Electric 7 string guitars can give you those additional low notes you have been looking for. This makes them great for prog, metal, djent, and many other heavy genres. They’re also awesome for melodic music. You can create some cool chord voicings that are impossible on a 6 string.
7 string guitars have become more and more popular over the last 20 years. This has made them more affordable than other guitar types that serve a similar purpose. Budget 7 strings are much cheaper than an 8 string or a 6 string baritone guitar.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are a lot of quality 7 string guitars available. In fact, there are many 7 string versions of popular 6 string guitars out there.
The ESP Eclipse is one that comes to mind. You could get that shape in a number of different 7 string builds at different prices. There is no reason you couldn’t pick one of these up if you know you like its 6 string version. The same applies to any other guitar with different iterations.
If you’re truly unsure, we’ve listed our favorites to help take some of the guesswork out of your purchase. There is sure to be something you will love and within budget for you.
It is not surprising that Ibanez has one of the best budget offerings for a 7 string guitar. Their GiO series of affordable guitars have been around for a long time and are famous for their bang for the buck.
These guitars come fitted with a 25.5” scale length. This is on the larger side for a standard guitar. This means that the string tension of your low B string is not going to be as tight as a baritone scale length guitar.
The pickups in this guitar do their job fine but you can’t expect the world from them. Consider that the whole guitar costs as much as some active pickups do on their own. They do perform better for distortion than for their clean tones so that's a bonus if you like it heavy.
Opting for an Ibanez guitar means that it has met their quality standards. This means you are unlikely to have to do the extra setup often required for cheap guitars. There's no filing the nut down or fretwork for you to do.
This guitar is available with 2 different fingerboards. This makes them a little more versatile in tone than the Jackson JS22-7 which is our other budget pick. You can only pick one or the other of course so don’t let that put you off opting for the JS22-7.
The maple neck version of this guitar will have a lighter tone than the New Zealand pine one.
Jackson has many manufacturing facilities across the globe. They build their budget line of guitars in China. This guitar is of course from that warehouse. That does not mean it is not a quality instrument. It abides by the standards set by Jackson internationally.
A potential problem for budget guitars is sharp frets. There is no guarantee that every one of these guitars will be free from this complication. However, I have not seen it come up as an issue often for this guitar.
A feature incorporated into this guitar is graphite reinforcement for the neck. A reinforced neck is awesome for a budget guitar. This should keep your neck from warping. It should have a long lifespan because of this quality neck.
The pickups included are nothing to write home about. They do however give a reasonably balanced tone. They can come across a little flat sounding but, for the price, are beyond decent.
The scale length could feel a little awkward for a new 7 string player. This should only occur for a short time. It is not so large it will cause major disruptions to your learning if you practice often.
A poplar body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard offer a balanced tonal range. This is perfect to experiment with your sound. The neck is not particularly fast but is forgiving for a learner.
An overall awesome guitar for the price. Just don’t expect it to play or sound like a guitar that costs 4x as much.
This guitar has a lot to offer in general but it is our favorite pick in this price range for one main reason. This guitar comes with active pickups! They sound great when driven into high gain. Of course, they aren’t as well rounded and articulate as premium quality Seymour Duncan, EMG, or DiMarzio pickups. Yet, for this budget, they are likely the best you are going to get included with a 7 string.
Having active pickups makes this one of the best guitars under $500 for heavy music. You will get a much more brutal tone out of this guitar than many others that come loaded with passive pickups.
Active pickups might not be ideal for you though so keep that in mind. You must change the battery every now and again. These particular pickups are not perfect for the clean channel of your amp either.
This guitar has a thin C shaped neck with a rosewood fingerboard. This combination complements the tones you can get from the pickups and makes for a very workable neck.
The tune-o-matic bridge is just what you would expect. If you have owned a guitar with one of these types of bridges before you will know they hold their tune. They are also easy to restring.
A multi-scale guitar under $500!?* Yes please!
This guitar is perfect if you prefer a multi-scale neck but don’t like the price tag that often comes with such a guitar. It’s a fair starting point for using this type of neck if it is something that you are unfamiliar with too.
The stock Jackson pickups in this guitar are really good for manufacturer-branded pickups. They have a punchy and clear tone that is capable of getting brutal but is also clear on the clean channel.
As with all Jackson 7 strings, the neck on this model comes reinforced. This particular model has a bolt-on maple neck with graphite as its reinforcement.
