7 Strings... 8 Strings... But, Why?

I remember the 2000s.

The spiky hair, the shiny tracksuits, the disturbing disappearance of mids and solos, and what the hell happened to Metallica....?

But the advent of NU METAL is what I'm really here to talk about!

Don't do me the indignity of lying about not being into it. It happened. We listened. We even enjoyed it. It's now 2021 and people are un-ironically frothing Limp Bizkit's comeback. I still listen to plenty of bands of that era, bite me there was some good stuff!

Nestled amongst the many contributions to modern music Nu Metal is guilty of. Such as the absence of blues, learning that ADIDAS stands for "All Day I Dream About Sex" and the power and beauty of Chino Moreno's timeless hair.

But if there's one thing that has stood the test of time and been championed again and again by successive generations of heavy musos...
It's 7 & 8 string guitars.

Indeed these multi stringed monstrosities were suddenly everywhere in the noughties Korn-holing our earholes with drop tuned madness. It was like the head of production at Ibanez got smashed at the 1997 Christmas party and wagered the CEO they could move a pile of 7 string units to every major artist whether they wanted it or not (I'm lookin' at you Steve Vai).

I remember many referring to these instruments as a fad, but they have matured and endured to become a mainstay in the heavy world. But, why?
Well the answer is pretty simple.

The prevalence of lower and lower drop tunings.

E flat and D made way for Drop C and B as standard heavy tunings. Which in turn were then challenged by the ridiculously low drop A and G. These tunings are difficult to setup with a comfortable action on traditional 6 string instruments, so the modern guitar builders met this issue with a straight forward solution: more strings, longer scale length. And thus, taut drop actions and more chord options became accessible to the masses.

So many bands have utilised these instruments over the decades. Meshuggah, Deftones, Periphery, Animals as Leaders, Feared, Jeff Loomis, Behemoth... The list goes on and it's only growing.

I am a big believer in experimentation, it is an essential element to creativity.

The increase in budget models and the madness that is the second hand market, ease of access to a 7- or 8-stringed riff stick is now easier than ever. If you are the sort of heavy riff smashing shred machine that loves a drop tuning, or just curious about the increased chord possibilities there's never been a better time to dip a toe in the waters. 

Embrace the bass and melt your face.

Well I have get back to servicing these sick riffers.

Stay safe and riff hard people.

Chris Re-Animator
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