Disparity: Sarah Longfield Talks Making a Living, Eight-String Guitars and Bold New Album

Sarah Longfield playing a Strandberg Metal 6 (Image credit: Derek Sampson)

Sarah Longfield is one of the country’s premier exponents of state-of-the-art shred. Armed with an eight-string Strandberg Boden axe and some killer technical skills, the guitarist takes a pianistic, multitonal approach to two-handed tapping. And — although she draws from key influences Meshuggah and Animals As Leaders — her style and sound are decidedly unique, not to mention instantly recognizable. Top that off with the songwriting, production and arranging chops she displays on her latest album, Disparity [Season of Mist], and you’re looking at a truly heavyweight talent.

Which is why it’s so surprising that Longfield comes from a completely non-musical family. Although she started off playing violin, piano and flute as a kid, things changed forever when she visited a local music store at age 12. “I looked at a guitar and thought, well, it has strings; it’s kinda like a huge violin. I picked one up to try and just fell in love with it.” She spent a mere four months on six strings before making the leap to seven. “I saw it in the same way you get a 66-key or an 88-key piano — the scope was broader, and it seemed to fit with what I was trying to achieve.” When she spotted an eight-string axe in her local guitar store, she immediately became a fan. Besides her ubiquitous custom-painted Strandberg Boden 8, she also plays a Strandberg Metal 8 and a Metal 6.

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Mark McStea

Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.