#1
heya all,

with the recent talk on the internet about Meshuggah supposedly using 9 string guitars, I thought it would be nice to get a thread together, hear some opinions and discuss various facts about extended range guitars.

now I have been playing a 7 string guitar for a while, still play my 6 string guitar as well, and thinking of getting an 8 string guitar. the thing I like about 8 string guitars is the same thing Tosin Abasi pointed out in some videos, when you drop E on an 8 string, you will have an E power chord in the base, you'll have 3 octave strings, and you can create awesome souding bar chords like this.
if you have a 9 string in standard tuning you'll have C#, F#, B and E as the lowest 4 strings. this adds an additional 5 semi tones to the guitar in difference with a standard tuned 8 string. only 3 semi tones if an 8 string guitar would be dropped to E. would the extra 9th string in C# (or B if it were to be dropped tuning) (which would btw, add 7 semitones to a standard tuned 8 string guitar) really make such a difference guitarists would need it?
#2
Nothing is necessary. People do it because they want to.
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#4
Quote by lemurflames
Nothing is necessary. People do it because they want to.


I don't know if you've seen Tosin Abasi's Video, but some of the voicings he uses with the 8 strings sound really good that can be used only on a 8 string I think, though I wonder if those things would require a 9 string guitar.

when it comes to some of the so called "Djent" players (I don't mean to offend anyone by using this word), which play only powerchords on the 3 lowest strings; yes, that is just because they can. they could as well use 6 string Baritone guitars :P
#5
Yes, I know all about Tosin Abasi.
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#6
The point is fairly simple: if there are people with a good idea how to make good use of it, it's going to stay. If there aren't, it won't. People whining about how "pointless" extended range guitars are are usually just classic cases of lack of creativity and jealousy.

I'm curious how this will turn out and whether someone will pick it up, Tosin and a few others essentially reinvented guitar playing with 8-strings. Personally with my ideas and style I'm perfectly at home with 7 and 6, but I'd be curious to hear someone make good use of a 9, just like I'm enjoying the hell out of Meshuggah now.
#7
Quote by TheLiberation
just like I'm enjoying the hell out of Meshuggah now.

haha gotta love Meshuggah.

the only thing I'm actually really wondering about if there is any special tonal or technical thing to playing a 9 string rather than that it'll just sound low...
#8
I think we'll just have to wait and see.

Looks dumb to me, but someone might end up inventing a new sub-genre with it.
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#9
You can tune a six-string to cover the same ground as an eight. Chords and fingering are obviously different, but it's certainly playable. Downtuning, if it's mostly only in pursuit of lower notes, is no big deal -- both of the above can be handled on a Variax, even with a Floyd, and you can tune down an entire octave per string if you like.

Rondo Music has 10-strings (and they're selling) as well as all the lesser number stringed guitars.

Necessary? Probably not. If it's for downtuning purposes, you're covering ground that would normally be covered by other instruments (bass, in particular). And for most downtuned guitarists wanking in their bedrooms, those lower notes aren't really being reproduced by the amps they have. But for the players wanting to keep up with the "more strings than yours, tuned lower than yours" legion, there's no substitute.

While we're at this, however, there ARE people who've been working with 8, 10 and 12-string instruments since the 70's. If you want to see what they're doing with them, check out stick.com, the home of the Chapman Stick, invented by Emmett Chapman way back when. These are available in short, normal guitar and long scale (36"). Tons of tapping going on here.

And of course, the use of extended range guitars is hardly modern, with George Van Eps using 7-strings for jazz beginning back in the '30's.
#10
Is it necessary? Not a chance in hell.

Does it have to be? **** no.

If you think it does, can you go **** yourself? With a rake, please.

Why does everything have to be "necessary"?
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#11
Quote by lemurflames
I think we'll just have to wait and see.

Looks dumb to me, but someone might end up inventing a new sub-genre with it.


A new sub-genre called "who needs a bassist"-metal?
I mean, seriously, 9 strings. That's some heavy wire for a guitar.

Quote by dspellman

And for most downtuned guitarists wanking in their bedrooms, those lower notes aren't really being reproduced by the amps they have.

I will definitely agree if they go through the "normal" guitar combos that you have on a budget. Or well, not just necessarily on a budget, you just definitely need something to drive that bottom end out.

