When you hear the word ‘guitar’, you most probably think of the traditional 6-string acoustic guitar. You may think of a 6-string electric guitar instead, or even a 4-string bass guitar.
These basic versions are pretty common in modern musical circles. You see them in lots of pop, folk, and rock bands.
However, there are other types of guitars that you may not have come across before. These include such beasts as the mighty 7-string guitar. This unique guitar can hit greater ranges of notes than the more standard models.
It may seem like a strange number of strings to have, but the extra string can really help increase the versatility of your guitar.
What is a Seven-String Guitar?
You can’t just add another string to an existing guitar; a seven-string guitar has to be made specifically. The extra note gives it a larger range.
You can make some music much simpler or more convenient if you use a 7-string guitar instead. You may find that a certain repertoire requires seven-strings in order to be played properly.
Many professional guitarists will own a selection of guitars to choose from. They can choose which one is most suitable for playing in any situation. Having a seven-string guitar in their arsenal can make a vast difference to their overall performance and interpretation.
The 7-string guitar is also known as the Russian guitar or gypsy guitar. If you’ve heard either of those terms, that’s what they’re referring to. They are also traditional in other cultures, such as Brazilian and Mexican, so they are not specifically Russian inventions.
While you can get both acoustic and electric versions of this guitar type, you will most commonly see it nowadays as part of rock bands.
If you’re curious about buying one, here are a few of our favorite picks to get you started.
Best Seven-String Guitars (Quick Summary)
- 20” Fingerboard Radius
- 26.5” Scale Length
- Signature Seymour Duncan “Alpha & Omega” Pickups
- Top Wood: Beveled Maple Top w/ Quilted Maple or Walnut Veneer; Back: Mahogany; Neck: Maple w/ Satin Finish; Fretboard: Bound Ebony
- Includes PRS SE Gig Bag
The SE Mark Holcomb is a distinctive seven string electric guitar with its hypnotic blue pattern and black edging. The overall size of the guitar is unusual, as the neck is 26.5 inches in total. This is one inch longer than the average.
It also boasts 24 frets, so is more versatile in terms of the notes that you can reach. You can opt for either maple or walnut as the veneer. This gives you an option that can make your guitar a special fit for you.
This model comes with a range of added features that will aid you in your guitar journey. These include the 3-way blade pickup switch through to the push and pull tone control.
Also included is a gig bag with plenty of room for all your accessories. You can take it to wherever you need to be with ease. With this guitar, you will experience a versatility that is just as at home playing solo as it is in a band.
- An ideal weight to be not too heavy nor too light
- Longer than average neck makes finding chords and notes easy
- Eye-catching design with an edgy look
- A great deal price-wise for the quality you get
- High gloss body and matt neck may look a bit disjointed next to each other
One of the more expensive options on our list, this beautiful guitar the stuff of legends. Created by renowned guitarist John Petrucci, it has everything you could want in a high-quality instrument for any performance situation.
Of course, when you’re spending as much as several thousand dollars on one item, you need to be sure that it’s a sound investment – this guitar is just that.
The design of the body and neck helps to produce an incredible tone that can sustain notes for long periods. There is also a tremolo bridge and various other features that provide a range of funky effects for any occasion.
They crafted the body from mahogany, which is one of the most popular woods for making instruments. The mahogany choice makes this guitar resonant and beautiful.
As for the strings, these are easily tuned without being wound around the tuning peg shaft, keeping the pitches steady.
- Made from premium African mahogany with a maple wood cap and ebony fretboard
- Stainless steel frets have a long life span with proper maintenance
- Special features allow a range of cool playing effects
- Considerably more expensive than similar models
- 2 Fishman Fluence Humbucking Pickups – Baked Blue
- 7-string Electric Guitar with Ash Body
- Maple/Wenge/Maple Neck
- Ebony Fingerboard
Blue seems to be the ‘in’ color for electric guitars these days, seven strings or otherwise.
This delightful model from top guitar manufacturer Jackson is no exception. Just look at its streaked electric blue design and see for yourself.
The paint works really well alongside the natural grain of the wood body, which is made from a high-quality ash.