It has a fast and thin neck but is also merciful to a 7 string beginner. Yet, the bolt-on design does leave a little to be desired when getting up to the top notes of the fretboard. It can feel a little chunky and therefore slow you down a little.
The string through bridge gives this guitar decent sustain and holds its tuning well. Some locking tuners would help this a lot and could be an upgrade worth considering down the track.
There are of course better 7 string multi-scale guitars. But, for this price, you would struggle to beat this guitar.
*The price of this model can fluctuate and sometimes cost a little over $500.
I have to admit, I was originally drawn to this guitar purely because of how awesome it looks. The poplar burl top not only looks great but the grain will be different for every guitar. This means you will have a guitar that is unique to you.
The primary construction material for the body of this guitar is swamp ash. This wood is one of my favorite tonewoods. It achieves clarity and responsiveness across the entire frequency range of a guitar. On top of that, the grain in swamp ash wood looks great and is perfect for an unpainted guitar.
Hidden in the great visual appeal of this guitar is fantastic ergonomics. The carves in the wood help this guitar to sit perfectly whether you are sitting or standing. Combine this with the multi-scale neck and you have one of the most comfortable to play 7 string guitars.
The pickups in this guitar are Schecter Decimators. These pickups are normally reserved for guitars that lie in a much higher price bracket. They are a welcome inclusion in the Reaper. They are brutal sounding and are perfect for any subgenre of metal.
The 5 piece neck is very fast and with its set through design gives fantastic access to the highest frets. This makes this guitar great for lead lines and solos.
It may not be perfect for a beginner of 7 strings as the out of the box action is pretty low. You can adjust this yourself to get a preferable action. Alternatively, you could practice with the stock setup to improve your accuracy.
This is a face-melting and feature-rich guitar. It is great for punching out heavy riffs and soaring leads. It does so with its set through neck and Seymour Duncan pickups.
The pickups in this guitar are passive but they are some of the best available passive pickups for metal. They are a good choice for someone that can’t trust themselves to carry a spare battery to gigs and rehearsal. They are also a fair choice for those that simply do not like active pickups. The clean tones from these pickups are also great. If you switch between your clean and dirty channel a lot this is a good guitar for you.
There is a 5-way toggle to switch between pickups. This means you can switch each pickup into a single-coil mode. You can get a lot of variety from your guitar tone with this feature.
One of the best inclusions with this guitar is the Floyd Rose locking tremolo. This prevents strings from going out of tune at all during a gig. It is one of the best systems available to keep your guitar in tune.
One drawback of this type of bridge is that it takes a lot longer to change strings. This makes it near impossible to change strings during a set. You may need to keep a spare guitar if you plan on using this as your primary stage guitar.
This guitar is the signature model of metal artist Angel Vivaldi. If you have listened to any of his work before you would be aware that his guitars would need to have a very fast neck. They also need to be capable of producing many different tones.
Charvel worked with him to create a guitar that would check all the boxes for his playstyle. You can get the benefit of the baby they created.
It comes loaded with DiMarzio Air Norton pickups. These are hot but give no natural distortion. This makes them great for a range of applications. Your amplifier can add its tone to the crystal clear signal from the guitar.
The pickups have a 5-way blade to control them. This gives you even more command over your tone. This is because you are able to select individual single-coil pickups if so desired.
The finish on this guitar is flawless and accented by the gold hardware. It makes an interesting aesthetic for the guitar. It also has a unique inlay pattern on the fretboard with a reverse fender style headstock at the end of the guitar.
You get locking tuners on this guitar to help you stay in tune. They are a welcome addition to any guitar but are pretty standard for a guitar in this price range and above.
Have a listen to the track in the video above to see how great this guitar sounds.
If you have more than $3000 to drop on a guitar then you could consider this guitar one of the best options for a 7 string. This is the signature model for Jason Richardson who is a much better shredder than most of us could ever hope to be.
As a result of him being such a crazy guitarist, his signature model guitar has a fast neck with super low action. This guitar certainly is not for beginners. Not that a beginner would be spending this much money on their first guitar.
The aesthetics of this guitar are awesome. I am a particularly big fan of a burl top on guitars. Not only does it look great it adds a certain quality to the tone of the guitar.
The neck of this guitar has ultra access to the highest points on the fretboard. This is in spite of it being a bolt-on neck. You can tell the engineers at Ernie Ball have spent a lot of time on the design of this signature model.
