Doug's been kind enough to lend me his personal guitar for a few weeks. I've played the F8s before, but never got over the initial "holy crap, this thing has 8 strings and crazy frets" stage, so I'm really looking forward to seeing if living with it for a while will inspire me to be creative with an 8 string, or if I'll just find it to be overkill. Anyway, pics: (Hard to get steady photos with a point-and-shoot since it's so grey outside) Right, so spec's are: Chambered 40 year-old mahogany body Very thick burl maple top Madagascar rosewood neck, with ebony fillets Bubinga sapwood fretboard Black binding 25.5"-28" fanned scale Haeussel pickups Sperzel tuner Custom 9-84 strings It's odd because the guitar has been on the site for a couple of years now, and I always thought it looked like the ugly duckling of the lot, but when you see it in person, it's a whole different story. Suddenly it looks much more "unified" as a guitar, the colours are far more organic looking and complement each other beautifully. The burl top in particular has an exceptional 3D-ness to it, and is amazing to look at up close. The sapwood fretboard's two tone look is wicked and very classy without looking showy. The guitar is set up as I've come to expect from Doug. The action is absolutely on the deck, but somehow doesn't fret out or sound choked. The intonation is spot on, full 8-string chords ring clearly in tune all the way up on the highest frets. The string spacing is much smaller than on a conventional instrument, which at first is a little strange, but once you get used to it, it actually makes string changes exceptionally easy for both picking and fretting hands. String skipping and sweeping is almost laughably easy. It also means that the neck width is nothing like you'd expect for an 8-string - literally about as wide as the neck of my RG7321. The neck profile is very comfortable, very soft shouldered with a flattened back that become more pronounced the higher up the neck you go. The fretboard radius practically flat. Bizarrely, the thing that looks craziest about the guitar has had the least impact on my playing - the fanned frets. I'd liken the transition as about as awkward as going from a 25.5" scale guitar to a 24.75" one or vice versa, it feels a bit odd at first, but you soon completely forget. The way the frets are fanned makes chording at the low end extremely comfortable - the frets are angled in exactly the way your fingers fall naturally, and many chord shapes are in fact easier than on a regular six string. Descending through the strings, the graduation of scale is such that you barely notice the increased stretch. As you work up the neck, the fan starts to get more severe, but it has caused me literally no problems whatsoever. The angle of the bridge naturally falls parallel with the angle of your palm, and feels completely intuitive. Finally, the sound of the thing.. What a fucking monster. I'm floored by the tone of the thing. It's quite hard to know where to start here. Play something using top the 6 strings and it sounds exactly as you'd expect a 6 string guitar to, which is quite bizarre at first. I'm sitting here playing along to Jeff Buckley and if you couldn't see what I was using, you'd assume it was a perfectly normal six string. The notes have the midrange that you expect from a standard scale instrument, and have a beautiful sweetness to their tone, while still having a very dynamic and fast attack. The clarity is crazy, it's very much like a B2 in the higher registers, in fact, perhaps with BKPs in it'd sound pretty much identical. As you work down the strings, you can hear the midrange pulling back a tad, and a ferocious low end clarity creeping in. By the time you get to the 8th string the thing roars like nothing else I've come across, so much brutality and fullness, but the fundamental rings through perfectly. At the moment I'm really enjoying drop E tuning, and it's just silly how clear powerchords on the lowest strings still sound fantastic. Even with the neck pickup there's no wooliness, just a woodier tone that sounds extremely cool. Clean, the low strings sound very jazzy and smooth - you really could work on accompanying chordal work with basslines, like an acoustic player might. Lots of scope for creativity here. I've only picked it up yesterday evening, so I've barely started messing with the possiblities, and I'm still getting to grips with having so many strings under my fingers, but I'm extremely excited and refreshed by the experience. I have a feeling I will miss this a hell of a lot when I have to return it. Just as a footnote, this isn't my guitar, so I'm not trying to justify money spent here or anything. There is no hidden agenda, just trying to spread the work about a fantastic (in my opinion) instrument. If anyone wants particular pictures of it from certain angles or whatever, just say so and I'll try to take some more.