Best 8-String Guitars for Metal

The Schecter Omen Elite MS 8 is my pick for the best 8-string guitar for metal because it's a reliable option with a comfortable neck and good sound.

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Once you’ve played an 8-string, the question isn’t why use an 8-string guitar, but why not. 8-string guitars are synonymous with metal, but some models lend themselves to more creativity and easier riffage. In this post, I’ll take you through my picks of the best 8-string guitars for metal.

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The best 8-string guitars for metal, like the Schecter Omen Elite MS 8, Ibanez RGMS8, and ESP JR208, offer extended range and innovative features tailored to the demands of metal music, providing the sonic depth and versatility needed to push the boundaries of the genre. The extended range of these guitars allows for more complex compositions and deeper, bass-heavy tones, redefining metal’s auditory frontier.

Best 8-String Guitars for Metal

My top 8-string picks for this demanding genre are:
  • Schecter Omen Elite MS 8
  • Ibanez RGMS8
  • ESP Javier Reyes JR208

And below you can compare these options head-to-head:

SpecificationSchecter Omen Elite MS 8Ibanez RGMS8ESP Javier Reyes JR208
Guitar ColorSee Thru Blue/Red Burst or CharcoalBlackPelham Blue
FretboardRosewoodJatobaRosewood
Neck MaterialMaple5pc Maple/WalnutMaple
Scale25.5″ – 27.5″ Multiscale25.5″ – 27.2″ Multiscale27″
Neck ShapeThin “C”Wizard III-8Thin U
Frets24 JumboJumbo24 XJ
NutGraph Tech Black Tusq Abasi 8-StringMoldedMolded
Body MaterialMahoganyMahoganyMahogany
ConstructionBolt-onBolt-OnBolt-On
Bridge PickupSchecter Heretic-8Array 8 MS (H)ESP Designed LH-308B
Neck PickupSchecter Heretic-8Array 8 MS (H)ESP Designed LH-308N
BridgeHipshot 8-String Multiscale FixedMono-railLTD Fixed bridge

Schecter Omen Elite MS 8

The Schecter Omen Elite MS 8 is an excellent choice for metal guitarists seeking a high-quality, feature-packed 8-string guitar. This instrument boasts a stunning see-through blue burst, red burst, or clear finish on a mahogany body with a figured poplar burl top, creating a visually striking appearance that complements its powerful sound.

The Omen Elite MS 8’s construction and materials contribute to its exceptional performance. The mahogany body provides a warm, rich tone, while the arched figured poplar burl top enhances the guitar’s resonance and sustain. The bolt-on maple neck with a thin “C” profile offers comfort and speed, making it easy to navigate the 24 jumbo frets on the rosewood fretboard. The 25.5″ to 27.5″ multiscale design optimizes string tension across all eight strings, resulting in improved intonation and a more balanced feel.

Equipped with a pair of Schecter Heretic-8 pickups, the Omen Elite MS 8 delivers the high-output, aggressive tones that metal guitarists demand. The five-way lever switch gives you coil split sounds and the dedicated volume and tone controls allow for a wide range of tonal options, from crushing rhythms to searing leads. The Hipshot 8-string multiscale fixed bridge ensures rock-solid tuning stability, while the Graph Tech Black Tusq Abasi 8-string nut maintains smooth string action and sustain.

Features:

  • Mahogany body with figured poplar burl top
  • Bolt-on maple neck with thin “C” profile
  • 24 jumbo frets on a rosewood fretboard
  • 25.5″ to 27.5″ multiscale design
  • Schecter Heretic-8 bridge and neck pickups
  • Five-way lever switch, volume, and tone controls
  • Hipshot 8-string multiscale fixed bridge
  • Graph Tech Black Tusq Abasi 8-string nut
  • Schecter tuners
ProsCons
High-quality construction and materialsCase sold separately
Aggressive, high-output Heretic-8 pickupsSome players may prefer a longer scale length
Comfortable thin “C” neck profile
Versatile tonal options with 5-way switch
Excellent tuning stability and intonation

Compared to other 8-string guitars in its price range, the Schecter Omen Elite MS 8 stands out for its superior build quality, tonal versatility, and player-friendly features. The combination of mahogany body, figured poplar burl top, and multiscale design sets it apart from competitors that may use less premium woods or lack the benefits of a multiscale fretboard. The included Schecter Heretic-8 pickups are also a step above the stock pickups found in many other 8-string guitars, providing the powerful, articulate tones that metal players crave.