I'm not sure how well the Kempers, Axe-FXs, PODs and the like handle these frequencies going to headphones/studio monitors/whatever they're using. I suppose since you can use Kemper and Axe-FX just fine on a 6 string bass, it shouldn't be a problem
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#12
Quote by travislausch


Why does everything have to be "necessary"?

Neccessariness is a prerequisite of indespesibility.
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#13
Quote by dannyalcatraz
Neccessariness is a prerequisite of indespesibility.


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#14
Quote by Sakke
A new sub-genre called "who needs a bassist"-metal?
I mean, seriously, 9 strings. That's some heavy wire for a guitar.

Come on, this needs to be printed in huge letters whenever 8+ string guitars are discussed...

There's no way a guitar can ever replace a bass, you either have a bass in the band no matter how low you tune, or the lack of bass will be obvious in the mix. Period.

You may have been joking, dunno, but I've seen people say this so many times that apparently most actually believe it's true.
#15
It makes me wonder how much people actually know about bass guitars if they think extended range electric guitarists are replacing bass guitarists.

Not much, I bet.
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#16
Quote by TheLiberation
Come on, this needs to be printed in huge letters whenever 8+ string guitars are discussed...

There's no way a guitar can ever replace a bass, you either have a bass in the band no matter how low you tune, or the lack of bass will be obvious in the mix. Period.

You may have been joking, dunno, but I've seen people say this so many times that apparently most actually believe it's true.

Charlie Hunter and his 7 & 8 string (hybrid) guitar basses would be an exception.
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#17
Quote by lemurflames
It makes me wonder how much people actually know about bass guitars if they think extended range electric guitarists are replacing bass guitarists.


I know where you’re coming from, but there have been threads posted here from guys in bands with three guitar players thinking of moving to eight or nine string instruments because they can’t find a bass player and all refuse to play bass.
#18
Quote by jpnyc
I know where you’re coming from, but there have been threads posted here from guys in bands with three guitar players thinking of moving to eight or nine string instruments because they can’t find a bass player and all refuse to play bass.

That just reinforces my point. Extended range guitars won't fill in for the bass, people seem to think otherwise...

...and maybe they should be kicking someone out for not playing bass.
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#19
Quote by vayle
I don't know if you've seen Tosin Abasi's Video, but some of the voicings he uses with the 8 strings sound really good that can be used only on a 8 string I think, though I wonder if those things would require a 9 string guitar.


I can't help but feel you may have missed the point of the comment somewhat.

Quote by dannyalcatraz
Charlie Hunter and his 7 & 8 string (hybrid) guitar basses would be an exception.


But he's actually just using part of a bass, bit different there

Quote by dannyalcatraz
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#20
Quote by TheLiberation
Come on, this needs to be printed in huge letters whenever 8+ string guitars are discussed...

There's no way a guitar can ever replace a bass, you either have a bass in the band no matter how low you tune, or the lack of bass will be obvious in the mix. Period.

You may have been joking, dunno, but I've seen people say this so many times that apparently most actually believe it's true.


Depends on your definition of "bass" and "guitar," I guess.
Your average four-string bass is the bottom four strings of a guitar, tuned down an octave. The lowest note there is a 41Hz string, and a lot of bass players never actually hit an open E.

A 34" scale is not a must-have (and some of the extended-range guitars are right at 30" scale anyway), and while it may not be your ideal choice for a mix, I think you need to talk to John Entwhistle's body of work to see where he thinks a bass fits into a mix.

An extended range guitar can and does have the capability of replacing the bass; it's more a matter of getting them out of guitar speakers and reproducing what they're cranking out. By the same token, there are extended range bass players who are walking into solo territory. The Chapman Stick successfully covers all of this ground routinely, and has done so since the '70's.

"Sitting in the mix" with the 8 and 10-string guitar is more a function of who plays what, when.
#21
Quote by lemurflames
It makes me wonder how much people actually know about bass guitars if they think extended range electric guitarists are replacing bass guitarists.

Not much, I bet.


Possibly. I play a four and five-string bass in addition to guitar and keys.

I've played bass on the keyboard (my main keyboard is a Korg Kronos X, FWIW), on the bass guitars and on all three Variaxes (including the Acoustic 700) from time to time.

