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Best 7-string guitars 2022: budget-spanning picks for djent to nu-metal

Close up for Ibanez Premium Steve Vai Universe UV70P
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re in need of adding some serious low-end punch to your sound, then you might want to think about arming yourself with one of the best 7-string guitars. Giving yourself an additional, lower string, alongside your six other regular strings means you’ve got an extended lower range which can be so useful for playing heavy metal, djent, prog rock and all sorts of other types of music.

A 7-string guitar will enable you to play the heaviest of riffs, whilst retaining note clarity, so it doesn’t just sound muddy and unclear. Combined with a nicely distorted amp, 7-string guitars can sound brutal, in the best way possible. 

That said, 7-string guitars aren’t just for metal – having an extra, lower bottom string can be really useful for playing ambient, soundscapey music, plus they can be an incredible tool in the studio for layering different guitar parts and chord inversions. They’re also great instruments for solo performers as they allow you to roam a little into bass territory, all on one instrument. 

However you want to use it, you’ll want to invest in the best 7-string guitar your budget allows; luckily, there are a lot of great options on offer. Brands such as Ibanez, Jackson, ESP/LTD – even PRS – are making some incredible extended range instruments, so there’s plenty to choose from, regardless of your budget. We’ve put together our list of the best 7-string guitar on the market today to help you along your way.

Best 7-string guitars: Guitar World's choice

There really are some great choices, but the best 7-string guitar out there right now, in terms of versatility, value and sheer coolness could well be the Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK Modern Ash HT7 (opens in new tab). Its sandblasted body really makes for an eye-catching design too.

The PRS SE Mark Holcomb 7-string (opens in new tab) is hard to ignore as well. Featuring the renowned Paul Reed Smith craftsmanship, a pair of Seymour Duncan Alpha and Omega pickups and two amazing finishes, it’s an incredible guitar that you really don’t have to be a Periphery superman to enjoy.

Best 7-string guitars: Product guide

Best 7-string guitars: Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK Modern Ash HT7

(Image credit: Jackson)

1. Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK Modern Ash HT7

Lightweight swamp ash body, heavyweight tone

Specifications

Body: Swamp ash
Neck: Maple/wenge, three-piece, bolt-on
Scale: 26.5”
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 24, jumbo nickel
Pickups: 2x Fishman Fluence humbuckers (neck and bridge)
Controls: Volume, tone with push-pull coil-tap and voicings switch, 5-way selector
Hardware: Black, Floyd Rose 1000 Series 7-String Double-locking Recessed Tremolo
Left-handed: No
Finish: Baked Green, Baked Blue, Baked Red

Reasons to buy

+
Super-comfortable
+
Awesome pickups
+
Wide variety of tones

Reasons to avoid

-
Finish is really cool, but might split opinion

Jackson went all-in at this year’s NAMM show and introduced all kinds of shreddables for your pleasure, but the updates to its Dinky Series really take the cake – not least this sand-blasted, 7-string Super Strat, which sees the ever-popular Dinky body shape housing a pair of active Fishman Fluence humbuckers.

Oh, sure, the finish is way cool (PRS introduced some limited edition SE models, proving great minds do often think alike), but we’ve got to start with those pickups. They’ll handle all those bass-heavy riffs the djent kids love, but with the multi-voice functionality, accessed via the tone control’s coil-tap in positions one and five, allied to the singlecoil tones in positions two through four inclusive, this Dinky is one versatile tone machine.

Oh, and it plays great, too, with a neck profile that’s begging for a shredding, fat frets, flat fingerboard radius… Holy Moly! And when you factor in the compact Dinky body, it makes for one accommodating guitar, perfect for taking your 7-string game further.