In summary, the Schecter Omen Elite MS 8 is a top-tier choice for metal guitarists looking for an 8-string instrument that excels in both sound and playability. Its carefully selected woods, construction, and hardware work together to create a guitar that can handle the demands of modern metal while offering the tonal flexibility to explore a variety of styles within the genre.

Ibanez RGMS 8 Multiscale 8-String

The Ibanez RGMS8 is a top-notch 8-string guitar designed for metal enthusiasts seeking exceptional playability, tone, and versatility. This instrument showcases Ibanez’s commitment to innovation and quality, making it a standout choice in the world of extended-range guitars.

At the heart of the RGMS8’s performance is its Wizard III-8 Multi-Scale 5-piece Maple/Walnut neck. The multi-scale design, featuring a 27.2″ scale length at the 8th string and 25.5″ at the 1st string, optimizes string tension and provides a balanced feel across the fretboard. The neck’s slim profile and smooth Jatoba fretboard with jumbo frets facilitate fast, comfortable playing, even during the most demanding metal riffs and solos.

The RGMS8’s mahogany body delivers a warm, rich tone with excellent sustain, perfect for heavy rhythms and searing leads. The guitar is equipped with two Array 8 MS (H) pickups, one in the neck and one in the bridge position. These high-output humbuckers are specifically designed for multi-scale instruments, capturing the full range and clarity of the extended-range setup. The Mono-rail bridge ensures precise intonation and rock-solid tuning stability, while the Cosmo Black hardware adds a sleek, modern aesthetic to the instrument.

Features:

  • Wizard III-8 Multi-Scale 5pc Maple/Walnut neck
  • 27.2″ scale at 8th string, 25.5″ at 1st string
  • Mahogany body
  • Jatoba fretboard with off-set white dot inlays
  • Jumbo frets
  • Array 8 MS (H) neck and bridge pickups
  • Mono-rail bridge
  • Cosmo Black hardware
ProsCons
Multi-scale design for optimized string tensionSome players may prefer a traditional scale length
High-output Array 8 MS pickupsNo pickup splitting or coil-tapping options
Fast, comfortable Wizard III-8 neck
Mono-rail bridge for precise intonation
Sleek, modern aesthetic

Compared to other 8-string guitars on the market, the Ibanez RGMS8 distinguishes itself through its multi-scale design and purpose-built Array 8 MS pickups. While some competitors may offer similar features, the RGMS8’s combination of a mahogany body, Wizard III-8 neck, and Mono-rail bridge creates a unique playing experience tailored to the needs of modern metal guitarists. The guitar’s construction and hardware work together seamlessly to provide the clarity, sustain, and aggressive tone that the genre demands.

In conclusion, the Ibanez RGMS8 is an excellent choice for metal guitarists looking to expand their sonic palette with an 8-string instrument. Its innovative design, high-quality materials, and attention to detail set it apart from the competition, making it a top contender for players seeking a reliable, versatile, and powerful tool for their musical expression.

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ESP LTD Javier Reyes JR208

The ESP Javier Reyes JR208 is an exceptional 8-string guitar that caters to the needs of metal guitarists seeking a high-performance instrument. Designed in collaboration with Animals As Leaders guitarist Javier Reyes, this guitar combines top-quality materials, construction, and electronics to deliver a powerful, versatile sound that excels in heavy music contexts.

The JR208’s mahogany body provides a solid foundation for the guitar’s tone, offering warmth, sustain, and depth that’s essential for metal. The bolt-on maple neck with a thin U contour ensures comfort and speed, allowing players to execute intricate riffs and solos with ease. The 27″ scale length provides optimal string tension and clarity across all eight strings, while the 24 extra-jumbo frets on the rosewood fingerboard offer ample space for precise, expressive playing.

Equipped with ESP Designed LH-308N and LH-308B pickups in the neck and bridge positions, respectively, the JR208 delivers powerful, articulate tones that can handle high-gain distortion and clean settings with equal finesse. The passive electronics layout, featuring a volume knob, tone knob, and 3-way lever switch, allows for straightforward yet effective tonal shaping.

Features:

  • Mahogany body
  • Bolt-on maple neck with thin U contour
  • 27″ scale length
  • 24 extra-jumbo frets on a rosewood fingerboard
  • ESP Designed LH-308N (neck) and LH-308B (bridge) pickups
  • Passive electronics with volume, tone, and 3-way lever switch
  • LTD Fixed bridge and LTD tuners
  • Black finish and chrome hardware
ProsCons
High-quality materials and constructionNo coil-splitting or advanced electronic options
Powerful, articulate ESP Designed pickupsSome players may prefer a longer scale length
Comfortable thin U neck contour
27″ scale length for optimal string tension
Straightforward, effective electronics layout

Compared to other 8-string guitars in its price range, the ESP Javier Reyes JR208 stands out for its excellent build quality, tonal flexibility, and artist-driven design. While some competitors may offer more advanced electronic options or longer scale lengths, the JR208’s carefully selected materials, construction, and hardware create a balanced, responsive instrument that excels in metal genres.

