If you’re looking for a 7 string guitar kit then you’re likely ready to take that next creative step on from playing a 6-string model. For those more adventurous guitarists, or just those who would like to test their skills a bit more, playing a 7-string can add another dimension to your sound.
In this article, we’ll be taking an in-depth look into five of the very best 7-string guitars available on the market. We’ll take a look at the core features of each, assess their pros and cons, and give our thoughts on who will benefit from each model.
Before we get into the ins and outs of what playing a 7-string involves and what to look out for when choosing one, let’s take a look at an overview of our five favorite 7-strings.
Five of the Best 7-String Guitars Available Today
|Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22-7 DKA HT||Black||Guitar, user manual||$|
|Charvel Angel Vivaldi Signature DK24-7 NOVA||Satin black||Guitar, user manual||$$$|
|Ibanez Premium Steve Vai Universe 7-String||Cosmo Black||Guitar, gig bag, user manual||$$$|
|PRS SE Mark Holcomb 7-String||Holcomb Burst||Guitar, gig bag, user manual||$$|
|Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty 7||Ember Glow/Smoked Pearl/ Enchanted Forest||Guitar, hardshell case, user manual||$$$$|
What is a 7-String Guitar and Why are They Popular?
Quite simply, a 7-string guitar is a guitar that features an extra string. A standard guitar features a six-string range; E A D G B E. A 7-string, by contrast, has a range that includes a lower B and goes; B E A D G B E. This added lower note considerably increases the range of sounds that are achievable, thus increasing the creative reach for players using 7-string instruments.
This extra tonal range means that musicians who master seven or even eight strings can access a much wider and more varied sound. This makes them increasingly popular with more experienced musicians as well as guitarists who favor specific genres that have adopted these modified guitars.
Who Uses 7-Strings?
If you are a musician who plays progressive rock, djent, metal, or other similar styles then experimenting with a 7-string guitar could be greatly beneficial to your sound. The extended tonal range is particularly popular with these styles and genres, but of course, is not solely limited to them.
There are plenty of well-known guitarists who favor the extras strings when playing live. These include stars like Jeff Loomis, Sarah Longfield, Adam ‘Negral’ Darski (Behemoth), and Stephen Carpenter (Deftones).
What To Lookout For When Buying Your First 7-String Guitar
When looking to make the transition from 6 string to 7, there are plenty of techniques that you will need to learn. However, don’t be put off by this as if you already have a good understanding of 6-string guitars and how to play them, it won’t take you long to master the extra string.
One of the most important parts of choosing any guitar, let alone one that has an extra string than you’re used to, is finding one that is designed and set up to suit your style. If, for example, you’d like to play in standard tuning then we’d suggest picking up a 25.5 scale instrument. This will work for standard, drop A & A standard. For the lower end of the scale, we would recommend looking at 26.5 scale guitars.
Remember too that if the tone of your new instrument doesn’t sound 100% as you’d like, you don’t necessarily need to change pickups or your amp. Sometimes simply fitting a heavier set of strings can be the perfect way to achieve your desired tone. This can be particularly true for 7-strings where the standard additional string can often be a little light.
Another key element you should bear in mind when selecting your new 7-string is the geography and layout of the fretboard. Naturally, as there is an extra string this will be different from what you are used to. 7-strings have larger fretboards and can sometimes be longer in length overall, make sure you know what range you are comfortable with as this change in size can be difficult to adapt to for players with shorter arms or smaller hands.
Picking the Right Pickup
Of course, as we touched on already, pickups have a huge impact on your overall sound. When buying your new instrument bear this in mind and select a model that matches your desired tones as it will save having to upgrade in the future.
Active and passive pickups are two common types and each come with very different pros and cons as well as sounding very different overall. On the one hand, passive pickups are usually a little cheaper and more often than not are well suited to the demands placed on them by 6-strings. On the other hand, active pickups are powered independently from your guitar meaning they can push more powerful signals through to your amp and produce a much cleaner overall sound. Many people would argue that whilst passive pickups are more than adequate for 6-string playing when upgrading to 7 or even 8 string guitars it becomes much more beneficial to have active ones installed.
5 of the Best 7-String Guitars on the Market
Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22-7 DKA HT Electric Guitar – An Affordable Option for Those That Want to Give a 7-String a Try
First up on the list of our favorite 7-string guitars is the Jackson Dinky Arch. We love this model first and foremost for its pricing. Affordable quality is something everyone can appreciate and with the Dinky Arch, you get just that. If you’re a musician looking to venture into the world of 7-strings for the first time then Jackon has created a great option for you to almost try before you buy. If you decide 7 strings is one too many then no (or very little) harm done!