Best 7-string guitars: PRS SE Mark Holcomb 7-string

(Image credit: PRS)

2. PRS SE Mark Holcomb 7-string guitar

The best 7-string guitar for those who love the riffery of Periphery…

Specifications

Body: Mahogany with maple top and quilted maple veneer
Neck: Maple, set
Scale: 26.5”
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 24 extra jumbo
Pickups: Seymour Duncan Alpha humbucker (neck), Seymour Duncan Omega humbucker (bridge)
Controls: Master volume, master tone (push/pull coil-split), 3-way blade pickup selector
Hardware: Chrome, PRS String-Through Plate style
Left-handed: No
Finish: Holcomb Burst, Satin Walnut (with maple top and walnut veneer)

Reasons to buy

+
Great organic tones
+
Typical PRS build quality
+
Nice choice of finishes

Reasons to avoid

-
It’s at the upper band of PRS’s SE price range
-
Some players may want active pickups 

Despite PRS Guitars dipping its quilted-maple toe into the 7-string market circa 2013 with a super-sized SE Custom model, it was never going to be the company’s bread and butter. Every now and then, however, there comes along a guitar such as this, for a guitarist such as Mark Holcomb, and then it makes perfect sense.

We love this because of the refinement. Holcomb plays metal, and this signature PRS most-capably supports this enterprise, and yet it is all curves and chamfering, with no sharp edges that call out ostentatiously to the black T-shirt dollar. 

There is a wealth of tone to be had here, with Holcomb’s smart pairing of Seymour Duncan’s passive Alpha and Omega humbuckers in the neck and bridge positions offering heaps of grunt, and a coil-tap on hand for some singlecoil sparkle. Excellent build, awesome tones, flawless finish… Another fine PRS. Hey, they should do this sort of thing more often.

Best 7-string guitars: Schecter Demon-7

(Image credit: Schecter)

3. Schecter Demon-7

An absolute demon of a guitar

Specifications

Body: Basswood
Neck: Maple
Scale: 26.5”
Fingerboard: Wenge
Frets: 24, jumbo nickel
Pickups: 2x Diamond Active HB-1055
Controls: Volume, tone, 3-way selector
Hardware: Black, Schecter custom hardtail
Left-handed: Yes
Finish: Aged black satin, vintage white, crimson red burst

Reasons to buy

+
Simple design 
+
Good pickups for price 

Reasons to avoid

-
Cross inlays aren't for everyone 

If you’re searching for a no-nonsense metal guitar, then the Schecter Demon-7 might be just what you are looking for. You’ll be in good company as well, as Schecter guitars have been a mainstay for many artists such as Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance to Dan Donegan and Jerry Horton. 

This beautifully simple guitar comes loaded with a set of Schecter Diamond Active HB-1055 humbuckers. These high-output pickups certainly impress, with plenty of low-end and a fair amount of clarity in the higher frequencies. In case this guitar wasn’t entirely metal enough for you, the wenge fretboard comes adorned with gothic cross inlays to complete the look. We must say the 24-fret maple neck feels very comfortable for a 7-string at this price point and would suit most 6-string players. 

So, if you are in the market for a guitar that gets straight-to-the-point with no mod-cons that get in the way of you playing, then it’s worth seeking one of these guitars out. 

Best 7-string guitars: Ibanez Gio GRG7221QA

(Image credit: Ibanez)

4. Ibanez Gio GRG7221QA

Quilted-maple finery and smart switching at an entry-level price point

Specifications

Body: Poplar with quilted maple veneer
Neck: Maple, bolt-on
Scale: 26.5”
Fingerboard: Treated New Zealand pine
Frets: 24, jumbo
Pickups: 2x Infinity R humbuckers (neck and bridge)
Controls: Master volume, master tone, 5-way blade pickup selector
Hardware: F107 hard-tail bridge
Left-handed: No
Finish: Transparent Blue Burst, Transparent Black Burst

Reasons to buy

+
Accessible price
+
Great neck
+
Cool finish

Reasons to avoid

-
It’s a coin-toss with the Jackson DS22-7

So you’re thinking about getting a 7-string guitar, and you’re on a strict budget? Well, there are options. You could go for a Jackson DS22-7 Dinky, which is pretty sweet, has a much nicer fingerboard, and plays great, but then the Gio’s GRG7 neck profile and its quilted maple veneer and transparent finishes just about edge it. 

