Why Use an 8-String Guitar?

This post contains affiliate links (learn more in my disclosure).

So you’re thinking about going to the dark side of the 8-string guitar? Its powerful pull is unquestionable. Because of its enhanced range and adaptability, it presents an array of new musical options, and is a perfect guitar for metal.

YouTube player

Regardless of your musical taste, be it jazz or metal, it offers something for you. However, it’s worth noting that mastering this instrument demands serious commitment and effort. Are you prepared to undertake this challenge?

Let’s discuss why the 8-string guitar might be an excellent choice for you.

Brogan’s Quick Take

Thinking about utilizing an 8-string guitar for metal or other genres?
  • This instrument offers an expanded range, unlocking new possibilities for musical articulation.
  • It can adjust to a variety of styles, producing unique sounds and techniques.
  • Shifting from a 6-string guitar will necessitate some practice, but the advantages make it a valuable endeavor.
  • Adopting the 8-string guitar can transform your guitar skills and elevate your musical creativity to new heights.

My 8-String Guitar Experience

I’ve played 8 strings for many years. At first, it did take quite a while to feel comfortable with the wider fretboard and extra strings. But there was a point when you didn’t play guitar and learned, so adding two strings is doable.

Currently, I own a Schecter Omen Elite 8-String Multiscale guitar. It has been a great guitar for the price. Of course, it’s not the level of an Ibanez Prestige series or a more boutique option like a Strandberg, but it gets the job done. And if you’re just thinking of transitioning to an 8-string, you don’t want to blow $2,000 on an instrument that you won’t use.

If jumping to an 8-string and a multiscale is too much, Schecter also makes a standard-scale 8-string model of the Omen Elite. Below is a picture of my Schecter.

And below, you can see me using this guitar in a video. I tried combining John Coltrane’s Giant Steps with Meshuggah’s Bleed for fun:

YouTube player

The Extended Range of an 8-String Guitar

An 8-string guitar extends your musical range, enabling you to play more intricate chords and scales. The addition of two extra strings broadens your sonic palette. The design of 8-string guitars includes a variation in scale length to accommodate the added low strings. This ensures correct tension and intonation on the low strings. If you get a multiscale guitar, the scale length is ideal for both the high and low strings.

When it comes to tuning, the traditional setup for 8-string guitar tuning is F# B E A D G B E. (The first F# and B are lower than the standard guitar strings.) However, you aren’t limited to this. Feel free to experiment and find the tuning that complements your playing style. Options like drop tuning or open tunings can result in a deeper, fuller sound. Some jazz players even add a high A instead of using the low F#.

Take my 1-question electric guitar brand survey!
What's your favorite electric guitar brand?

Versatility of 8-String Guitars

The 8-string guitar is a highly versatile instrument that can adapt to various genres and playing styles. Its extended range and additional strings provide guitarists with a wide palette of tones and textures to explore, making it suitable for much more than just heavy metal.

One of the key advantages of the 8-string guitar is its ability to cover a wide range of pitches. The low F# and B strings allow guitarists to play basslines and create deep, rumbling tones, while the higher strings can be used for intricate melodies, chords, and solos. This versatility enables players to create rich, layered compositions that span multiple octaves.

GenreExample Usage of 8-String Guitar
Progressive MetalIntricate riffs, complex rhythms, and melodic leads
Jazz FusionExtended chords, walking basslines, and improvisations
AmbientLush soundscapes, drones, and textural playing
ExperimentalUnconventional techniques, prepared guitar, and effects

Transitioning From a 6-String to an 8-String Guitar

Moving from a guitar with six strings to one with eight strings may present some obstacles, but it’s an inspiring process that will enhance your musical skills. You may encounter difficulties in adjusting to the extra strings and need guidance in navigating the fretboard. However, don’t give up. Here’s a straightforward guide:

  1. Grasp the purpose of the extra strings: The 7th and 8th strings provide an extended bass range. Feel free to experiment with these.
  2. Manage the challenges of adjusting the strings: The wider neck of the guitar might be intimidating. Regularly practicing chord shapes and scales will help you become more comfortable.
  3. Become proficient in navigating the fretboard: It’s crucial to understand the layout of the fretboard. Remember, it’s about recognizing patterns, not dealing with chaos.
  4. Watch out for string noise: The two lower strings vibrate easily so it can be hard to make clear scale and chords without hitting them. It takes practice to avoid hitting the low B or F# strings when you don’t want to.
  5. Commit to regular practice: Persistence is key in mastering this instrument.

Conclusion: Why 8-String Guitar?

Considering using an 8-string guitar? This instrument provides an extended range, offering new potential for musical expression. It’s adaptable to many different styles, and it can create distinctive sounds and techniques.

Using an 8-String Guitar: FAQ

Below are some frequently asked questions about the 8-string guitar:

What Are Some Popular Songs That Have Been Played Using an 8-String Guitar?

If you’re curious about famous songs that utilize an 8-string guitar, consider ‘Awaken The Master’ by Dream Theater. Or listen to almost any Meshuggah or Animals As Leader’s track. Lethargica is one of my all-time favorites by Meshuggah. Many bands use 8-string guitars nowadays.

How Does the Pricing of an 8-String Guitar Compare to That of a 6-String Guitar?

Generally, 8-string guitars tend to cost a bit more than 6-string guitars. This price difference is primarily because 8-string guitars are less popular and a niche item. However, you can find affordable 8-strings under $500 from brands like Ibanez, Schecter, and Harley Benton.

What Are Some Recommended Brands or Models for 8-String Guitars?

Consider Schecter, Ibanez, or Agile. These brands are well-regarded for their 8-string guitars that provide an extended range. I suggest you try each of them to determine which one aligns best with your musical preferences.

Are There Any Specific Physical Difficulties or Challenges Associated With Playing an 8-String Guitar?

An 8-string guitar can pose certain physical challenges. The additional strings can complicate finger placement, while the broader neck may cause discomfort to your hand. However, these hurdles can be surmounted with adequate practice. Also, stretching your hand and forearm can help, along with keeping good posture while you practice.

Further Reading