Eight-string guitar

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Homemade fretless guitar based on Jackson Rhoads
Eight-string multi-scale acoustic guitar by luthier Patrick Hawley of Ottawa, Ontario Eight String Acoustic Guitar by Patrick Hawley.jpg
Eight-string multi-scale acoustic guitar by luthier Patrick Hawley of Ottawa, Ontario

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 (such as major-thirds tuning), or both.


Various non-standard guitars were made in the 19th century, including eight-string guitars played by Italians Giulio Regondi and Luigi Legnani. [1]

Eight-string guitars gained popularity among metal bands, largely inspired by Swedish progressive metal band Meshuggah (formed in 1987).


Semi-acoustic guitar (hollow-body guitar)

Seeking a guitar tuning that would facilitate jazz improvisation, Ralph Patt invented major-thirds tuning in 1963. [2] [3] [4] Patt's tuning is a regular tuning, in the sense that all of the intervals between its successive open strings are major thirds; in contrast, standard guitar tuning has one major-third amid four fourths. [5]

Seven-string guitars are needed for major-thirds tuning to have the E-e' range of the standard tuning. [5] [6] Having an eight-string instrument allowed Patt's guitar to have G (equivalently A) as its open note. [6] Patt purchased six-string archtop hollow-body guitars that were then modified by luthiers to have wider necks, wider pickups, and eight strings. Patt's Gibson ES-150 was modified by Vincent "Jimmy" DiSerio c. 1965. [4] [6] Luthier Saul Koll modified a sequence of guitars: a 1938 Gibson Cromwell, a Sears Silvertone, a c. 1922 Mango archtop, a 1951 Gibson L-50, and a 1932 Epiphone Broadway; for Koll's modifications, custom pick-ups accommodated Patt's wide necks and high G (equivalently A); [6] custom pick-ups were manufactured by Seymour Duncan [6] and by Bill Lawrence. [4] Roy Connors, former member of the 1960s folk singing group, the Highwaymen, reconfigured a Martin O-28 six-string guitar to an eight-string of his own design and received a U.S. Patent on it (#3269247).


Solid-body eight string guitars are also used by many bands today. The construction of a solid-body eight-string guitar is comparable to that of seven- and six-string variants. The standard tuning (from low to high) is F, B, E, A, D, G, B, E. [7] Many prefer to tune the F to a low E (E1), the same note as the lowest string on a four-string electric bass in standard tuning, and providing the guitar with a fuller sound by having three different E strings. [8] This tuning is equivalent to tuning a six-string guitar to Drop D tuning.

Like the seven-string, the first mass-produced eight-string guitar was made by Ibanez guitars in Japan; the RG2228. [ citation needed ]

Scale length

The main design issue faced with an eight-string guitar is tuning stability with the lower strings. This is due to the neck being constructed too short, bridge problems such as improper intonation, uneven spacing for floating bridges, or the use of wrong string gauges. Other problems associated with tuning stability rely on proper setup of the guitar.

Extended range eight string guitars sometimes will have a multi-scale design where the bass strings will be longer than the treble strings (fanned fret design). This helps with proper intonation of the lower strings, improves string tension balance across the strings, improves harmonic overtones, overtone series, and improves inharmonicity. (See also inharmonicity in pianos). The bass strings on an 8 string typically require the saddle to be pulled back a bit more than the other strings to properly set the intonation. Some bridge designs accommodate this by offsetting back the 7th and 8th strings or providing a bit extra room for adjustment. Longer scale lengths require less offset for proper intonation. [ citation needed ]

Notable players


Paul Galbraith began using an eight string guitar in 1994 when in collaboration with luthier David Rubio they designed the Brahms guitar. Galbraith generally tunes AEADGBEA. Egberto Gismonti (born 1947) is a Brazilian guitarist and pianist who favors the 8-string classical guitar. Livio Gianola (Premana, 1964) is an Italian guitarist. It is considered by the specialized critic "The Master of the Eight String Guitar".