This affordable model includes a 26.5-inch scale that helps improve the low-end articulation and a poplar body featuring an arched top with a bolt-on neck made from maple wood means this guitar is as rigid as they come. The included scarf joint and graphite reinforcement throughout also adds to this rigidity and results in a solid-as-a-rock feel whilst playing.
With 24 jumbo frets at your disposal along with piranha tooth inlays, you’ll find it easy to navigate no matter your skill level. Fat riffs and easy chording alike are straightforward to do and even the most ferocious of solos are simple thanks to the rosewood fingerboard.
- Solid double cutaway
- Poplar wood
- Gloss finish
- Maple wood
- Bolt-on joint
- 26.5-inch scale length
- Graphite reinforced truss rod
- Satin finish
- Fixed bridge
- Passive humbucker pickups
- 24 Jumbo frets
- Very Affordable
- Good quality for the price
- Not as well suited to the better player
Charvel Angel Vivaldi Signature DK24-7 NOVA Electric Guitar – Angel Vivaldi’s Signature Model
We head to an altogether different part of the market with our next pick. The Charvel Angel Vivaldi Signature model has been designed by one of the guitar world’s most loved brands and fully encompasses the flamboyant brilliance of its namesake.
The undeniable talent of Angel Vivaldi has lead to him gaining a reputation as one of the best and most well-known instrumental guitarists on the planet. The collaboration with Chavel brings to market a model that the everyday player can use and enjoy whilst injecting a little bit of Angel’s brilliance into their performances.
The guitar itself is finished in a beautiful satin sage green and features gold hardware throughout. It even features a Fender Stratocaster headstock as standard, adding to its overall appeal and playability.
The shape of the neck is fully customized to Vivaldi’s preferences and features graphite reinforcement throughout. There are 24 jumbo-sized frets to get your fingers around, black dot inlays, and comfortable rolled edges to its maple fingerboard. All of this leads to an incredibly playable guitar that is just as functional as it is fun to look at.
The tones it produces whilst playing are surprisingly deep. They are also as full as they should be and help deliver an overall great harmonic experience.
- Satin finish
- C custom neck shape
- 1.75 in. (44.45 mm) nut width
- Maple fretboard and neck wood
- 25.5-inch scale length
- 24 jumbo frets
- Satin finish
- Locking tuning machines
- 7 strings
- Striking appearance
- Clean and pure tones
- It will not suit all styles of play
Ibanez Premium Steve Vai Universe 7-String Electric Guitar – Another Model Created Alongside one of The World’s Leading Guitarists
Ibanez was the first guitar manufacturer to introduce 8-string models to everyday players back in the 2000s. But what are their 7-string offerings like? Well, as you can well imagine, pretty damn good. The one that we have picked for our list today is the Steve Vai Universe model.
The Steve Vai Universe has been designed alongside the legendary performer and brings his musical philosophy to life. This Ibanez has been created with extremes in mind. When it comes to extreme guitar playing Vai is well known for his use of specialized techniques like two-handed tapping, alternate picking, and legato. With this in mind, the model suits the more experienced player looking to explore the intricacies of these techniques.
The actual construction of the instrument is second to none. It features titanium rods along the maple & walnut neck, giving it unparalleled strength whilst being ultra-smooth with a lead-friendly flat appearance. The scale sits at 25.5 inches with a bolt-on neck, meaning you’ll enjoy plenty of treble and bass response. At 48mm, the nut gives good spacing between strings to allow for optimum play.
This is an overall well-designed guitar that looks as good as it sounds. If you’re a slightly more experienced player looking to start pushing the boundaries, this could be for you.
- 5-piece Wizard-7 Maple & Walnut neck
- American Basswood body
- Panga fretboard with a green dot inlay
- Jumbo frets with top of the range fret edge treatment
- Edge-Zero II-7 bridge
- DiMarzio Blaze (H) neck pickup
- DiMarzio Blaze (S) middle pickup
- DiMarzio Blaze (H) bridge pickup
- Cosmo black
- Gig Bag included
- Excellent build quality
- True tones
- Ideal for experimental techniques
- Not at all suitable for beginners
PRS SE Mark Holcomb 7-String Electric Guitar – A Beautiful Guitar That is as Easy on the Eye as it is to Play
The Se Mark Holcomb is a beautifully designed and wonderfully engineered instrument. Its bespoke specifications give this guitar a wonderful element of playability and will appeal to a wide range of players. It features a 24 fret, 26.5-inch scale with a thin maple neck that houses a 20-inch ebony fretboard.
