Classical guitar with additional strings

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Ten-string classical guitar JME ten string guitar.jpg
Ten-string classical guitar

A classical guitar with additional strings is a nylon-string or gut-string classical guitar with more than six strings, in which the additional strings pass over a fingerboard so that they may be "stopped" or fretted with the fingers. These are also known as extended-range guitars, and should not be confused with harp guitars (in which the added strings do not pass over a fingerboard).



While the invention of the seven-string guitar has sometimes been attributed to Russian guitarist and composer Andrei Sychra, guitar historian Matanya Ophee has found evidence that seven-string classical guitars may have already existed in Europe in the late 18th century, when Sychra was just beginning his career. [1]

A seven-string Russian guitar Tropinin gitarist.jpg
A seven-string Russian guitar

There is no question, however, that Sychra was a great proponent of the seven-string instrument, having written a method, and more than one thousand compositions for the instrument. Seventy-five of these pieces were republished in the 1840s by Stellovsky, then again in the 1880s by Gutheil. Some of these were published again in the Soviet Union in 1926.

Sychra's guitar was a gut-string "classical" variation of the traditional Russian Gypsy Guitar (now usually steel-strung), and tuned in a similar manner, to an open 'G' chord:

The modern seven-string classical guitar is usually tuned the same as the modern standard six-string instrument, with the addition of a low 'B' string:

As with any guitar, many tuning variations are possible, and not uncommon.


Eight-string classical guitars are generally tuned with two extra basses ([BD]EADGBE) that vary in pitch depending on the piece being played. Another common variation is to add an extra bass and treble string. The extra treble is almost always tuned to A, while the added bass string usually falls on A,B, or C.

Paul Galbraith and Alexander Vynograd are two of the most notable 8 string players who use the extra high and low string tuning. Galbraith generally tunes (B)EADGBEA which puts standard 6 string guitar chord voicings and scale shapes within the neck and allows him to read lute tablature directly (a whole step higher). Vynograd chooses to tune AEADGCEA (notice the b string is tuned up a half step) which allows him to play the top 6 strings like a guitar a 4th higher. Vynograd writes his music on a grand staff in a different key and plays as if the guitar was tuned EBEADGBE.

8-string guitarist Javier Reyes of the progressive metal band Animals as Leaders also plays 8-string classical guitar for which he uses the tuning EBEADGBE.

The Brazilian guitarist Raphael Rabello also adopted the 8 string guitar on many of his presentations also Australian guitarist Sirsom Solo-Jazz plays the 8-string Classical guitar (BEADGBEA tuning).

Brahms guitar

The Brahms guitar was developed by guitarist Paul Galbraith and luthier David Rubio to allow the music of Brahms to be played more comfortably on the guitar. Information: 8 string guitar


Late 18th and early 19th-century method books for nine-string guitars exist, [2] but examples of these instruments are rare. Modern nine-string guitars are almost exclusively steel-string or electric instruments.


Includes the Decacorde - a historical romantic guitar - which was tuned C2-D2-E2-F2-G2-A2-D3-G3-B3-E4 and the modern 10-string guitar, which has various tunings.

Yepes Ten-string

The Yepes 10-string guitar adds four strings (resonators) tuned in such a way that they (along with the other three bass strings) can resonate in sympathy with any of the 12 chromatic notes (or their primary harmonics) that can occur on the higher strings; the idea behind this being an attempt at enhancing and balancing sonority.

Yepes Ten-string Guitar Tuning Narciso Yepes' reentrant tuning for the ten-string guitar.jpg
Yepes Ten-string Guitar Tuning

The tuning of the Yepes ten-string guitar is:

Or, written enharmonically:


The eleven-string alto guitar was developed by Swedish luthier Georg Bolin in the 1960s, and Bolin altgitarrer (Swedish for alto guitars, singular altgitarren) are now rare and valuable. The Bolin alto guitar most often has eleven strings, but a thirteen-string version also exists.

The eleven-string alto guitar is played by guitarists such as John Francis, Stefan Östersjö and Göran Söllscher and is often used in performances of Bach on the guitar.

The 11-string archguitar built by American luthier Walter Stanul is played by guitarists such as Peter Blanchette .

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The 13-string "Chiavi-Miolin" guitar is played by Anders Miolin and created by Swiss luthier Ermanno Chiavi.

Luthier Michael Thames has developed the 13-string "Dresden" designed to function as a baroque lute for guitarists.

Bolin created a thirteen-string version of his eleven-string alto guitar, but the eleven-string version has been the one adopted by other makers.

External links

Related Research Articles

Classical guitar member of the guitar family used in classical music

The classical guitar is a member of the guitar family used in classical music. An acoustic wooden string instrument with strings made of gut or nylon, it is a precursor of the modern acoustic and electric guitars, both of which use metal strings. Classical guitars are derived from the Spanish vihuela and gittern in the fifteenth and sixteenth century, which later evolved into the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Baroque guitar and later the modern classical guitar in the mid-nineteenth century.

Double bass Acoustic stringed instrument of the violin family

The double bass, also known simply as the bass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra. The Double bass has a similar structure to the cello.

