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Author Topic:  Keyless GFI steel
Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 4 Jul 2019 9:11 am    
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Wow the open tuning knobs work better than conventional tuning keys they tighten the strings too pitch effortlessly just a pleasure too use.
I’m going to watch for a nice Sd10 GFI Keyless to buy or trade for.


Last edited by Johnie King on 7 Jul 2019 7:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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K Maul


From:
Mechanicville NY/Hobe Sound FL
Post  Posted 4 Jul 2019 10:39 am    
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Yes the GFI system is excellent! I have an S12 and love it.
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Joe Krumel


From:
Nashville,TN.
Post  Posted 4 Jul 2019 12:17 pm    
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I've owned a GFI keyless for years now. They are pretty neat and handy to use.
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Gabriel Edell


From:
Hamilton, Ontario
Post  Posted 4 Jul 2019 1:54 pm    
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It's all I've had. Never used a traditional key head setup.

I've read about people not liking keyless guitars and I can't understand why. The GFI keyless system works great. Most importantly, it reduces the length of string between the tuner and the nut, which makes tuning more stable with all the stretching and loosening that's going on with the strings. Similar principle to a locking nut on shred-axe.
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Jon Voth


From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 4 Jul 2019 7:36 pm    
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I'm a bit new and still confused about the keyless.

I have a shred axe. To me, it is a guitar with a locked nut and fine tuners for each string on the bridge (usually a tremolo?).

I also have a GFI D10 (regular keys).

The playable string is between the nut and bridge. In my simple mind, what happens between the nut and tuners doesn't matter. I can see that in a keyless that length is a bit shorter.

So what is the big deal-what am I missing?

Thanks,


Jon
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Dan Behringer


From:
Jerseyville, Illinois
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 3:50 am    
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Jon, when you push a pedal on your GFI, you’re stretching the string from the bridge to the tuning key. On a keyless you stretch the string from the bridge to the nut. Not having to stretch the string between the nut and tuning key as on a keyless means the guitar will stay in tune with less fiddling.
While a keyless guitar is sweet and works as described, the difference is minor. I’ve never had a problem living with a keyed guitar so I never put keyless on my list of must-haves.


Last edited by Dan Behringer on 20 Jul 2019 4:57 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bob Carlucci


From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 4:05 am    
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I'll opine in the other direction.

Traded a gorgeous ProI for a very nice keyless GFI several years ago.. meh,, Should have kept the Bud.
The GFI was very small and light which I liked, but the keyless head was just weird to me, the guitar played no better than the Bud, perhaps not quite as well, and I hated the sound. it wasn't here very long at all..
Some guys love them, and sound fine on them, but it wasn't the right steel guitar for me personally... bob
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I'm over the hill and hittin'rocks on the way down!

no gear list for me.. you don't have the time......
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Stu Schulman


From:
Ulster Park New Yawk
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 6:45 am    
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I have never played a keyless guitar,Pretty soon Chuck Back will be building a Desert Rose keyless for me ,I'm looking forward to it,From what I've read the hardest challenge would be putting a string on.
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Desert Rose S-10 4+5, 8+5 Mullen G2D-10 8+5 Carter D-10 8+5,Blanton SD -10 any amp that isn't broken.Steel Seat.Com seats...Licking paint chips off of Chinese toys continously since the mid 50's.Peavey Nashville 112,and LTD ,Sho-Bud Bill Groner .Telonics volume pedal,and 206 pickups.
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Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 8:26 am    
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Bob surely you didn’t expect a GFI or any other steel to sound like a Pro one.
The old Sho~Buds An Emmons push Pull set the mark for sound!!! An have not been matched in tone.
When they started milling End plates, keyheads, an necks,things went south in the tone department.
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Bob Carlucci


From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post  Posted 5 Jul 2019 9:07 am    
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Johnie King wrote:
Bob surely you didn’t expect a GFI or any other steel to sound like a Pro one.
The old Sho~Buds An Emmons push Pull set the mark for sound!!! An have not been matched in tone.
When they started milling End plates, keyheads, an necks,things went south in the tone department.

