Looking to upgrade your guitar collection and venture into the world of 8-string guitars? Look no further, because this ultimate guide will walk you through everything you need to know to find the best 8-string guitar for your needs. From understanding the benefits of an 8-string guitar to exploring different brands and models, we’ve got you covered. So grab your pick and get ready to dive into the exciting world of 8-string guitars!
Important factors to consider
Tuning and string setup
When it comes to 8 string guitars, tuning and string setup are crucial factors to consider. The standard tuning for an 8 string guitar is F# B E A D G B E, which provides the extended range and low-end capabilities that make these guitars popular among musicians. However, some players prefer alternative tunings to suit their playing style or genre. It’s important to choose a guitar that offers a flexible string setup and allows for easy adjustments to achieve your desired tuning.
Construction and materials
The construction and materials used in an 8 string guitar have a significant impact on its tone, sustain, and overall playability. Solid-body guitars are the most common type and are made from a variety of tonewoods, including mahogany, maple, and alder. These guitars tend to offer excellent sustain and are well-suited for heavy genres. However, if you’re looking for a warmer and more resonant tone, you may consider semi-hollow or hollow body guitars, which are favored by jazz and blues players.
The scale length of an 8 string guitar refers to the length of the strings from the nut to the bridge. Longer scale lengths, such as those found on many Ibanez guitars, often result in a tighter feel and increased string tension. Shorter scale lengths, on the other hand, can offer a more relaxed playing experience. Consider your playing style and preferences when choosing the scale length of your 8 string guitar.
Pickups and electronics
The pickups and electronics of an 8 string guitar play a crucial role in shaping its sound. Most guitars in this category come equipped with humbuckers, which provide a fat and powerful tone. However, there are also guitars that feature single-coil pickups or a combination of both, offering a wider range of tonal possibilities. Additionally, some guitars may include advanced electronics such as coil-splitting or active pickups, allowing for even more versatility. Take the time to research and try out different pickup configurations to find the one that best suits your playing style and desired sound.
Your budget is an essential factor to consider when looking for the best 8 string guitar. Prices can vary significantly depending on the brand, construction, and features of the guitar. If you are a beginner or on a tight budget, entry-level options are available that offer decent quality without breaking the bank. Mid-range guitars often provide an excellent balance between quality and affordability, while high-end guitars cater to professional musicians and collectors who are looking for top-tier craftsmanship and exceptional performance.
Different types of 8 string guitars
Solid-body guitars are the most common type of 8 string guitars and are favored by players in heavy genres such as metal and djent. These guitars have a solid construction, which provides excellent sustain and resistance to feedback. Solid-body guitars often feature bolt-on or set necks and come in a wide range of shapes and finishes to suit different playing styles and preferences.
Semi-hollow body guitars
Semi-hollow body guitars offer a balance between the sustain and attack of a solid-body guitar and the warm, resonant tone of a hollow body guitar. The chambered design of these guitars allows for some acoustic resonance and can offer a more organic sound. Many jazz and fusion players prefer semi-hollow body guitars for their versatility and ability to produce a wide range of tones.
Hollow body guitars
Hollow body guitars have a completely hollow body, which contributes to their rich and full-bodied tone. These guitars are favored by jazz and blues players for their warm and mellow sound. However, it’s important to note that hollow body guitars are more prone to feedback and may require careful setup and control in high-gain situations.
Top brands for 8 string guitars
Ibanez is one of the most renowned brands in the world of 8 string guitars. Known for their exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail, Ibanez offers a wide range of models catering to different playing styles and budgets. Their guitars are often favored by metal and rock players for their high-quality construction, comfortable playability, and aggressive tone.
Schecter is another reputable brand that is highly regarded for their 8 string guitars. With a focus on delivering powerful and versatile instruments, Schecter offers a diverse range of models suitable for various genres. Their guitars are known for their solid construction, premium components, and excellent tone.
ESP is a brand that has established itself as a top choice for metal and heavy genre players. Their 8 string guitars are known for their aggressive and heavy sound, as well as their sleek and modern designs. ESP guitars are often favored by professional musicians due to their exceptional build quality, reliable performance, and high-end features.
Jackson is a brand that has been synonymous with shredding and metal guitarists for many years. Their 8 string guitars offer the same level of playability and high-performance characteristics that the brand is known for. Jackson guitars often feature fast necks, comfortable body contours, and powerful pickups, making them an excellent choice for players looking to push the boundaries of their playing.
Dean guitars have gained popularity among metal and rock players for their unique and edgy designs. Their 8 string guitars offer a bold and aggressive sound, making them ideal for heavy genres. Dean guitars are known for their high-output pickups, sturdy construction, and distinctive aesthetics.
