My First 8-String. Power Chords Sound Awful

Webmaestro

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I've played 7-string guitars for many years now, but recently found a mint Ibanez RG2228 for a price I couldn't ignore. So, it's my first 8-string. It was stock, so it had EMG 808's in it, and I think the strings were 10 - 74. Standard tuning.

First thing I noticed: overdirven power chords, using the lowest string as the bass, sounded awful. Just... genderless mush. Essentially, it sounded the same way a bass sounds when you try to play a power chord on the lowest strings.

So, I thought that maybe a lighter gauge (9 - 68) of strings would help. It was a bit better, but only marginally. Still unacceptable, indistinguishable mush when playing power chords.

So, I swapped the EMG 808's out for a Tosin Abasi set, which I wanted anyway. The guitar sounds a LOT better overall (love these pickups), but power chords using the lowest string are still a no-go.

Is this just a "thing" with 8-strings? Do I need to avoid power chords using that lowest string?
 

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Anquished

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Congrats on the guitar!

I've only owned two 8 strings (Schecter Banshee 8A and my Ibby S8) and both sound awful when playing power chords that low. I generally only play powerchords as low as the 7th string for that reason.
 

Webmaestro

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Congrats on the guitar!

I've only owned two 8 strings (Schecter Banshee 8A and my Ibby S8) and both sound awful when playing power chords that low. I generally only play powerchords as low as the 7th string for that reason.

Cool, thanks for the info. I've read elsewhere that you generally have to avoid power chords on 8+ string guitars, but wanted to confirm. Curious to hear what others say.

I'm wondering if a longer scale length, like on the M8M (29.4") would help, due to the higher string tension?
 

KnightBrolaire

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i found myself chasing after the clearest pickups I could find because I had a similar issue with extended chord voicings.
From what i've found most 8 string pickups i've tried suck for that level of clarity, but there are a few standouts (lace xbars, elysian trident 1, guitarmory orion, bkp black dog).
also it really helps to dial out the bass on your rig
 

Webmaestro

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i found myself chasing after the clearest pickups I could find because I had a similar issue with extended chord voicings.
From what i've found most 8 string pickups i've tried suck for that level of clarity, but there are a few standouts (lace xbars, elysian trident 1, guitarmory orion, bkp black dog).
also it really helps to dial out the bass on your rig

Yeah, that was my hope with the Fishman Abasi pickups... since Fishmans, in general, are always being lauded for their clarity. I'm definitely happy with their sound otherwise... but bummed they didn't solve my power chord issue.

I do need to spend some time working on my amp/eq settings. Dialing-in a good 8-string (overdrive) tone is totally new to me, and I haven't spent as much time experimenting yet to figure out what's needed.
 

KnightBrolaire

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Yeah, that was my hope with the Fishman Abasi pickups... since Fishmans, in general, are always being lauded for their clarity. I'm definitely happy with their sound otherwise... but bummed they didn't solve my power chord issue.

I do need to spend some time working on my amp/eq settings. Dialing-in a good 8-string (overdrive) tone is totally new to me, and I haven't spent as much time experimenting yet to figure out what's needed.
the abasis are the warmest and most low mid heavy of the fishmans so they're not going to be the clearest. moderns are clearer.
dialing in your rig will help a lot though
 

Thaeon

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the abasis are the warmest and most low mid heavy of the fishmans so they're not going to be the clearest. moderns are clearer.
dialing in your rig will help a lot though

Tosin's tone on the last album was much warmer and rounder. Less stringiness. Not surprised his fishmans aren't the most defined. I would expect that Carp's sig pickups are clearer since he uses a lot of gain and doesn't do any leads.
 

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There's a reason bass players rarely play chords. Same for piano, the left hand, in the lower octaves, rarely plays dense chords, mostly arpeggios or open octave maybe sometimes fifths. In this low register, there simply not enough definition for it to sound nice. Add to it all the quirks of intonation and pitch shifting on attack of the low strings and it all goes sideways. The tips above help a bit, but you can only fight the physics of it so much.
In my view, you can play a 7 just like a 6, but an 8 strings I think of as a guitar merged with a bass and the lowest string will be mostly for single notes, occasionally a hard palm-muted chord, but this has more percussive than harmonic qualities.
 