The combination of a mahogany body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard provides a solid tonal foundation, while the ESP Designed pickups deliver the aggressive, articulate tones that metal players demand. The 27″ scale length strikes a good balance between string tension and playability, making it a comfortable choice for guitarists transitioning from 6-string or 7-string instruments.

In summary, the ESP Javier Reyes JR208 is a top-tier 8-string guitar that offers exceptional value for metal guitarists. Its high-quality materials, construction, and electronics work together to create an instrument that can handle the demands of modern metal while providing the tonal flexibility to explore a wide range of heavy music styles. Whether you’re a fan of Animals As Leaders or simply seeking a reliable, powerful 8-string guitar, the JR208 is an excellent choice.

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How Does Scale Length Affect Playability?

The scale length of an 8-string guitar significantly impacts its playability for metal music. A longer scale length, such as 28 inches or even 30 inches, provides better string tension and clarity for lower tunings commonly used in metal.

This increased tension prevents fret buzz and intonation issues on the lower strings, especially when playing aggressive riffs and chords. A longer scale length also helps the 8-string guitar stay in tune better. However, a longer scale length also requires more hand stretching, which may be less comfortable for some players.

Shorter scale lengths let you fret notes a bit easier and stretch less for scales. Multiscale fretboards offer a compromise by providing longer scale lengths for lower strings and shorter scales for higher strings, optimizing tension and comfort.

How Do Tonewoods Affect 8-String Guitar Sound in Metal?

The choice of tonewoods in an 8-string guitar’s construction plays a role in shaping its sound for metal. Woods like mahogany, deliver a warm, full-bodied tone with excellent sustain, ideal for chunky rhythms and lead work.

Alder offers a balanced sound with good clarity and a slightly scooped midrange, suitable for a wide range of metal styles. Basswood provides a relatively neutral tone, allowing the pickups to shine through and easily be shaped by the amplifier and effects.

What Are the Best Pickups for 8-String Metal Guitars?

For achieving high-gain tones in metal music played on 8-string guitars, active pickups like EMG 808s or Fishman Fluence are an excellent choice. Many guitarists 8-string bands use active pickups for the clarity and output.

These pickups have a built-in preamp that boosts the output signal, providing a clear, tight, and aggressive tone even under heavy distortion. This makes them well-suited for modern metal styles like djent and progressive metal.

Passive pickups, such as the Seymour Duncan Nazgûl and Sentient set, can also deliver great high-gain tones with a slightly more organic and dynamic character. They may require more EQ and gain from the amplifier to achieve the desired level of saturation, but they offer a wider range of tonal options for various metal subgenres.

Best 8-String Guitar for Metal: Conclusion

There are many options for 8-string metal guitars, but my favorite is the Schecter Omen Elite 8 Multiscale. You get a good combination of value and features in this instrument like the multiscale fretboard and 5-way pickup selector.

Best 8-String Metal Guitars: FAQ

Below are a few frequently asked questions about 8-string guitars for metal:

How do I choose the right bridge type for my 8-string guitar?

When selecting a bridge for your 8-string guitar, consider your playing style and tuning stability needs. Fixed bridges, like the Ibanez Gibraltar Standard II-8, offer excellent tuning stability and sustain, making them ideal for heavy riffing and precise intonation. Tremolo bridges, such as the Floyd Rose 8-string or Kahler 8-string, allow for pitch-bending effects but may require more frequent tuning adjustments.

What neck profile is best for playing 8-string guitar in metal?

The ideal neck profile for an 8-string guitar in metal is a matter of personal preference. However, many players prefer thinner, flatter profiles like the Ibanez Wizard II-8 or the Schecter Ultra Thin C-8, as they allow for faster playing and easier access to the lower frets. Some guitarists may prefer thicker, more rounded profiles for increased comfort during extended playing sessions.

Can I use standard guitar amplifiers and effects with an 8-string guitar?

While you can use standard guitar amplifiers and effects with an 8-string guitar, keep in mind that the extended range may require some adjustments. The lower frequencies produced by the 7th and 8th strings can be challenging for some amplifiers and effects to handle. Look for gear designed for extended-range instruments.

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