What Are 7, 8 & 9 String Guitars?
Seven-string guitars have been around for longer than you might think. They date all the way back to the renaissance era. Jazz musicians were the first contemporary musicians to pick up on extended-range guitars in the first half of the 20th century and metal players followed suit in the '80s.
The extra low string, usually dropped to B when in standard tuning, lets you reinforce or phrase chords to sound different than if you were just using a six-string guitar. Predominantly used in metal or modern jazz, the seventh string sounds completely unique when used in the right context.
More and more companies are making the effort to provide the lower end of the budget spectrum with seven and even eight string guitars. Most, if not all these models are made in Asia to keep costs down, but the bang for your buck is unbeatable.
The specs to look out for at this price to ensure you’re getting a trustworthy guitar are pickups, scale length and hardware. Make sure you get the best possible standards here and you can’t go wrong. You’ll want pickups that can keep low-end tight, a longer scale length than the usual 24.75” so it stays in tune, and hardware that can hold intonation at lower tunings.
At £1000, we’re starting to get into the pro level gear. You could easily pick one of these guitars up and take it on tour. You’ll be getting great-sounding pickups, trusted hardware and build quality worthy of the price.
But for a grand upwards, you’ll want it to look great too. There are options for exotic woods like Ebony necks and Swamp Ash bodies. Some even flaunt amazing figured flamed, and quilted Maple and Bubinga tops. The fashion these days.
Of course, pickups are completely subjective in sound. You might like the clean attack of active pickups or the dynamism from passives as you fret complex chords.
Whatever your choice, make sure the pickups don’t muddy the added seventh string's clarity. A flubby tone can ruin your love of seven strings as much as a a good one can get you hooked.
Seven string guitars are usually associated with metal. In particular, anything modern, proggy or heavy. Take a listen to bands like Periphery, Architects, Dream Theater, Meshuggah, Devin Townsend and even Matt Bellamy from Muse for a taste of what a seven-string can do.
The guitars picked above are the crème-de-la-crème. Top quality hardware, pickups and built for optimal playability. You’ll find a few signature instruments in here from your favourite guitarists.
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If you'd like to know more about this article or the modelling amps that we chose, please don't hesitate to get in touch - we've got a full-time team of friendly, knowledgeable gear nerds who can answer any query you may have!