School me on the 7 strings

Jo-

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So I've been kinda gassing for a 7 string .. I do have an old Mike Mushok baritone, but also wanted to get the higher register notes, so I figure a 7 string would do that.
How weird is it to play a 7 string?

Also I know PRS in the past did an old SE Custom 7 string model, but now it's the Mark Holcomb model (Side question.. why are there so many 'Mark' sig models, Messrs. Tremonti, Letieri and Holcomb??? Do you have to be a Mark to get a sig in this place? :) ) .... anyway back on track...
So I see there was an older Mark Holcomb model (walnut/Holcomb burst with alpha/omega pups) and a newer one (Holcomb Blueburst) .. the latter having new pickups.
According to the PRS website it also seems that the size of the neck has changed? or am I reading the specs wrong?

Is the new model the better model?
Any advice you can give to a wannabe 7 string metalhead?
 
Can't help you w/the newest model - I have the old CU24-7 and the original Holcomb SVN. I did put a set of the Alpha/Omegas and US pots in the CU before the Holcomb SVN was released.

As far as playing, it's a little bit of an adjustment. I tried a 7 one year at Experience, and I couldn't figure out what to do with it. Sure, you had the low B string, but I wasn't thinking too much about single notes there. I couldn't get past the idea that I was just adding a fifth below the root on bar chords (so E/B, G/D, etc.). Then one day it clicked that all I needed to do was just shift my thinking about the chords, and if I played an open E but moved the shape one string toward the bass side, now I had a B power chord, and I was off and running. It really opens up the possibilities for a solo guitar or chord melody where the melody lies on the D and G strings - suddenly you have more to play with in the lower range. I'm in the process of mixing a backing track of "Amazing Grace" for my mother, and the first pass through the verse is just going to be solo 7-string - I tuned to open A for it, and it just sounds awesome. (I'd also done a recording in open B for my own purposes, but my mother's not so adventurous about playing in keys like B.)

And since you mentioned baritone, it also occurred to me that if you tune the G down to F#, suddenly you have a B-to-B baritone with a high E string added. I don't think I've ever actually done it, but it's there.

And I will say that the Alpha/Omega set cleans up pretty nicely, and MH is really fond of the middle position with the coil tap engaged. I mean, it doesn't have the brutalz at that setting, but it is verr nice. (No more Borat voice!)
 
Don't the older SE7s and the newer SVNs have different scale lengths?
25" vs 27" on the 7?
 
So, getting to the OP's question:

Playing 7 strings can be a bit weird at first. For me, for the longest time it was a case of playing a six string guitar with one extra lower string to chug on when I wanted to do my lame interpretation of djenting. And that was about it.

Then, after I guess a year or so, my brain suddenly clicked (well, "suddenly" might be the wrong term), and the guitar became a full seven strings of range. (It took about a year, maybe more, because I just didn't have the time/focus to work on the technique, it really could have been much faster. But it really was a case of one day it suddenly all made sense.)

What worked for me was playing the bottom 4 strings (B, E, A, D) like I would approach a baritone - i.e. major and minor chords using that B string, and noodling some lead breaks using the typical patterns I would use over those chord patterns in a looper. Then being conscious of what key I was playing in, transitioning to the top six strings (E through e) to continue the noodling, which is really a slight shift in the pattern position.

Soon enough, it became very natural to run across the fretboard and up and down the neck and "know" what to play where, including incorporating chords using the top six strings (like your standard D cowboy chord), then evolving to using more chords all over the place.

I've since done the same for an 8 string guitar.

I still have more to learn, but that's where I'm at right now.
 
So, getting to the OP's question:

Playing 7 strings can be a bit weird at first. For me, for the longest time it was a case of playing a six string guitar with one extra lower string to chug on when I wanted to do my lame interpretation of djenting. And that was about it.

Then, after I guess a year or so, my brain suddenly clicked (well, "suddenly" might be the wrong term), and the guitar became a full seven strings of range. (It took about a year, maybe more, because I just didn't have the time/focus to work on the technique, it really could have been much faster. But it really was a case of one day it suddenly all made sense.)

What worked for me was playing the bottom 4 strings (B, E, A, D) like I would approach a baritone - i.e. major and minor chords using that B string, and noodling some lead breaks using the typical patterns I would use over those chord patterns in a looper. Then being conscious of what key I was playing in, transitioning to the top six strings (E through e) to continue the noodling, which is really a slight shift in the pattern position.

Soon enough, it became very natural to run across the fretboard and up and down the neck and "know" what to play where, including incorporating chords using the top six strings (like your standard D cowboy chord), then evolving to using more chords all over the place.

I've since done the same for an 8 string guitar.

I still have more to learn, but that's where I'm at right now.
Thanks that’s really helpful
 
Thanks that’s really helpful
You are most welcome!

And another anecdote: I've been playing my 7s and 8 a fair bit recently, and when the band practiced last night I played my Silver Sky, which seemed like such a tiny and easily played neck, with only 6 strings!

So there's that factor too in playing a 7 or 8 stringer - it stretches you so when you go back to 6 it seems so much easier!
 
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How weird is it to play a 7 string?

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Seriously, I’ve no idea… lifelong six-stringer here. But that was my first thought…
 
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