Ibanez S8QM: 8-String Review

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by BigDoug1053, Apr 7, 2015.

  1. BigDoug1053

    BigDoug1053 Supporting Member

    Apr 18, 2005
    Northern Colorado
    I am not a metal guitarist, but enjoy baritone and extended range instruments. This past fall I got a new Ibanez S8QM 8-string, and offer my observations... Here's a Sweetwater photo that is very close to what my S8 looks like:


    I bought the guitar sight unseen on Ebay from a New York music store for $570. They typically go for $800. It arrived intact and had a lovely quilted maple top and a fairly comfortable laminated bolt-on neck. I have an Ibanez SAS36 6-string, so I am a fan of the S-style bodies which are slender and good looking IMO - a clever design and IMO a real improvement on the Strat design. I am also sold on the QA that Ibanez applies to their contracted Asian builders.

    The fit and finish were very good and the guitar was made in Indonesia. The fret edges were a little rough at a couple of points along the neck, but overall, not bad for a budget guitar. The guitar arrived in proper intonation and it has a 27" scale length, so string tension on treble strings is higher than on a shorter scale instrument. The S8 has a Gibraltar fixed bridge and strings are anchored through the body. The instrument is fairly resonant and you can feel the body vibrate on some chords. The S8 stays in tune well, though I suggest that you use a pencil to get some graphite lube into the nut slots.

    It comes with 2 Ibanez humbuckers with a 5-way selector switch that allows parallel humbucking of the bridge PU in position 2, and parallel humbucking of single coils in the bridge and neck PUs in position 4. These positions deliver very nice clean sounds while the usual 1-3-5 positions deliver traditional series humbucker sounds. I can get great overdriven sound with the series bridge PU, and this is what most of the potential buyers want in these instruments. However....

    The biggest surprise for me once I became accustomed to the wider neck was the hugeness of the clean open chords. Very Joni Mitchell-sounding chords for many open forms all along the neck. The open E-form C chord with root on the 6th fret of the F# string is incredible sounding through a clean amp.

    Because of these open chords that are reminiscent of open tunings and the fat bottom end and wide range of the open chords, I recommend that all guitarists check out the 8 strings. You can also do a lot of finger picking along jazz chord forms that sounds great. I attend a regular free-form jam, and find that baritones and 7- and 8-strings allow a frequency range unoccupied by bass or guitars. They are very versatile instruments!


    Suggestions for newbies - be patient and realize there some adjustment to the wider and longer neck. The bass strings are generally louder than the treble and you will need to adopt a lighter picking touch. Once you have adjusted, the string response is pretty even. I also recommend playing scales and arpeggios to get used to the wider reach on the neck and to be able to grab the right strings consistently. My right hand technique on the S8 reminds me of pedal steel guitar grips I am also learning ...

    I did not expect to fall in love with my S8, but must admit I have bonded with it! I don't think you can go wrong getting an Ibanez S8 as a starter extended range instrument.

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