PRS may be mostly associated with their renowned electric guitars, but they also offer 8 string models that showcase their commitment to exceptional craftsmanship and tonal versatility. PRS 8 string guitars often feature high-quality tonewoods, beautiful finishes, and premium electronics. These guitars are well-suited for a wide range of genres and offer a unique blend of playability and versatility.
Playing style and genre considerations
Metal and heavy genres
If you’re into metal or heavy genres, you’ll want an 8 string guitar that can deliver a tight and aggressive tone. Look for guitars with high-output pickups and a solid-body construction for maximum sustain and clarity. Additionally, consider guitars with extended scale lengths for increased string tension and better note definition.
Jazz and fusion
Jazz and fusion players often prefer guitars with a warm and mellow tone. Semi-hollow or hollow body guitars are popular choices, as they offer a rich and resonant sound. Opt for guitars with single-coil or coil-splitting capabilities to achieve the clean, articulate tone required for these genres.
Progressive and experimental
For progressive and experimental genres, versatility is key. Look for guitars that offer a wide range of tonal options, such as guitars with multiple pickup configurations or advanced electronics. Additionally, consider guitars with extended range capabilities, such as multiscale or fan-fret designs, which can enhance the playability and intonation of complex chord voicings.
Rock and alternative
Rock and alternative genres often require guitars with a balance of power and versatility. Solid-body guitars with humbuckers are popular choices, as they offer a fat and punchy tone. Look for guitars with a comfortable neck profile and good upper-fret access for expressive soloing.
Classical and fingerstyle
For classical and fingerstyle players, tonal clarity and playability are crucial. Look for guitars with a solid top and a wide nut width to accommodate fingerpicking. Additionally, consider guitars with nylon strings for a warm and mellow sound.
Where to buy an 8 string guitar
Physical music stores
Physical music stores offer the advantage of being able to try out guitars before making a purchase. This allows you to get a feel for the instrument, test its sound, and assess its overall playability. Visit local music stores in your area and take the opportunity to compare different models and brands. Additionally, music store staff can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on your preferences and budget.
Online retailers offer a convenient way to browse a wide selection of 8 string guitars from the comfort of your own home. Websites such as Guitar Center, Sweetwater, and Thomann provide detailed product descriptions, customer reviews, and specifications to help you make an informed decision. Keep in mind that buying online means you won’t have the opportunity to physically try out the guitar before purchasing, so be sure to research thoroughly and take advantage of any return policies or warranties offered by the retailer.
If you’re on a budget or looking for a specific model that may no longer be in production, consider exploring second-hand marketplaces. Websites like Reverb and eBay offer a vast selection of used guitars, often at lower prices than new ones. However, be cautious when purchasing from these platforms and try to buy from reputable sellers with good ratings. Request detailed photos, ask questions about the condition of the guitar, and ensure that the seller has a fair return policy in case the instrument doesn’t meet your expectations.
Understanding the different price ranges
Entry-level 8 string guitars
Entry-level 8 string guitars are often aimed at beginners or players on a tight budget. These guitars typically offer good value for money and provide an excellent starting point for those looking to explore the world of extended-range instruments. While they may lack some of the high-end features and build quality of more expensive guitars, entry-level options can still deliver a decent performance and sound.
Mid-range 8 string guitars
Mid-range 8 string guitars offer a step-up in terms of quality and features compared to entry-level models. They often incorporate better tonewoods, hardware, and pickups, resulting in improved tonal capabilities and playability. Mid-range guitars cater to intermediate and advanced players who are looking for a reliable and versatile instrument without breaking the bank.
High-end 8 string guitars
High-end 8 string guitars are the pinnacle of craftsmanship and performance. These guitars are often handcrafted with the finest tonewoods, meticulous attention to detail, and cutting-edge features. High-end guitars deliver exceptional tone, playability, and aesthetics, making them the preferred choice for professional musicians and collectors. However, keep in mind that the price tag for these instruments reflects the top-tier quality and craftsmanship they offer.
Essential accessories for 8 string guitars
Finding the right set of strings is essential for getting the best performance out of your 8 string guitar. Opt for strings specifically designed for extended-range instruments to ensure proper tension and intonation. Experiment with different gauges and brands to find the ones that suit your playing style and preferences.
Guitar cases and gig bags
Investing in a high-quality guitar case or gig bag is crucial for protecting your 8 string guitar during transportation and storage. Cases offer the highest level of protection, shielding your instrument from impacts, temperature changes, and humidity. Gig bags provide a more lightweight and portable option while still offering a degree of protection.
