The Idiot’s Guide to 7 & 8-String Guitars

So you’re contemplating entering the world of extended range guitars (ERGs) but don’t know where to begin?  Whether you’re a potential 7 or 8-string (or more!) guitar player you’ll probably find a bundle of absolutely invaluable advice contained within this ERG primer!

I’ve owned an 8-string guitar now for almost 3 weeks, so I feel i’m in a pretty good position to offer you a few insider secrets to help you avoid the initial pitfalls you may not be aware of.  You’ll be well on your way to 7-string guitar or 8-string guitar mastery in no time at all!

Strings for Extended Range Guitars

Little known fact : True ERG players only make use of the bottom two strings – the rest are purely for show.  Why shell out for full sets of strings when the majority will just go to waste?  Instead, when you wear out your low strings you can simply pick up a set of D’Addario ‘Chugger Edition’ strings and replace only the two strings that you need!  Job done!  Since you don’t use them, those factory high strings should easily last you a lifetime.

7-string 8-string d'addario set funny

Tuning for 7 and 8-String Guitars

As we learned above, real ERG players only require the bottom two strings – so why waste precious time tuning up those redundant higher strings?  Luckily TC Electronic shares the same philosophy and has recently introduced 7 and 8-string versions of their popular PolyTune Mini pedals.

TC Electronic Polytune Mini 7-string 8-string pedal

These space-saving little beauties only tune the two lowest strings, and are specially calibrated for improved bass string tuning – genius!

Heavy Bastard ERG Necks

It may not seem like it at first glance, but an 8-string guitar neck is actually 17 times the mass of your typical 6-string neck.  So as you can imagine, this usually results in a very unbalanced guitar with a neck that will be constantly trying to head-butt the floor – bad times!

A reliable fix is to counterbalance the bulk of the neck by adding mass to the guitar body itself. What I like to do is fill the rear cavity with concrete.  Works a treat and is completely hidden from view – good times! Or you could be a little more sophisticated and get one of these.

Guitar concrete cement balance funny

7 and 8-string Educational Books

Listed below are a few absolute must-read books that I feel every ERG player should own.

Fred Brum Ola Englund Tosin Abasi books funny guitar

Extended Range Guitar Tone – It’s All In Teh Beard
How many times have you heard the old adage – “tone comes from the fingers”?  Well this may be the case for 6-stringers, but true ERG players know that the easiest way to improve your tone is to grow some bitchin’ facial hair.  Fred Brum’s new book “Extended Range Guitar Tone – It’s All In Teh Beard” will show you 666 incredibly br00tal facial hair styles guaranteed to improve your tone.  A must read!

Dressing Like a Djentleman
Let’s face it, the stereotypical image of an 8-string guitarist is that of a homeless Viking.  Tosin Abasi is here to show you that you can play teh br00talz whilst still looking like a male model.  Find out how to dress like a proper djentleman without looking a total tosspot.

Chugging For Dummies
Once you have your sweet threads and face-bush sorted you’ll probably be gagging to get down to actually playing your new guitar.  At this point you may wish to check out Ola Englund’s ‘Chugging For Dummies’.  Throughout this masterclass in low string riffage Ola will teach you how to hammer away on the same string in over 9000 different ways.   The only instructional book you will ever need!

Thanks for reading our extended range guitar primer. Stay tuned for the follow up article where we’ll show you how to chain together 7 noise-gates for a super tight 7 and 8-string djent tone…

Neal Author Bio
Neal has been playing guitar (left-handed!) for over 20 years, and has also worked in various roles within the guitar retail industry since 2012. In his spare time he loves to travel, ride bikes, and suck at videogames. More Info