LeviathanKiller

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the abasis are the warmest and most low mid heavy of the fishmans so they're not going to be the clearest. moderns are clearer.
dialing in your rig will help a lot though

wuuuut. That was the opposite of my experience. I got rid of the Tosins because of the brightness in comparison to the Moderns. :lol:

I'm so glad you made this thread @Webmaestro. I bought my first 8-string last year and have had the same experience but haven't worded it that clearly in posts I made seeking advice. I was hoping it wasn't just a "this is how 8-strings are" kind of thing. I ordered a Guitarmory ceramic Atlas set for mine. Hopefully that does the trick. Dialing out some of the bass and lower frequencies really does help too and I can get pretty close to 7-string clarity using the last 3 on my 8-string right now even.
 

KnightBrolaire

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wuuuut. That was the opposite of my experience. I got rid of the Tosins because of the brightness in comparison to the Moderns. :lol:

I'm so glad you made this thread @Webmaestro. I bought my first 8-string last year and have had the same experience but haven't worded it that clearly in posts I made seeking advice. I was hoping it wasn't just a "this is how 8-strings are" kind of thing. I ordered a Guitarmory ceramic Atlas set for mine. Hopefully that does the trick. Dialing out some of the bass and lower frequencies really does help too and I can get pretty close to 7-string clarity using the last 3 on my 8-string right now even.
i might be confusing the tosins and the caprenters, either way, single coil mode is the only way to get really good extended chord definition ime. i'm honestly at the point where i'm going to ask elysian to build me a set of 8 string p90s with dummy coils.
 

KnightBrolaire

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There's a reason bass players rarely play chords. Same for piano, the left hand, in the lower octaves, rarely plays dense chords, mostly arpeggios or open octave maybe sometimes fifths. In this low register, there simply not enough definition for it to sound nice. Add to it all the quirks of intonation and pitch shifting on attack of the low strings and it all goes sideways. The tips above help a bit, but you can only fight the physics of it so much.
In my view, you can play a 7 just like a 6, but an 8 strings I think of as a guitar merged with a bass and the lowest string will be mostly for single notes, occasionally a hard palm-muted chord, but this has more percussive than harmonic qualities.
ehh 8 string power chords and extended chord voicings are definitely viable, but you have to deliberately choose a pickup and rig eq setting that emphasizes low end clarity over pure br00tz if you want a decent sound.
 

Strobe

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i might be confusing the tosins and the caprenters, either way, single coil mode is the only way to get really good extended chord definition ime. i'm honestly at the point where i'm going to ask elysian to build me a set of 8 string p90s with dummy coils.

I own the Tosins and multiple sets of the moderns. Your experience matches my experience. The Tosins are warmer. More Tone Zone like to my ears. Not as clear, just as you said. They are, however, still very clear and would crush most pickups in clarity. V2 is a little clearer than V1.

I think a clear pickup will improve the OP's problem, but not solve it. You can get a little better still by EQ'ing your amp for the 8 string (you probably need less bass). Subjectively, I think it's a little better with longer scale lengths. As many have mentioned, however (and I will echo), you have to adjust how you approach the 8th string. More single notes. On the bright side, the 8th string is not going to sound thin by itself.
 

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ehh 8 string power chords and extended chord voicings are definitely viable, but you have to deliberately choose a pickup and rig eq setting that emphasizes low end clarity over pure br00tz if you want a decent sound.
Not saying it can't be done, but not really worth the trouble of dialing a tone and chosing pickups just for that. And I think there's more value in knowing your instrument's sounds, knowing what each register can do, and working things out through good arrangement (splitting the parts over different bass/guitar/keys parts).
 

cardinal

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The timbre of that lowest string is just different than the low B, which IMHO is different than the low E.

It’s an oversimplification, but I tend to think of it as the top 6 strings are for RAWK, the low B is for BRUTZ, and the low F# is either djenty-groove stuff or moody/atmospheric stuff.