There are signature HolcombSeymour Duncan pickups installed as standard. These come in the form of the Alpha and Omega 7-string models and feature a wonderful balance of articulation and output. No matter whether you’re playing simple chord progressions or complex solos, in a band or by yourself these pickups are the real deal and will appeal to any player who wants the whole package when choosing their 7-string. Choosing the PRS SE could save you from having to upgrade your pickups further down the line.
The well-thought-out design is finished off with the choice of quilted maple or walnut finish and a 3-way pickup switch featuring a pull/push tone dial for coil splitting. Coil taps are also included for the pickups along with a plate-style, string-through bridge.
- Double cutaway
- Gloss finish
- Ebony fretboard
- Mahogany neck wood
- 26.5-inch scale length
- 24 frets
- PRS designed tuning machines
- Seymour Duncan pickups
- A good option for the majority of players
- Crips tones
- Seymour Duncan pickups as standard
- Very good looking
- Expensive for what it is
Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty 7 Black Hardware Electric Guitar – The Ultimate 7-String Guitar for Those With Cash to Burn
Our fifth and final guitar to make our list is the Ernie Ball Music Man. Crafted and created out of a partnership between two of guitar music’s most established players, this Majesty 7 is something to behold.
The long partnership and collaboration between Ernie Ball Music Man and the Dream Theatre guitarist is the culmination of years of hard work and refinement. The guitar itself is available in a few different finishes and each is just as good as the other. We seriously struggled to choose our favorite from Stealth Black, Ember Glow, and Enchanted Forest and decided these were probably some of the best-looking guitars we’d ever seen!
Aside from the striking looks, this instrument can seriously play. It features the latest Petrucci DiMarzio pickups and a floating tremolo bridge. Huge sustain with a crisp and clear voice, the addition of a volume boost dial means you can send your tones soaring above the mix, should you feel the need to.
- Double cutaway
- Solid wood body
- Flame Maple or Basswood top wood (depends on finish)
- Mahogany or Basswood body wood (depends on finish)
- Gloss or Satin finish
- Petrucci shape
- Mahogany neck wood
- Neck-through joint
- 25.5-inch scale length
- Dual-action truss rod
- Satin finish
- Ebony fingerboard
- Medium jumbo fret size
- 1.875-inch nut width
- Passive DiMarzio Pickups
- Built-in volume dial
- Looks amazing
- Beautiful to play
- Volume control is very useful
- Price is very high
Frequently Asked Questions About 7-String Guitars
Answer: The short answer here is yes, they are. As with any instrument when you add an extra layer of complexity you add to its difficulty. The difference with guitars is that if you already have a good level of ability when playing a six-string model, the step up to seven strings shouldn’t be too hard. When you’re ready, you can even make the jump to an eight-string!
Answer: By adding an extra string you allow the guitarist to use a wider range of notes and tones. Doing this allows them to expand their creativity and broaden their musical horizons. The increased complexity of the instrument adds complexity to the final output too.
On a 7-string the additional string is often tuned lower than the rest. This means that lead guitarists can start to incorporate tones usually associated with bass guitars into their music. This effect is further amplified if you take the plunge and decide to go with an 8-string guitar.
The Final Word: Which is the Best 7-String Guitar?
When it comes to choosing the instrument that is right for you it really comes down to two things; personal preference and budget. Finding the magical combination of the two can be tricky but hopefully our feature today has begun to shed some light on which 7-string guitar might be best for you.
If you’re new to the guitar world or just thinking of giving a 7-string a go before committing to an expensive model then the Jackson Dinky Arch is impossible to look past. It has everything you need to get started and features a great level of build quality from a reputable brand at a very attractive price point.
If, however, you’re looking to spend a little more on your dream instrument then the Majesty 7 could be the one for you. It’s right at the top of the price range but it is simply beautiful and comes packed full of so many features that even the most experienced players will be happy with it for years to come
Jodie is a trained classical guitarist. She is also a full-time blogger and loves to write about different types of guitars. Just give her 60 seconds of your time, and she’ll tell you all that you need to know about any guitar of your choice.