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We’ve put together a chart highlighting the best 7-string electric guitars on the market, as well as a brief guide to the basics of this versatile instrument.
While it’s an essential piece of kit for heavy rock and metal guitarists, the 7-string guitar actually has its roots in jazz. In fact, the first regular-production model arrived towards the end of the 1930s, originally made for swing and jazz guitarist George Van Eps – known as ‘the Father of the Seven-String Guitar’. These days, similar guitars are still very popular with jazz musicians.
However, when it comes to modern, solid-body electric guitars, the first mass-produced 7-string model arrived in the early 1990s – the Ibanez UV7, a Steve Vai signature model. Since then, these instruments boomed in popularity, especially as bands like Korn, Mushroomhead, Trivium and Deftones utilized them to powerful effect.
Our chart highlights five guitars that span all price ranges – from under $200 right up to over $1,000. Then stick around for a guide to everything you need to know about the 7-string guitar.
|Image||Electric Guitar / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Schecter Hellraiser C-7 FRS |
Total of 4.88/5
An exceptional premium 7-string guitar from Schecter.
|+ -|| Epiphone Matt Heafy Signature Les Paul |
Total of 4.80/5
Matt Heafy helped design his awesome signature Les Paul.
|+ -|| ESP LTD SCT-607B Signature |
Total of 4.76/5
A high-end signature model with an epic sound.
|+ -|| Ibanez RG Series RG7421 |
Total of 4.70/5
A fast, smooth playing experience from this Ibanez 7-string.
|+ -|| ESP LTD M-17 |
Total of 4.64/5
An awesome budget 7-string with solid looks, sound and playability.
|Body And Neck:|
While you have to fork out quite a chunk of cash for the Schecter Hellraiser C-7, it’s worth every penny – as we happily declare in the full review. The reason this 7-string is top of our chart is the combination of solid build and smooth playability, with a range of components and features that deliver the wow factor. With two beautifully glossy color choices, the C-7 features a double-cutaway mahogany body with a quilted maple top, a three-piece mahogany neck, rosewood fretboard and a full 24 frets. Hardware includes two excellent pickups – an EMG 81-7 at the bridge and a Sustainiac at the neck, while a variety of controls allow you to experiment with intensity, feedback and infinite sustain. Who’d say no to that?!
|Body And Neck:|
For fans of Trivium, this guitar will need no introduction – Matt Heafy’s signature Les Paul. Oozing metal appeal, this model is fitted with hardware and electronics that ensure it will perform on the biggest stages. It sports a traditional mahogany Les Paul body enrobed with a matte black finish, while the mahogany neck is geared towards playability – featuring a SlimTaper D profile and Epiphone’s ‘Axcess’ heel for comfortable fret access. As we highlight in the full review of the Matt Heafy Signature Les Paul, it’s fitted with two excellent pickups that were requested by Matt himself – both active EMG humbuckers, with individual volume and tone controls. Genuinely hard to fault this awesome 7-string beast.
|Body And Neck:|
It’s no surprise that one of the highest-priced models in our chart has one of the biggest, dirtiest sounds. The SCT-607B – ESP LTD’s version of Stephen Carpenter’s signature model – has an epic sound for both rhythm and lead playing. This is thanks to the two active EMG 81-7 humbuckers at the bridge and middle positions, while some excellent hardware keeps this 7-string reliable and ready for the stage. You may have noticed that it doesn’t look like your traditional metal guitar. Instead, it features a cool Telecaster-shaped body, made from solid alder, with a 27” baritone scale and neck-through design for added stability and sustain. As we highlight in the SCT-607B’s review, there’s lots to get excited about.
|Body And Neck:|
Sitting in the affordable under $500 price range, this RG7421 is an awesome 7-string guitar, great for players of all skill levels. It shows off Ibanez’s famous RG Series shape, which has equal measures of comfort and attitude, with a deep double-cutaway body made from solid mahogany, finished in a range of color choices. The RG7421 shows off exceptional playability thanks to the sturdy Wizard II-7 maple neck, with a slick rosewood fretboard and a full 24 jumbo frets – a shredder’s dream. As for sound, it’s pretty good, with two Ibanez-designed Quantum humbuckers at the bridge and neck. As we highlight in the complete review of the RG7421, for stock pickups you can’t complain!
