This is a an easy question, surely, a guitar has six strings, right? Well, favor so plenty of things around the guitar, it is every a little more facility than that. Transparent the history of the instrument, forward-looking players and also luthiers have actually sought to expand the range and capacity of the guitar by adding extra strings and by creating brand-new or simply plain monster instruments. In this post we room going to look at several of the alternative possibilities to the timeless six-stringed guitar, how these space used and also some the the pros and cons connected with what we shall speak to ‘alternative-stringed’ guitars.

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Contents hide
1 The 12 String etc
2 Seven- and eight-string guitars
3 fans frets and hybrid guitars
4 Harp etc
5 other related alternative-stringed guitars

The 12 string Guitar


Probably the most recognised alternative-stringed etc is the 12-string sport of the instrument. Renowned with folk, blues and also rock players of the 1960s and 70s the 12-string guitar has a 2nd course doubling each of the traditional six strings the the guitar. These added courses are normally tuned to the very same notes as the equivalent main string, however, the lowest 4 strings are generally an octave greater in most cases with the top two strings in unison.

The acoustic 12-string guitar has a big booming tone v deep short end and also chiming highs. The sounds really full and also slightly chorused as a an outcome of the doubled notes gift struck at fractionally different times and inevitably gift fractionally the end of tune with one one more no matter how closely the instrument has been tuned and intonated. This makes it the perfect instrument for accompanying big-voiced singers or solo artists wanting to to fill lots of room with a solitary guitar. However, it have the right to sometimes sound a small too expansive when offered in a band setup or thick in a tape-recorded mix, and may require sparing arrangements and/or studio engineering to make it fit within a track.

Some football player may find acoustic 12-string guitars a small tricky come play. The strings deserve to be slightly an overwhelming to finger cleanly and often the neck is significantly wider than a comparable six string etc so can take some gaining used to. That is additionally arguably harder come play finger format on a 12-string guitar and so it might be an ext suited to players wishing to usage it as an accompanying instrument rather than a command guitar, although this go not avoid Leo Kottke using the 12-string guitar as a solo finger style and slide tool to an excellent effect in the seminal 1969 record “6- and 12- cable guitar”. Other players who have actually used the acoustic 12-string guitar incorporate Blind Willie McTell, Richie Havens, Don Felder (Eagles), Dave Gilmore and David Bowie.

A variety of manufacturers likewise offer electric 12-string guitars. These share countless of the sonic and also playability features of their acoustic cousins. However, the effect of amplifying the 12-string creates rather a distinct voice in its own right. The Rickenbacker electric 12-string etc was used extensively by the Beatles and George Harrison in details on the album A difficult Day’s Night. Perhaps its most famous user was i get it McGuinn of the Byrds. McGuinn’s solo in Eight miles High native the album Fifth dimension uses Coltrane-inspired operation performed with his electric 12-string guitar to produce a psychedelic and mystical the atmosphere quite distinct in the history of tape-recorded music in ~ the time. And also the Rickenbacker company, electric 12-string guitars have actually been make at assorted times by Fender and also Gibson. Gibson in specific used the electric 12-string come pair v a normal six-string guitar on their twin neck EDS-1275 version made famed by Jimmy page of Led Zeppelin and also used to an excellent effect throughout live performance on the classic Stairway come Heaven. The twin neck concept has been quite successful for 12-string electrical guitars together it enables the player to accessibility the 12-string sound when required whilst being instantly able to switch to a conventional six-string in the same song. And Jimmy Page, famous double six/twelve players encompass John Mcloughlin, Don Felder and also Slash.

Seven- and also eight-string guitars


Conceptually different to 12-string guitars, seven- and eight-string guitars room at the most straightforward level regular six-string tools with one or 2 extra strings added. However, the effects of this have the right to be fairly considerable and in some methods they become alternative instruments in their very own right through their own approaches, benefits and limitations.

There is a long history of players seeking to increase the selection of their tools by including additional strings to their classic 6-string guitar – together far earlier as the at an early stage years of the guitar’s popular in the early 20th century. Perhaps best connected with this advancement was George van Eps, one influential beforehand jazz player who is finest known because that his complex pianistic style using block chords and also voice top on his modified seven-string Epiphone guitar. Ultimately players favor Bucky Pizzarelli continued this tradition, although with the exception of a short-lived valve Eps signature model, seven-string guitars were not commonly easily accessible from any of the significant manufacturers, do them quite inaccessible other than to much more adventurous jazz instrumentalists. The main advantage to these advanced jazz players utilizing the seven-string guitar has been the it brings a greater range of note within reach of the fretting hand in any solitary position. This permits a player come voice more complex chords v melody notes and also even deep bass lines simultaneously, without impossible stretches or tapping top top the guitar neck. May be the player that most totally mastered this style of playing was the legend Lenny Breau who played a seven-string guitar v an added high A-string. Lenny can effortlessly play complex chords whilst soloing on optimal of these and also playing a bassline simultaneously.

