What is an Extended Range Guitar?

An extended range guitar is a type of electric guitar that offers a wider tonal range than the traditional six-string. These guitars typically feature seven, eight or nine strings, with additional lower and higher registers for increased sonic possibilities. They are popular in genres such as metal, progressive rock and jazz fusion as they allow players to explore alternate tunings and use unusual chords more easily.

Definition and Characteristics of Extended Range Guitars

An extended range guitar is a type of stringed instrument that has more than the typical six strings. These guitars generally have seven or eight strings, and some models can even have up to twelve strings. They provide additional tones and tuning options for guitarists seeking to expand their musical creativity.

An extended range guitar typically has two extra low-pitched strings, often tuned in octaves lower than the standard guitar’s lowest notes. This opens up new possibilities for creating deep bass lines and rich rhythm parts with just one instrument. The extra high strings allow for unique lead sounds that are not possible on a traditional six-string electric or acoustic guitar. Many players use them to craft alternate chord voicings by playing chords between two or three different ranges of pitches simultaneously.

One example of an extended range guitar is the 8-string model made popular by bands like Periphery, TesseracT, Meshuggah and Animals as Leaders who pioneered this approach in metal music since early 2000s. While these instruments usually look much like regular electric guitars, they are designed differently with thicker necks so they can withstand the tension generated by additional strings; as well as pickups that are specially calibrated for each individual string’s sound.

History and Evolution of the Extended Range Guitar

The history of the extended range guitar can be traced back to the mid-1960s when jazz and rock guitarists began experimenting with adding extra strings. Larry Coryell, a jazz guitarist from New York City, was one of the first to add two additional bass strings to his 6 string instrument in 1967. He started using a 12 string guitar during live performances, thus creating the very first “extended range” guitar.

It wasn’t until 1982 when Kramer guitars unveiled their iconic 6 string extended range model that it really caught on with other musicians. This new design offered unprecedented tonal diversity due to its wider fretboard and longer scale length than traditional models. Other notable performers who adopted this style of playing include Vernon Reid (Living Colour), John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Michael Angelo Batio (Nitro).

Today, there is an ever-growing selection of extended range instruments available for musicians ranging from 4-string basses up to 10-string guitars and beyond. With such a wide variety of tones and styles at your fingertips, you’re sure to find the perfect sound for any genre or situation – all thanks to the revolutionary extended range guitar!

Types of Extended Range Guitars: 7-string, 8-string, 9-string and Beyond

An extended range guitar, commonly referred to as an ERG, is a type of electric guitar with more than the standard six strings. With additional strings, these instruments are capable of playing lower notes than their traditional counterparts and open up new sonic possibilities for musicians. 7-string guitars are often seen as the gateway into the world of extended range guitars due to its similarity to a regular 6-string model in terms of tuning and familiarity while introducing one extra string. 8-string guitars offer two low strings which can be tuned from E all the way down to B or even A – this allows players to play baritone tunes in addition to exploring polyrhythmic musical passages by alternating between two different octaves. 9-string models go beyond providing even lower tunings and allow you to explore further depths. They also enable completely new chords that would not be possible on a 6 or 7-string guitar – in fact some professional bands have specifically written songs featuring them. Beyond 9-strings there are models available with 10, 11 and even 12 strings – these extreme models provide unique tonalities while allowing access to yet another dimension of expression through composition.

Each additional string comes with certain challenges – chord shapes become increasingly difficult and require considerable finger dexterity; alternate picking technique becomes crucial when navigating around higher fretboard positions; and intonation is paramount for proper articulation when reaching those deep notes at the bottom end of the scale. Despite these challenges, aspiring musicians should look no further than an extended range instrument for unprecedented creative freedom.

Pros and Cons of Playing an Extended Range Guitar

For those wishing to explore their sound possibilities and take guitar playing to a new level, an extended range guitar might just be the right choice. An extended range guitar is essentially any electric or acoustic model that features more than six strings. Players of these instruments can benefit from improved intonation, as well as access a wider array of tones due to the extra strings.

A primary benefit of playing an extended range guitar is the vast amount of unique sounds it offers compared to its six-string counterparts. Players can use techniques such as drop tuning and tapping for highly expressive melodies not possible with traditional guitars. This added range also provides more options for modulating octaves which allows for dynamic shifts in sound during performances and recordings.

However, some musicians may find certain aspects of owning an extended range guitar prohibitively difficult such as complicated fingerings or adjustments when changing tunings quickly between songs. It can also require more time spent on practicing scales due to the wider fretboard area needed for chords played up the neck in order to maintain proper intonation. One should expect that buying an extended range guitar may cost slightly more than average depending on brand and quality because they are less common than standard models available on store shelves today.

Notable Musicians who Play Extended Range Guitars

A multitude of modern musicians have gravitated towards extended range guitars. One of the most popular is Meshuggah frontman, Tomas Haake, who has made a name for himself with his incredibly technical drumming and fierce guitar riffs. Since 2002, Haake has been playing Ibanez 7-string guitars to craft his intense soundscapes. Another heavy hitter in the world of extended range guitars is Gojira’s Joe Duplantier who plays a custom 8-string model crafted by luthier Patrick Stumpf and equipped with EMG pickups.

Amongst all those thunderous riffs, there are also many players embracing more subtle sounds. Jakub Zytecki from progressive metal outfit Disperse showcases an impressive mastery on an 8-string Alhambra and he frequently uses alternate tunings to sculpt clean melodic passages that transcend traditional boundaries of genres. Meanwhile TesseracT’s Acle Kahney utilizes an Ibanez 6-string model with perfect control over their soaring djent grooves while bandmate Amos Williams wields an old school ESP 627 4×12 cab armed with passive pickups for crunchy yet dynamic riffing that defines their signature sound.

Devin Townsend is no stranger when it comes to extended range instruments as demonstrated in projects like The Devin Townsend Project where he employed a vast array of seven strings to create crushingly heavy riffs but also tapped into its incredible versatility as heard on tracks such as ‘Lucky Animals’. He even embraced eight strings during Ziltoid The Omniscient’s studio sessions resulting in some truly groundbreaking tones that pushed the envelope of what can be achieved with an extended range guitar.






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