|Body And Neck:|
The most affordable 7-string guitar on our list punches above its weight, showing a lot of style, tone and playability for under two hundred bucks. With a familiar ESP LTD look (note the cool reverse headstock), the M-17 offers a comfortable double-cutaway basswood body, with a sleek black finish. The slim maple neck is hugely playable, making it great for 7-string beginners and experienced guitarists alike. As for sound, the M-17 is loaded with two ESP-designed humbuckers with simple controls. The pickups are nothing special, but do the job asked of them, offering surprisingly rich clean and dirty tones. Make sure to check out the full review of the M-17 for everything you need to know about this cool budget axe.
As obvious as it sounds, a 7-string guitar is basically a 6-string guitar with an additional thick string (a low B) just above the low E.
Some players worry that playing such guitar will be like trying to learn a new instrument, with new notes, chords, tunings and scales. The good news – it’s not! Just remember that anything you can play on a standard guitar, you can play on a model with one extra string.
Essentially this extra string only adds five extra notes. That’s it. As you get to the fifth fret of the low B you arrive at your low E, and the rest of the guitar offers the same notes as you are used to.
As for playing, it’s technically no different either – playing a powerchord is the same, playing a scale is the same, playing something with drop-D tuning (which would now be drop-A) is the same. It will just involve a lower sound if you utilize the B string.
A 7-string will also look pretty much the same as a 6-string, although the neck will naturally be a little wider. For example, looking at a Schecter’s Hellraiser, on the 7-string model the nut width is roughly 1.87”, compared to a slimmer width of around 1.63” on the 6-string.
You will also find that a 7-string guitar will have a slightly bigger scale length – around 26.5” compared to 25.5”, although every manufacturer and model is different.
While we discuss the pros and cons of a 7-string throughout this guide, let’s condense them into this easy-to-glance section:
‘So, if a 7-string can do everything a 6-string can… can’t I just sell my 6-string?’.
Well, it depends on how often you play, what style of music you play, and where you play. However, our general advice is to keep hold of that 6-string guitar.
Say you’re playing a rock song that was written for a 6-string guitar, and is performed in standard E tuning. While you can indeed play this song on your guitar, it’s easier said than done. If, like us, you really attack the strings, you’ll either have to be insanely accurate to avoid that low B, or you’ll end up hitting it and giving the song a note it doesn’t need.
If you are a gigging guitarist, then you’ll also want to hold onto your 6-string. Playing a set including a mix of tunings? Do you really expect the audience to wait for you to tune down from E to B, then back up?
A 7-string guitar is another tool that every serious guitarist should consider adding to their arsenal – but not at the expense of ditching a 6-string.
As we’ve said on other pages across GuitarFella, buying used allows you to grab a bargain and can be a great idea – if done with care. And when it comes this type of guitar, things are no different. Just be aware of the risks, and ask the following questions: Do the electronics work correctly? Has the guitar been damaged in any way? Can I test it properly before buying? What happens if I want to return it?
Our advice is to purchase the instrument from a reputable online or physical guitar store, where you’ll be covered with a good returns policy should something go wrong.
Buying a 7-string guitar is an exciting move, whether you are a newbie to guitar, an experienced 6-stringer looking for more depth, or an existing 7-string player in need of another model. We’ve seen that everyone from jazz players to full-on metalheads love the sound that these instruments can produce.
The five models on our chart above will give you a good taste for what’s hot and what good-value looks like in today’s market. Whether you go for them or something completely different is your choice, but make sure to spend some time on your decision – if you’re spending your hard-earned cash, make sure to buy a model that really suits you.
If you’re in the market for such guitar, you may also want to check out our chart on the best 8-string models, just in case there’s something there worth your time.
Good luck with the hunt for your perfect guitar!