Guitar Fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six strings. It is held flat against the player's body and played by strumming or plucking the strings with the dominant hand, while simultaneously pressing the strings against frets with the fingers of the opposite hand. A plectrum or individual finger picks may be used to strike the strings. The sound of the guitar is projected either acoustically, by means of a resonant chamber on the instrument, or amplified by an electronic pickup and an amplifier.

Mandolin Musical instrument in the lute family

A mandolin is a stringed musical instrument in the lute family and is generally plucked with a plectrum. It most commonly has four courses of doubled metal strings tuned in unison, thus giving a total of 8 strings, although five and six course versions also exist. The courses are typically tuned in an interval of perfect fifths, with the same tuning as a violin. Also like the violin, it is the soprano member of a family that includes the mandola, octave mandolin, mandocello and mandobass.

The fingerboard is an important component of most stringed instruments. It is a thin, long strip of material, usually wood, that is laminated to the front of the neck of an instrument. The strings run over the fingerboard, between the nut and bridge. To play the instrument, a musician presses strings down to the fingerboard to change the vibrating length, changing the pitch. This is called stopping the strings. Depending on the instrument and the style of music, the musician may pluck, strum or bow one or more strings with the hand that is not fretting the notes. On some instruments, notes can be sounded by the fretting hand alone, such as with hammer ons, an electric guitar technique.

Seven-string guitar

The seven-string guitar adds one additional string to the more common six-string guitar, commonly used to extend the bass range or also to extend the treble range.

Eight-string guitar

An eight-string guitar is a guitar with two more strings than the usual six, or one more than the Russian guitar's seven. Eight-string guitars are less common than six- and seven-string guitars, but they are used by a few classical, jazz, and metal guitarists. The eight-string guitar allows a wider tonal range, or non-standard tunings, or both.

Multi-scale fingerboard

A multi-scale fingerboard is an instrument fretboard which incorporates multiple scale lengths. The scale length is the vibrating length of the strings.

Guitar tunings

Guitar tunings are the assignment of pitches to the open strings of guitars, including acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and classical guitars. Tunings are described by the particular pitches that are made by notes in Western music. By convention, the notes are ordered and arranged from the lowest-pitched string to the highest-pitched string, or the thickest string to thinnest, or the lowest frequency to the highest. This sometimes confuses beginner guitarists, since the highest-pitched string is referred to as the 1st string, and the lowest-pitched is the 6th string.

Russian guitar

The Russian guitar (sometimes referred to as a "Gypsy guitar") is an acoustic seven-string guitar that was developed in Russia toward the end of the 18th century: it shares most of its organological features with the Spanish guitar, although some historians insist on English guitar ascendancy. It is known in Russian as the semistrunnaya gitara (семиструнная гитара), or affectionately as the semistrunka (семиструнка), which translates to "seven-stringer". These guitars are most commonly tuned to an open G chord as follows: D2 G2 B2 D3 G3 B3 D4. In classical literature, the lowest string (D) occasionally is tuned down to the C.

Harp guitar Guitar-based string instrument

The harp guitar is a guitar-based stringed instrument generally defined as a "guitar, in any of its accepted forms, with any number of additional unstopped strings that can accommodate individual plucking." The word "harp" is used in reference to its harp-like unstopped open strings. A harp guitar must have at least one unfretted string lying off the main fretboard, typically played as an open string.

Outline of guitars Overview of and topical guide to guitars

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to guitars:

Multi-neck guitar

A multi-neck guitar is a guitar that has multiple fingerboard necks. They exist in both electric and acoustic versions. Although multi-neck guitars are quite common today, they are not a modern invention. Examples of multi-neck guitars and lutes go back at least to the Renaissance.

Reentrant tuning

On a stringed instrument, a break in an otherwise ascending order of string pitches is known as a re-entry. A re-entrant tuning, therefore, is a tuning where the strings are not all ordered from the lowest pitch to the highest pitch.

Ten-string guitar

There are many varieties of ten-string guitar, including:

Brahms guitar

The Brahms guitar, or cello-guitar, is an eight-string guitar with a conventional resonating body, but also an external, box-shaped resonator. Classical guitarist Paul Galbraith, in collaboration with luthier David Rubio, invented the instrument in 1994. David Rubio's protégé, luthier Martin Woodhouse, innovated the design and continues to build Brahms guitars. Galbraith originally conceived it specifically to perform Johannes Brahms' Theme and Variations, Op. 21.

Ten-string classical guitar of Yepes

The ten string extended-range classical guitar, with fully chromatic, sympathetic string resonance was conceived in 1963 by Narciso Yepes, and constructed by José Ramírez [III]. This instrument is sometimes referred to as the "modern" 10-string guitar to differentiate it from ten-stringed harp guitars of the 19th century.

Eleven-string alto guitar

The eleven-string alto guitar is an extended-range classical guitar developed by Swedish luthier Georg Bolin in the 1960s.

Algerian mandole

The Algerian mandole is a steel-string fretted instrument resembling an elongated mandolin, widely used in Algerian music such as Chaabi, Kabyle music and Nuubaat.


  1. Ophee, M.; The Story of the Lyre-Guitar; Soundboard, XIV:v8 (1987), 235v43. (A slightly rewritten version of this article appears in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, under the Lyre Guitar article.)
  2. Doisey (1801).