7 Best 8 String Guitars in 2020
Modern music has evolved in many ways, with progressive metal and ‘djent’ becoming increasingly popular. If you’re a fan of bands like Animals As Leaders and Meshuggah, you’re probably going to want to try an 8-string guitar. We’ve got you covered.
We’ve researched and picked the 7 best 8-string guitars that you could buy right now, and dive into a new era of the electric guitar.
Top Picks: 7 Best 8-String Guitar Reviews
1. Strandberg Boden Metal 8 Sarah Longfield Edition – Best Overall
Body: Chambered Basswood With Maple Top
- Neck: Roasted Maple, Bolt-on
- Scale: Multi-Scale, 26.5”-28”
- Fretboard: Ebony
- Frets: Jumbo Jescar Stainless Steel, 24
- Pickups: Fishman Fluence Active Humbuckers
- Bridge: .strandberg* EGS Series 5
Strandberg, founded by Ola Strandberg, a custom guitar luthier, has become a force to be reckoned with in the past few years for their insanely innovative and futuristic headless designs. Their Boden series of guitars have been used by many modern progressive artists like Periphery, Plini, Intervals, and more. The newly launched Boden Metal 8 Sarah Longfield signature guitar is one of their best 8 string guitars to date.
The Boden Metal 8 Sarah Longfield features a chambered basswood body with a quarter-inch maple top for a rich sound with a well-defined midrange, crisp highs, and a punchy low-end. The roasted maple neck, featuring the proprietary EndurNeck profile, along with the ebony fingerboard, adds tightness and articulation to the sound while maintaining ergonomics for a smooth and amazing playing experience. According to Sarah Longfield herself (1):
It’s like the perfect all-around guitar because you can really get any tone out of it and use it for anything.
This guitar comes with Fishman Fluence humbucking pickups, which have been specially designed to offer a crisp sound for both cleans and high-gain tones, with two voicings, a 3-way selector, and a split-coil switch. The multi-scale fretboard and the 24 jumbo frets allow for a really ergonomic finger positioning, and the EGS series 5 bridge maintains a stable tuning.
The Boden Metal 8, being a headless guitar, feels completely different than any normal guitar that you’ve ever played. That’s not a bad thing though, because once you spend some time with this, you’re sure to love it. The ergonomics of the guitar are unmatched, and it’s comfortable to play in any position with perfect accuracy.
If you want the best 8 string electric guitar for your money, then this is it. The Strandberg Boden Metal 8 Sarah Longfield edition features everything you need on an 8 string guitar, capable of playing glassy cleans to bone-crushing metal and everything in between with amazing tone, superb playability, and a gorgeous finish that’s sure to stand out in your guitar collection.
The RG series by the legendary Ibanez is one of their most popular series of guitars that have been used by players worldwide for many decades now. The RG8 is the 8-string variant of this popular line-up, designed to offer guitarists a convenient and affordable entry into the realm of extended range guitars and djent.
The Ibanez RG8 has a Meranti body with a Maple/Walnut 5-piece neck with their signature Wizard-II neck profile for a seamless playing experience and a thick, resonant sound with well-defined lows and clear highs.
The fingerboard is Jatoba, with pearl dot inlays and 24 steel jumbo frets that feel smooth to the touch and comfortable to play.
The RG8 features a long, 27” scale length to ensure that even the lowest drop tunings sound great with tightness, so you can chug away as you please. It has Ibanez’s own IBZ-8 passive humbuckers which sound more than great considering its price, and have a 3-way pickup selector as well. The string-through-body fixed bridge ensures a stable tuning and proper playability while palm muting.
If you’re looking for an affordable, budget entry into the world of extended range guitars, then the Ibanez RG8 is a fantastic choice. It’s a guitar designed specifically for the modern guitarist, with precision and accuracy for an uncompromised playing experience. It delivers on all fronts, making this our budget pick amongst the best 8-string guitars.
Schecter Guitar Research, commonly known as Schecter, is one of the most popular guitar manufacturers alongside other guitar giants. The Schecter Omen 8 is the 8-string variant of their popular Omen series but features a redesigned and improved body with a longer scale and many improvements to support the extended range of two extra strings.
The Omen 8 has a basswood body that offers a well-balanced tone, and a maple neck that’s reinforced with carbon fiber rods. The fingerboard is made of naturally conditioned rosewood, which offers a smooth feel to touch, and there are twenty-four jumbo frets for easy playability and extended octave range. The length of the neck’s scale is 26.5”, so it can handle heavy drop tunings without breaking a sweat.
Schecter have put their custom Diamond Plus overwound pickups for a thick, crunchy sound that’s designed to handle high-gain metal tones with ease. It also has a custom-8 hardtail bridge with string-thru-body that can easily handle the extra tension and provide rock-stable tunings even under the most aggressive playing.
If you want a great 8-string guitar with a lot of power and fantastic tonewood choice at an affordable price, the Schecter Omen-8 is a good bet. It offers crushing high-gain djent tones with great pickups, smooth playability, a reinforced maple neck to prevent any damage, and excellent tonewoods for a great all-round 8-string guitar.
