You wouldn’t think adding a single string would make a difference in how you tune a guitar. Somehow though, there is more than one way to tune that low string and the guitar overall.
First off 6 string guitar has a few tunings. Here are some but not all of them.
- Drop D (where we tune the Low E to D
- Open E
- Open G
- Open A
With 7 string guitar we have a few ways to tune the guitar that have a bit of history.
- Flamenco tuning
- Russian Tuning
individual bands will have their own tunings.
For our purposes We are just going to discuss tuning the lower 7th string to either A or B.
7th String A Tuning
Less of learning curve. As you are just duplicating the 5th string one octave, any chords that use the 5th string as a root/bass note, can be easily played by moving the exact finger to the 7th string. This gives you the low bass sound without having to change anything.
More published method books. Virtually all the 7 string guitar books on the market involve tuning the lowest string to an A.
Might not sound like part of the guitar. The A tuning can sound out of play and ‘shoe horned in’ particularly when trying to construct proper bass lines.
Standard String Sets Might not work. With the shorter scale length of the guitar, the 7th String of the guitar tuned to A may not work It is the same note as the 3rd string of a bass. A thicker string maybe needed. Possibly a need to drill out the tuner post.
The Pros and cons are literally mirrors of each other. String sets work, no need to drill. Bass lines make more sense and the string sounds like a cohesive part of the guitar. The cons are no published materials, and a steeper learning curve.
So, depending what is most important to you, you can make your choice.
I chose a low B.
Here’s a video explanation to go with this article.
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