If you’re looking for an 8-string guitar then you’re likely an experienced player looking for that next creative step. For the musically adventurous, moving from the regular 6-string models to a 7 or 8-string variation opens up a world of possibilities and new directions in which to take your sound.
Having 8 strings means guitarists can visit realms only usually occupied by bassists. It requires you to think differently about how you play and adjust your technique accordingly.
In this feature, we’re going to talk a little about what an 8 string guitar is and what exactly it can do for your playing. We’ll then be discussing 5 of our favorite models and answering some of the most common frequently asked questions.
But before we get into the ins and outs of playing an 8-string, let’s take a look at an overview of the 5 models we’ll be looking at today.
Bottom Line Up Front
My top 8-string guitar pick is going to be the Strandberg Boden Metal 8 Sarah Longfield Edition. It really is a thing of beauty and for those who are serious about their 8-strings, there is no better alternative.
Five of the Best 8-String Guitars Available Today
|ESP LTD EC-1008 EverTune||Black||Guitar, User Manual||$$$|
|Ibanez RGMS8||Black||Guitar, User Manual||$|
|Schecter Omen-8||Satin Walnut||Guitar, User Manual||$|
|Jackson X Series Soloist Arch Top SLAT8 Multi-Scale||Transparent Black Burst||Guitar, User Manual||$$|
|Strandberg Boden Metal 8 Sarah Longfield Edition||Rainbow||Guitar, User Manual||$$$|
What Exactly is an 8-String Guitar and Why do People Like Them?
Traditionally, guitars have 6 strings. This allows for a wider enough range of notes to be able to play the majority of songs whilst being manageable for the player. With an 8-string, you literally have two extra strings at your disposal and a much wider range of notes and tones that you can use.
With a standard 6-string, the typical tuning is E, A, D, G, B, and E. With an 8-string, however, this tuning becomes F♯, B, E, A, D, G, B & E, with many musicians opting to tune the F♯ to a low E instead. These added notes give the 8-string a much fuller and richer overall sound.
Who uses 8-Strings?
8-strings are a fairly specialist instrument and although would aid the performances and sound of the majority of guitarists, their complex nature means 6-strings are still by far the more popular. They do, however, come into their own when playing specific genres or styles. Some of the genres in which 8-strings are commonly found are; Jazz, Classical, and Metal.
The first company to begin mass production of 8-string models was Ibanez. The Japanese manufacturer introduced the RG2228 in 2007 and it was instantly picked up by bands such as Animals as Leaders and Dragonforce.
For anyone considering getting their first 8-string, there are some things you need to be aware of. Fretboard geography is the first point as in order to maintain string tension and accommodate lower tunings, scale lengths are much longer than on traditional 6-strings. This really does take some getting used to.
Intonation and playability mean guitar creators have incorporated multi-scale designs to 8-strings. Having more than one scale also takes some getting used to as they typically run from 25.5” nut to bridge for the high E string to a much more generous 28” on the lower eighth string.
Fingerboards on multiscale guitar options include fanned fret options that keep intonation in good order. They require a bit of getting used to, but then so does everything about an 8-string!
Those used to 6-strings may also find the difference in nut width strange at first. A traditional guitar measures 43mm across the nut but in order to accommodate the extra two strings, 8-strings typically measure around 54mm. Remember though, there is no correct nut width, only what feels right for you and your style.
If you practice and play a lot then you’ll know that certain parts of your guitar can get worn out much quicker than others. This is no different on 8-strings where the neck, in particular, can be the focus of wear and tear. With this in mind, you’ll need to ensure that any prospective guitar has suitable support in this area. Most models feature titanium or graphite rods to provide stability, make sure any guitar that you consider does too as this will prevent tuning issues in the future.
When looking at any potential new model you should also gently put some pressure on the headstock to gauge how far the guitar may move out of pitch. You should find there is plenty of resistance if the instrument is built well.
Do the Pickups Make a Difference?
Pickups make a difference to any electric guitar and that is no different with an 8-string model. When considering which guitar you should get it’s worth noting that the difference between an active or passive pickup can be crucial to the instrument’s overall sound.
Some players would argue that active pickups are best suited for use with 8-strings. An active pickup is one that includes an onboard preamp that is powered by a battery. These are often considered better because their low noise performance and high output are ideal for metal guitarists, one of the most popular genres for 8-stings players.
Despite active pickups being more popular amongst 8-string players, all that really matters is that your pickup is capable of articulating all the notes in your chords. There are plenty of passive ones that will be capable of this so make sure you try a few out and pick whichever ones work best for you, your guitar, and your playing style.
