Write a review of the Best 8-String Guitars? What on earth is going on? 8-string guitars? Can we expect the four horsemen of the Apocalypse next?
For those who struggle with playing six strings, eight sounds like the ultimate nightmare. We actually prefer four, but that is another story. We have to admit, though, we are not averse to a guitar having more than six strings.
One of our favorite guitar players is Sandeep Mohan of the band Saraswati. We discovered him while one day watching Mohini Dey. She sets out to break all of Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of Physics in the way she plays the bass. Of course, it was a six-string bass, not a four, and Mandeep had 8 strings on his SG, not 6.
Don’t ask about how many drums the drummer had or the number of strings on the violin – he uses five. Just pure musical brilliance, all of them. Unless you hate jazz, of course, then they are just good. We don’t mind a bit of 8-string.
Having more than six-strings on a guitar is not a new concept, of course. 12 strings have been around for a good while. Some Russian acoustic guitars have 7 strings. They have been around since the 18th Century. Eight string acoustic guitars were around in Italy in the 1800s. They are not then a new idea.
Today they are usually tuned F#, B, E, A, D, G, B, E., lowest string first. Though some prefer to tune the bottom string to an E. It is still used classically and in jazz circles, but it is in heavy metal that the 8 string electric guitar has become popular. Dutch band Within Temptation has two guitar players who both use them.
They are not the only metal and pseudo metal bands. Many of the guitars have this ‘Superstrat’ design that seems to be popular. The deep cutaways, of course, making it easy to really shred those high notes. So, let’s take a closer look and see if we can find one deserving to be called the very best of the Best 8-String Guitars.
Top 7 Best 8-String Guitars To Buy 2020 Reviews
1 Jackson X Series 8-String Electric Guitar
The Jackson X series is not made for the faint-hearted. It has a double-cutaway mahogany body with an arched top, and a one-piece solid wood design that makes it quite heavy, weighing 17 pounds. It has been given a very plain brown gloss finish.
The neck, of course, is prominent in width and is a maple one-piece bolt-on. It is a multi-scale length with a truss rod with two-scale lengths of 26-28 inches. An X series shape, it is also given a gloss finish. The fretboard is Laurelwood with 24 jumbo size frets. It has a 2.16-inch nut width and dot markers situated at the top end of the fretboard.
Sound-wise it is not built to take any prisoners with its two passive Jackson blade humbuckers. One at the neck and one at the bridge position. They push out quite a distinctive sound that is designed for a shredding session. Very simple controls have a volume and tone control and a three-way pickup toggle switch.
The atmosphere of the guitar continues with its black hardware. Eight die-cast tuners and a fixed bridge. The bridge has individual saddles. These have a staggered design to allow good intonation across the two scale lengths. All the hardware is finished in a matt black that is almost threatening.
This guitar is made in Indonesia, and it is hard to fault the workmanship. It is well-designed but also well-put-together. And it clearly has one use in mind, and that is to make a whole lot of noise, and it certainly does that.
It is a guitar designed for metal, and that’s about what it does. It has an attractive look to it, it must be said, and at the price point is a good buy. If you want a no-nonsense 8 string electric guitar with a big metal sound, then this is worth considering.
- Well made with good materials and attractive design.
- Powerful humbucker sound.
- It really only has one style of use, so it isn’t what you might call versatile.
2 Schecter OMEN-8 8-String Electric Guitar
Schechter does not need too much of an introduction as guitar manufacturers. They started life in the 70s in California, making parts for Fender and Gibson guitars but developed their own line of instruments. Today they produce a range of guitars, acoustic and electric, bass guitars amps and effects units.
The instruments are made in South Korea. We have seen and been impressed with some of their more standard models, so let’s see what they do with the 8-string.
The choice of the wood is always important for a guitar, and they have settled for a Basswood body with a maple neck. The neck is fitted with reinforcing carbon rods. Good materials that are known to be resonant but not too heavy. This guitar comes in at under 14 pounds. On the neck, there is a Rosewood fingerboard.
This guitar is clearly designed for one style of playing. It’s a metal weapon, and the pickups are going to give you that. It is fitted with two Schecter Diamond Plus ceramic humbuckers. They are overwound and deliver a red hot crunch driven sound with a lot of punch. They deliver some shattering highs but still maintain a bottom end you can feel as well as hear.
As with all of their guitars, Schecter pays attention to the hardware they use. For the Omen-8, they designed a special bridge to give stability and control over intonation. This bridge has through the body stringing. Up at the headstock are eight special machine heads designed to take the punishment of constantly bent strings without going out of tune.
The controls are simple and basic. That is all you need: volume, tone, and a three-way toggle switch.
A big sound with an attractive design with good hardware. A typical Schecter guitar. It is built in every way to do the job. Metal fans are going to love it, and at this price, it might encourage a few more to try the experience.