More recently the electrical seven- and also eight-string guitars have actually been adopted by the younger rock and metal guitarists who adopt the potential for widening their range. By adding one or even two reduced strings these instruments facilitate the playing of hefty riffs low down in the instrument’s variety whilst not shedding the ability to play command lines high increase the neck in the upper range. Other gradual players choose Sarah Longfield and Yvette Young have actually used the extra strings with progressed tapping approaches to create dense pianistic currently melding contemporary acoustic method with an ext electric ideas. Emerging as the command manufacturer of seven- and also eight-string modern electric guitars is Strandberg Guitars, who create a range of modern-day instruments designed because that ergonomic efficiency and superior sound and also playability.

Fanned frets and hybrid guitars

Perhaps the most important development in the broader adoption the seven- and eight-string guitars in recent years has been the usage of fans frets. Occurred by luthier Ralph Novax in the late 1980s, fanned frets permit each string to have actually its very own scale length with the lower strings being much longer than the higher strings. This way that greater pitched strings can be included to the traditional six-string guitar configuration whilst not breaking under tension and lower strings have the right to be added without sound weak or buzzy. Before this, players using seven- or eight-string guitars would constantly break added high strings and also would have weak tone on extr strings tuned to a reduced register than regular for the instrument.

This breakthrough not only revolutionised the people of seven- and eight-string guitars yet has in current years led to a new style of play emerging. Hybrid etc is method where the guitarist bring away on the role of more than one musician (usually the bass player) too holding down the rhythm (and even lead) etc duties top top one instrument. Perhaps the most famed player and also arguably the originator of this layout is Charlie Hunter. Charlie developed an virtually inconceivable basic for play bass, rhythm and lead components simultaneously, with perhaps the deepest groove ~ above the planet, in the mid 1990s. Charlie ran the lowest 3 strings the his Novax eight-string into an Eden base amplifier and also the upper strings right into a conventional guitar amplifier (usually a Fender pair Reverb). This more emphasised the distinctive sound of bass and also guitar in his playing and allowed him to take it the role of both tools in his bands. Freshly Charlie has actually played tools of seven and also six strings in a similar style, and also indeed currently he is among the driving forces behind the Hybrid guitar Company, a little manufacturer specialized to the manufacturing of six-, seven- and eight-stringed guitars for playing in the ‘hybrid’ style.

For players considering seven- or eight-string guitars there are a couple of things to bear in mind nevertheless of what style of music they arrangement to perform. Firstly, the neck with will it is in considerably wider than top top a timeless six-string guitar and if you have actually an instrument with fanned frets climate this may take a little getting offered to. Your fingers will need to adapt come the various fret spacing across the strings, not simply along the length of the fretboard. Also, come take benefit of the extra strings friend will need to work out the scales and also fingerings for your certain configuration. There is relatively little education material available as the yet and consequently to truly obtain the many out of these super-stringed instruments, a player will have to be sufficiently progressed to construct their very own materials and also learning progression.

Harp guitar


Another of the alternative-stringed advances in guitar with a long history is the of the harp guitar. Harp guitars arised long before the contemporary guitar ended up being established in the 20th century and also indeed have their genealogy in much previously instruments. A harp guitar, in addition to that is normal 6 (or occasionally seven) strings has actually a variety of bass or treble strings added. This strings are typically not fretted and so space tuned to specific pitches to prolong the selection of the guitar, lot like a harpist could play. Although over there is a long background of harp guitars through companies like Gibson production these in reasonable number in the early component of the 20th century they, have gained very limited acceptance by players of the guitar. Maybe the two most notable harp guitarists are Michael Hedges and Phil Degruy. Hedges could be taken into consideration the most prominent acoustic guitar player that the 20th century and regularly provided the harp guitar to broaden the low variety of his instruments permitting for deeper bass notes further expanding his already facility pallets of alternate tunings. Degruy at the same time plays a Novax-built electrical harp guitar through ten extr high strings, amusingly named ‘the Guitarp’, to create advanced jazz arrangements following the heritage of Lenny Breau, valve Eps and also the exceptional Ted Green.

Harp guitars are reasonably hard to obtain and also are invariably expensive tools that have actually been custom built. Just like seven- and eight-stringed guitars, there is comparatively little educational details for football player of these instruments so castle are very much not for the faint-hearted.

Other associated alternative-stringed guitars


Whilst the over instruments perhaps represents the most noticeable alternative-stringed guitars there space a variety of other related tools that have different numbers that strings. For instance lap and pedal stole guitars might have between six and twelve strings and often many necks widening this further.

The Coral electrical Sitar has a variety of sympathetic drone strings and also was a popular means of approximating the traditional sitar in the psychedelic era. The most famous example of the electric sitar might well be the solo from perform It Again by Denny Dias the Steely Dan.

Other instruments have been developed for touch style playing whereby the player taps two-handed on the instrument. Perhaps most famous of this is the Chapman stick i beg your pardon usually has either ten or twelve strings and can be offered to beat multiple parts simultaneously.

At this point, the electrical bass guitar should likewise be mentioned. Whilst strictly not a guitar, the traditionally four-stringed electric bass is generally played in five- and six-string variants and some players have actually performed on tools with up to twelve strings, acquisition the base well into the selection of the guitar.

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Finally: an honorary mention must go to legend Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards! Keith consistently plays a typical six-string guitar but with the shortest string removed. Tuned come an open G chord, this facilitates countless of Richards’ most famed rhythm parts and contributes to his unmistakable tone.