7 String Guitars

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About 7 String Guitars

7 string electric guitars have been popular in the more extreme genres of contemporary music for over twenty years and have now become part of the accepted way of doing things. Using wider necks in order to incorporate the extra low 'B' string, 7 string guitars also have a widely varying range of shapes and specifications from a number of manufacturers.

7 string guitars as we know them were invented by the famous electric guitar player Steve Vai for Ibanez and his signature Universe model is a well known example. Lots of other manufacturers produce 7 string guitars nowadays. Affordable 7 strings are available from companies such as Schecter, Ibanez and Jackson, whilst top of the range guitars available from guitarguitar include incredible instruments from Mayones, Strandberg and Ormsby.

Frequently Asked Questions about 7 String Guitars

It seems that way but lots of adventurous Jazz players use 7 string guitars, sometimes changing out the low B for a high string instead. Because of their aggressive styling, 7 string guitars are marketed to Metal players but there is no reason why you can't use one for other genres too.
Generally speaking, yes they do. Most 7 string guitars have a scale length of 25.5" which is standard for electric guitars. Some do have a longer scale length, like much of the Ibanez Iron Label range, and these are generally referred to as baritone 7 strings.
Technically speaking, 7 string guitars have been around for hundreds of years, going back to at least the Renaissance era. In the 1930s, some guitar companies made one-off and limited run 7 string guitars with high A or B strings. However, in terms of the types of 7 string we think you mean, i.e. a solid body electric with an extra low B string, that would be the Ibanez Universe. This distinctive guitar was designed by and for Steve Vai and was the first mass produced 7 string ever to be made available. Vai used them on tours in the late 80s with the production model debuting in 1990. A reissue is currently available as part of Ibanez's Premium range.
Yes you can and lots of guitarists do! If a low B isn't heavy enough for you then definitely experiment with Drop A or even drop G#, which involves tuning every string down one half step and then dropping the low B string a further two frets' worth, just like the famous 'Drop D' tuning method. You may want to raise the height of your strings a little to counteract the relative lack of tension but apart from that you're good to go.