#1
I'm keen to get another guitar, so I can play around with lower tunings, whilst keeping my main guitar in E standard.

I play a wide range of metal, including power, thrash, death and doom/stoner, but have little interest in djent or nu-metal. A lot of my favourite power metal bands (e.g. Blind Guardian) use E♭ standard tuning, while stoner can be anything from Drop C to A.

I currently have an Ibanez XPT700 (Xiphos), which I love and got at a bargain price of £210 used, so that was an easy decision. This time around, I'm finding it much harder to choose something, because my local stores have very limited stock and I don't really know what I'm after. An RG would be a fairly safe option, as it would be similar to my Xiphos and I'm a fan of thin Wizard necks.

A 7-string could be fun, but I'm not convinced I would make use of the increased range and I'm concerned I might find the neck uncomfortably thick. If I get a 6-string, I believe a fixed bridge is a must for down-tuning, but even then I'm left with a much wider choice than with 7-string. I'm fairly convinced that I want HH pick-ups.

I don't have a strict budget, but wouldn't go much over £500 without good reason. Essentially, I'm after 'bang for buck'. I would rather save up for another six months, or get used instead of new, to get the best guitar I can.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!
#2
Not sure why fixed bridge would be a must for down-tuning, it would limit your choices somewhat, especially since you play metal. You're not giving us much to go by. Perhaps when you've narrowed things down a bit, we could be of more help. Are there some shapes that interest you? Any brands?
#4
Quote by dthmtl3
Not sure why fixed bridge would be a must for down-tuning, it would limit your choices somewhat, especially since you play metal.

I'm pretty sure a Floyd or such would be an absolute nightmare when changing tunings, especially that low tunings.

I'd say the main question here is also what kind of sound/tone you're after and what type of pickups. Generally I'm a fan of Schecters and I'm sure you'd find lots of great options among their stuff especially in this budget, but it's hard to point at exact models without more details.
#5
Buy an LP or SG, put .011s on it, tune it to C#, and buy an EHX Pitchfork/Digitech drop so you can just switch tunings on the fly.
#6
I play in Drop A on a hardtailed Fender Strat, with a Humbucker in the bridge position. Is F**king rocks.
#7
Quote by TheLiberation
I'm pretty sure a Floyd or such would be an absolute nightmare when changing tunings, especially that low tunings.


Exactly!
#8
If you plan to tune down to about drop C or A, another important thing to consider is scale length. You'll have to get a longer scale length or your strings will have to get WAY thicker and harder to play- there's a compromise you need to make.

A 7-string might be the best solution for you- they tend to be bigger than 6 strings by a few inches, and they are already set up for a low B note right away. Downtuning that to A shouldn't be that big of a problem. There's a good variety to choose from, and despite your concerns we both know they are very much playable. I'm sure you can adjust to a 7 string- that's what I'd recommend.

I have a 24.75" guitar (Les Paul scale length) I downtuned to C standard. It works well and I really enjoy it, but I am really pushing that guitar to it's limits with how it is set up- the intonation on the low C string can't be set up perfectly because the saddle is as far back as it can go already. I'd like the low C to be a little tighter as well, but that's a bit of a compromise too because I already use a .060" string there and don't want/can't really go bigger due to a few issues. Also, I can't find packs of strings which would work for it so I use custom sets of individual strings; this is more expensive and I have to stock up because quite often the store won't have one of the sizes I need.

My guitar isn't really out of whack and it actually plays great, but it just goes to show that you can run into problems with regular sized guitars and downtuning. There is less room for these compromises with shorter guitars and lower tunings- this is why baritones and bass guitars are a thing. If you intend on going with a 6-string, I would strongly recommend not going any shorter than 25.5" scale length (Strat size) to save yourself some problems with those tunings.
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#9
Quote by dthmtl3
You're not giving us much to go by. Perhaps when you've narrowed things down a bit, we could be of more help. Are there some shapes that interest you? Any brands?


Ibanez RG is definitely a strong option, for 6 or 7-string, but I'm trying to stay open-minded.

Preferences:
HH pick-ups
Fixed bridge
24 frets
Fast neck (thin & flat)
Arm contour
#10
Quote by JimDawson
If you intend on going with a 6-string, I would strongly recommend not going any shorter than 25.5" scale length (Strat size) to save yourself some problems with those tunings.


RGs all seem to be 25.5", regardless of whether they're 6 or 7-string
#12
Quote by ben_fairweather
Ibanez RG is definitely a strong option, for 6 or 7-string, but I'm trying to stay open-minded.

Preferences:
HH pick-ups
Fixed bridge
24 frets
Fast neck (thin & flat)
Arm contour

Then I'd still stay you should take a good look at Schecter, Ibanez is generally solid, but in this price range Schecter has generally more interesting options to offer, as well as better quality control from what I've heard and tried. Also, don't believe the "thick necks" myth (and some of their series, like Banshee or Blackjack SLS have particularly thin, almost Ibanez-thin necks just with a slightly different profile). But as I said, the choice is huge, and becomes even greater if you're ok with used. A good starting point would be whether you prefer active or passive pickups, as that would rule out a lot of options.

I heard Washburn is also gaining some popularity recently and they look pretty cool, although I haven't played any myself. LTD is also relatively popular and solid from all sources I've heard. All three companies definitely have a reputation within downtuned metal.
#13
Quote by TheLiberation
A good starting point would be whether you prefer active or passive pickups, as that would rule out a lot of options.


Sorry, I should have thought to mention this already. I'm not a huge fan of the compressed EMG sound and love my Dimarzio D Activators (passive, ceramic). I wouldn't want two guitars with the same pickups, so I'm considering trying some Bare Knuckles. Possibly Warpigs or Nailbombs.