Unlike the single-piece necks that some seven-string guitars feature, this neck has three separate pieces. The outside two are mode of maple, and the other wenge (a dark, tropical wood).
This makes the whole thing sturdy, and is designed for maximum comfort during use.
Whether you’re playing power chords or rapid, detailed passages, the Dinky guitar can cover a lot of music with its 24 frets and pearloid dot inlays.
- Comfortably mid-range in price but high in quality
- Pearloid inlays on the frets make seeing them easier, even if you have minimal lighting available
- 3-piece neck and open core bridge provide a sturdy structure and powerful tone
- Comes with matching headstock and is also available in green or red
- The design and finish may not be to everyone’s taste, although it looks great
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Demon by name, demon by nature – this hardcore guitar can handle even the heaviest styles of playing. This guitar lets you fire off the most mind-bending riffs imaginable with no drop in quality.
The Diamond Active pickups, distinctive body shape and smooth fingerboard all contribute to the sturdiness of the guitar. This ensures it’s ready for anything you throw at it.
If playing metal is the question, this guitar is certainly the answer.
Available in vintage white, aged black satin and crimson red burst, there are enough color options that you can pick one that works for you.
Instead of the regular dot inlays, they shaped these like gothic crosses. The attention to detail encompasses the whole guitar, showing commitment to the overall look.
The maple neck and wenge fretboard combine for a guitar that looks as good as it plays.
- Good price for the playability it offers
- Diamond Active pickups deliver an excellent tonal range
- Built to withstand aggressive playing
- Can be used left-handed as well as right-handed
- Doesn’t come with many extra features, as it is designed with practicality in mind
If you thought our last offering was good value for money, wait until you see the price of this one. You won’t believe what you can get for just a couple hundred dollars!
One of the main benefits is its lightweight body, allowing you to hold it for long periods with ease. Another model from the popular range of Jackson guitars, you know this model can be trusted.
The rosewood fingerboard is a great option for both simple chords and fast flourishes. Meanwhile, the poplar body provides stability during play.
These two woods are not commonly seen in guitars. However, they are cost-effective compared to other types and still deliver excellent results.
Completing the look are the piranha tooth fret inlays, letting you feel like a rock god whenever you pick it up.
- Extremely affordable for all budgets, without lacking in quality
- Ideal for beginners who are new to 7-string guitars
- Thin and lightweight body for easy playing
- The high-output humbuckers can cope well with distortion
- Saving money on the pickups means they offer a limited tonal range
- Only comes in one color (satin black) and a plain design
- Quilted Maple Art Grain top
- 24 frets
- High output Infinity R pickups
The Ibanez GRG is another excellent budget option. It has a less plain design for all those aspiring rockers out there.
Some people favor the artwork on their guitar’s body, and this one – named ‘transparent black sunburst’ or ‘transparent blue burst’, depending on which color option you choose – can make a coveted addition to any instrument collection.
The high gloss finish completes the look and gives it an unrivalled shine.
Poplar and maple are the woods used for the body and neck, respectively. Also, the strings are nickel. Both materials help keep the price down, but still give the guitar a professional appearance and high structural integrity.
The Infinity R7 pickups are humbucking and can give your notes a round, distorted tone that is so popular among rock musicians.
- Highly affordable model that looks more expensive than it is
- Stays well in tune for long periods of playing time
- Excellent for distortion, but produces stable clear sounds as well
- Can’t be played left-handed
- The pickups are basic and don’t have the best tone
Not everyone is familiar with what makes a good seven-string guitar, even if they know what to look for with a regular six-string. Here, we go through some of the most important factors to consider when making your purchase.
What is the best material for a seven-string guitar?
Guitars can be made of many wood types. The body is usually a different wood from the neck.
The type of wood used can have a significant impact on the sound quality of the instrument. This wood choice changes the specific sound you’re going for which you should get.
Body woods like mahogany and rosewood produce warm, rich tones. Maple and koa offer a bright, crisp sound.
Many guitar makers choose a neck wood and a body wood that complement each other. This balances out the sound they make.
There are also considerations you have to think about regarding adding electronics. The impact that will have on the overall sound quality.
What is the best size for seven-string guitars?