7-string neophytes will find the neck an easy ride, and the F107 hard-tail is a tidy piece of engineering. 

This is one of the best 7-string guitars for beginners and would be worthwhile modding in time. Switching out the pickups for something a little hotter would be a fun project. As it is, though, you’ll find plenty of chug for the money.

Best 7-string guitars: Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty

(Image credit: Ernie Ball Music Man)

5. Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci Majesty

The best 7-string guitar if money is no object

Specifications

Body: Mahogany with flame maple top
Neck: Mahogany, neck-through
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 24
Pickups: DiMarzio Rainmaker-7 humbucker (neck) and DiMarzio Sonic-7 humbucker (Bridge)
Controls: Magnetic volume (push/push)/Magnetic Tone/Piezo Volume 3-Way Output Switch (Magnetic/both/Piezo)/3-Way Pickup Switch (Magnetic Pickups)
Hardware: Schaller locking tuners, Piezo-equipped floating vibrato, chrome
Left-handed: No
Finish: Enchanted Forest

Reasons to buy

+
It’s (possibly) the ultimate 7-string
+
Incredible variety of tones
+
A shredder’s delight

Reasons to avoid

-
Oh goodness, it is expensive
-
Floating isn't for everyone 

OK, the one percent need only apply, but what a guitar: this may well be the acme of 7-string superstrat design. Where do you start? Well, the construction, fit and feel is incredible.

The DiMarzio Rainmaker humbuckers coupled with its byzantine switching system offer a cornucopia of tones, metal and otherwise, while the built-in adjustable boost will help your solos cut through the mix.

The Piezo on is like the guitar equivalent of having monogrammed slippers and smoking jacket. It’s just classy. But it’s not just for show, and allows Petrucci some on-the-fly acoustic tones.

Best 7-string guitars: Jackson JS22-7 DKA Dinky HT

(Image credit: Jackson)

6. Jackson JS22-7 DKA Dinky HT

The best 7-string guitar for serious low-end at a seriously low price

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Maple
Scale: 26.5”
Fingerboard: Amaranth
Frets: 24
Pickups: Jackson High-Output 7-String humbucker (neck and bridge)
Controls: Volume, tone, three-way pickup selector
Hardware: Jackson HT7 hardtail, black
Left-handed: No
Finish: Satin Black

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Good rhythm tones

Reasons to avoid

-
Pickups a little one-dimensional
-
Limited upper-fret access

This entry-level Jackson might be a spartan instrument but as a gateway drug for the 7-string curious this is hard to beat. The jumbo frets reward a light touch while the Dinky’s body is always comfortable whether played seated or standing.

The JS22-7 would make a great fixer-upper – the most obvious mod would be a pickups upgrade. That said, the stock Jackson humbuckers deal well with thick distortion and won’t make a meal of your riffs.

The scale length helps keep that 7th string taut. And for a guitar at this price, the Dinky holds its tune.

Best 7-string guitars: Cort KX507MS

(Image credit: Cort)

7. Cort KX507MS

A highly-spec’d multi-scale shred machine

Specifications

Body: Mahogany, with Poplar Burl Top
Neck: 5pcs Maple & Purple Heart
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Macassar Ebony
Frets: 24
Pickups: Fishman Fluence Modern
Controls: Volume (push/pull), Tone (push/pull), three-way pickup selector
Hardware: Individual string bridges, black nickel
Left-handed: No
Finish: Star Dust Black, Star Dust Green

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Thumping low-end tone

Reasons to avoid

-
Multi-scale is not for everyone

The individual bridge saddle design is not a feature exclusive to Cort but it’s nonetheless part of what makes the KX507MS such a good option for those looking for an accessibly-priced 7-string that places intonation at the core of its appeal.