Stands and wall mounts
Having a reliable stand or wall mount for your 8 string guitar is essential for keeping it safe and easily accessible. Stands allow you to display your instrument in a secure and organized manner, while wall mounts free up valuable floor space and provide an attractive way to showcase your guitar.
Tuners and metronomes
Tuners and metronomes are invaluable tools for every musician. A tuner ensures that your 8 string guitar is always in tune, while a metronome helps improve your timing and rhythm. There are many tuner and metronome apps available for smartphones, or you can opt for dedicated hardware tools for added convenience.
If you’re looking to expand your sonic possibilities, consider investing in effects pedals for your 8 string guitar. Whether you’re into distorted tones, ambient soundscapes, or lush reverbs, effects pedals offer endless creative possibilities. Research different types of pedals such as overdrive, delay, or modulation, and experiment to find the sounds that inspire you.
Maintenance and care for 8 string guitars
Cleaning and polishing
Regular cleaning and polishing are essential to keep your 8 string guitar in optimal condition. Use a soft cloth to remove any dust or debris from the body, neck, and hardware. Additionally, you can use guitar polish or cleaner to restore the shine to your instrument. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or polishes that can damage the finish.
String changing and maintenance
Changing strings regularly is crucial for maintaining the playability and tone of your 8 string guitar. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for string changing intervals and choose the appropriate strings for your desired tuning. Additionally, wipe down the strings after each playing session to remove dirt and sweat, which can cause premature string corrosion.
Truss rod adjustments
The truss rod of your 8 string guitar helps maintain the neck’s relief and adjust its bow. If you notice any issues with your guitar’s neck, such as excessive bowing or buzzing, it may be necessary to make truss rod adjustments. However, truss rod adjustments can be complex and should be done with caution. If you’re unsure, it’s best to consult a professional guitar technician.
Humidity and temperature control
Proper humidity and temperature control is crucial for preserving the integrity of your 8 string guitar. Extreme changes in humidity and temperature can cause the wood to warp or crack. Use a humidifier during dry winter months or in dry climates to maintain an optimal humidity level. Additionally, avoid exposing your guitar to direct sunlight or extreme heat.
Tips for beginners on playing an 8 string guitar
Start with the basics
If you’re new to 8 string guitars, it’s essential to start with the basics of playing guitar. Familiarize yourself with chord shapes, scales, and basic techniques that apply to the instrument. Focus on building a strong foundation before delving into more advanced techniques and extended-range playing.
Get comfortable with the extended range
The extended range of an 8 string guitar can be overwhelming at first. Take the time to get comfortable with the additional strings and explore the different tonal possibilities they offer. Experiment with playing chords, scales, and riffs that utilize the extended range to unlock the full potential of your instrument.
Experiment with different tunings
One of the advantages of an 8 string guitar is the ability to experiment with different tunings. Explore alternative tunings to find the ones that best suit your playing style and desired sound. Whether you’re looking for a heavy, djent-inspired tuning or a more ambient and open sound, there are countless possibilities to explore.
Focus on rhythm and timing
Playing an 8 string guitar requires a strong sense of rhythm and timing. Focus on developing your ability to play tight and precise rhythms, as well as your sense of groove. Practice with a metronome or drum tracks to improve your timing and develop a solid foundation for your playing.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is the purpose of an 8 string guitar?
The purpose of an 8 string guitar is to provide an extended range and low-end capabilities that allow players to explore new sonic territories. The addition of two extra strings expands the possibilities for chord voicings, soloing, and riffing, making the instrument particularly appealing to players in heavy genres such as metal and djent.
Can I play 6-string songs on an 8 string guitar?
Yes, you can play 6-string songs on an 8 string guitar. The versatility of an 8 string guitar allows you to play any music written for a 6-string guitar, while also providing the option to explore new chord voicings and additional low-end depth. However, keep in mind that the extended range may require some adjustments to accommodate the different string positions and tensions.
Do I need prior experience to play an 8 string guitar?
While prior experience playing guitar will certainly help when transitioning to an 8 string guitar, it is not a strict requirement. With dedication and practice, anyone can learn to play an 8 string guitar, regardless of their skill level. However, if you’re a beginner, it may be beneficial to develop a solid foundation on a standard 6-string guitar before taking on the challenges of an extended range instrument.
Are there any disadvantages to owning an 8 string guitar?
While 8 string guitars offer a wide range of benefits, there are some potential disadvantages to consider. The extended range and additional strings may initially be overwhelming for players accustomed to 6-string guitars. Additionally, the wider neck and increased string tension may require some adjustment and can be less comfortable for players with smaller hands. It’s important to consider these factors and try out different guitars to ensure that an 8 string instrument is the right fit for you.