- Neck: Maple
- Scale: Multi-Scale, 26”- 28”
- Fretboard: Laurel
- Frets: Jumbo, 24
- Pickups: EMG 909 Active HumbuckersBridge: Staggered Individual Saddles
Jackson guitars are used by many djent legends and other great guitarists, like Misha Mansoor, Gojira, Trivium, etc. The Jackson X Series is one of their best guitars at a reasonable price, and the X Series Soloist SLAT 8 model is an 8-string evolution, designed to offer insane playability with crisp sounds and a gorgeous soloist design.
The SLAT8 is a multi-scale guitar, with a scale of 26” at the treble strings and 28” at the bass strings for improved tension and playability. The body is poplar with a maple neck for a strong feel and a resonant sound with rich harmonic overtones. The fretboard has laurel wood and 24 jumbo frets, so you can shred to your heart’s content without aching your fingers.
The SLAT8 features EMG 909 active humbucking pickups, a significant upgrade of the EMG 808, that are specifically designed for bone-crushing djent tones with insane gain while maintaining crystal clarity, a punchy bass, and a smooth mid-range. They have single volume and tone controls with a 3-way pickup switch, and the bridge is individually staggered to maintain perfect intonation for each string on the multi-scale body.
If you’re looking for a great multi-scale 8-string electric guitar that’s designed for shredding and soloing, you should definitely check out the Jackson X Series Soloist Archtop SLAT8 MS. With its multi-scale design that’ll improve playing comfort, amazing tonewood selection including a maple neck, active EMG pickups that sound brutal, and a gorgeous finish, the SLAT8 has been specifically designed to suit the demanding guitarist.
ESP guitars are another popular entry on the list, with their guitars being used by metalheads like Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Javier Reyes, and many more. The LTD series consists of many of their high-end guitars, and the new M-1008 multi-scale guitar is a reflection of that, offering superior build quality, an innovative design, exotic tonewoods, and more.
The M-1008 has a mahogany body with a 5-piece maple and purple heart wood neck that makes for an exotic looking guitar that has incredible tonality. The guitar has a scale range of 25.5″ to 27″, which improves left-hand ergonomics, and the fretboard is made of Macassar ebony with 24 XJ frets, allowing for excellent playability and a very comfortable feel.
ESP has partnered with Seymour Duncan and included their Sentient pickup on the neck and the Nazgul pickup on the bridge. These pickups have been custom-wound to fit the multi-scale nature of the guitar, and provide excellent sonic reproduction that can do ambient cleans as amazingly as it does brutal metal tones. There’s a coil-split switch for greater versatility and a 3-way pickup selector.
If you’re looking for a great multi-scale 8-string guitar with superb build quality and excellent playability, you should definitely consider the ESP LTD M-1008 8-string electric guitar. With amazing high-quality Seymour Duncan pickups, exotic tonewoods including a mahogany body for a superior feel, a gorgeous satin black finish, and the multi-scale design, this guitar is one of the best 8-strings you could buy.
Another guitar on the list by Ibanez, the Prestige series is one of their top, premium-quality guitars with high-end construction and exotic materials. The Prestige RG5328 is an 8-string electric guitar that’s manufactured in Japan, designed to offer the best of the best to players looking for an uncompromised playing experience.
The Prestige RG5328 has an ash body with a 5-piece wenge/maple neck with a wizard-8 neck profile that’s designed to offer a seamless feel. The bound Macassar ebony fretboard is really smooth to the touch, and helps bring out the low-end with a tight midrange. There are 24 stainless steel jumbo frets here with prestige-fret treatment for comfortable playing, and the 27″ scale length offers an extended sonic range.
Ibanez has included the DiMarzio Fusion Edge 8 pickups with this majestic beauty, which ensures that it’ll sound amazing on whatever you throw it. These were designed to complement the gnarly character of the guitar for truly modern djent tones, and it even has a coil tap switch. There’s a Gibraltar Standard II bridge along with Gotoh MG-T locking tuners to ensure perfect tuning stability and intonation.
The Ibanez Prestige RG5328 is one of the best of the best 8-strings available today. It’s a guitar that’s designed for superior all-round performance and offers outstanding playability, fantastic tone, and an excellent build quality to ensure that any guitarist who picks it up has the experience of their lives.
- Neck: Mahogany, Carbon Fiber Reinforced
- Scale: Multi-Scale, 25.5”- 27”
- Fretboard: Ebony
- Frets: X-Jumbo Stainless Steel, 24
- Pickups: Schecter Sonic Seducers Passive Humbuckers
- Bridge: Hipshot Hardtail (.125) with String-Thru Body
Last on the list but certainly not the least, the Schecter C-8 Silver Mountain is a new release and one of their best 8-string guitars, if not one of the best amongst all. It’s based on other C-8 models like the Hellraiser, but features a wicked and unique paint job with a more premium construction, new pickups, and improved playability.
