7 Strings Good, 6 Strings Bad
I'm sure most axe wielders have given the 7-string guitar some thought. Certainly there is no shortage of opinion from artists in the press.
The 6-string purists are pretty scathing and discouraging in their comments but I wonder how many of them have actually sat down in private and had a session on one? If it has ever crossed your mind to have a go or you feel vaguely dissatisfied with six-strings then read on...
Below are some of the considerations facing all the wannabee 7-stringers:
1. The Cons
The daunting technical hurdles resulting from the extra bass string and the broader neck. I kid you not; taming the 7-string is serious business.
There is significant outlay in terms of time and money - look forward to hours of practice and the possibility of considerable expense for the instrument, the strings and a dedicated amplifier.
The blow to your ego as you return to beginner status - this is a definite unless your name is Steve Vai.
The shortage of serious literature for study-I have yet to come across a serious tome written by an experienced and skilled 7-string tutor.
The fear of failure and the jeers from the mob.
2. The Pros
The challenge and excitement of being on the cutting edge of guitar - breaking out of that rut.
Discovery of the myriad possibilities it conjures for all genres, not just the extreme metal heads (Jazz, avant-garde & classical players alike have been using them for years).
Exploring the range of notes you have acquired and the unique timbre of the new string.
Developing the 7-string's potential for new & interesting chord voicings.
Experimenting with a new range of alternate tunings.
Exploiting the effect that the extra string has on scales & arpeggios by developing new positions
Most importantly, consider the possibilities for improvisation.
The hard work and perseverance will pay-off (just it did on your six-string) in terms of your development as a 7-string player but as an added bonus, your six-string will seem a hell of a lot easier too.
There are increasingly more articles in the mainstream magazines, more support on the net, more models emerging (they are becoming increasingly affordable too) and more signed artists taking the plunge.
Obviously the 7- string guitar is not for everyone. Most folk are secure and satisfied with their six- string. The 7-string guitar is not for these folk, it is an instrument for a rare breed of creative and experimental guitarist.
Sure, there are plenty of 7- stringers who could've benefited from spending a little more practise time on the six-string and who could arguably achieve the same results from detuning. There are equally as many who are trying to push the boundaries and who have paid their dues on the six-string.
It takes a great deal of time and effort to develop technique and ideas on the 7- string (anyone who has tried their hand will admit this) but the rewards are well worth it.
Upgrading to a 7-string is serious business. Be prepared for frustration and dejection but when things get bad you can always simply chill out on your six-string.
Remember, nothing ventured nothing gained!
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