The Cost of an Eight: A Buyer’s Guide

May 26, 2024

When it comes to shopping for a new guitar, there are a plethora of options available to musicians. One popular choice among guitarists, especially those who are looking for a versatile instrument that sounds great in various genres, is the Eight guitar.

The Eight guitar, also known as an eight-string guitar, comes with an additional low F# and B strings to the traditional six-string configuration. This extra range opens up a whole new world of possibilities for players looking to expand their sonic palette. In this comprehensive buyer’s guide, we will delve into the world of Eight guitars, exploring their features, benefits, and potential drawbacks to help you make an informed decision when shopping for one.

The Rise of the Eight: A Brief History

The concept of adding additional strings to a guitar is not entirely new. Jazz guitarists have long experimented with extended-range instruments, and eight-string guitars began gaining popularity in metal and progressive genres around the 2000s. Today, they are a staple in the arsenals of many players across different styles, from jazz to djent.

The Benefits of Playing an Eight Guitar

1. Extended Range:

The primary reason musicians opt for an eight-string guitar is the extended range it offers. The additional low F# and B strings allow for deeper, heavier riffing and chord voicings, making it ideal for genres requiring a darker, more aggressive tone.

2. Versatility:

Despite their association with heavy music, eight-string guitars are incredibly versatile. They can handle a wide range of playing styles, from intricate jazz chords to blistering metal solos, thanks to their extended range and tonal capabilities.

3. Creative Possibilities:

The increased number of strings on an eight-string guitar opens up a wealth of creative possibilities for musicians looking to push the boundaries of their playing. Experimenting with new chord voicings, melodies, and textures can lead to innovative musical ideas.

4. Unique Sound:

The tonal character of an eight-string guitar is distinct, offering a fuller, more complex sound compared to traditional six-string instruments. This unique sonic profile can help guitarists stand out in a crowded mix and add depth to their music.

Things to Consider When Buying an Eight Guitar

Before purchasing an eight-string guitar, there are several factors to consider to ensure you find the right instrument for your needs.

1. Scale Length:

The scale length of the guitar will affect the tension and feel of the strings. Longer scale lengths are often preferred for eight-string guitars to maintain clarity and tension on the lower strings.

2. Pickups:

Choose pickups that complement the extended range of the instrument. Active pickups are popular for metal and djent styles, offering high output and tight low-end response.

3. Construction:

Look for a solid construction that can withstand the increased tension of eight strings. Quality woods, hardware, and craftsmanship are essential for ensuring a durable and resonant instrument.

4. Playability:

Comfort and playability are crucial, especially with the wider neck typically found on eight-string guitars. Test different models to find one that feels comfortable and facilitates your playing style.

5. Tuning Stability:

The additional strings on an eight-string guitar can pose challenges in terms of tuning stability. Consider features like locking tuners and a well-constructed bridge to help maintain tuning integrity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Do I need to be an advanced player to handle an eight-string guitar?

Not necessarily. While eight-string guitars can be more challenging to play than six-string models, players of all skill levels can benefit from the extended range and sonic possibilities they offer.

2. Are eight-string guitars limited to specific genres?

No. While eight-string guitars are often associated with metal and progressive music, they can be used in a variety of genres, including jazz, fusion, and experimental music.

3. How do I tune an eight-string guitar?

Standard tuning for an eight-string guitar is F#-B-E-A-D-G-B-E, starting from the lowest string to the highest. However, players can experiment with alternative tunings to suit their playing style.

4. What are some popular eight-string guitar brands?

Popular eight-string guitar brands include Ibanez, Schecter, ESP, Jackson, and PRS, among others. Each brand offers a range of models catering to different playing styles and preferences.

5. Do I need special gear to play an eight-string guitar?

While eight-string guitars may require adjustments in playing technique and gear, such as thicker strings and potentially higher-gauge picks, they can generally be played through standard guitar amplifiers and effects pedals.

In conclusion, eight-string guitars have become a sought-after instrument for players looking to expand their musical horizons and explore new sonic territories. By considering factors such as scale length, pickups, construction, playability, and tuning stability, you can find an eight-string guitar that meets your needs and enhances your playing experience. Whether you’re a metal shredder, a jazz aficionado, or an experimental musician, the versatility and creative potential of an eight-string guitar make it a valuable addition to any guitarist’s collection.

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