Hungarian born Australian Jazz guitarist Laszlo Sirsom plays 8-string jazz guitar made by Phil Carson Crickmore He's tuning as a normal guitar on the middle plus High A and lower B. Charlie Hunter plays a hybrid eight-string guitar made by Ralph Novak of Novax Guitars. Five of the strings are tuned to the standard guitar's upper five (A, D, G, B, E), while three of the strings are tuned to the standard bass guitar's three lowest (E, A, D). The bass and treble sections have separate pickups and are sent to separate amplifiers. Hunter also has a ten-string guitar based on the same principle—a combination of standard six-string guitar and standard four-string bass. [9]


The eight-string guitar is used by modern heavy metal guitarists such as Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström of Meshuggah, Dino Cazares of Fear Factory, Stephen Carpenter of Deftones, Greg Burgess of Allegaeon, Simon Girard and Kevin Chartré of Beyond Creation, Justin Lowe and Trent Hafdahl of After the Burial, Josh Travis of Emmure (ex-The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza and ex-Glass Cloud), Per Nilsson of Scar Symmetry and Meshuggah as a touring member and others. The instrument is particularly associated with the “djent” sound popularized by Meshuggah, Vildhjarta and other contemporary metal artists.

Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes of Animals as Leaders tune their eighth strings to the same low E as the lowest string on a standard four-string bass guitar, and use the instrument's versatility to incorporate bass guitar techniques—such as string thumping (on "Earth Departure, An Infinite Regression") á la funk bassist Larry Graham and the double thumping technique pioneered by Victor Wooten — as well as harp-like arpeggios.

Ihsahn of the black metal band Emperor began playing seven-string guitar in 1999 and first played eight-string guitar on his 2010 album After .

Rusty Cooley tunes his eight-string guitar like a standard six-string expanded in both directions. This tuning offers both deeper bass tones than a conventional guitar and extended range in the higher register for lead melodies.

Guitarist Justin Broadrick of the English industrial metal band Godflesh introduced his eight-string playing on the 2014 Godflesh EP Decline & Fall .

Guitarists Lucas Mann and Joel Omans from the technical deathcore band Rings Of Saturn also use eight-string guitars, with Mann primarily making use of a nine-string guitar for the band's 2019 album Gidim. Miles Dimitri Baker, one of their former members, also used one.

Chris Andrews of the death metal band Devourment uses eight-string guitars, starting with the album Obscene Majesty .

See also

Related Research Articles

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.

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.

Baritone guitar

The baritone guitar is a guitar with a longer scale length, typically a larger body, and heavier internal bracing, so it can be tuned to a lower pitch. Gretsch, Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, ESP Guitars, PRS Guitars, Music Man, Danelectro, Schecter, Jerry Jones Guitars, Burns London and many other companies have produced electric baritone guitars since the 1960s, although always in small numbers due to low popularity. Tacoma, Santa Cruz, Taylor, Martin, Alvarez Guitars and others have made acoustic baritone guitars.

Fredrik Thordendal Swedish musician

Fredrik Thordendal is a Swedish musician, best known as the lead guitarist and backing vocalist for the Swedish extreme metal band Meshuggah, of which he is a founding member. Along with Meshuggah's rhythm guitarist Mårten Hagström, Thordendal was rated No. 35 by Guitar World in the top 100 greatest heavy metal guitarists of all-time.

Guitar chord

In music, a guitar chord is a set of notes played on a guitar. A chord's notes are often played simultaneously, but they can be played sequentially in an arpeggio. The implementation of guitar chords depends on the guitar tuning. Most guitars used in popular music have six strings with the "standard" tuning of the Spanish classical guitar, namely E-A-D-G-B-E' ; in standard tuning, the intervals present among adjacent strings are perfect fourths except for the major third (G,B). Standard tuning requires four chord-shapes for the major triads.

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.

New standard tuning Alternative guitar tuning

New standard tuning (NST) is an alternative tuning for the guitar that approximates all-fifths tuning. The guitar's strings are assigned the notes C2-G2-D3-A3-E4-G4 ; the five lowest open strings are each tuned to an interval of a perfect fifth {(C,G),(G,D),(D,A),(A,E)}; the two highest strings are a minor third apart (E,G).

