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GFI Pedal Steel Buyer’s Guide: Cost and Features

GFI pedal steels are some of the best value steel guitars on the market, if you consider how good they sound, compared to their price and lightweight functionality. Read more…

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GFI pedal steels are known for their lighter weight and quality design. These pedal steels have become much more popular in the last several years because of how easy they are to play and move around.

The GFIs also have great tone, and it is obvious that the manufacturer still kept the sound of these guitars in high regard, considering how lightweight they are in parts and design. GFI pedal steels are made in the USA and its company is located in Marshfield, MO.  

You can find GFI pedal steels for sale online and in various music stores. Let’s take a closer look as to why GFIs have become more popular in today’s pedal steel market…

Light As A Feather

Undoubtedly, one of the best features of GFI pedal steels is how lightweight they are. Since many players transport their pedal steel guitars to gigs, rehearsals, and jams, it can become fatiguing to have to move and set up very heavy pedal steels on a regular basis.

Most pedal steels, especially older double necks, can easily weigh over 60 to 70 pounds in a case. On top of this, steel guitar amps are often fairly large and heavy as well, making it challenging for players to efficiently move all of their gear around safely and comfortably.

GFI pedal steels are a great solution to this, and most of their single necks weigh between 25 and 30 pounds. When you sit down behind a GFI for the first time, it may feel like it’s lower quality and less durable (because of its size and weight). However, it quickly becomes apparent that GFI pedal steels are smooth in functionality and have a quality tone.

Cost and Features

GFI offers a few models to players, and their Ultra and Expo have become well known in the pedal steel market. Their frames are made completely from aluminum, which helps keep the weight down, and they provide a solid foundation for the body.

The bodies of their pedal steels are made from a special type of plywood, which has comparably more strength than other materials (including solid maple).

GFI’s pro model steel guitars have a triple raise and double lower system, while their student models utilize the classic pull-release changer system that was popular before all-pull pedal steels came around.

GFI Pedal Steel Buyer’s Guide

Most of their pickups are custom designed by George “L”, whose pickups are popular among pedal steel players and known for their tone.

The knee levers and pedals have a light, smooth travel and are easy to play with accuracy. They also have a very responsive feeling.

All GFI pedal steels that are ordered through the company come with a hardshell case that is covered in carpet.

Where To Buy GFI Pedal Steels

GFIs can be purchased directly from the company, and are built specifically for orders. They don’t stock guitars in their factory, however they have various dealers that often carry new GFI pedal steels.

There is usually a several week waiting time for orders that are made directly through the company, with an upfront deposit required as well. 

If you’re looking to play a new GFI pedal steel before purchasing, Billy Cooper’s Music is a great pedal steel store in Orange, VA that often has GFIs in their showroom. This store is also worth checking out just because there aren’t many dedicated pedal steel music stores in the world, and their customer service and hospitality is well known among players.

If you need GFI parts or accessories, you can often order these directly from GFI. 

GFI’s Student Model

Since student model pedal steels are less commonly built nowadays, GFI’s student model that sells for less than $1,700 is definitely worth checking out. 

Most of them have the standard three foot pedals and four knee levers that E9 players use, and these still use the George “L” custom designed GFI-II pickups. They also have 7 hole bell cranks, which can be nice to have for adjustments and setups.

Many beginner pedal steels on the market are Carter Starters. However, these aren’t manufactured anymore, so GFI’s student model is another affordable option for those looking to learn pedal steel. 

They also offer a student model with three pedals and two knee levers for slightly less than $1,400. The two knee levers are usually positioned for the left knee.

The Ultra and Expo Models

The Ultra is GFI’s top of the line pedal steel guitar, and many players play this professional model. GFI also offers the Expo model, which is a great choice for players looking for a professional pedal steel that isn’t exorbitantly expensive. 

Both models have 24” scale lengths and the GFI-II pickups. GFI also offers GFI-III pickups for the Ultra model at no extra cost. Players who order an Ultra can pay extra if they’re looking for a keyless tuning system.

The main difference between these two models are their looks. GFI was able to save costs on the Expo by choosing not to brush finish this model. Both models have coating on various parts of the steel guitar, however the coating types are different. This also affects the price point differences of these two models. 

Used single and double neck Expos are commonly seen for sale online, and usually range in price from $1,800 to $2,200. These can be a great value for players looking to own a professional pedal steel at an affordable price. 

GFI’s History

GFI was founded by Gene Fields, who had an accomplished career in instrument making and design. He was also an avid pedal steel player and enthusiast, and was in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame.

Fields worked with Fender for years, even helping design some of Fender’s instruments with Leo Fender himself. Fields had a hand in creating the Fender Mustang Bass, the Bronco, and the Marauder guitar.

GFI Pedal Steel Buyer’s Guide


All in all, GFI guitars are one of the best value pedal steels on the market. Considering how good they sound, compared to their price and lightweight functionality, players are usually glad to own these steel guitars. 

They are more widely available than many other current manufactuers’ steel guitars, like Mullen and Zum steels, which are higher in demand and lower in supply.

If you’re interested in buying a pedal steel, GFI is a nice option to look at, especially if you’re looking to have a lightweight pedal steel rig.

Thanks for checking out this page, hope it is helpful and makes playing more enjoyable! If you’re interested in diving deeper into playing chords and scales on E9 pedal steel, check out these guides…

The Chord Guide for E9 Pedal Steel (E-Book, Digital Download)

Pedal Steel Guitar Instruction Book

Learn the chords on the E9 neck in a way that makes playing simple and enjoyable…

  • Almost Every Chord You’ll Ever Need for E9
  • Intuitive and Easy to Use
  • Make Use of Pedal and Lever Combinations
  • Example Tabs of Chord Movements
  • Easily Utilize the Nashville Number System
  • Great For Any Key and Style of Music

Includes a bonus section of over a hundred pages of extra chord charts, key references, and more!

More Digital Downloads for Pedal Steel…

The Elixir of E9 Pedal Steel: Harmonized 6ths

If you’re interested in pedal steel amps, click here…