The Variaxes can be pitch replacement tuned up to an octave down on any string, and I've tuned the bottom two on the acoustic to bass and left the top four standard, and played bass with my thumb while fingerpicking the rest. Causes some quizzical glancing around from guitar-playing audience members now and then.

A piano keyboard can actually go lower than most bass guitars (the low B on a five is two notes above the bottom note on an 88-key piano -- 30.8Hz vs 27.5Hz), and a classical pipe organ with a full rank of pedals can go lower yet. And, of course, virtually anything beyond that can be synthesized.

So what should I know about bass that I don't?
#22
Quote by dspellman
Possibly. I play a four and five-string bass in addition to guitar and keys.

I've played bass on the keyboard (my main keyboard is a Korg Kronos X, FWIW), on the bass guitars and on all three Variaxes (including the Acoustic 700) from time to time.

The Variaxes can be pitch replacement tuned up to an octave down on any string, and I've tuned the bottom two on the acoustic to bass and left the top four standard, and played bass with my thumb while fingerpicking the rest. Causes some quizzical glancing around from guitar-playing audience members now and then.

A piano keyboard can actually go lower than most bass guitars (the low B on a five is two notes above the bottom note on an 88-key piano -- 30.8Hz vs 27.5Hz), and a classical pipe organ with a full rank of pedals can go lower yet. And, of course, virtually anything beyond that can be synthesized.

So what should I know about bass that I don't?


You're not exactly an average guitarist though dude You've talked a lot about reproduction of frequencies and the power needed to do it and so on and so forth. Most guitarists have no idea what this is all about, I barely understand it myself, and have no idea that for an ERG to really replace a bass you need to change the average rig about a lot. They're literally just talking about the notes produced rather than the various technicalities of getting a guitar rig to put out the kind of frequencies that bass gear is designed for.
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#23
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
You're not exactly an average guitarist though dude You've talked a lot about reproduction of frequencies and the power needed to do it and so on and so forth. Most guitarists have no idea what this is all about, I barely understand it myself, and have no idea that for an ERG to really replace a bass you need to change the average rig about a lot. They're literally just talking about the notes produced rather than the various technicalities of getting a guitar rig to put out the kind of frequencies that bass gear is designed for.

Nailed it.
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#24
I really think the necessary extended range all really depends on the artists vision TBH.

Like in my case, I had a 7-string for a long time, but I never really used it to it's full capacity, I found 9 times out of 10, I was using it for the rhythm guitar, and then would go back to my trusty ol' 6-string Jag-Stang or Jaguar for the leads because I liked the sound better than my generic HH strat 7-string Squier.

So I pared down my collection a little earlier this year, the 7-string is gone, enter the Squier VM Bass Vi, I find I use the whole instrument as opposed to the lower 4 strings, and actually DO like the lead tone I get out of it's little single coils - and it's still 6 strings, has even more range downward than 8 or 9 string guitar, and I actually make use of those frets on all strings up past the 12th fret on it + the vibrato bar.

Truth be told, I was using the 7-string to do the following things...
- write songs below the normal range of guitar
- play stuff written for a 7-string
- play stuff written for baritone/oddball guitars without retuning (ie. Ricky Wilson era B-52s songs, Drop tunings)
- play stuff that was originally written for Synthesizer (ie. A-Ha, Devo, lots of 80's new wave stuff that dips below the standard six-string guitar's tonal range even when down tuned)

I found though, I almost never used the 7-string to it's full capacity, and found some of this stuff harder to do on the 7-string than it was on the Bass VI.

On top of that, some of the stuff I was doing with the 7-string was better covered in DADGBE or CGDGBE tuning.

On the subject of frequencies, it's generally not the amp, but the speakers that are the issue when it comes to guitar amps.

Another thing I've noticed is most extended range guitars have super-high output pickups, which to me is counter-intuitive, at least for my needs, because it makes the sound super-muddy on the lower strings, and since my wants/needs call for clearer definition, something with extended range for my use needs 1meg pots and single coils to keep the tone tight....the lower tuned I am, the less distortion and more high mids and treble I need. I'm going to achieve that goal better with a Jaguar pickup on 1meg ohm pots than a EMG 707 punching the preamp with 1.5v of electricity.
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#25
If you choose to use it, it is necessary. If you don't, it's not. End of story. People need to stop being so ****ing dramatic about this "issue". It's not an issue. It's an option. Don't like it? Don't buy one. Simple as that.
#26
Quote by lemurflames
It makes me wonder how much people actually know about bass guitars if they think extended range electric guitarists are replacing bass guitarists.

