Fred Brum: History of the seven string guitar

Fred Brum:
Seven and eight string guitars are quite a staple in today's metal music, being used by bands like Meshuggah, Fear Factory, Scar Symetry, Periphery and many others. From progressive, rhythmic and technically challenging pieces to unashamed down tuned brutality, these guitars seem to have been carved to cater for the heavy riff hungry hordes of the heavier side of rock ever since Steve Vai's Universe first appeared on the scene. Their true origin and applications, however, go far beyond such a restrictive set of musical genres.

As music became more complex in the Baroque period, many guitarists lusted for more range in the instrument, which would enable them to write and perform music that would encompass a broader spectrum in the sonic landscape. The humble 5-course guitar, while vastly used in many forms of popular music, was not keeping up with the demands of music at the time, and its range had to be extended, and the first incarnations of the ubiquitous classical guitar appeared in the 1700's, first in 12 strings forming 6 courses, and evolving to the popular 6-string format, tuned in a variety of ways depending on the pieces themselves and which instrument they had been written for (playing lute pieces on the guitar was one of the driving forces behind the extra course) . In parallel with the universally popular 6-string, however, multiple course instruments appeared, aiming to provide the musicians with more usable range - and a more encompassing approach when it came to the sound spectrum; the first of these instruments to become popular was none other than the seven-string guitar. more