Extended Range Guitars: 7, 8 Strings and Beyond


Key Takeaways

  • ERGs offer a wider range of notes and sounds, allowing musicians to explore new musical territories.
  • Choosing the right ERG requires careful consideration of factors such as scale length, number of strings, and pickup configuration.
  • Playing an ERG requires a different approach than playing a traditional guitar, but with practice, it can open up new creative possibilities.

Extended Range Guitars (ERGs) have become increasingly popular among guitarists in recent years. These unique instruments offer a wider range of notes and sounds, allowing musicians to explore new musical territories.

In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive overview of ERGs, including their history, benefits, and popular types.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned guitarist, this guide will provide valuable insights into the world of extended range guitars.

From choosing the right instrument to playing it effectively, we will cover all the essential aspects of ERGs. So, let’s dive in and explore this exciting universe of music.

Defining Extended Range Guitars and Their History

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Extended range guitars, also known as extended-range electric guitars, refer to guitars that have more than six strings.

These guitars have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many musicians using them to explore new musical possibilities.

The concept of extended range guitars is not new, as it dates back to the Renaissance with instruments like the theorbo and lute.

Modern extended range guitars began to take shape in the 20th century, with innovators seeking to broaden the guitar’s musical possibilities.

Today, many guitar manufacturers create extended range guitars for players of all skill levels. These guitars typically have seven, eight, or even nine strings, allowing for a broader range of notes and more creative expression.

Some popular extended range guitar models include the Ibanez RG series, Schecter Hellraiser series, and the ESP LTD H series.

Benefits of Extended Range Guitars


Wider Tonal Range

Extended Range Guitars (ERGs) offer a wider tonal range than standard guitars, allowing guitarists to delve into lower registers, which is perfect for genres like metal and jazz.

ERGs offer an extra string, which gives musicians an even greater scope for creativity. Initially popular in jazz, this model has now carved out a significant niche within the vibrant world of heavy metal.

Lower Tunings

ERGs are adept at lower tunings, which is essential for creating deeper, more resonant sounds that standard guitars can’t achieve. ERGs are perfect for genres like metal, where lower tunings are necessary to create the chuggy, crushing tones associated with djent.

ERGs have found a home in jazz and fusion, offering guitarists the ability to explore complex chord progressions and extended harmonies.

ERGs have been embraced by many renowned musicians. Steve Vai, Javier Reyes, and Stephen Carpenter are just a few of the metal players who have pushed the boundaries of guitar playing with these instruments. Their innovation has inspired countless others to explore ERGs’ potential.

Types of Extended Range Guitars

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Extended Range Guitars (ERGs) are becoming increasingly popular among guitarists, and they offer a broader tonal spectrum and increased harmonic and melodic possibilities. There are several types of ERGs available in the market, including 7-string, 8-string, 9-string, 10-string, and baritone guitars.

7-String Guitars

7-string guitars are the most common type of ERGs. They add a low B or A string, providing a deeper and fuller tonal range. These guitars offer a nice balance between traditional and extended range playing and are suitable for various music styles.

8-String Guitars

With two additional low strings, typically tuned to B and F# or A and Eb, 8-string guitars expand the harmonic and melodic possibilities even further. They offer a broader tonal spectrum than 7-string guitars and are ideal for heavier music styles like metal and djent.

9-String Guitars

Less common than 7 and 8-string guitars, 9-string guitars provide an even broader tonal spectrum. They allow for ultra-low tunings and complex chord voicings, making them ideal for experimental music styles.

10-String Guitars

Used by some of the most experimental guitarists, 10-string guitars are the epitome of innovation in ERGs. They offer the broadest tonal spectrum among all types of ERGs and are perfect for creating unique and unconventional sounds.

Baritone Guitars

Baritone guitars are tuned a fourth or fifth lower than standard guitars and are ideal for heavier music styles like metal and djent. They offer a deeper and darker tonal range and are suitable for rhythm playing.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Extended Range Guitar

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Scale Length

The scale length of an extended range guitar is an essential factor to consider. Longer scale lengths, such as those found on ESP and Ibanez guitars, are crucial for maintaining tension in lower tunings.

This is particularly important for seven and eight-string guitars, where the additional strings require more tension to stay in tune.

