7 String Guitar Tuning

The seven-string guitar is a favorite among modern metal bands and some hard rock musicians. And while seven strings might sound unwieldy, some tunings aren’t that different from how you tune a six-string guitar. That additional string certainly adds some extra low-end growl. In this list, we’ll take a look at different 7 string guitar tuning options to help you get the most out of your seven-string guitar.

7 String Guitar Tuning: What You Need to Know

It’s pretty hard to just start playing guitar riffs on a 7 string guitar. That extra low string is great for emphasizing bass notes and playing dramatic power chords.

As we’ll see in a moment, it’s a good idea to start playing a seven-string guitar in standard tuning. But learning new and exciting alternate tunings can really make a positive impact on your guitar playing.

1. What’s A Seven String Guitar?

As the name suggests, a seven-string guitar adds a string to a six-string guitar configuration. The additional string is tuned to a low B. This extra bass string lies right above the low E string.

A seven-string guitar is an “extended range” guitar, as it gives you a larger range of notes to play. Just like most extended-range guitars, seven-string guitars usually have a longer scale length. Most six-string guitars have a scale length of 24.75″-25.5″. Seven strings usually have a scale length from 25.5″ to 27.”

Seven-string guitars have some advantages besides just giving you more notes to play. They make it easier to play power chords. And since there are more strings, even basic chords will have a new richness. Depending on the exact tuning, seven-string guitars also can make arpeggios easier.

If you’d like a quick intro to the world of seven-string guitars, check out this video!

2. Who Uses 7-String Guitars?

That extra bass string gives you a lot more room to explore than a standard guitar. The extended bass range is especially useful for certain genres. Down tunings and longer scale lengths like those on seven-string guitars are common in metal and some kinds of hard rock.

That added string is also sometimes used in classical music and jazz. Even in acoustic music, the low B string sometimes makes an appearance. This video lets you hear a 7 string classical guitar.

The neck width and longer scale length of these guitars can take some getting used to. Similarly, if you’re accustomed to playing a six-string, incorporating an extra string might have a bit of a learning curve. But if you play jazz, classical, or metal (or even if you play a different genre), you might be surprised at the musical opportunities that longer scale lengths open up.

3. Standard Tuning For A 7-String Guitar

Before we get into different tunings you can use with your lowest string, let’s look at the standard 7-string guitar tuning. You might sometimes hear it called B standard tuning.

This tuning leaves almost all of the notes on the fingerboard unchanged. That way, you can still play the guitar riffs you’re accustomed to.

In B standard tuning, the first six strings are tuned exactly like they would on a six-string guitar. The seventh string (also known as the low B string) is tuned to B. Here’s the tuning from the seventh string to the first string (high E string):

  • 7th string: B
  • 6th string: E
  • 5th string: A
  • 4th string: D
  • 3rd string: G
  • 2nd string: B
  • 1st string: E

This is a common tuning, and it’s probably a good one to start with as you get used to the extra string. It’s also used by a number of different bands. In “Demanufacture” by Fear Factory and “The Dark Eternal Night” by Dream Theater, you can hear it.

4. Alternate Tuning: Bb Tuning

If you want to use the additional string on a 7-string guitar in a different way, using Bb tuning (or tuning a half step down) is a great step. You get more of a growl out of the low B string than you do with B standard tuning. Because it’s just B standard tuned a half step down, you may hear it described as Bb standard tuning.

But since the intervals between the strings are the same as they are in B standard tuning, you don’t have to worry about how to find new ways to play chords or riffs. It’s a good way to get some more low-end out of seven-string guitars without having to venture into the world of alternate tunings.

Here’s Bb standard tuning from the seventh to the first string:

  • 7th string: Bb
  • 6th string: Eb
  • 5th string: Ab
  • 4th string: Db
  • 3rd string: Gb
  • 2nd string: Bb
  • 1st string: Eb

This video tuner will talk you through tuning in Bb standard.

5. Alternate Tuning: Drop A-Tuning

If you’ve ever used drop D tuning, you have the general sense of drop A tuning. As a drop tuning, drop A involves lowering the bass string while keeping the rest of the strings in standard tuning.

For a seven-string guitar, the seventh string (usually a low B) becomes the low A string. This lower tuning works well with heavier gauge strings and sounds especially good while playing power chords. It’s a great introduction to lower tunings if you haven’t yet used them.

Here’s a quick reference to show you drop A tuning (bass strings to treble strings):

  • 7th string: A 
  • 6th string: E
  • 5th string: A
  • 4th string: D
  • 3rd string: G
  • 2nd string: B
  • 1st string: E

Check out this video for some heavy riffs played in drop A.

