Yep, that’s right! I got a new guitar. It’s beautiful! Now I have a USA Stratocaster and an Ibanez RG on hand to work with (Plus the Precision Bass and my acoustic, a Fender Del Mar). This Ibanez has 8 strings (with a low B and an F# below the standard open E). Some of you already know about this kind of guitar. It’s an RG Prestige model with a Hazelnut Ale finish. It has EMG 808 pickups, and I really like them, actually – I don’t plan on changing them. Very “woody”, and with lots of grain.
But, yeah – I was looking for more strings to play than the standard 6. And, I at least I knew I wanted the 7th string for a lower appeal. I wanted to continue the scale down and was looking to be able to play some lower accompanying notes with my chords and double-stops as well. Muting has been a challenge, though. When you wanna play, for instance, the regular E major shape, you can’t just pick the bottom 2 strings as well, you have to either mute them or skip them on the fly before the strum. Ha – I’m still getting used to that, but actually, it’s helping my technique. But, other than that, I have no other problem at all navigating the vertical direction.
Coming from 6 strings, the “targeting” is different. Usually, you’d just either do it by feel or count strings from either top or bottom, from either E, to find out where to fret/pick in the moment. But, with the 2 additional strings there, if you need to get to the low E, you have to be able to quickly count from the high point: 1 (F#), 2(B), to 3 (the low E string) to get the quick targeting right. Or, you could just think in terms of F#. It takes a while to get used to it – just like if you get a new tool belt with more slots on it, it takes a bit of practice to become familiar with it to where you can just reach, grab, and go. But, it’s no problem, it’s fun to learn.
In the horizontal direction, lengthwise along the fretboard, the scale length is 27″ – an inch and a half longer than my Strat than I’m used to. But, actually… I find it even more comfortable! Especially past the 15th fret. I’m excited to pick it up every time.
F# to B is a fourth, B to E is a fourth, as E to A is a fourth, and so on… So, I can continue scale patterns right down the strings and the patterns are the same. And, believe me, it’s awesomely fun to rip through an extended scale or lick from the lowest to the highest string, doing all 8 in a row – great fun!
I have experimented with tuning on this thing. As I said, the standard tuning is: F#, B, E, A, D, G, B, E, (although Ibanez, I think, ships them all with a step lower) and I tried to turn the B down to an A, like F#, A, E, A, D, G, B, E, so I could have and extra “fundamental” tone when I play in Am or Cmaj. And, it allowed me to do similar dropped-D-style playing in the middle there. However, it just was awkward and I felt like I’d be better off using standard tuning and just reaching when I need the dropped stuff. I also experimented with dropping the F# to E, but man, that low string gets floppy fast when you deviate too much, but it’s possibly workable. Maybe one day, I will write something specifically for that, but for now, I like the standard fourths.
So, I recored a demo of it – take a listen if you want. I think it sounds rad!
I look forward to writing more and more songs in the rock and metal genre this Summer and Fall. Also, I am learning how I can incorporate the lower strings to standard chords to get really full ring-outs. And, lastly, I’m really enjoying the Ibanez RG Prestige “sound”. There’s so much tone to explore, just by holding notes, bending them, pinching harmonics, and the pickup positions – You can make this guitar “talk” – it’s really a great experience!