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So, I play a lot of death/heavy metal(core) and I've finally gotten to a place where people tell me they enjoy listening to me play.

I've been getting suggestions from other musicians (maybe musical enthusiast is a better term for me) about what equipment to experiment with next and I keep hearing that I should buy a 7-string guitar.

I'm not really sure about the advantage of the extra string. I get that having another string will add more range potential but is there something less obvious I might be missing?

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How to be deathcore –  Shevliaskovic Mar 22 '14 at 11:33
Thanks for that, Shev:-) –  Dr Mayhem Mar 22 '14 at 15:14
I think I might have just been sold on getting a 7 string. I have been playing rhythm metal for years, and I am now learning lead role. an extra string on the high end could take away from my lack of a whammy bar for the higher octaves and allow me to play with them. 26 frets on most of those models, where do I sign up! –  Wolf Apr 10 at 20:14

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

A seven string guitar might have longer scale length to accommodate lower tunings. A six stringed guitar can usually be made to handle B tuning, but there might be intonation issues, especially with Gibson measure, which is 24.75". If one wants to go lower, a longer scale is preferred. That can be another benefit with a seven string guitar. Seven string guitars have different scale lengths, some are normal scale with just an added string. For low tunings with six strings you can look at a baritone guitar.

A lot of the modern metal material is performed with a seven string, if you want to play those songs it might be hard with a six string. On the other hand, there are much more good six string guitars than seven string, so there is a trade off with "locking" oneself to a seven string.

I play both kinds, but I tend to prefer six strings these days.

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You have summed it up pretty well. Normally a 7 string guitar will have an extra low B string under the low E. This can be useful for rock and metal because you can add extra low metal tonalities to your power chords without having to tune your whole guitar lower.

I'm primarily a jazz player and I have always wanted an extra high A string for better soloing range, but for chords the lower B would be more useful. I guess it depends what your main musical role in a band is as to which end you should extend the seventh string on.

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I have my main gigging 7-string guitar tuned to A-D-A-D-G-B-E, which gives me the benefits of a normal Drop-D tuned 6 string, with a duplicated AD AD at the bottom end, which allows for some very full octave barre chords.

Where this really comes into its own is three areas:

  • Covering some of the bass range - when the bass is doing something else, I can step into the gap
  • Allowing for some fairly wild two handed tapping patterns
  • The low tension on the bottom string lets me easily bend up 7 or 8 semitones without even going near my Floyd Rose

And I do just love the low end chug that is possible. I was intending to buy an 8-string, but had difficulty with the width of the neck.

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