Hello and welcome to my first blog post here at the place on the web that celebrates and explores a most fascinating instrument... the 7 string guitar! At first glance, one might perceive it as nothing more than an extended range of the 6 string with an added low B string whereby familiar power chords and single note riffs are transposed into the lower register to generate a heavier, more grinding sound. Using it in this capacity alone has definitely altered the sound of heavy music since the early nineties thanks to a visionary in one Steve Vai, whose idea for a 7 string Ibanez Gem Universe ignited and spread through the world of guitar faster than the flames on Jimi Hendrix' lighter fluid drenched Stratocaster (which Ibanez also made for Steve a 7 string re-creation of Jimi's burned up Strat.) Now in 2020, 8 and even 9 string guitars are pushing the register down even lower and transforming the sonic landscape into an even more grandiose realm of beauty and brutality. An 8 string is definitely on my “must have” list but for now I will digress...
When I first got my 7 seven string, (an inexpensive Jackson soloist that minus better quality pickups, is darn near perfect) I pretty quickly learned how to expand common chords as well as pedal off of the low B allowing me to widen my overall sound which I found to be very dynamic. Of course there was the initial hurdle of reprogramming my mind not to "see" the B string as the E string when forming common chord voicing. I think most of us have encountered that issue. More recently as I've been using my 7 string as my primary songwriting instrument, I've made an even more amazing discovery that is proving to be a huge problem solver for me. Throughout my recorded body of work both with my Robert Bussey and Attic Symphony discographies, my compositions will often begin as a finger style piece in an alternate tuning that will become a fully fleshed out band arrangement on the album. This will often include the blending of alternately tuned guitars for atmosphere and orchestration and standard tuned guitars for solos and rhythmic punctuation. The main dilemma with this approach is that I will often paint myself into a corner when faced with the prospect of recreating this music live.
With the 7 string I've discovered I can do a bit of both on one fretboard. By flipping the script and viewing it as being tuned from B to B with the high E as the extra string, I've been able to tap into the creativity that I often find with alternate tunings that allow me to orchestrate. Then when I need to play in standard tuning, I simply change my perspective to focus on the EADGBE portion and block out the low B. There will be several examples of this approach on my next album so stay tuned (UPDATE… the album “I Dug A Well” was released in May 2021 and is availble on your preferred streaming platform .)
Ultimately, for me personally, I see the 7 string as becoming its own stand alone instrument... completely independent of its 6 string counterpart. I feel there's way more yet to be discovered and that's why I'm opting to camp here for awhile before jumping on the 8 string bandwagon. I'm already coming up with 7 string finger style arrangements. This "stand alone instrument" view point is the approach I am taking with development of the lesson content on this website. For you, I hope you find these lessons enlightening in how you view the fretboard and find yourself integrating them into your own music. Me... I'm already thinking ahead to 7 string alternate tunings. Could there be a need for a double neck 7 string in my future?
For now, I welcome and look forward to your viewpoint so comment below as to what your experience has been with the 7 string guitar.