5 of the Best Eight String Guitar Options on the Market
ESP LTD EC-1008 Evertune Electric Guitar
Tuning can be a real issue for any guitar, let alone one that has eight strings. Therefore, any instrument that can constantly remain tuned is a winner in our eyes. What we have here with the Evertune is just that, a guitar that remains in tune forever once you have set it up initially.
After this set up you don’t have to adjust any of the headstock tuners as they remain fixed and in tune through a truly excellent design. One thing to note with the Evertune though is that if you enjoy using heavier strings, you may just need to check before fitting them.
Away from the innovative tuning design, the Eclipse plays beautifully. It comprises a mahogany single cut with a maple top and a set mahogany neck with a 54mm nut. This classy 8-string delivers rhythmic tones right through the scale to bass player levels. A great choice for any 8-string enthusiast.
- Single cutaway
- Solid wood (Mahogany body)
- Maple top wood
- Gloss finish
- Thin U shape
- 3-piece Mahogany
- Set-through joint
- 26.5 in scale length
- Truss rod
- Gloss finish
- Macassar Ebony
- 19.69 in. radius
- Extra-jumbo size
- 24 frets
- Pearl block inlays
- Molded 2.12 in. nut width
- Active pickups
- Grover tuning machines
- 3-way pickup switch
- Lovely classic single-cut design
- Stays in tune
- Excellent sustain
- Comfortable neck
- Heavy-duty active EMG humbucker pickups
- One of the pricier options on our list
- Not so great if you prefer to play with heavier strings
Ibanez RGMS8 8-String Electric MultiScale Guitar
Part of Ibanez’s core series, the RGMS8 is from a long line of 8-string guitars that have built up a good reputation over a number of years. This multiscale offering is a part of their flagship collection and was an obvious choice for our list.
The RGMS8 uses a trapezoidal 27.2”/25.5” scale that provides equalized tension to create lively and open tones. This model has been designed with playability in mind featuring slants that are matched to player hand angles to allow for quick play along to the 12th fret. The horizontal point is also positioned close to the bridge so shredding in high frets is relatively easy.
The RGMS8 is part of a metal focused lineup and is ultimately a pretty powerful 8-string. It sits at an affordable price point and as a multiscale instrument, offers good value for your hard-earned cash. The multiscale runs from the traditional 25.5” on the first string through to 27.2” on the lower eighth string.
This particular model also borrows some inspirations from some of its more expensive counterparts, featuring a five-piece maple and walnut neck built in the style of the über-svelte Ibanez Wizard III-8. It measures 20mm deep from the first fret and tapers to 21mm by the time you reach the 12th. Ultimately, this guitar is built for speedy play but will suit first-time players just as well.
- Double cutaway
- Solid wood (Mahogany)
- Gloss Finish
- Wizard III-8 neck shape
- Multi-Scale 5pc Maple/Walnut
- Bolt-on joint
- 27.2” Scale at 8th string / 25.5” at 1st string scale length
- Standard truss rod
- Gloss finish
- Passive pickups
- 5-way pickup switch
- 8-saddle monorail bridge
- Fanned fret
- 8 strings
- Great value considering it is a multi-scale 8-string
- Impressive build quality
- Wide range of tones offered by switching
- Considering the price of the RGMS8, very little!
Schecter Guitar Research OMEN-8 Electric Guitar
A Fantastic Tonal Range for the Modern Guitarist!
The Schecter Omen-8 Electric Guitar is equipped with an outstanding range of tones that caters to all guitarists, but modern styles of play in particular. As an 8 string electric guitar naturally features two additional strings, adding extra dimensions to your sound.
The Omen-8 itself has been around for a good few years now and has cemented itself as a firm favorite amongst musicians due to its playability, quality, and wallet-friendly pricing. It is a model that is also well suited to both experienced players and 8-string newcomers alike.
Both the balance and weighting of this guitar feel great. It features carbon fiber reinforcing in the neck which makes it feel lovely and solid. The flat fretboard is made from rosewood and measures 16” with 24 jumbo frets – perfect for even the quickest of players. As standard the Omen-8 ships with passive humbuckers which in time may need replacing, however they do a good enough job translating both low and high gain signals to make this model a solid choice.
- Basswood body
- 26.5″ scale with bolt-on maple neck
- Rosewood fretboard
- 24 jumbo frets
- Pearloid inlay
- Schecter Diamond Plus humbucking neck & bridge pickup
- CTM-8 bridge
- Schecter tuning machines
- Master volume & tone controls
- 3-Way pickup selector
- The guitar represents great value
- The build quality is exceptional given the price
- Shred-ready & well balanced
- Passive humbuckers as standard may be a deal-breaker for some
Jackson X Series Soloist Arch Top SLATX8Q MS 8-String Multi-Scale Electric Guitar
This High-Performance Guitar is Just as Comfortable as it is Stylish.
