MISHASUCKS.NET/GEAR_GEEK: 7 AND 8-STRING GUITAR TUNINGS + WIRELESS UNITS
He’s baaaaaaack. Bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and staring down a long summer break from touring, Misha has returned to his duties as resident gear guru / nerd-face at the MS Mansion and is ready to answer the questions you asked him last time. After the jump, Bulb tells you how he tunes his 7 and 8 string guitars (and approaches writing with each), and what his favorite wireless system is. As always, feel free to ask Misha questions you’d like answered in future columns in the comments.
How do you approach tuning when playing with an extended range guitar?
When I played with a 6 string, I tuned it baritone style with the 6th dropped to A (so like drop D but three steps down). I liked the possibilities of having the open 6th string offered in terms of freeing up an extra finger and closing the gap between certain notes on the top 2 strings so that I could use more extravagant chord voicings.
When I got a 7 string, I found myself stuck and needing to experiment quite a bit to figure out how I wanted to tune the damn thing and how to best utilize the extra string while still maintaining the above open-string concept in some way. It was also a bit of a struggle trying to convert older songs from 6 to 7 strings. Eventually I settled on just dropping the 7th in the same way I had been doing on the 6th. The result worked for me, so I’ve stuck with it for a while, although it required some re-learning of scale placements in relation to the 7th string.
Being that there are 8 and even 9 string guitars out there, how do you recommend approaching tuning of these extended range beasts, given certain dilemmas such as those i’ve mentioned above, say for example, if I got an 8 and wanted to keep the first 7 tuned as I currently am on my 7th… how would you tune the 8th?
Seb, I have a completely different approach with 6 and 7 string guitars (we dont really use 8 string guitars…yet). I just see them as different instruments. I wouldn’t just convert a song from one to the other. My entire approach to writing tends to be different just because of the strengths and weaknesses of both formats. With 6 strings I tune to Drop C (a full step down with the 6th String dropped a whole step), so complex chords can ring out nicely and you can get very playful and note-y as well without losing definition. I tune my 7 string to Drop Ab and I find that notier passages only work on the higher strings, so when the riff/song is focused around the lower strings I tend to write slower grooves and focus more on syncopation rather than intense chords, as they would just get a bit muddy.
If in two parallel universes I were to start with one riff and have a song develop from there, one being on a 6 and one on a 7, the two songs would end up drastically different. So I really just think of them as different instruments. And the same is true of 8 strings, im actually demoing some ideas with a tuning where I tune the guitar up a step or so, and I’m getting some good results from that!
did u use digital guitar wireless systems (like Line 6 Relay) and can u make objective comparement between them and different cables (i mean of different quality/length)? thanks.
Al, There are only 2 wireless systems I have used that genuinely don’t mess with your tone or feel, and they both use the same technology. They are the X2 and the Line6 relay systems. The X2 unfortunately is not well built and I had a lot of trouble with it on tour, and although the Line6 isn’t flawless, it is amazing for tour, especially the G90 which has a very durable transmitter. It’s only weakness is the straight cable that it comes with; its very cheap and breaks easily, so my soundguy put a neutrik right angle jack on that cable and now its perfect!
I was never one to hear the difference between cable brands or even lengths really; what makes a cable good to me is how long it lasts. With that said I really just don’t notice any difference and don’t have to adjust my settings when I go from wireless to cable or vice versa. As an added plus the Relay is the only wireless system that you can use in Europe (and especially Germany) and it happens to be dual voltage as well, so I do highly reccommend it if you are touring overseas.
Chime in with more tech/gear questions for Bulb in the comments below!