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> 6,7,8,9 Strings ? Erg Discussion
Ben Higgins
post Feb 15 2015, 11:19 AM
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ERG - Extended Range Guitars. Basically anything over 6 strings comes under the ERG bracket. There's love and hate towards it and indifference, curiosity and hesitancy. Why ?

The 6 string guitar is 'the one', the main holy grail that we've used to for decades. And yet...

There was a time when early guitars had only 4 and then 5 strings. http://www.guyguitars.com/eng/handbook/BriefHistory.html Interestingly, they were also doubled up, much like a mandolin is today.

The tuning was one that we still use, with low to high strings being tuned as A, D, G, B, E. Imagine the consternation when something dared put a low E into the mix. The music lovers of the 17th century must have been trembling when the bottom end thundered through some quaint Italian piazza. Imagine the circle pits as a twin guitarra attack drove the locals into a head banging frenzy.

Ok, maybe that didn't occur but in the musician's world there must surely have been similar trepidation towards extending an instrument that many had become used to to and gotten to grips with. After all, when one is considered a master in a field, if somebody comes along with the 'next step' it offers a possible conundrum of learning the new skill or sticking with what you know. Would there have been a similar demand upon court musicians of the day to provide nobility with those fascinating new sounds they'd been hearing about ? Maybe there could have been a gaggle of older players feeling disconcerted by the switch to 6 strings and a younger generation of musicians coming up into the world, learning their craft on the new layout.

So, for the longest of times in the guitar's evolution, 6 strings has been the norm. But evolving in the world of music is no new thing. History tells us that as well as what we've experienced in our own lifetimes. It's a given that things will change. But the thing about change in the world of music is that it's mostly a case of choice. It's not like choosing to use plumbing or electricity. It's not something that seriously affects life. So we do have the comfort, to a point, of choosing what we choose to embrace in the world of guitar. Nobody's going to suffer if you like playing 6 strings only. It's no big deal. So it's really about what you personally like.

7's these days are not as big a deal as they were a decade ago. They're a lot more 'acceptable', if that's the right word to use. They're less likely to warrant a discussion then 8 or 9 stringers.

8's are still bold territory for most. I think they sound great in the right hands. It truly increases the sonic palette of the guitar and makes for some brilliant sounds.

And then there's 9 which I would safely bet is still a bridge too far for many. Let's face it, if you make a video with a 9 string guitar, it's still going to get you column inches on guitar based sites.

In a few years from now, will 9's seem normal ? 8's probably will.

What do you guys think about ERGs ? Give us some examples of why you like them, or not !

This post has been edited by Ben Higgins: Feb 15 2015, 11:20 AM


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Caelumamittendum
post Feb 15 2015, 12:45 PM
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My first ERG was a 7 string, which I got because I liked Dream Theater and their song "A Change of Seasons". That was played on a 7 string, and I wanted one for that reason. That was back in 2004. I don't think 7 strings were normal even then. But you're right, they're quite common now.

I got into the whole djent scene some years back and in the end I wanted an 8 string to sort of pursue that sound. I haven't used it quite as much as I would have liked to, but I'm still playing the guitar and enjoying it when I do play it.

At the moment though I'm switching between my new (used) 6 string and my 7 string (which is still tuned G C G C Eb C D for a bit of fun).


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Ben Higgins
post Feb 15 2015, 06:17 PM
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QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Feb 15 2015, 11:45 AM) *
I got into the whole djent scene some years back and in the end I wanted an 8 string to sort of pursue that sound. I haven't used it quite as much as I would have liked to, but I'm still playing the guitar and enjoying it when I do play it.


How did you find it in terms of acclimatising to yet another string ?

Physically is it any harder to play ? I found a 7 no harder to play at all, just confusing in terms of 'Am I playing an E or A chord there ??' rolleyes.gif


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Caelumamittendum
post Feb 15 2015, 06:38 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 15 2015, 06:17 PM) *
How did you find it in terms of acclimatising to yet another string ?

Physically is it any harder to play ? I found a 7 no harder to play at all, just confusing in terms of 'Am I playing an E or A chord there ??' rolleyes.gif


It's been quite some years since I got my 7 string, but in the beginning I did have a few problems with chords, not so much if I was playing an E or A, but more so accidentaly hitting the low B string.

The jump from 7 to 8 weren't as bad though.