This drive for perfect pitch starts at the string’s journey at the seven-individual saddles, arranged at an angle, and continues towards the nut across the fanned-fret fingerboard. This multi-scale idea is perfect for extended-range guitars, where you want a longer scale for the low B string to keep it tight for riffing while a Fender-esque 25.5” scale on the high E allows you to bend strings for leads. 

It’s the best of both worlds, so long as both those worlds are populated by chug-hungry metalheads, for the pair of super-hot active Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers are wound for the maximum destruction arising from high-gain and low-tunings. It’s fierce, but that’s the point, right? That said, you can activate coil-split, and take advantage of the two voices types that these amazing pickups have on offer, via the push/pull volume and tone knobs.

Best 7-string guitars: ESP LTD SCT-607B Stephen Carpenter Baritone

(Image credit: ESP)

8. ESP LTD SCT-607B Stephen Carpenter Baritone

A super-Deft T-style with the sparkly finish

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple, through neck
Scale: 27”
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets: 24
Pickups: Fishman Fluence SRC Signature humbucker (neck and bridge)
Controls: Volume (with push/pull feature), tone, three-way pickup selector
Hardware: LTD locking tuners, Tonepros Locking TOM bridge
Left-handed: No
Finish: Green Sparkle

Reasons to buy

+
Nice to see a T-style 7-string
+
Incredible baritone voicings
+
Great pickup choices

Reasons to avoid

-
You might prefer Carpenter’s dope new S-style

We love the Green Sparkle finish and Tele vibe. But make no mistake: this, too, is geared towards metal, or at least situations when the gain is on high. The full baritone guitar scale is a beast but tuning this down a whole step or a step-and-a-half won’t throw it out of whack.

The Fishman humbuckers are active but have a push/pull feature to toggle between their “modern passive” and “modern active” voicings. A nine-volt battery is hidden in the back and easily changed. The through-neck construction is another positive; this will sustain for days.

Best 7-string guitars: Jackson Pro Series Dave Davidson Signature Warrior WR7

(Image credit: Jackson)

9. Jackson Pro Series Dave Davidson Signature Warrior WR7

A weaponized 7-string signature model for Revocation’s shredder-in-chief

Specifications

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Maple, through-neck
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Ebony with Alumiloid Piranha Teeth inlay
Frets: 24 jumbo nickel
Pickups: 2x DiMarzio Dave Davidson Imperium 7 humbuckers (bridge and neck)
Controls: master volume (push/pull coil-split), master tone, 3-way toggle pickup switch
Hardware: Black, Floyd Rose 1000 Series 7 Double-locking Recessed Tremolo
Left-handed: No
Finish: Natural Walnut

Reasons to buy

+
A premium shred machine
+
Warm, thick tones, plus single-coil snap on tap

Reasons to avoid

-
Floyd Rose is great for stunt guitar, but not for everyone 

You could take someone’s eye out with Dave Davidson’s new signature 7-string, but maybe if you play death metal in a band named Revocation that is kind of the point. But seriously, the Warrior is one of Jackson’s most slept-on body shapes, and should be mentioned in the same conversation as the BC Rich Warlock or Jackson’s Rhoads asymmetric V bodies.

Here, Davidson has gone for a mahogany body and resisted the urge to overwhelm it with active pickups, preferring instead his signature Imperium humbuckers from DiMarzio. With a frequency output that emphasises the guitar’s midrange, they are pretty classically voiced, and offer a dynamic playing experience.

A Floyd Rose 1000 Series vibrato is on hand for saucing your lead playing with harmonic squeals and dive-bombs, and it’s a mighty fine unit.