It was a newer ProI square front, and it was not all that great at staying in tune all night under the lights,, I felt the GFI would be a small light good playing gig guitar, with reliable tuning stability.. It just wasn't for me.. I didn't like the tone.. It had the GeorgeL humbucker, with I think GFI 2 written on it, and it was a very nasal ,honky sounding thing... Might have been better with a good single coil... It turned me off to GFI guitars.. Might have been a much better sounding steel in different hands..bob
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I'm over the hill and hittin'rocks on the way down!

no gear list for me.. you don't have the time......
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Jon Voth


From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2019 7:59 pm    
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So I get it now, the string is stretched from the tuner to the saddle (or actually the point on the changer where the ball-end of the string hooks to).

I see the advantage of the shorter length.

Other major manufacturers do this (other than GFI)? Don't see it on Mullen or MSA sites.

I see that it may shorten lenght/weight of guitars. But don't see it as common among brands,


Jon
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Stu Schulman


From:
Ulster Park New Yawk
Post  Posted 6 Jul 2019 10:50 pm    
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Jon,I don't think MSA or Mullen have keyless guitars but Williams ,BMI,Excel are a few makers that you should check out.
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Desert Rose S-10 4+5, 8+5 Mullen G2D-10 8+5 Carter D-10 8+5,Blanton SD -10 any amp that isn't broken.Steel Seat.Com seats...Licking paint chips off of Chinese toys continously since the mid 50's.Peavey Nashville 112,and LTD ,Sho-Bud Bill Groner .Telonics volume pedal,and 206 pickups.
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Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2019 7:24 am    
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I really like the knurled knobs they turn easily to raise pitch no wrench needed. And all the
Knobs stay even!!
The old Sierra Keyless steel are similar but the knobs are much too small.


Surprised
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2019 1:45 pm    
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Jon: There are some small differences in your comparisons between six string and PSG that can have big consequences.

The GFI keyless does not have a roller nut, but the distance between the nut and tuners is short.
When you push or pull a string there is literally no movement behind the nut. This is essentially the same as the locking nut on your shredder axe.

Traditional keyhead PSGs have roller nuts that help the string slide back to its initial position after a push/pull. The six string analogy in my mind would be a Wilkinson roller nut like on the Strat Plus or Jeff Beck Strats.

Traditional whammy bar Strats (etc.) have the string sliding over the nut when doing a push/pull. If the nut were made of ice and lubricated with oil it would be super slippery and the string would return to its initial position, providing there was no monkey business going on at the tuners with slackening the strings. Of course, none of this is possible.
You can get rid of the tuner slacking with locking tuners, OR using a couple of different methods of putting the strings on the tuners which can improve this.
As for the nut, I believe that GraphTech TUSQ nuts can help. Some guys lubricate the nuts with oils, Chap Stick, graphite, Nut Sauces, etc etc etc.
I'm a firm believer that no matter what you do, you need to view the whammy (or vibrato, or tremolo) as sort of another instrument. There are "tricks" that can help keep it in tune, but even then it's not perfect. But that's another can of worms.

The other thing to keep in mind is that steel players have it easy when it comes to pitch changes. They are not raising/lowering nearly as much as a typical shredder. Guitarists can go down an octave on some strings, up two whole steps, and abuse the crap out of the strings as well. PSGers raise/lower maybe a step and a half at most, and not nearly as "violently" as a shredder.
Not to mention that PSGs are usually played clean. Any out of tune-ness will not show up nearly as quickly as if you've got some distortion on your amp.

As this post appeared, in the new issue of Guitar Player there is a review of a new six string product called a Guitar Nut Buster. It is an ingenious clamp type device that goes on behind the nut and keeps the strings from slackening up when using the whammy. No mods to the guitar.
If it weren't so expensive I'd be eager to give it a try.