One thing I find on extended range guitars is that I tend to opt for the more classical hand position, which you've mentioned in another earlier thread. On a 6 string I tend to angle my hand a bit and wrap my thumb more around the neck. I don't do that as much on ERGs.


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klasaine
post Feb 15 2015, 07:01 PM
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I don't use them but I have no prejudice against ERG or drop-tuning.
Before the modern classical guitar a lot of proto guitars (and lutes) had 5 strings - sometimes 'double' courses.
In the 20s, 30s and 40s the Tenor guitar was very popular - 4 strings. In fact Gibson and Martin still make them.

I dig low. I have two baritone guitars as well as a Fender Bass VI (different from a 6 string bass).

*Conversely short scale and tuning 'high' can also be a cool option for certain things.
A lot of country (and 60s, 70s and 80s pop) tracks acoustic guitar that's tuned up an octave from standard (only the low E, A, D and G - the high E and B are normal). It's called high-strung or Nashville tuning. It's mostly used in conjunction with a standard tunes acoustic. Think the skinny set of strings on a 12-string. Sometimes it's done with an electric. ZZ Top uses it on electric a lot.
Also tuning a short scale electric such as a Fender Duo Sonic or Music Master A to A.

This post has been edited by klasaine: Feb 15 2015, 07:13 PM


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Todd Simpson
post Feb 16 2015, 12:00 AM
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I"ve been an ERG fan for years smile.gif My first ERG was my 7 string ibanez 7620 which I still have. It was used when I bought it and it's been solid. I started playing 7 string back in the late 90's when 7 strings was "pushing it" in terms of what was deemed allowable. Now 7 strings are quite common and 8 strings are widely accepted and now the 9 string is in similar territory to the 7 all those years ago.

I embraced the 8 string when the first Ibanez 8 cheapy came out. the RG8. Sadly, I didn't like it at all. I sold it. I got a STRICTLY 7 GUITARS 8 string which was WORLDS better but wads more pricey. Then a RUSTY COOLEY 8 string.
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Of all these, the RUSTY was the best for LEAD work. It had the shorted scale length of the bunch at 26.5. But the low 8th string never did get enough tension and you could only put up to a certain thickness string due to the nut.

For me, 7 strings seems optimal. It still plays like a guitar and is tight enough for the low string even on 25.5 scale.

What I'd really like to try is a FANNED FRET ERG that allows the best of both worlds. Ibanez has a prototype fanned fret and hopefully a cheapy version will come out so I can grab one smile.gif

Attached Image

This post has been edited by Todd Simpson: Feb 16 2015, 12:02 AM


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Ben Higgins
post Feb 16 2015, 09:41 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Feb 15 2015, 11:00 PM) *
What I'd really like to try is a FANNED FRET ERG that allows the best of both worlds. Ibanez has a prototype fanned fret and hopefully a cheapy version will come out so I can grab one smile.gif

Attached Image


That does look very desirable.

QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Feb 15 2015, 11:00 PM) *
Of all these, the RUSTY was the best for LEAD work. It had the shorted scale length of the bunch at 26.5. But the low 8th string never did get enough tension and you could only put up to a certain thickness string due to the nut.


Uh-oh, you're talking in the past tense. Is the RC8 no longer with you ?


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Todd Simpson
post Feb 18 2015, 01:52 AM
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Along with nearly every "new" guitar I bought last year, I ended up selling it off to fund my next "had to have" bit of kit smile.gif I repurchased another Bulb overdrive, and bought a bunch of plugins that I saw going on sale, and am having a new tube preamp hand built. It's a never ending cycle smile.gif

I still have my two "core" guitars (MIJ RG560, RG7620) and the strictly 7, 8 string cobra, and the fretlight, but most of the others went on the block!! They were fun while they lasted though smile.gif

QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ Feb 16 2015, 04:41 AM) *
That does look very desirable.

Uh-oh, you're talking in the past tense. Is the RC8 no longer with you ?



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Todd Simpson
post Feb 18 2015, 05:52 AM
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Found a new vendor on Ebay called "SHAWN" guitars (shawn of the Dead?) who makes a spiff 8 STRING FANNED FRET guitar that starts @ $499. Now that's pretty darn tempting even for a brand I"ve never heard off smile.gif Then again, I've been jonesing for a fanned fret 8 for a while now. For those who dont' know, the "fanned" fret models looks like the frets are angled out at the top and in at the bottom per the pic below. This allows more tension on the low strings that need it and less on the high strings that don't smile.gif


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