The pickups are awesome sounding and active. They can tackle the heaviest riffs but also have sparkling clarity at all volumes.
If you’re unsure about spending this much on a guitar you can get the Sterling version of this guitar for under $1000. You sacrifice some of what makes this guitar awesome but still get a high-quality product.
This depends on a lot of factors. If you have mastered the fretboard of your 6 string already you can translate the position of some notes. Notes of your B string will be in the same fret position as the new string on your 7 string. This is because they are both tuned to B. Only if you’re sticking to standard tuning on your 7 string.
The new string will give you new options for chord voicings. Just like learning any new or awkward chords on your 6 string, this could take a little practice to master. You can check out some chord voicings here.
If you are accurate with your strumming you can ignore the new string and play chords the same as on your 6 string. Many players do this and only use the low B string to play heavy palm-muted power chords. You can get away with doing this and it makes learning the new skill a little easier. However, you would be robbing yourself of the intricacies a 7 string can offer.
In short, the skills you have already from playing a standard guitar should translate well to a 7 string. There are new things to learn but with some practice, you will master that extra string in no time.
I am going to answer this question with another question. Does your fretboard hand naturally press onto the guitar at an angle? This is a ‘bad habit’ that I am definitely guilty of. Multi-scale guitars help to improve the ergonomics for a guitarist that plays like this.
That is not the primary purpose of a multi-scale guitar though. The thinking behind fanned frets is that the scale length can be longer for the low strings. This means the string tension will be better for those strings. It helps to avoid the low B string becoming floppy and inaccurate. If you are the type of person that plays hard with your strumming hand a string with bad tension can be a nightmare. It can make the sound of your guitar sound sloppy and imprecise.
On the other hand, many players actually like the top string to have a little less tension. It makes it easier for low note pitch bends and fat dive bombs. In this case, a multi-scale guitar is probably not the best choice.
In my opinion, multi-scale fretboards are better for guitars with extended range. Some people hate them. It depends on your playing style as to what is best for you.
I could sit and write for hours to argue the for and against of a C, U, etc shaped neck.
There is so much variation between each shape even from individual manufacturers. Here is an example of the hundreds of neck shapes just from Ibanez. As you can see they even have some of their own branding for neck shapes such as a wizard neck. This makes it even harder to give a definitive answer. There is no real correct answer to which neck shape is best.
The design of most 7 strings is to shred on. This means that whatever the name of the neck shape it is likely built for speed. Therefore, the neck profile will be thin. It would be super unlikely to find something with a classic Fender thick C shape for instance. A C shape on a 7 string would still be low profile.
If you have a particular neck profile you like already you could stick to what you know. Otherwise, you will adjust to the neck of your new 7 string reasonably quick regardless of your choice.
Active pickups are better for high gain, heavy music. You can find passive pickups that do a decent job but active pickups from the same brand will do it better.
If you’re in the market for a 7 string you likely play djent or another metal subgenre. In this case, active pickups are more appropriate.
If you’re buying your 7 string for jazz passive pickups are better. The same applies to other genres that use a lot of clean channel.
If you can’t afford a guitar with quality active pickups you can always upgrade later. There won’t be guitars with active pickups on the budget end of the scale.
The passive pickups on a cheaper guitar will be fine for jamming, gigging, and even recording. There are plenty of metal artists that use guitars with passive pickups. Even Dimebag did before he passed away. You can still go for a fat tone with your passive pickups.
As 7 string guitars have become very popular many of the big brands have mass-produced them. This drives the cost down significantly. You can get a base model Jackson or Ibanez 7 string for under $200!
At this price, you forgo premium features such as a multi-scale fretboard, active pickups, locking tuners, etc.
These cheaper guitars will get you started on a 7 string but spending extra will get you more in terms of hardware and overall quality.
A guitar that costs around $500 may have some premium features like EMG or Seymour Duncan pickups. They might have a multi-scale neck. They could include a locking tremolo or similar. It is unlikely it will have all of these features though.
You could of course go for a $2000+ guitar. These guitars are a lifetime investment. They will never need modding or replacement if you take good care of them. If you have the budget for it now it could save you money in the long term by not buying more guitars. Most guitarists I know would still buy more anyway. It's hard not to go for the new shiny thing.
Paying closer to $1000 can generally get you the sought-after features of a premium guitar. I think the best value for money guitar from our top picks in the Schecter Reaper 7MS. This guitar costs a little under $1000.