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April 18, 2022
Popular among musicians of the heavier persuasion, extended-range guitars offer extra reach into bass guitar territory, providing the punishing low end needed for modern metal. The realm of 7-string and 8-string guitars can be strange terrain for players used to the standard 6-string, so we put together a helpful buying guide, and ran a few of our favorites through the gauntlet in this exclusive demo video.
Extended-Range Guitars: zZounds Exclusive Demo
Traditionally used by jazz guitarists, 7-string guitars were originally made with an extra high A string for an extended upper register. In the early '90s, when solidbody production models by Ibanez hit the market, it eventually became apparent that on a 25.5" scale guitar, an extra high A string was very prone to breaking. Instead, adding a low B string extended the lower register, allowing for detuned riffing while still keeping a full standard range for intricate soloing.
If seven strings just doesn't cut it, maybe an 8-string guitar is more your speed. The 8-string setup has been a standard configuration for lap and pedal steel guitars for decades, with open tunings based around the E9 and C6 chords for country and jazz. The wider range allows for an extended low end, and can even open the door for more out-of-the-box tunings utilizing major thirds. Pick up an 8-string guitar of your own to follow in the footsteps of progressive metal masters like Animals as Leaders' Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes, or Meshuggah's Marten Hagstrom and Fredrik Thordendal.
Extended-Range Guitar Strings
More strings = more strings to replace, and a wider range of gauges to consider. Be ready with a selection of string sets with specifically selected gauges for extended-range guitars. Most sets of 7-string, 8-string and 9-string guitar strings are designed with heavy, wound bottom strings to prevent floppiness in the lower register while playing chugging, rhythmic patterns. In turn, the plain strings in the higher register are much lighter gauge for dramatic bending and lightning-fast soloing.