Pickup Configuration

The right pickup configuration can significantly impact an ERG’s sound and versatility. EMG and Seymour Duncan pickups are popular choices for their clarity and high output. Active pickups, such as those found on LTD guitars, are also a popular choice for their ability to boost signal and reduce noise.


The bridge of an ERG plays a vital role in sustaining string vibration. Specialized bridges, such as those found on longer scale length guitars, are designed to handle the tension of extra strings. Mahogany construction is also a popular choice for its ability to enhance sustain and resonance.

Neck Profile

The shape of the neck affects playability. Thinner necks, such as those found on Ibanez guitars, are favored by some guitarists for easier access to all strings. However, preferences vary, and it is essential to try out different neck profiles to find the right fit.


ERGs’ prices range widely, making it crucial to set a budget before exploring options. Schecter and Ibanez offer a range of affordable options, while boutique custom builders offer high-end models for those with a larger budget.

Playing an Extended Range Guitar

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Playing an extended range guitar requires adjusting fingering techniques to navigate the wider fretboard and extra strings. Guitarists must be mindful of hand placement and finger strength to ensure playability and comfort.


Extended range guitars often use lower tunings, which can pose challenges in ensemble settings. Musicians must carefully balance the sound to ensure that the guitar’s performance doesn’t overpower other instruments.

String Tension

The higher tension on extended range guitars can impact playability, especially during longer sessions. Guitarists must be mindful of hand fatigue and finger discomfort, adjusting their playing style accordingly.

Proper setup and maintenance can help alleviate some of the tension and improve overall playability.

Genre, History & The Future…

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ERGs in Different Genres

Extended range guitars (ERGs) have become increasingly popular in different genres of music, from metal to jazz and everything in between.

ERGs offer musicians a unique sound that can add a new dimension to their compositions.

For instance, The Byrds used a 12-string guitar to create their signature jangly sound, while modern metal and heavy music often rely on 7 and 8-string ERGs to produce low-end riffs and chugging rhythms.

Role in Modern Music Production

ERGs have also found a place in modern music production. In the studio, these guitars can be used to create unique sounds that enhance musical compositions.

With the ability to produce a wide range of tones, ERGs offer producers and engineers more options when it comes to crafting the perfect sound.

The Future of Extended Range Guitars

As music continues to evolve, ERGs will undoubtedly play a significant role in inspiring new generations of guitarists to explore and create.

With advancements in technology and increased interest in alternative tunings and non-traditional sounds, ERGs are poised to become even more popular in the future.

As such, it is likely that we will see more musicians experimenting with these versatile instruments in the years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Extended Range Guitar?

An extended range guitar is a type of guitar that has more strings than a traditional six-string guitar. These guitars usually have seven, eight, or even more strings, which allows for a wider range of notes to be played. They are popular among metal and jazz musicians, as well as guitarists who want to experiment with new sounds.

What are the Ranges of Guitars?

The range of a guitar refers to the number of notes it can play. A traditional six-string guitar has a range of about four octaves. Extended range guitars, on the other hand, can have a range of up to six octaves or more, depending on the number of strings. The most common extended range guitars have seven or eight strings.

Why are High-End Guitars so Expensive?

High-end guitars are expensive because they are made from high-quality materials and are often handcrafted. The materials used to make these guitars, such as rare woods and high-quality hardware, are expensive. In addition, the craftsmanship that goes into making these guitars is time-consuming and requires a high level of skill.

What are the Benefits of Playing an Extended Range Guitar?

Playing an extended range guitar can open up a whole new world of musical possibilities. With more strings, guitarists can play a wider range of notes and create new sounds that are not possible on a traditional six-string guitar. Extended range guitars are also great for musicians who want to experiment with different styles of music, such as jazz or metal.

How does a Baritone Guitar Differ from an Extended Range Guitar?

A baritone guitar is a type of guitar that has a longer scale length and is tuned to a lower pitch than a traditional guitar. Baritone guitars usually have six strings, but they can also have seven or eight strings. An extended range guitar, on the other hand, has more strings than a traditional guitar and is tuned to a wider range of notes.

What are the Top Brands for Extended Range Guitars?

There are many brands that make high-quality extended range guitars. Some of the top brands include Ibanez, Schecter, ESP, Jackson, and PRS. These brands are known for making guitars that are well-crafted, durable, and produce high-quality sound.

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