6. Alternate Tuning: A Standard

Standard tuning is a lot less complicated than it sounds. It’s analogous to D standard tuning on a six-string guitar. You just take the standard tuning for the given instrument and lower it by a half step.

So for A standard, you just lower each note in B standard by a whole step:

  • 7th string: A
  • 6th string: D
  • 5th string: G
  • 4th string: C
  • 3rd string: F
  • 2nd string: A
  • 1st string: D

This is the tuning used by Korn (video below left) in just about all of their songs. It gives them a lower, growling tone, and the intervals between the strings are the same as they are in B standard. This video tuner (below right) will show you how to get in A standard.

7. Alternate Tuning: Drop G

It’s important to note that drop G tuning requires a longer scale length thanks to the lowered string tension. Ideally, this tuning will be played on a guitar with a scale length of 26.5″ or higher. On a shorter scale length, the strings are likely to be so loose that they cause buzzing and other issues.

Drop G is slightly different from other drop tunings in that the first six strings are tuned lower than in B standard tuning. This gives drop G tuning a deep, growling sound that’s ideal for plenty of metal bands. You get access to plenty of powerful low notes via the low G string, but the rest of the guitar is tuned a bit lower as well.

If you listen to a song in B standard and then hear one in drop G, you can hear the difference! This video (below left) shows you some catchy drop G riffs.

To get your seven-string guitar in drop G, you tune the low B string to a low G. The first six strings will then be tuned down a whole step (as they would be if you’re tuning a six-string guitar to D standard). Here’s a quick tuning guide:

  • 7th string: G
  • 6th string: D
  • 5th string: G
  • 4th string: C
  • 3rd string: F
  • 2nd string: A
  • 1st string: D

8. Alternate Tuning: G Standard

Powerful bass strings are part of what gives 7 string guitars their unique punch. But if you want your sound to get closer to that of an 8-string guitar, G standard tuning is a great place to start.

But if you do want to use G standard, make sure you use very heavy strings. If your strings are too light, your sound will likely get a little muddy. You can always purchase a set of strings for an 8-string guitar but then use only the last 7. Don’t use the thinnest string!

Like in drop G, the lowest string becomes your low G string. Here’s a quick tuning guide:

  • 7th string: G
  • 6th string: C
  • 5th string: F
  • 4th string: Bb
  • 3rd string: Eb
  • 2nd string: G
  • 1st string: C

Obviously, G standard tuning may take more getting used to than many of the other tunings on the list. But its distinctive tone makes it a great one to try.

9. Alternate Tuning: Drop B

Drop B has a much heavier sound than the B standard. As mentioned earlier, many bands in heavier genres like to play in lower tunings. Drop B sounds great with power chords and distortion — two mainstays of most of the heavier genres.

In drop B (video below left), the low B string is the same as it is in standard B tuning. The rest of the strings are tuned down too:

  • 7th string: B
  • 6th string: F#
  • 5th string: B
  • 4th string: E
  • 3rd string: A
  • 2nd string: C#
  • 1st string: F#

This video (below right) will show you some great heavy riffs in drop B.

10. Alternate Tuning: Drop E

Drop E is an unusual tuning that’s more common in djent and other extreme forms of progressive metal. Thanks to the very low, bassy tones of the open strings, a guitar in drop E is usually used to alternate the powerful tones of open strings with higher-pitched chords. This is the primary tuning used by Meshuggah and Born of Osiris.

Thanks to the extreme low end with this tuning, it’s a better idea to play a seven-string with a scale length of at least 27″. Here’s a quick guide to tuning in drop E (video below left):

  • 7th string: E
  • 6th string: B
  • 5th string: F
  • 4th string: A
  • 3rd string: D
  • 2nd string: G
  • 1st string: B

This video (below right) will introduce you to some great songs in drop E!

Ready to Learn More?

If you want to get better at playing extended-range guitars or want to learn even more 7-string guitar tuning options, you might find online guitar lessons to be especially helpful. Online lessons let you zero in on your goals as a guitarist. Whether you want to expand your playing abilities in the bass range and treble range, get better at soloing or even master more tunings for seven-string guitars, an online guitar course may be just what you need.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re already into seven-string guitars or if you want to play a seven-string for the first time, we hope you’ve found this list helpful!

What do you think? Do you have any advice for those wanting to branch out from six-string guitars to one with seven strings? Let us know in the comments, and please don’t forget to like and share if you found this article useful!

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