Switching from a 6 string to a 7 string

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by xXStanXx, Feb 23, 2015.

  1. xXStanXx

    xXStanXx Member

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    Hey everyone. This summer I'll be ordering a new guitar from Carvin (a Vader headless of some description) and I'd love to get a 7 string but I'm not really sure if I'm ready for it. I've been playing for just about 2 years now and technique wise I'd say I'm doing pretty good for the year and a half mark (getting some good picking speed, getting some better dexterity in my neglected left hand, still working on getting pull offs up to any appreciable speed without sounding messy) and theory wise I'm improving daily (have the major and pentatonic scales down, have a fairly basic grasp of modes, starting to work on my own riffs, still working on improv, getting better at figuring out songs on my own). There's some music in my collection that I could play that could use a 7 string (or a very down tuned 6) which is why I'd consider getting a 7 string (and I'd love to be able to mess with some lower tunings without the inconvenience of having to retune a 6 string all the time). I guess my question is for those of you that have made the switch was it as hard as you thought it would be or is is something that comes fairly naturally once you get used to having a 7th string around? Do you think I would benefit with some more time spent with a 6 string before making the switch? Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    I think it would not make much difference. My understanding is that most 7-string players merely do it to add a low B string. So, all it will do is extend your playing range but it won't really change anything you have been concentrating on learning so far.

    Personally, I would spend the money elsewhere - wherever that may be.
     
  3. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Supporting Member

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    Some players are able to switch back and forth, others are not. Some players are able to get comfortable with the wider neck, others are not. I played 7-string for years and my advise is always the same: buy a cheap used Ibanez or Schecter 7-string first (they're plentiful). Try it for a while and see how you like. If it works for you, then buy a good one, sell the used cheapie and enjoy the new guitar. If it doesn't work out, sell the cheapie for about what you bought it for and nothing is lost but a bit of time and effort.
     
  4. Sid

    Sid Member

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    agreed, i tried for a month or so...just couldn't get used to it...i went with the downtuned 6 after that
     
  5. Rufus

    Rufus Silver Supporting Member

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    I had two main problems with playing a 7 string: (1) Things that relied on the low E a lot became harder to play because it was no longer the bottom string; and (2) I do a lot of thumb over the top fretting and that doesn't work so well with a wide 7 string neck.
     
  6. Tri7/5

    Tri7/5 Supporting Member

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    Or you could be like me and find it strange that the low E would be the bottom string and wonder where the 7th is. It's weird to play a 6 string sometimes.
     
  7. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Or you could be like Keith and have a five-string with a low G.
    Personally I think there should be laws against 5-string basses and 7-string guitars. Having a 3-string bass is ok...one-string would be ideal.
     
  8. stevel

    stevel Member

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    Yes.

    All that re-tuning could be beneficial, especially if you use your ear to do it!

    However, it also may not be necessary. I import Black Sabbath songs in C# into Audacity and change the pitch without changing the tempo. It makes Ozzy sound pretty funny but you can learn the guitar parts without re-tuning (well, some are standard and some are dropped-D) and play them on the same frets that Iommi played them on.

    Obviously, songs that really require a 7 string (i.e., actually use the entire range of a 7 string guitar) would be tough to do accurately without one, but, even something just in B, without going up onto the first string (low rhythm parts) could be learned on 6 with the pitch of the song transposed up. That way, you'd play it "in the same place" on a 7, but then it would seem like the high string is the "extra" string, not the low string (if you tune your G string down to F#, then the 6 string becomes the LOWER 6 strings of a 7). Then, when you migrate to a 7, you're already in the right place, with just a wider neck (and pesky high string I suppose!).

    I played 8 course Lute in college and it's as if the middle 6 courses (that's pairs of strings tuned to the same note or in octaves) are tuned like guitar (though different pitch). That makes the highest string "added" and that's the same way a 7 would seem to you after playing this way (I actually cheated with the Lute and took the lowest course off, so I played a 7 string with added top string in that regard). Classical guitar music that's been transcribed from Lute actually will tune the G string down to F# for this very same reason.

    So it might worth approaching it that way on a 6 which would make the transition to 7 easier IMHO. That way, you can just grab a 7 whenever, and not let it hold you up from working on material just because you don't have the guitar.

    Though I agree with Jim's idea too - get a cheap one used - the reason they're so plentiful is because people think they want them, get them, and for various reasons, realize they're not that advantageous to them.
     
  9. xXStanXx

    xXStanXx Member

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    You bring up some good points for sure, and I guess most of the music I could potentially play on a 7 string is no doubt played on a down tuned 6. But I'm conflicted between having the full range of a 7 string at my disposal vs having a limited range 6 string that I would have to retune all the time. A lot of my playing right now is just mindlessly playing the major pentatonic minor scales up and down the neck, not only for memorizing them but also for getting up some good picking speed.

    There is also the issue my me being a full time university student working 4 months a year and being on a budget (well, buying a cheap 7 string wouldn't be an issue normally, but I REALLY want to get a nice tube amp this summer, so that eats up most of my money).

    That being said you all bring up some really good points and thanks for the help. I guess I'll just have to give it some serious thought.
     
  10. DNW

    DNW Member

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    When I changed to 7-strings (maybe 12 years ago?), I basically played only the 7-string for maybe two or three weeks and after that I was comfortable with it. I didn't have a choice as I was overseas and the guitar I'd bought there was the only one I had. Might have been different had I been at home and been able to pick up a 6er if I was getting frustrated or whatever.

    But yeah, after 2 or 3 weeks I was fairly comfortable with it. I have a few 6ers and still pick them up every now and again, but really I'm most comfortable on 7s, even for stuff that doesn't at all use the 7th string.
     
  11. rockdoctor42

    rockdoctor42 Member

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    I've been playing 7 strings longer than I've been playing 6, I now find it takes a bit of adjustment to go back to the 6 string.

    The only differences between the 7 and the 6 are:

    1.) There's an extra string to work with which means learning the location of some extra notes and integrating it into your style.

    2.) The neck is slightly wider. The use of classical grip is highly advisable.

    3.) The bottom string is not an E. This is what throws most people off when they switch between 6 and 7. It means that you can't just reach for the lowest string and expect it to be an E (or B as the case may be).
     
  12. Sheherezadeh

    Sheherezadeh Member

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    I would also concur with the advice of looking into a lower end 7 and trying it out for yourself. There's really no way to know without giving it a shot. My progression was acoustic -> electric - 6-string bass -> mandolin -> 7-string -> fretless 4-string bass -> 8-string. The transition to bass was a far more severe one, but it didn't bother me. At this point the number of strings I'm working with isn't much more of a difference to me than the difference in neck thickness, scale length, fretboard radius, fixed vs. floating bridge, fret height, string gauge, etc. on all my other guitars.
     

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