Sven-string guitars have a 26.5 inch neck. However, they can be over 27 inches depending on the particular model. The longer the neck, the more frets can be accommodated and the more versatility you have.
You may find that you struggle to play longer guitars than usual. It can be harder to reach the ends or hold the instrument comfortably.
The shape of the neckboard also varies, both on the back and the front. Manufacturers may shape backs to look like the letters U, V, D or C. You may need to experiment with a few to find one that works for you.
If you see a radius measurement in the guitar’s specifications, this is the radius you would have if you continued the fretboard’s curvature through a complete circle. Seven-string guitars often have a 16 inch diameter.
Finding good pickups for seven-string guitars
The pickup is the device on your guitar that turns the vibrations from your strings into electricity. It sits directly underneath the strings and uses either magnets or metal rods to ‘pick up’ the sounds.
Of course, these do not appear on acoustic guitars. However, they are incredibly necessary to achieve the right sound quality on an electric one. The vibrations travel to an amplifier via a wire, and then the volume gets amplified enough to hear properly.
There are different pickups used, which can make a big difference to the sounds produced. Single coil pickups only feature one coil of copper wire, while double coil pickups (also known as humbuckers) have two.
Single coil pickups enable you to play bright sounds that can stand out among a menagerie of other instruments and voices.
Double coil pickups have their coils arranged with opposite poles facing each other. This eliminates the hum you can get with their single coil counterparts. These pickups are especially great for heavy rock and jazz, because of their added power in the bass range.
What are fanned frets in seven-string guitars?
Because seven-string guitars have an extra string that regular guitars don’t have, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain an appropriate amount of tension in the bottom string.
That’s where fanned frets come in: these increase the fret scale, which increases the tension and stops strings feeling loose.
Of course, you also need to make sure you’re striking the right balance between high and low tension, given that the higher strings will need less.
If you have a multiscale guitar, you can vary the tension, so that the lower strings will have more tension than the higher strings, keeping things feeling even and balanced.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Would I Need A Seven-String Guitar?
If you’re a guitarist reading this and panicking that you don’t already have your own seven-string, don’t worry – not all guitarists will need to own such a guitar at any point, and it certainly won’t hamper your progress not to have one.
The chief advantage of a seven-string guitar is that you can reach lower notes and change up how you play chords. If you aren’t playing music with particularly prominent baselines, you probably won’t need to invest in one.
You can play much the same music on both guitars, and it’s certainly possible to switch between the two without affecting how you play. That said, try to match your playing method to the one used in the original music.
If you know certain songs you like we’re played on a seven string, it makes sense for you to play them on a seven string too, since it would be more authentic that way.
Examples of popular guitarists who often use the seven-string guitar include Jeff Loomis and Joe Satriani.
Do You Play A Seven-String Guitar Differently From A Six-String?
You play a seven-string guitar in much the same way as a regular six-string guitar, but there are certain things that will make it feel different.
For example, You tune the strings to the same notes, and the 7th just follows that pattern. However, there is an extra string on the end showing the next note.
This means that you can’t merrily strum away with your hand across all the strings simultaneously, since you will hit the open bottom string as well and mess up the chord.
The fretboard is wider than on a six-string, so it will take a bit of getting used to the extra space your fingers need to reach over. However, the layout is the same and you won’t need to learn a unique set of chord patterns.
Therefore, after a certain amount of time, playing your seven-string guitar should become just as comfortable to play as your standard 6 inch ones.
Are Seven-String Guitars Expensive?
Seven-string guitars use up more material to make than six string ones, meaning that the average purchase price will be higher.
However, as we’ve showed, there is a great deal of variation in terms of how much your seven-string guitar will cost.
There are seven-string guitars to suit all budgets, and you may even find one that is cheaper or offers better value for money than a six-string one you had your eye on.
The strings themselves can make the biggest difference in overall price, since manufacturers can make them from expensive or relatively cheap materials, so an extra one could well be significant.
When the original set of strings wears out, you can always replace them with a cheaper set, but you will need to swap them all over at the same time if changing the material.
It may also affect the tone more than you might expect if you use a type of string manufacturers did not intend your guitar to hold.