There are several videos on Youtube.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgt66XO17iw
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 7 Jul 2019 5:50 pm    
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ajm wrote:
The GFI keyless does not have a roller nut, but the distance between the nut and tuners is short.
When you push or pull a string there is literally no movement behind the nut.
Too much movement over the nut on mine. It does for instance make a wound 6th string slip on the nut-bolt when lowered from G# to F# regardless of how short the string-length behind the bolt is made, and it does (for obvious reasons) not slip back to correct pitch when that lower is released. Makes an otherwise good design and well-sounding instrument irritating to play for one who is used to PSGs with perfectly stable pitch returns.
Nut-rollers instead of that bolt would solve that issue.
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Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 10:44 am    
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I don’t have a problem with my Keyless GFI returning to pitch on any string.
Bobby Seymour would replace the nut rollers with a harden round steel bar nut for better sound on key head models. An put a little graphite on the harden steel bar no problem. If you notice sometimes the roller doesn’t move on some steels the string just slides on the top of the roller.
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Johnie King


From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 10:59 am    
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I don’t have a problem with my Keyless GFI returning to pitch on any string.
Any more than any steel I’ve owned.
Bobby Seymour would replace the nut rollers with a harden steel nut for better sound on key head models. An put a little graphite on the harden bar no problem. I


Last edited by Johnie King on 11 Jul 2019 12:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2019 11:00 am    
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Johnie King wrote:
I don’t have a problem with my Keyless GFI returning to pitch on any string.
Excellent.
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Jon Voth


From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2019 7:38 pm    
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Thanks ajm on the info.

So if a GFI keyless doesn't have a roller nut, the strings would still have to move a tiny bit when pedaling (I've never seen one up close).

On my Heavy Metal Strat the nut is locked and you can do crazy stuff with the whammy bar and should go back in tune (theoretically). I have to unlock the nut to tune the strings.

I've never heard of a locking nut on a PSG, but if so, that would be good if needed?

To note, on my regular GFI D10, I set it, and play anything and it basically never goes out of tune, so all is good!
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Sam Weisenberg


From:
Brooklyn, NY
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2019 7:50 am    
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On the locking nut, see Chas Smith's post from 9 Oct 08 10:03pm on this thread:

https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=143295
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Jerry Overstreet


From:
Louisville Ky
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2019 9:11 am    
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I've had a few discussions with Gene at the conventions but they were mostly concerning his body design and construction relating to the epoxy finish. Obviously a knowledgeable man with a brilliant mind as his body of work over the years shows.

Couple of questions concerning the lack of nut rollers on his keyless guitars though.

Is there anything detrimental or beneficial tone wise, to using a solid bar nut v. rollers? How about hysteresis? Positive or negative?

Given all we've learned about pedal steel and the string movement associated with them, is there any good reason to not use a roller nut?
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Michael Hill


From:
Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 15 Jul 2019 3:52 pm    
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I'm sure there are good arguments for and against roller nuts.

I have a GFI keyless and it exhibits the same problem Georg describes. After lowering 6, it will come back sharp. My workaround is to lower and unlower 6 a few times while tuning the string. The downfall of this workaround is 6 may eventually slip and become a little flat. When this happens, I use the 6 lower knee lever to bring it back up into tune. Most of the time it just stays in tune and I don't have to think about it.
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Rich Peterson


From:
Moorhead, MN
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2019 7:45 am    
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Jerry Overstreet wrote:

Is there anything detrimental or beneficial tone wise, to using a solid bar nut v. rollers? How about hysteresis? Positive or negative?

Given all we've learned about pedal steel and the string movement associated with them, is there any good reason to not use a roller nut?


One advantage to a roller nut is the possibility of gauged rollers to eliminate bar chatter.
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ajm


From:
Los Angeles
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2019 7:51 am    
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For those of you having problems keeping your GFI in tune: Have you contacted the factory?

My impression of GFI is that they would hop right on this if it were a problem and work with you to try and correct it.

Also, if this were a common problem with GFI across the board, their sales would drop in a heartbeat. Which means that they would get to work immediately to correct the problem.
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Georg Sørtun


From:
Mandal, VA, Norway & Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2019 9:32 am    
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ajm wrote:
For those of you having problems keeping your GFI in tune: Have you contacted the factory?
Naa … Gene (R.I.P.) told me I "could not hear it", and that it could not be fixed for that keyless model anyway. So not much help there.

Will add that I tune, and play, by ear, and do not rely on electronic tuners. No way I can ignore the slip/hang on that solid nut-bolt.
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