Not much, I bet.


Exactly. The vast majority of the anti-ERG nonsense is coming from people who have no idea how sound works, and honestly believe that it's impossible for two instruments to play the same notes, in the same octave, and still sound different. People who say things like, "the entire purpose of the bass is to play notes an octave lower than the other instruments" (that's an actual quote from some dumbass on Schecter Guitars' facebook page the other day).
#27
Quote by dspellman
Depends on your definition of "bass" and "guitar," I guess.
Your average four-string bass is the bottom four strings of a guitar, tuned down an octave. The lowest note there is a 41Hz string, and a lot of bass players never actually hit an open E.

A 34" scale is not a must-have (and some of the extended-range guitars are right at 30" scale anyway), and while it may not be your ideal choice for a mix, I think you need to talk to John Entwhistle's body of work to see where he thinks a bass fits into a mix.

An extended range guitar can and does have the capability of replacing the bass; it's more a matter of getting them out of guitar speakers and reproducing what they're cranking out. By the same token, there are extended range bass players who are walking into solo territory. The Chapman Stick successfully covers all of this ground routinely, and has done so since the '70's.

"Sitting in the mix" with the 8 and 10-string guitar is more a function of who plays what, when.

I think the problem lies in the very construction of the instruments though. A bass is a bass mainly because of the pickups and scale length, the longest scale guitars are comparable to short scale basses, and you won't get a guitar to cover the same frequency as a bass with guitar pickups.

Distortion is another issue, quite obviously 8 and 9-strings are usually played with heavy distortion, and that hardly helps to get a big low end.

Quote by Mad-Mike_J83
I really think the necessary extended range all really depends on the artists vision TBH.

Like in my case, I had a 7-string for a long time, but I never really used it to it's full capacity, I found 9 times out of 10, I was using it for the rhythm guitar, and then would go back to my trusty ol' 6-string Jag-Stang or Jaguar for the leads because I liked the sound better than my generic HH strat 7-string Squier.


Another thing I've noticed is most extended range guitars have super-high output pickups, which to me is counter-intuitive, at least for my needs, because it makes the sound super-muddy on the lower strings, and since my wants/needs call for clearer definition, something with extended range for my use needs 1meg pots and single coils to keep the tone tight....the lower tuned I am, the less distortion and more high mids and treble I need. I'm going to achieve that goal better with a Jaguar pickup on 1meg ohm pots than a EMG 707 punching the preamp with 1.5v of electricity.

[sorry for slicing the quote but don't want a huge post] That's a very important point generally, and the one I've been making since forever whenever this pops up - it's entirely the vision and should be a conscious decision. I don't really get people who buy 7 or 8-strings just to play djenty riffs in drop E, why not just get a baritone? Easier to play and maintain in lots of ways. And on the other hand of course you have the people who think that because they can only play 4-chord songs and pentatonic solos, everyone else should too and no one should ever need anything else than a 6-string in EADGBE.

I decided for a 7-string for two basic reasons, one being I love heavy stuff (as in genuinely HEAVY, not just loud), and the sound of low tunings - drop A feels just at home for me, it sounds like a tank, open notes have this awesome growl and palm-mutes sound like satan falling downstairs. I generally try not to abuse it though and like to keep balance between the low, ultra-heavy riffing and more traditional E-string-based riffing. On the other hand, I love creating spacey atmosphere (mostly quite dark), and I'm pretty much addicted to delay and reverb, so I need the top range. Sometimes it even feels the highest E on 24th fret is not enough

As for the pickups though, I think that depends a lot on how you set your amp. Personally I go for a John Petrucci-ish sound, which is supposed to sound fat and massive for rhythm, but also very clear. I have the Schecter Demon 7 so far, with the Duncan Designed actives which are supposed to be fairly cheap, and holy shit does it sound massive. It's absolutely not muddy in any way and just requires well-balanced settings. (And personally more than muddiness I dislike the uber-high-gain sound which completely removes the whole point of downtuning - it's hardly possible to tell the difference between drop A and E standard because everything sounds like a chainsaw.)