Magnificent Seven: The 10 Greatest Seven-String Guitar Songs of All Time
We count down the best tracks from those who took guitar one string further.
05. Joe Satriani — "Seven String" (Strange Beautiful Music, 2002)
An innovative force like few other guitarists have been, Joe Satriani has unsurprisingly turned to the seven-string guitar more than once in his career to extend the range of his alien guitar acrobatics. "A song like 'Seven String' represents the brute-force side of playing," said Satriani in a 2002 Guitar World interview, echoing just why we can't enough of this track from Strange Beautiful Music.
04. Dream Theater — "The Dark Eternal Night" (Systematic Chaos, 2007)
Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci has made on-and-off use of the seven-string since 1994's Awake, using it to lend unique chord voicings and extended arpeggiated sequences to the band's frantic brand of prog-metal (perhaps most notably on 2002's "The Glass Prison"). But it was on the band's 2007 effort, Systematic Chaos, that Petrucci revved things up another notch entirely with the pummeling, nine-minute opus, "The Dark Eternal Night."
03. Meshuggah — "Future Breed Machine" (Destroy Erase Improve, 1995)
While you won't find any extra strings on Meshuggah's 1991 debut, Contradictions Collapse, guitarist Fredrik Thordendal knew from the very beginning that six strings just wouldn't suffice to contain the breadth of his band's music. "For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to have a seven-string guitar so that I’d be able to play those really low notes," Thordendal told Guitar World, "and then Ibanez finally came out with one." By the time of the band's follow-up effort, the aptly named Destroy Erase Improve, the band had added an additional guitarist in Marten Hagstrom, and upped the ante with a retooled brand of progressive metal that has proven immensely influential to the new breed of metal musicians.
02. Steve Vai — "The Riddle" (Passion and Warfare, 1990)
Around the time of Whitesnake's 1989 album, Slip of the Tongue, Steve Vai was in search of some way to take the guitar into another dimension. "I was just looking for something different, looking to expand the instrument and get a different sound," said Vai in a recent interview of his part in creating the seven-string. "It wasn't a great revelation. It wasn't like the skies opened up and this instrument fell down. It was just a JEM guitar with an extra string. We tried to put a high string on it, but they kept breaking so we added a low string instead." And with that, and the release of 1990's Passion and Warfare, Vai would make his new guitar the envy of shredders worldwide.
01. Korn — "Blind" (Korn, 1994)
When grunge had the shred movement on the ropes, Korn helped to bring the seven-string back from the brink of extinction, giving rise to the nu metal movement in the process. While 1998's Follow the Leader was largely responsible for making them the unabashed leaders of the mainstream metal world with hits like "Freak on a Leash" and "Got the Life," it was the lead track off their self-titled 1994 debut that first turned heads. "I was stunned," said Steve Vai of first hearing Korn. "It sounded like a herd of buffalo wearing iron shoes and blowing fire out of their nostrils."
But the strength of Korn's sound was far from just a lumbering, low-end rumble. The guitar interplay of Munky and Head was something imitators never quite nailed down. "We feed off of each other rhythmically a lot," said Munky in a 1998 GW interview. "We play a lot of parts in unison, or I'll play a steady riff while Head plays counterpoint fills, like we do in the beginning of 'Blind.'"
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