for pedal height adjustment than the connector used by most other steel companies.  There is a small knurled thumbscrew that holds the connector in place on the pedal stud.  When tightened down, the end of the thumbscrew will protrude slightly into the hole of the connector.  Around the delrin pedal stud there a small groove or channel that the slightly protruding end of the thumbscrew will ride in to keep the connector from slipping off of the stud.  When the pedal rod is hooked through the pedal crank and oriented correctly, the connector thumbscrew should be angled toward the player.  It takes a couple of  revolutions of the thumbscrew to retract it enough to be able to remove the pedal rod from the pedal.  When the pedal rods are stored in the case or leg bag, we recommend tightening the thumbscrews down to prevent losing them.


How do I tune the Student Model?


The GFI Student Model follows the same basic tuning procedure as the Pro Models, though the procedure for a string that is lowered is a little more involved.  Since that procedure is not quite as straightforward or intuitive, a tuning chart is included with every new Student Model that goes over the specific tuning procedure.


Here is a more in-depth explanation of what is going on mechanically as we tune the Student Model:


The Student Model changer is a single finger “pull release” system and this single finger (per string) has to accomplish both the raises and the lowers, unlike the Pro changer that has a three finger mechanism to do the same job.   The single finger can only move in one direction to raise the pitch of a string and the opposite direction to lower the pitch.


Strings that will only be raised or not changed in pitch at all by a pedal or knee lever are tuned to their open pitch using the keys.  The resulting string tension forces the changer fingers to stop against the back side of the hole routed in the wood body that the changer mechanism is mounted through.  The back side of the hole functions as a stop that keeps the fingers from moving in that direction and allows us to increase the string tension as we tune it to pitch.


When a raise is activated by a pedal or knee lever, the mechanical linkage ends up pulling the nylon nut which in turn pushes the end of the changer finger away from the stop of the back side of the hole and toward the keys.  As the one end of the finger is being moved by the nylon nut, the other end that the string ball is hooked through is simultaneously rotating around an axle which results in the string stretching and raising in pitch.  The amount the pitch is raised by a pedal or knee lever is fine tuned with the nylon nut.  When the raise is released, the finger returns to rest at its open pitch or neutral position against the stop of the back side of the wood hole.


Since the changer fingers can only move one direction to raise and the opposite direction to lower, on the strings that we want to lower, the finger is set so that its open pitch or neutral point is partially engaged or raised.  This then gives the finger room to move backward and lower the string’s pitch before the its motion is stopped by the back side of the wood hole.  For example, strings 4 & 8 (normally tuned open to E an octave apart) would be open tuned to D# with the fingers at rest against the wood changer hole.  Then those strings are additionally set with a half tone raise from a D# to an E by moving and fixing the fingers.  This results in a raised neutral position, allowing room for the fingers to move backward and lower the half tone back to D#.


So on the Student Model when you tune the strings that lower, the procedure is to engage the lowering knee lever which releases the finger from its open pitch or raised neutral point back to the stop against the side of the wood hole.  Then tune the open string with the keys to the pitch that it should be lowering to (which would be D# for strings 4 & 8).  When you then release the lowering lever, spring tension actually raises the strings to what would be the normal open pitch or raised neutral position (E for 4 & 8).  That raised open pitch is fine tuned by using the appropriate red colored nylon nuts.


The E's are also raised a half tone to F by the LL and those raises are simply tuned with the nylon nuts with the LL engaged like the other raises.


The tuning principle is the same for the lowers of string 2 & 9 by the RR.  With the RR engaged and held in place, strings 2 and 9 are tuned to their lowered pitch of C# using the keys.  The RR is then released and the open pitch of string 2, which is a D#, is tuned using the appropriate red colored nylon nut, and likewise string 9 is tuned to its open pitch of D using the appropriate red colored nylon nut.


One of the limiting factors of the student model pull release changer is that the backward motion needed to lower a string can only be accomplished by a right moving knee lever, meaning any lowering has to be done on the LR or the RR which limits it to the "Emmons" setup of the E9 tuning.


How do I tune the E9 2nd string half stop feel?


