Low B or Low A?

Discussion in 'Sevenstring Guitars' started by Jim Soloway, Jul 16, 2004.

  1. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Soloway Guitars

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    I first got exposed to 7 strings around 1991 when George Van Eps came out of retirement and started playing around LA. He was the father of the 7 string and his extra string was tuned to a low A. The low B came much later, I believe when Vai started playing one. Which of these two tuning you use completely changes that way a 7 string functions. After all these years of playing solo chord melody pieces on a 7 string with an added low A, I couldn't imagine trying to play with a B, just as I'm sure, those who are tuned to a low B would find my guitar incredibly confusing with it's I-V interval between the two lowest strings. So which do you use? why? and have you tried both?
     
  2. Josh

    Josh Guest

    I do both. It's not really any more confusing than going back and forth between standard and drop-D on a (omg) 6-string.

    ...of course, I don't play jazz and I'm terrible at solos which is probably why I don't get confused with the changes. :p
     
  3. Leon

    Leon {##[====:::. Contributor

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    i've generally kept it at it's low B. i've played around with the A, but aside from one-finger power chords and having the extra step down, i don't see much advantage.

    how is the A advantageous when it comes to soloing?
     
  4. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Soloway Guitars

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    When you'r eplaying solo guitar, it gives you two benefits. Anything you can play on your standard A string you can just swing two strings over to the low A and just drop the root by an octave. It also gives you a natural I-V in the bass for playing under chords.
     
  5. Vince

    Vince Contributor

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    I like standard tuning, mainly because I use seriously low action and I don't like having to readjust the springs in the back every time I re-tune. Barring that, tuning to A is seriously heavy, but it's a double-edged sword because it can be seriously muddy. I have yet to hear a fast song in drop A that didn't sound bad, but slow songs can be incredibly heavy with it (see the first Korn album).
     
  6. Chris

    Chris Forum MVP

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    I'm strictly a B guy, mostly because of intonation issues when I drop it down (and sheer laziness :D )
     
  7. Jim Soloway

    Jim Soloway Soloway Guitars

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    There's a simple solution to both the mud and the intonation issues: increase the scale length. Obviously it's not common, but in addition to our guitars, both the Ibanez XL series and the ESP SC607B are 27 inches and the new Schecter Black Jack is 26.5 inches. The extra length does wonders for a 7 string whether it's in A or B tuning.
     
  8. Metal Ken

    Metal Ken Hates the Air Contributor

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    i prefer Low B, cause it makes sense, its keeps the intervals the same, and if i had an 8 string, it'd be tuned G-B-E-A-D-G-B-E.... I never like drop tunings cause i dont like having 2 of the same strings almost adjacent to each other either.
     
  9. jacksonplayer

    jacksonplayer The Fusion Guy! Contributor

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    I tune down a half-step to a Bb tuning. I find it to be a good compromise between clarity on the low string and having the nice floppy upper strings that I prefer as a wannabe shredder! I tune my six-string guitar down to D with 9-42 gauge strings or C# with 10-46 strings.

    On my seven-strings, I use a weird string gauge combo that I mostly got from the now-defunct LaBella Hard Rockin Steel HRS-7 set: 9-11-14-22-30-38-52. You heavy rhythm guys would probably snap those strings within a few minutes! :)
     
  10. Vince

    Vince Contributor

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    man, the feel of playing 9's tuned down a half step... it just can't be beat. I hear ya, jacksonplayer. You can really fly on loose strings.
     
  11. Metal Ken

    Metal Ken Hates the Air Contributor

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    Desert- ever consider playing 8's or 8.5's?
     
  12. Vince

    Vince Contributor

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    I think I might have tried 'em back in the day. How about you, do you use 8's? As for me, I have one guitar I use mainly for leads, a 6-string Ibanez S-series, and I string 9-42 EBs on it. On my other 6 string, I usually use 9-46 for extra bottom.

    There's not really a good 9-56 set (that I can find anyway) for 7-string, so I use the basic D'Addario 9-54's for the 7. They work really well with the low action on the RG7.
     
  13. jacksonplayer

    jacksonplayer The Fusion Guy! Contributor

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    My strings are even floppier than that! On my seven-strings that are tuned down a half step, the set I use is basically an 8-gauge with a substituted 9 high E string and a .52 low B. The really thin high E string is usually the problem for me in 8 gauge sets, especially when it comes to staying in tune. Where I use regular 9 gauge sets, I tune down a whole step.

    It's not just that I like floppy strings. I've also come down with carpal tunnel syndrome in my fingering hand a couple of times in recent years. I have to be really careful--and having thin strings and low tension has prevented a reoccurence so far. Also, I find that I have greater control and articulation with thin strings and detuning--I can execute better legato phrasing and more precise finger vibrato when I don't have to fight the strings.

    But I definitely pay a price in terms of my power chords not having quite as much power in them.
     
  14. Metal Ken

    Metal Ken Hates the Air Contributor

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    i played 8s for the longest time, but then i started tuning my 6 strings to D standard, and i needed to increase the gauge, cause 8s just dont feel good at D tuning, so i started using 10's for downtuning. my 7 string has 9-42 with a 54 on the bottom.
     
  15. neantir

    neantir Member

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    I use a low b at present, but I also like the drop A tuning for full chords based on the low string, and the added resonance it brings.

    The only reason why I dont use drop A tuning is because it makes playing thirds and runs on the low strings very inconvenient, and thats what death metal is all about! :/

    I may get a 6 string for death metal, and tune it to C, in which case I will probably tune my 7 to drop A.

    Or I'll get a second 7 (ibanez), put in emgs and use it for death metal with a B tuning. This will allow me to tune my Mockingbird to drop A and use it for everything else.
     
  16. The Sleeper

    The Sleeper SS.org Regular

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    I've always had my 7 tuned to B & strung with 9-42's with a 52 B string. I generally don't like to change things around after I've painstakingly set my guitars up. Maybe I'm really missing out on something here?? I dunno, but I'm ecstatic in my ignorant, blissful state with my 7 string tuned to B :D

    Catch ya's later.......Joe :)
     
  17. Chris

    Chris Forum MVP

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    Likewise. :)
     
  18. Chris D

    Chris D Fiddich or Morangie???

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    I use those Zakk Wylde GHS Boomers ( 10-60 ) with a 26 in the middle, tuned to A ( not drop A ) It's nice & stable & I like the tension, easy(ish) big bends & it stays in tune nicely on the big powerchords. Thinking of trying the 11-70s but that would mean truss-rod readjust ( again ) & I don't think the 70 will fit through the tuner!...
    BTW, my local shop (www.regentguitars.co.uk ) doesn't stock ANY 7-string sets, how lame is that?!?!?
     
  19. Leon

    Leon {##[====:::. Contributor

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    i used to play on 11's on an older 6string guitar. fat tones!

    been recently thinking about getting some for my 7 :hbang:
     
  20. Chris

    Chris Forum MVP

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    I play 11's and 12's on most of my 6's, and as soon as I get off my lazy ass and find the ambition to intonate my C1, will play 13's on that.

    Big strings = big tone, imho.
     

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