Best 7-string guitars: Charvel Vivaldi DK24 7 NOVA

(Image credit: Charvel)

10. Charvel Vivaldi DK24 7 NOVA 7-string guitar

The four seasons of shred serves up a feast

Specifications

Body: Basswood
Neck: Maple
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Maple
Frets: 24
Pickups: DiMarzio Air Norton humbucker (neck and bridge)
Controls: Volume, tone, five-way pickup selector
Hardware: Custom 7-String 510 vibrato, gold
Left-handed: No
Finish: Satin Sage Green

Reasons to buy

+
Great pickups, versatile switching options
+
Immaculate build
+
Excellent value given the quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most metal guitar around

Now available in a very tasteful Satin Black, (the original was finished in Satin Sage Green as chosen by Angel Vivaldi’s fans), the NOVA is pretty much everything you’d look for in a hot-rodded Super Strat.

When Charvel draws up plans for a new guitar with an artist, nothing is off the table. There are some really cool signature flourishes here. Note the tilt-back headstock – this is the only Charvel to have one, and it is to enhance consistency in string tension.

A set of locking tuners does the job nicely in keeping everything in order, while the Gotoh vibrato is super-stable. Little touches such as the rolled edges on the fretboard just make for a supremely playable instrument. 

Elsewhere, the Nova has a Charvel-branded reverse Stratocaster headstock and a modified Jackson Dinky body. Exactly the sort of inventive, witty guitar design that Charvel made its name in. 

Best 7-string guitars: Ibanez Premium Steve Vai Universe UV70P

(Image credit: Ibanez)

11. Ibanez Premium Steve Vai Universe UV70P

The guitar that started all this off…

Specifications

Body: American basswood
Neck: Maple/walnut five-piece Wizard-7, bolt-on with KTS Titanium rods
Scale: multiscale 25.5"
Fingerboard: Bound Panga Panga with green dot inlay
Frets: 24 jumbo, Premium fret edge treatment
Pickups: 2x DiMarzio Blaze humbuckers (neck and bridge), DiMarzio Blaze singlecoil (middle)
Controls: Volume, tone, 5-way selector
Hardware: Cosmo black, Edge-Zero II-7 tremolo
Left-handed: No
Finish: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Cool retro look, Vai vibes and versatile tones
+
Excellent price
+
Premium fret edge treatment

Reasons to avoid

-
You need more super-powered output from the pickups

The Universe was definitely the guitar that started the extended-range craze, even if it took a while to catch on. Developed with Steve Vai, it was launched in 1990 and would become a game changer, an avant-garde Super Strat – and yet now much of its appeal lies in its retro cache.

The HSH pickup configuration and five-way switching offers such a wide variety of tones. This reissue is a great option for those who might feel the 7-string’s evolution was perfected first time out. It has DiMarzio Blaze pickups, which are passive but are pretty darn hot – after all, Vai loves a lot of gain and bringing it to heel is a big part of his style. The Wizard-7 neck profile is flat and wide, a solid bedrock for exploring the panga panga fretboard. Panga panga? Also known as wenge, a rosewood substitute and performs similarly.

Best 7-string guitars: ESP LTD EC-257

(Image credit: ESP)

12. ESP LTD EC-257

The best singlecut 7-string guitar that doesn’t break the bank

Specifications

Body: Mahogany
Neck: 3Pc Mahogany
Scale: 25.5”
Fingerboard: Roasted Jatoba
Frets: 22
Pickups: EMG-designed LH-150
Controls: Two volume, tone (push/pull), three-way pickup selector
Hardware: Tune-O-Matic bridge, black
Left-handed: No
Finish: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Cool, simple design
+
Coil-split pickups 
+
Slim neck profile
+
Great value

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as refined as some other models on here

This is a reasonably priced 7-string guitar with some pretty cool features, finished off nicely with a traditional, old-school design. It’s fairly basic, but that will be ideal for some players. The pair of EMG-designed passive humbuckers are punchy and aggressive when you need them to be, yet dynamic. They’re also coil-tappable which makes it a surprisingly versatile guitar. With it having a set neck, you get plenty of sustain too which is great for lead work.

