The History of the Seven String Guitar

Dave Mostert
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History of Guitars

Most people who play the guitar only know instruments with six strings. Guitars are mostly known to have six strings and this acoustic instrument is the way most people came to know the guitar. While in today’s world, it is hard to find acoustic guitars with six strings, many of the world’s greatest guitar players had a seven string guitar and made some fantastic music on them. In the early days of the guitar, most guitars had 7-strings.

Why they Became Popular

The first six string guitar was introduced in the 15th century. It was just a simple instrument that produced one octave of notes.

The first six string guitar was introduced in the 15th century. It was just a simple instrument that produced one octave of notes.

The string that was added created a complete two octave range. This allowed the guitar to produce the variety of tones needed for the complex music of that time.

In the late 17th century, the seven string guitar became the rage and replaced the six string. At first many people objected to the seven string.

They thought the additional string added more work in tuning and they were right. The tuning has to be precise, otherwise the extra string will be out of tune.

The seven string guitar was perfected in the early 19th century by Christian Frederick Martin who was born in Germany.

In 1834, he immigrated to the United States to work at the Martin guitar company, where he invented the X-braced pattern, the guitar’s modern sound chamber, and the standardized fingerboard, all crucial elements of modern guitar design.

The use of X-braces enabled a more narrow sound chamber that generates a louder sound.

In addition, it reduces the need for internal bracing and creates the ability to build lighter instruments with clear highs and strong bass.

X-bracing became the standard and remains so today.

The Modern Day Guitar

Would you believe that the earliest guitars on record were made in the near regions of modern-day Iran? Back then, guitars were made with just 3 strings and were known as ud. This was thousands of years before the Spanish vihuela and the lute, predecessors of the modern guitar, were developed in Europe.

Some notable individuals who have contributed to the development of the guitar as we know it include Orville Gibson (founder of the Gibson company), C.F. Martin, and Antonio Torres Jurado (man behind the Gibson T5). It is worth mentioning that while all of them have made significant contributions to the modern guitar, it should be noted that few of them were actually guitar-players themselves.

Played predominantly in America, the modern day guitar has two longer (tenor) and two shorter (treble) pairs of strings. Between the two shorter strings is the single longer string. The longer pair is normally designated for the lowest notes while the shorter pair is for higher pitches.

The origin of the modern guitar has been ascribed to two inventors. However, in the absence of any definite proof, the name of the true one is yet to be ascertained. Let us help you in your quest and present you with the evidence in both cases:

Main Brands

When people think of seven-string guitars, only a few big names are conjured up in their mind … Strats, Les Pauls, and the occasional Flying V.

But in reality, there’s a whole bunch of different guitar brands that make seven string guitars. Some of the most popular seven string guitar brands include Ibanez, Jackson, Schecter, Yamaha, Dean, and ESP.

Due to their lower strings, seven-string guitars are generally heavier than six string models and harder to play due to the wider fret spacing on the lower strings, making them more suitable to experienced guitar players or heavy rock/metal players who need that added low end in their music.

Their extended lower range also allows musicians to play thick bass sounds as well as harmonies with other instruments, such as pianos, which would not be possible to play with a six string guitar.