However, if I bought a guitar with different pickups, I wouldn't necessarily swap them out straight away.
#14
Quote by TheLiberation
Then I'd still stay you should take a good look at Schecter


Am I right in thinking most Schecters come with active pickups?

Have you tried the Jeff Loomis 7-string?
#15
Quote by ben_fairweather

I currently have an Ibanez XPT700 (Xiphos), which I love and got at a bargain price of £210 used, so that was an easy decision. This time around, I'm finding it much harder to choose something, because my local stores have very limited stock and I don't really know what I'm after. An RG would be a fairly safe option, as it would be similar to my Xiphos and I'm a fan of thin Wizard necks.

A 7-string could be fun, but I'm not convinced I would make use of the increased range and I'm concerned I might find the neck uncomfortably thick. If I get a 6-string, I believe a fixed bridge is a must for down-tuning, but even then I'm left with a much wider choice than with 7-string. I'm fairly convinced that I want HH pick-ups.


Your budget and location are going to kick the poo out of most of my recommendations, but at least you'll know that they're available.

A little one-horse importer called Rondo Music (dot com) has been doing great things in the extended-range guitar sector with their proprietary brand Agile. Not only are there 7's, but 8's, 9's and even 10-string guitars. In addition, they've made multi-scale (fan-fret) guitars affordable. Some of these come with Floyds, some with Kahlers (I think Kahler is the only place you'll find a fan-fret trem available), some have passives, some have actives. It may be the only manufacturer I'm aware of that has an eight string fan fret acoustic (25-27" scale) available. And for under $600. Most of the electrics are under $1000, with a few sneaking into $1200 territory. You won't see the entire "catalog" online; only what he actually has in stock at any given moment.

The necks on 7's and 8's and such aren't *thick* (as in deep from the front of the fretboard to the back where your thumb goes) but they do get wide. Thumb-over technique doesn't work, unless you're a gorilla. If you've learned to play classically, it's not even an issue. Otherwise, there will be an adjustment period. Fan frets are surprisingly easy to play (perhaps even easier than a standard six-string) since your hand naturally falls into the angles the frets take.

And if you're looking for a six-string that will allow you to play downtunings (and, for that matter, almost any tuning) with a Floyd and NO change in string tension, look at the Line 6 JTV-89F. It's a traditionally superstrat-looking 25.5" scale 24-fret guitar with a Schaller-built Floyd Rose (it's also available in a hard tail) that has Graphtech Ghost piezo saddles built in (as well as a very good set of standard humbuckers). Jumbo frets, wide/flat neck profile, all very well done. The trick is that the piezos feed the Variax technology built into the guitar, and that includes the ability to switch between about 25 different guitars modeled by the guitar. They've even modeled the 89's own pickups. In addition to different models, each string can be tuned up or down an octave from where it is via pitch replacement technology, with no change in string tension. The factory settings on the alternate tuning knob on the 89 include downtunings and drop tunings right down to Baritone, a step at a time. If you have a particular tuning you want to try that isn't on the dial, it's the work of about 30 seconds to reset it (and if you want it available on the knob itself, you can set that, too).

Pedals like the Pitchfork will allow you to set the entire guitar down a step (or 12), but you can't do anything with individual strings. So if you want drop tunings, you'll have to change the tension on the low E. With a Floyd-equipped guitar, that requires retuning each of the other strings as well. Not so with the JTV. In addition, you have concerns with tracking on pedals (though the pedals have become very good in that respect). Never with the JTV.
#16
Quote by ben_fairweather
Am I right in thinking most Schecters come with active pickups?


Most of the Schecter guitars you’ll find in stores do. Schecter has a huge range of guitars, but retailers tend to focus on the mallcore models.
#17
A tremolo will definitely be more tedious to change to a new tuning, but once it's set up (e.g. in D standard), it wouldn't be any less stable than in E standard would it?

I would prefer fixed-bridge, but maybe I should just suck it up and get a tremolo, to widen choice of guitar.
#18
I'm using a Jackson RRMG in C# Standard right now. That's pretty low for me and it handles it very nicely imho. It has a Floyd but they make a Jackson RRTMG that has a hardtail and it's only £759. Also. It's neck is indeed super thin. I love my RRMG and the only difference between the RRMG and RRTMG is hardtail vs Floyd and color options. Personally love the Silverburst in this link...

Here's a link.

http://www.andertons.co.uk/solid-body-electric-guitars/pid30199/cid671/jackson-rrtmg-pro-series-rhoads-guitar.asp
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#19
I would recomend looking for a used prs se mike mushok. Longer scale length for drop tuning, hardtail, H-H pickups and prs has a good reputation for quality.
#20
Quote by ben_fairweather
A tremolo will definitely be more tedious to change to a new tuning, but once it's set up (e.g. in D standard), it wouldn't be any less stable than in E standard would it?

I would prefer fixed-bridge, but maybe I should just suck it up and get a tremolo, to widen choice of guitar.

Yeah, as you say, changing tunings will be awkward, but once it's done it'll work as well in Q# as in E standard.
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#21
Quote by ben_fairweather
A tremolo will definitely be more tedious to change to a new tuning, but once it's set up (e.g. in D standard), it wouldn't be any less stable than in E standard would it?

I would prefer fixed-bridge, but maybe I should just suck it up and get a tremolo, to widen choice of guitar.


Trem guitars work just fine with other tunings, but as mentioned, *changing* tunings from what you're set up for will be a hassle.

Except for the Variax JTV-89F.

There you get instant downtuning changes to your heart's content, and because you never change the string tension, you never upset the trem.