The C-8 Silver Mountain has a mahogany body with a deep-insert mahogany neck that’s reinforced with carbon fiber for enhanced durability. There’s an ebony fretboard with 24 extra jumbo stainless steel frets that feels premium and smooth to the touch, and enhances playability on higher frets. The scale length varies from 25.5” to 27”, offering classic playability on higher strings with high-tension drop tunings on the lower strings.
The Silver Mountain comes equipped with Schecter’s own Sonic Seducer passive humbucking pickups that have been specifically designed for this guitar to reproduce every sonic detail of your playing with immaculate detail and killer tones. There’s a coil tap switch to change them to single-coil, the bridge is a hipshot hardtail string-thru, and there are Schecter’s locking tuners for enhanced tuning stability.
If you want a unique-looking 8-string guitar with a paint job that’s unique on each guitar, you should definitely check out the Schecter C-8 Silver Mountain. But besides the one-of-a-kind paint job on its mahogany body, the Silver Mountain is a fantastic 8-string guitar with insane playability and premium features that make it well worth its price.
Buying Guide: How To Choose The Best 8-String Guitar For You
Buying a new guitar is a very personal process, but to make sure that you make the right decision, we’ve listed some important factors that you should keep in mind:
When we say ‘tonewood’, we basically mean the various woods used to construct the guitar’s body, neck, and fretboard. These woods have a pretty big effect on the tonality of the sound produced, even on a solid-body electric guitar, 8-strings especially. There is still some debate on how these woods affect the sound of an electric considering that ultimately it’s the pickups that carry the sound, but it’s also a matter of personal preference. According to Fender’s website (2):
Generally, heavier woods like mahogany resonate differently than a medium-bodied wood like alder and a lighter wood like basswood.
The various woods used in guitars include mahogany, basswood, maple, ash, poplar, walnut, and many more. Fretboards generally use rosewood, ebony, maple, jatoba, and other materials. Each of these affect the nuances of your playing, and also affect the tone (3). Without going too in-depth here, we recommend trying out different guitars with different tonewoods and see what sounds and feels better to you.
Pickups are the heart and soul of an electric guitar; they can make or break the sound accordingly. Pickups generally have two varieties: single-coils and humbuckers. When talking about a guitar with 8 strings and rock or metal, humbuckers are the most common as these have higher outputs, less noise, and can be versatile due to coil-tap switches that change them to single-coil mode. Pickups also have two other varieties: passive and active.
Passive pickups don’t require any power, while active pickups require battery power and generate more output.
For modern metal and djent, especially on 8-strings, active pickups (such as the EMG 808) are often preferred for their distinct clarity even on the highest gain settings. Depending on the genres you wish to play on your 8-string electric guitar and the sound you’re going for, you should pick a guitar with an appropriate pickup. Remember, pickups can generally be changed quite easily, so you can refit your guitar with new pickups anytime.
When talking about guitars, the most important aspect, that we simply cannot understate, is the feel. When we say feel, we mean the guitar’s playability, dynamics, expression, comfort, and everything that allows you to be the best player that you can be.
This includes many aspects of the design of the guitar, such as its fretboard, the size and number of frets, the neck profile and its ergonomics, its scale length (and if it’s a multi-scale or not), and more. Ultimately, this is the most subjective and personal factor when choosing a guitar.
We recommend trying out several different guitars, observing the differences between each, and then picking one that’s comfortable for you to play and does not hold you back in any way. A good guitar should feel just right under your fingers, and you’ll know that it’s the one.
Yes, an 8 string guitar is generally harder to play as opposed to a 6 or 7 string guitar. But this is subjective, and depends on your skill level and experience. Many prefer the extended range, whereas some find it difficult to the wider neck, and the extra strings can make it harder to use standardized chord shapes and scales. However, with enough practice, you can be proficient with any instrument.
Tosin Abasi of Animals As Leaders, Fredrik Thordendal of Meshuggah, and Sarah Longfield are just some of the best-known guitar players who use 8-string guitars. These extended-range guitars add to their musical versatility, and there are many other emerging artists who have started using these.
7 and 8-string guitars are both extended range guitars, and have their advantages and disadvantages. Which one is best for you depends on the genres you play, artists you listen to, and your guitar skills. 7 string guitars are not a far cry from six strings, and the extra string allows for some heavy chugging riffs. 8 string guitars however can be used to simulate a bass guitar, or go for even heavier drop-tuned riffs with punchy bass.
The most strings on a guitar would be a 12-string acoustic guitar, which has six pairs of strings to produce a brighter, fuller sound. On electric guitars, there are custom designs available that make use of several strings, even 9 or 10, and there are some rare guitars that have 18 strings, as that used by Jared Dines.
- Sarah Longfield and Ola Strandberg Talking Gear at The Music Zoo!. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0A9TrRe-ng
- Is Electric Guitar Tone Affected By Different Body Woods?. Retrieved from: https://www.fender.com/articles/tech-talk/do-different-woods-affect-your-electric-guitar-tone
- Electric Guitar Tonewood Guide. Retrieved from: https://blog.andertons.co.uk/learn/electric-guitar-tonewood-guide