The Jackson X Series lets you shred in both style and comfort thanks to its ergonomic design and build. This is a high-performance 8 string electric guitar that accommodates two scale lengths on its fingerboard whilst improving playability, comfort, intonation, and tension.
The Jackson Soloist is typical of the hot-rodded S-styles and it should come as no surprise that it wears the extended range guitar format brilliantly. The Soloist’s body shape is reassuringly familiar with a solid neck-through construction that all but guarantees sustain.
The neck is reinforced with a scarf joint and two graphite shafts so feels more than secure when playing. The nut width is a more than adequate 53.85mm, meaning the laurel fretboard doesn’t feel too cluttered or cramped. The multi-scale fretboard might seem a little confusing at first but once your fingers warm to it, it will all make sense!
Tonally, the Soloist is beautiful. The EMG 909 humbuckers help deliver that 8-string sound and scale to your amp with a searing bite. The highs can come across a little mellow, but the rest of the sound is simply awesome and full of texture.
- Double Cutaway
- Quilted Maple top wood
- Poplar body wood
- Gloss finish
- Slim shape
- Maple neck wood
- Neck-through joint
- Dual-action truss rod
- Gloss finish
- Proprietary Humbuckers on neck & bridge
- Fixed bridge
- 3-way pickup switch
- Solid neck-through build
- Active EMG buckers sound great
- Great playability for an 8-string
- Good build quality throughout
- We’re being picky but the price could be slightly lower
Strandberg Boden 8 Sarah Longfield Edition Electric Metal Guitar
This guitar is perhaps the coolest 8 string guitar on the market.
Sarah Longfield has long been known for her spectacular guitar technique across 6, 7, and 8-string instruments. With the Strandberg Boden Metal 8, you have the opportunity to shred like the best of them and own a little piece of guitar history at the same time.
This signature model combines innovative tech, clever ergonomic design, and total shredability for those who like to push the boundaries and stretch the norms.
Strandberg has a reputation for forward-thinking designs that inspire the player to reach out of their comfort zone. The classic ‘80s template has been reimagined for the modern-day player with the removal of the headstock creating its truly unique look.
This is a genuinely exciting guitar that has a lot of people talking with a build quality that is of the highest order. The chambered basswood and maple-topped body, for example, means the instrument is lightweight and maneuverable, whilst its totally flat 20” fingerboard further enhances its playability.
The Boden Metal 8 features Fluence Modern humbuckers with switchable voicings – perfect for a guitar like this. This is by no means a cheap model but for a properly dedicated 8-string player who needs the best of the best, there are not many better options out there.
Read our full guide on how to find the best Strandberg Guitars.
- Double cutaway
- Solid wood
- Maple top wood
- Basswood body wood
- Gloss finish
- EndurNeck asymmetric shape
- Roasted Maple wood
- Bolt-on joint
- Carbon fiber rod
- Oiled finish
- Active Fluence Modern humbucker alnico on the neck
- Active Fluence Modern humbucker ceramic on the bridge
- 3-way pickup switch
- Forward-thinking, innovative design
- Excellent Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- Wide tonal range
- Very expensive
- The design will not be to everyone’s tastes
Frequently Asked Questions About 8-String Guitars
Here, we’ll attempt to answer some of the most commonly asked questions and queries about 8-string guitars.
Question: Is an 8-String Hard to Play?
Answer: This all depends on your experience level! If you’re well versed in all things 6-string then adding a couple of extra strings will introduce extra elements to your play. If, however, you are new to guitars then they would be much more difficult to learn than a regular 6-string.
Question: What is the Point of an 8-String Guitar?
Answer: By adding extra strings you are increasing the tonal capabilities of your instrument. For a musician who has the ability to harness this, it can be a very powerful tool.
Question: Why are 8-Strings so Popular with Metal Bands?
Answer: The popularity of 8-stings with metal bands came about mainly thanks to the ‘80s Swedish band Meshuggah. They tuned the eighth string to sound the same as the lower E of a bass guitar, thus giving them access to bass guitar techniques like string thumping and harp-like arpeggios.
Conclusion: Which are the Best 8-String Guitars
The right instrument for you really depends on two key aspects; style and budget. All of the guitars featured on our list have a solid enough build quality regardless of price. If you’re perhaps looking at trying an 8-string out but are not totally committed, we would recommend opting for the Ibanez RGMS8.
The RGMS8 comes from a long line of brilliant 8-strings and Ibanez was the first manufacturer to really start mass-producing these kinds of instruments so you’re in more than capable hands.
However, if your budget allows and you like the styling, we couldn’t look past the Strandberg Boden Metal 8 Sarah Longfield Edition. It really is a thing of beauty and for those who are serious about their 8-strings, there is no better alternative.
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