A Guide To Buying Your First Seven String Guitar

Simon Hetherington gives you his tips for getting to seventh heaven   05-Feb-13

A Guide To Buying Your First Seven String Guitar
The LTD SC-207 is available for between $500-$600

Amped blogger, Simon Hetherington, has been amassing his collection of seven string guitars for a number of years, here he tells you what you should think about when buying your first seven string...

When you're looking to transition from 6 strings to 7 don't think that you will have to relearn everything, you don't. It's basically a guitar with an extra lower string so all the stuff you've learned in standard tuning will work fine. I also recommend learning the notes on the fretboard as well, as this will help you incorporate the low B.

The first thing to consider is finding a guitar that you like and what sort of music you want to play. If you want to play in standard tuning I'd recommend a 25.5 scale guitar, this will hold fine in standard, drop A and A standard (everything down a tone), for anything lower look for a 26.5 scale guitar.

If the tone seems a bit off don't be thinking I need to change pickups and get a new amp, all you may need is a heavier set of strings. I don't use 7 string sets as I find the Low 7 to be a light on them so I buy a pack of Ernie Ball Regular Slinky's and add a 58 - 60 for the 7th string.

For my 26.5 scale guitars I use Ernie Ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom (10 - 52) strings with a 62 for the Low 7. I like a middle ground when it comes to strings as I like to try different tunings but I also like to keep it in standard, you can try heavier strings if you want to keep it permanently tuned down.

You can of course change the pickups, there are many active and passive options available. EMG, Dimarzio, Seymour Duncan and Bare Knuckle Pickups all do a good selection of 7 and 8 string pickups and they have great information on their web sites to help you choose.

I find active pickups help the sound to be clearer, I have EMG 808's in my Ibanez 8 string but the majority of my other guitars have Dimarzio pickups as I like the Ibanez tone.

Any guitar amp will work fine, don't be thinking you need a bass amp or anything like that. I've used amps with both 10" and 12" speakers and have gotten good results, just be careful with the bass control as you don't want it too muddy, and don't scoop all the mids as you will loose definition in the low end.

A lot of bands playing extended range guitars are now using Amp Modelling such as Line 6 Pod HD and Axe FX, I'm still using a Marshall Valve amp and it sounds fine. I would recommend an amp with a good flexible EQ to get the best results.

With distortion pedals, again a pedal with a 3 band EQ is great, I use a Electro Harmonix Metal Muff, you don't need much gain on it for rhythm playing but it has a boost control for lead playing which is a nice bonus. You could try a bass distortion so you can mix in some of the dry signal, the EHX Bass Big Muff, and Deluxe Bass Big Muff interest me.

For recording I usually mic the amp but also take a clean feed from the guitar so I can mix it with the amp sound to get more definition. Another reason for taking a clean feed is that you can re amp the guitar using software plugins such as Native Instruments Guitar Rig or IK Multimedias Amplitube.

I hope that helps clear a few things up for those that wish to move over to a 7 string. The LTD SC-207 (pictured above) is just one of many entry level seven string guitars now available on the market.


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