Open G tuning

Among alternative tunings for the guitar, an open G tuning is an open tuning that features the G-major chord; its open notes are selected from the notes of a G-major chord, such as the G-major triad (G,B,D). For example, a popular open-G tuning is

Classical guitar with additional strings

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.

Open C tuning

Open C tuning is an open tuning for guitar. The open-string notes form a C major chord, which is the triad (C,E,G) having the root note C, the major third (C,E), and the perfect fifth (C,G). When the guitar is strummed without fretting any strings, a C-major chord is sounded. By barring all of the strings for one fret, one finger suffices to fret the other eleven major-chords.

All fourths tuning

Among alternative tunings for the guitar, all-fourths tuning is a regular tuning. In contrast, the standard tuning has one irregularity—a major third between the third and second strings—while having perfect fourths between the other successive strings. The standard tuning's irregular major-third is replaced by a perfect fourth in all-fourths tuning, which has the open notes E2-A2-D3-G3-C4-F4.

An augmented tuning is a tuning system for musical instruments that is associated with augmented triads, that is a root note, a major third, and an augmented fifth. The augmented fifth is constructed by stacking the major third with another major third. Consequently, all of the intervals are major thirds.

Nine-string guitar

A nine-string guitar is a guitar with nine strings instead of the commonly used six strings. Such guitars are not as common as the six-string variety, but are used by guitarists to modify the sound or expand the range of their instrument.

Major thirds tuning

Among alternative tunings for guitar, a major-thirds tuning is a regular tuning in which each interval between successive open strings is a major third. Other names for major-thirds tuning include major-third tuning, M3 tuning, all-thirds tuning, and augmented tuning. By definition, a major-third interval separates two notes that differ by exactly four semitones.

Regular tuning

Among alternative guitar-tunings, regular tunings have equal musical intervals between the paired notes of their successive open strings.

Ralph Patt

Ralph Oliver Patt was an American jazz guitarist who introduced major-thirds tuning. Patt's tuning simplified the learning of the fretboard and chords by beginners and improvisation by advanced guitarists. He invented major-thirds tuning under the inspiration of first the atonal music of Arnold Schoenberg and second the jazz of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

Repetitive tuning

Repetitive tunings are alternative tunings for the guitar. A repetitive tuning begins with a list of notes that is duplicated, either at unison or at higher octaves.

Overtones tuning

Among alternative tunings for the guitar, an overtones tuning selects its open-string notes from the overtone sequence of a fundamental note. An example is the open tuning constituted by the first six overtones of the fundamental note C, namely C2-C3-G3-C4-E4-G4.


  1. Noonan, Jeffrey (2008). The Guitar in America: Victorian Era to Jazz Age. American Made Music. University Press of Mississippi. p. 205. ISBN   1934110183.
  2. Griewank (2010 , p. 1)
  3. Kirkeby, Ole (1 March 2012). "Major thirds tuning". m3guitar.com. cited by Sethares (2011) and (Griewank 2010, p. 1). Archived from the original on 11 April 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 Patt, Ralph (14 April 2008). "The major 3rd tuning". Ralph Patt's jazz web page. ralphpatt.com. cited by Sethares (2011) and Griewank (2010, p. 1). Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  5. 1 2 Sethares (2001)
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Peterson (2002 , p. 37): Peterson, Jonathon (Winter 2002). "Tuning in thirds: A new approach to playing leads to a new kind of guitar". American Lutherie: The Quarterly Journal of the Guild of American Luthiers. 8222 South Park Avenue, Tacoma WA 98408: USA.: The Guild of American Luthiers. 72: 36–43 ]. ISSN   1041-7176. Archived from the original on 21 October 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2012.CS1 maint: location (link)
  7. "8 String Guitar Tuning - All You Need To Know!". GuitarCasa.com. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  8. "List Of Most Common 8 String Guitar Tunings - Guitar Lessons". Pickuptheguitar.com. 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  9. Alexander, Charles (2003). Masters of Jazz Guitar: The Story of the Players and Their Music. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 180. ISBN   0879307285.