On GFI Pro models, the half stop feel for the E9 2nd string is accomplished by the RR knee lever beginning to pull the 9th string as the 2nd string reaches a half tone.  The 2nd string full whole tone lower is tuned with the nylon nut, then the 9th string half tone lower is tuned also with the nylon nut.  The resulting half stop feel for the 2nd string works out due to the choice of lowering spring tension, string gauges, and leverage ratios in the linkage.  Altering the lowering spring tension for the 9th string can change the feel of the half stop but will also slightly affect the pitch of the half stop as well.


Can I adjust the pedal/knee lever action?


When we set up the pedal steels here at the factory we feel they have an excellent balance of pedal/knee lever travel distance versus the force it takes to move them.  Pedal steels change the pitch of strings using the mechanical advantage of the lever which basically translates to the more distance a pedal or knee lever must travel to accomplish a pitch change, the easier it is to push it and vice versa, the shorter the travel the harder it is to push.  We don't recommend altering the action of the pedals or knee levers unless you are experienced working on pedal steel mechanics.  Things can easily get out of adjustment enough to keep the guitar from performing properly if you don't know what you are doing.  We can perform pedal or knee lever adjustments here at the factory, which would be subject to our hourly shop rate and the customer would be responsible for the freight charges both ways.


How can I change the height of a GFI pedal steel guitar?


Our leg design is different than the microphone stand style legs used by most other manufacturers.  The front legs are not adjustable and the back legs can be adjusted about plus or minus about 1/2 inch to level the guitar (just one back leg is adjustable on the Student model).  To accommodate different sized players, we make leg sets and pedal rods 1 or 2 inches taller or shorter than the standard height (26 1/4" from the floor to the bottom of the back rail).  There is no charge for a non-standard height leg set at the time of a new order.  Non-standard height leg sets for existing GFI pedal steels are available and will include the appropriate-sized pedal rods.


Do I need to lube/oil my GFI pedal steel guitar?


The moving parts on GFI pedal steel guitars are either designed to need no lubrication or have been sufficiently lubricated at the factory to last the lifetime of the guitar.  More specifically, the parts like the pedals and pedal rod connectors have no metal to metal contact as they move and need no lubrication at all.  Other parts like the changer fingers are lubricated at the factory with a heavy duty synthetic lube.  Adding oil to those parts will have the effect of washing the heavier lube out.  Occasionally a squeak or creak can develop in the moving parts as they settle in and dealing with that situation is discussed here.


Where/how can I get parts for my GFI pedal steel guitar?


You can order parts for your GFI directly from the factory.


Can I get parts from GFI for other steels?


While most pedal steels today accomplish the same things in similar ways, the specific parts are different enough that they are not interchangeable.  It is our policy to make our parts available only for GFI pedal steel guitars and we do not offer parts for custom builds or project guitars.


Where/how can I get my GFI pedal steel guitar worked on?


Most of our larger stocking dealers can also work on our guitars and it's best to check with them regarding their particular capabilities and charges.  We can always service your GFI pedal steel guitar here at the factory.  We charge an hourly shop rate for repairs/service and the customer is responsible for the freight costs both ways.  The exception to this is repair/service that is covered by the warranty.


How do I pack a pedal steel guitar for shipment?


When packing the steel for shipment, make sure nothing can move around in the case.  Newspaper, cardboard, towels, etc. can be used to make sure that when the lid is shut nothing inside the case (guitar, pedal board, leg bag) can move when it is jostled about, as will likely happen during shipping.  The case itself will then need to be covered in cardboard that is usually secured with packing tape.  Different shipping companies will have different requirements for packaging a shipment, and how you have the guitar packaged will likely have a bearing on how the shipping company will handle an insurance claim for shipping damage if that occurs, so check with them for specifics.  Most shipping stores can package the guitar for you for a fee if you choose.  You should insure the shipment for what it would cost you to replace it should it be damaged during shipment.


How old is my GFI pedal steel guitar?


If you get in touch with us here at the factory with the serial number of the GFI pedal steel guitar we can tell you when it was built.


Where is the serial number located?


The serial numbers on GFI pedal steel guitars are stamped into underside of the back rail near the changer.  If you are looking at the guitar as it would be in the case, upside down, with the front of the guitar away from you, the number would be in the lower left corner of the guitar.

FAQ