- Good build with excellent materials at an affordable price.
- Big sound with plenty of crunch.
3 Jackson DKA8 Pro Series Dinky
Back to Jackson for another in their range. This is a guitar which has no problems in saying look at me. Rather a distinctive color but one that is not unattractive. The body is a conventional shape for a guitar designed with metal in mind. A deep lower cutaway makes the whole fingerboard available.
The archtop body is made from one-piece of Alder wood and given a high gloss finish in orange. Being Alder wood, it is also very lightweight at just 9 pounds. The neck is Maple with a bolt-on design. Scale length is 26,5 inches. It is fitted with a truss rod and a shark fin motif in the 12th fret. It has 24 jumbo size frets.
Two Di Marzio humbucker pickups provide the sound. There are simple controls, as is usual, just a volume and tone. But it is fitted with a five-way toggle switching system that gives you just about every option for sound shaping. An interesting sound extra is the inclusion of a kill switch control. This will provide you with some interesting stutter effects. When linked with a delay pedal, the effect can be quite stunning.
Up at the headstock, There are Planet Wave locking machine heads in black. The nut and bridge are also black. The bridge gives through body stringing with individual saddles for precise intonation and control.
It is loud and very noticeable, to say the least, and if you are going to shred a little, this is going to sound and look the part. It is made in Mexico and is well-constructed. A reasonable price point makes it worth considering as one of the best 8 string guitars.
- Great looking guitar at an affordable price.
- Powerful sound with some good features.
4 Schecter BANSHEE ELITE-8
Back to Schecter for another model in their range. Not a great deal of difference in body design and shape. In fact, it seems to be a standard design for the 8-string.
The Banshee has an Ash body with a deep cutaway design. It has a Maple top with an interesting design that does set it apart a little bit. Having a Maple top is known to add sustain to the sound.
The neck is a combination of Maple and Walnut, and it is given an Ebony fretboard. The neck has reinforcement rods of Carbon fiber. It has a very thin profile ‘C’ shaped neck that is comfortable to hold. One of the downsides of the 8-string guitar is the width of the neck to allow for the extra two strings. This has been offset with this guitar by having such a slim profile.
Another interesting and helpful addition are marker dots placed on the sides of the fingerboard. They are on the top up the 15th fret and then the bottom up from there. They glow in the dark, which is a good idea.
This is good with a Hardtail bridge and up at the headstock locking machine heads. Bridge and pickups are almost standard black, but the tuners are chrome-plated. As usual simple controls with a volume and tone, again with chrome knobs, and a slider control for pickup selection. The guitar is completed by the essential pair of humbuckers.
There is something hard to define about this guitar that sets it at a higher level than some of its competitors. Hard to define what it is about the look, but there is something just right about it. The sound is heavyweight as well, which makes this one of the best 8 string guitars around. It is also a little more expensive than similar guitars, but that is to be expected.
- Attractive look and well-built.
- Powerful sound with comfortable ‘C’ shaped slimline neck.
- The price might put some off.
5 ESP Artist Series LJR608QMFBSB 8-String Solid-Body Electric Guitar
ESP is a Japanese guitar manufacturer established in1975. They produce a range of guitars from the budget, entry-level models to their signature series instruments. As one of its big competitors Ibanez, ESP has been known for making very good copies of Telecasters and Strats. Their top-level guitars though, are no copies and have some well-known players like Ronnie Wood, who appreciate them.
This guitar is one of the Artist series. This instrument has an Ash body and a Walnut and Maple neck. The neck has a slim ‘U’ shape. It is surprisingly lightweight at just ten pounds., The Ebony fingerboard has 24 jumbo size frets.
It has been given some excellent hardware with a Graphtech nut and two DiMarzio humbuckers. The bridge is a high-quality Schaller. Controls, as is the norm, are simple — just a volume and tone control with a slider pickup selector.
There isn’t much about this guitar that has been left to chance. The hardware and woods used are of the highest quality. The humbuckers kick up a big sound.
This is a pro-level instrument, which is why it is part of the Artist series from ESP. A quality build, it will be considered as one of the best 8 string guitars. It is quite expensive, but then you would probably expect it to be.
- Good build with high-quality materials.
- A nice simple design.
6 Washburn PXM18EB Parallaxe PXM Series 8-String
The original Washburn guitar company was set up way back in 1883 and was successful for many years. However, in the 20s and 30s, though, they began to struggle and were bankrupted. And by 1940, they had all but disappeared.
And it is owned by Washburn International, who were somewhat reinvented with some help from the Roland Corporation. They manufacture under the name of Washburn but, in fact, have nothing at all to do with the original company. They now produce budget range guitars that are decent instruments, and they are sold at an affordable cost. The PXM is one of those models.
