When it comes to guitars, one of the biggest debates among players is whether to go with a 6-string or a 7-string guitar. While both options have their pros and cons, deciding on which one to get largely depends on the style of music you want to play and personal preference.
6-string guitars are the traditional option and are widely used in a variety of genres, including rock, blues, and pop. They typically have a narrower neck and fewer strings than their 7-string counterparts, which can make them easier to play for beginners and those with smaller hands. They also tend to have a brighter and more defined tone, which is great for playing lead parts and solos.
On the other hand, 7-string guitars are becoming increasingly popular, especially in heavier genres like metal and djent. They have an extra low B string, which allows for more range and depth in playing heavy riffs and chords. This is the obvious use of a 7-string guitar that is to play low-pitched notes for heavier styles of music. However, the wider neck and extra string can make them more challenging to play and may take some getting used to.
Check out this video from ESP Guitars with the Signature Series Spotlight: Brian “Head” Welch (Korn)
What is the Difference Between 6 and 7 String Guitar?
The below images compare the standard tuning for 6 and 7-string guitars:
As you can see, the lower B string of the 7-string guitar is in addition to the six strings, which are tuned in the same E A D G B E.
With the 7-string guitar, the low B string has a significant impact on the range of notes you can play, so the scope of the chord patterns you can create, and your playing style will be expanded significantly.
Can You Play 6-String Songs on a 7-String Guitar?
Yes, you can definitely play 6-string songs on a 7-string guitar. The additional seventh string on a 7-string guitar is usually tuned to a lower pitch than the other strings, so you can simply ignore that string when playing 6-string songs and play only the six higher-pitched strings.
Some guitarists prefer to remove the seventh string altogether when playing 6-string songs, while others like to leave it on and use it for additional bass notes or to add depth to chords. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and the specific song being played.
Check out ESP Guitars Australia Demo of the Kirk Hammett Signature Series KH-V Guitars
It’s worth noting that playing 6-string songs on a 7-string guitar may require some adjustments in playing technique, especially when it comes to finger placement and hand positioning. The wider neck and additional string can take some getting used to, but with practice, it’s definitely possible to play 6-string songs on a 7-string guitar.
Check out the Riff Lords Gibson Guitars Video: Featuring Mark Morton of Lamb of God
What Use Does a Seven-String Guitar Serve?
As mentioned previously, the obvious use of a 7-string guitar is to play low-pitched notes for heavier styles of music. 7 string guitars became extremely popular in the 90s with bands like Korn as a way of playing extremely low pitched riffs, while still having the higher-pitched notes available.
At that time, other bands would tune down their six-string guitars and use them. For instance, Slipknot’s six-string guitars are typically tuned to Drop-B. They are now able to play the same low notes that are often limited to a 7-string guitar. Six-string guitars are easy to tune down if the guitarist is just interested in playing low-range notes.
Therefore, the main distinction between playing a 7-string guitar and tuning a 6-string guitar down is that the latter still allows you to play higher notes.
So Which Guitar Should You Buy? A 6-String or &- String? …Let’s Break it Down for You
Whether you should buy a 6-string or 7-string guitar depends on your musical preferences, playing style, and the type of music you want to create. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:
Check out the Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1963 SG Custom Guitar – Demo & Rundown Video
- Musical Genre: The choice between a 6-string and a 7-string guitar often comes down to the genre of music you want to play. Traditional genres like rock, blues, jazz, and pop primarily use 6-string guitars. If you’re primarily interested in these genres, a 6-string guitar is a more traditional and versatile choice
- Extended Range: A 7-string guitar provides an extended range with an additional low B string. This extra string can be useful for playing heavy metal, djent, progressive metal, and other genres that require lower tunings and extended low-end range.
- Complexity: Playing a 7-string guitar can be more complex than a 6-string due to the additional string. It may take some time to adapt to the wider neck and the different string spacing. If you’re a beginner, you might find a 6-string guitar easier to start with.
- Personal Preference: Ultimately, your choice should align with your personal preferences. If you enjoy the tonal possibilities and extended range of a 7-string guitar and the music you want to play benefits from it, go for it. If you prefer the familiarity and simplicity of a 6-string guitar, stick with that.
- Budget: Consider your budget as well. 7-string guitars tend to be somewhat more expensive than their 6-string counterparts due to the added complexity and materials.
- Try Before You Buy: If possible, try both 6-string and 7-string guitars in a music store to get a feel for their playability and sound. Your hands and ears will be the best judge of which one suits you best.
- Future Goals: Think about your long-term musical goals. If you foresee yourself playing music that benefits from the extended range of a 7-string guitar, it might be a good investment for your musical journey.
Check out our Epiphone Prophecy SG Blue Tiger Guitar Review
Ultimately, the choice between a 6-string and a 7-string guitar depends on your musical aspirations and preferences. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, so take your time to consider what will best suit your needs and musical style.