Heavy power cords to me can work on the low F#, but it won’t be as tight and mean as the other strings. I think after you spend some time with it, you’ll start to have fun with it.
 

GunpointMetal

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IME there's usually a frequency build-up in the lows/low mids somewhere between 200-500Hz that gets "in between" the 8th and 7th strings for chording. A longer scale and thinner strings helps, but most of my 8 and 9 string guitar presets in the Helix have an EQ before anything else with a dip somewhere in that range depending on the guitar and the amp model I'm using.
 

cardinal

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The other thing to keep in mind with 8-string guitars is what the bassist could be doing. The bassist can use a low F# to play the root notes (and wow is that a “different” sounding note on the bass), or the bassist can essentially tune up and play the root notes on his existing low E string. The latter packs a lot of punch and snap into the song, filling out a bit of what the 8-string guitar is struggling with.
 

Señor Voorhees

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Power chords sound mushy down low. You can do them, but they're not defined and that's just the nature of low tunings. The same way a bass sounds bad doing power chords (it's only a whole step lower than an 8,) chords just start to sound mushy down low. (unless you use decently large intervals, like an octave.)

Speaking of octaves, playing them with distortion on an 8 is crazy heavy sounding. I tend to favor octaves and single note stuff when it comes to distortion and anything really lower than A.
 

trem licking

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really? i think 8th string power chords sound amazing and brutal. the 8th string gives me that brutal sound that i hear 7 strings get on record... no issues here with it. i have an agile 930 and schecter 8 string... i have MASSIVE strings on the agile and very very light strings on the schecter and both sound super awesome playing low power chords (now, playing power chords off of the 9th string is definitely another story). only thing I can contribute is dont use too much gain (dial in as much as you need to get a good palm mute with 6th and 7th string power chords and it will translate well to the 8th), use a tight amp or boost a looser amp and obviously watch the bass dials a bit more to compensate. you should definitely be able to get a nice power chord sound on the low string
 

Webmaestro

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Thanks everyone. SS.org always delivers \m/

I kinda figured this was just an inherent characteristic, but wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy.
 

gutspill713

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Hi, Thought i would put my two cents in. I use an axe fx 2 and use multiple 10 band EQ's in the chain. one pre amp, one after amp and one after effects for final tweek. Its a bit overkill but i find that i can get a pretty good tone regardless of the amount of gain. Some might disagree with me but i find if you are tuning to F# for those power chords a .80 is my threshold of getting a decent tone out of the string (while still sounding guitar-ish).
I use a 85 currently for my drop E but it takes alot of tone within the hands to manage the characteristics of it at 27 inch scale length, as you will get a different tone out of a string that big and tight on such a short scale length. (i mostly do finger style these days).
As previously stated it can be a mess sometimes as your dealing with a few hurdles with intonation being kinda strange on the f# depending on what gauge you are dealing with.


my findings
125 htz are a must on the tweak. (high gain will need less imo) Where cleans a bit more depending on speaker and cab.
500 htz i lower a bit, in the past this would be cranked but i have found that when 500 is lowered and 1khtz is raised it sounds pretty good with trying to get clarity on the 8.
raise 2k
Raise 4k quite a bit
everything above is mostly going to be your personal set up. I find that it is a bit of a sacrifice to play an 8 sometimes when going for certain tones.

Id like to add... I recently switched to an semi-open back cab. Not sure what kind of music you are playing or what setup you have but with the 8 sounding muffled and muddy i think this could help open your sound if your using something else.

When i first got my 8 string i was using a 7 string carvin with BKP-jugg's and those pickups are very true, clear, and thin. Coming to the 8 string i tried and tried to get it to sound how i wanted as i was into the djent stuff and just could not get into my mahogany agile with Emg's in it. i ended up putting the instrument away and didn't play it much for a very long time.
Fast foreword to today and it is my main guitar. It opened up a lot of avenues for my creativity and i use the characteristics of the 8th string in ways i could not have on my seven. i guess the moral of the story is just spend some time with the instrument and keep working at the sound and how it is played.
Good luck!
 
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