It has a solid Alder body with deep cutaways and a bolt-on neck made from 5-ply maple and mahogany. The fingerboard is ebony and has 24 super jumbo frets. It has the standard style of dot inlays.
It has been given some very nice hardware fittings, including a Graphite nut and locking Grover machine heads. There is also a fixed bridge with individual saddles and a through the body stringing system. The sound comes from two EMG humbuckers, one at the neck and one at the bridge. Controls are the standard Volume and Tone with a toggle pickup selector.
This is an attractive looking guitar with its black gloss finish. It is a little different in design in that the hardware is not black but chrome. A nice touch just to be a little different.
As an 8 string electric guitar Washburn International has done a great job of producing a good guitar. It looks the part and has the sound, and whilst not being as crisp and rugged as some; it is still a worthwhile investment.
If you are looking for a budget level 8-string that still produces the goods, then this is worth a look. And at the price point, it is a very affordable and attractive option.
- A well made, attractive looking instrument at an affordable cost.
- Good materials and fittings.
- Some will want a hotter sound.
7 ESP LTD EC-258 8-String Electric Guitar
And here we were thinking a lot of these 8-string guitars have designs that are so similar. The Superstrat design, as they are sometimes known. And then up pops an 8-string Les Paul look alike from ESP. And this is an interesting guitar because it proves a point. That you don’t have to pay a lot of money to get a good guitar.
It features that distinctive single-cutaway Les Paul look on an arched top mahogany body. It has a great looking black satin finish with a nice white binding. Made in China, it is hard to fault the design or the build.
It features a three-piece mahogany neck with a jatoba wood fretboard with 22 jumbo frets. No dots on the fingerboard, just elegant wavy block inlays that give it even more of a Les Paul feel.
The neck is given the same impressive black finish as the body. It has got a nut that is 2,12 inches in width, which gives you an indication of the width of the neck as it tapers out. An issue that often puts people off trying an 8-string. However, this guitar has a slimline ‘U’ shape design that compensates a little for the neck width. This makes it a little more natural for a six-string player to play.
The noise is delivered by two powerful ESP humbuckers. One at the neck and one at the bridge. They are controlled by a single volume and tone control. There is also a toggle pickup selector switch. No prizes for where it is located on a Les Paul look alike. The bridge is a fixed design with through the body stringing. Up at the headstock, black sealed machine heads.
A great guitar that looks the part and sounds powerful. All at a price that is very affordable. For the money, it has got to be considered as one of the best 8 string guitars.
- Great looking guitar with good features.
- Good sound and materials used at a great price.
- Some may prefer the usual ‘SuperStrat’ design.
Best 8-String Guitars Buyers Guide
Better Eight Than Never…
If you are considering buying an 8-string guitar, it is likely you fall into one of three categories. Firstly, you could already be playing a six-string and want to give it a go, to see how you get on with it. Or secondly, you are already shredding the daylights out of a six-string and want to really lay down some metal. Or thirdly, you already have one and want to upgrade.
There is a problem though whatever your reason for buying one. There aren’t that many to choose from. It’s not like going out to buy a six-string. We reckon that there are more ranges of Fender’s than there are 8-string guitars. Your choice is then going to be limited.
Made For Metal…
Because they tend to gravitate as an instrument towards a certain genre, metal, they also tend to be very similar. Even the ‘Superstrat’ shape seems to be the standard design. Understandable because it is an attractive shape. The cutaways are just made deeper to allow you full access to the length of the fingerboard.
There is a variation in neck design to a certain extent. Some have a ‘C’ shape, some a ‘U’ shape. Also, some with slimline necks in either design. Feeling comfortable with it is important, and so there are some options.
Different Levels of ‘shred’…
The pickups though not so. They are going to be humbuckers. That is a given. No single coil’s here. There are variations with the pickups in that some are simply better than others. None of them are bad; there are just different levels of ‘shred’.
The choice might be limited, but on our list, you won’t find a bad one.
More Traditional Options
If you’re reading this, it is highly unlikely that you’re looking for a ‘normal’ six-stringed guitar. But, if the thought of getting your fingers around all these eight-stringed monsters is a bit frightening. Then please take a look at our reviews of the Best Hollow Semi Hollow Guitars, the Best Travel Electric Guitars, the Best Electric Guitars for Beginners, and the Best Blues Guitars currently available.
So, What Are The Best 8-String Guitars?
We would definitely go for something basic. And which for our first excursion into the world of the 8-string is going to be not so costly. Most of the guitars are in a similar price range, and they all have their own qualities. We would choose as the Best 8-String Guitar, the…
A great looking guitar, with its Les Paul styling and a change from the ‘Superstrat’ look. It plays nicely, and it’s also got just enough kick to get noticed. Our choice as the very best of the Best 8-String Guitars on the market.