The tune-o-matic bridge and tailpiece does mean that dive-bombs are a no-go, but tuning stability and intonation are a walk in the park. The thin U neck profile is comfortable – like any 7-string neck, it takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s certainly not intrusive.

The singlecut design is classic and timeless, so if you need a great sounding and playing 7-string guitar but would rather stay away from the more modern styles, then the LTD EC-257 could be the one for you. 

Best 7-string guitar: Buying advice

Best 7-string guitars: Korn playing live with a 7-string guitar

(Image credit: Future)

Choosing the best 7-string guitar for you 

Modern 7-strings, as we know them today, largely stem from the Ibanez Steve Vai Universe models of the 1990s (though earlier 7-strings can be traced way back to the 1930s!). These guitars helped kickstart the whole thing, and 7-strings have been gaining in popularity ever since. As such, there are different models all with different specs, so it can be a bit daunting if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. We’ve come up with some buying advice to help you find the best 7-string guitar for you. 

What pickups does my 7-string guitar need? 

Probably the most important part of choosing a new guitar is how it’s going to sound. The pickups play the biggest part in this. With a lot of the 7-string market being aimed at heavier styles of music, they tend to have higher output pickups – that is they will break up quicker and distort nicely. The best 7-strings will have pickups that allow you to play with both clean and distorted sounds, though many of them will have different tonal characteristics. 

Some 7-strings will be fitted with super high-output active pickups that allow them to achieve some really saturated sounds, whilst remaining clear. The alternative is passive pickups, which tend to sound a little more traditional, though can still be pushed just as hard! Generally, passive pickups are a little more dynamic, so if you’re quite often going from quiet to loud, and everything in between, then these could work better for you. If you just want unadulterated, blistering metal tones, then active pickups are likely the way to go. 

Some 7-strings will be equipped with coil-split pickups too; these are really versatile and allow you to go from humbucker tones to more single-coil sounds. Not everyone will benefit from this, but coil-split pickups can be great, especially on clean sounds. 

7-string guitar scale length

Another key consideration on the journey to finding the best 7-string guitar is the scale length; that is, the distance between the nut and the bridge. This can determine how the guitar feels under your fingers, and also how it sounds. 

The longer the scale length, the more tension there is on the string and conversely, the shorter the scale length, the less tension there is and more loose and floppy the string will feel. All the guitars in this guide have a minimum scale length of 25.5” – this helps keep that low B string nice and tight, both in terms of how it feels and how it sounds! 

Standard tuning for a 7-string is B to E – so the same as a regular guitar, with an added low B at the bottom. You can tune them even lower – if you are, then it’s worth looking at the models with a longer scale length to prevent the bottom end losing clarity.

John Petrucci playing live with a 7-string guitar

(Image credit: Future)

Playability

Having an extra string means the neck and nut are going to be a little wider than a normal 6-string electric guitar. This does take a bit of getting used to, but once you’ve played around with it for a while, it gradually feels more natural. Many 7-string guitars will have slim neck profiles to help you get your fingers around the wider neck, so if that’s a concern for you, then keep an eye on the shape of the neck.

Some might have contours on the back of the neck heel, or the front of the cutaways too, which can aid in getting your fingers to the highest frets of the treble strings. It depends what you find comfortable, but this could be something that benefits you when you’re taking a break from riffs, and shredding some solos further up the neck

How important are looks? 

Ok, so the look doesn’t affect how it sounds or feels, but it’s still important if you’re looking for the best 7-string guitar. Some of them are more old-school in their design, which can tick boxes for some players. If you’re playing in a band and you want to stand out, then there are some pretty outlandish 7-string models to choose from too (the Jackson Dave Davidson springs to mind). If you’re mostly going to be playing this at home, and you’re not too bothered about looks, then you can concentrate on all the other specs and remain unhindered when choosing your 7-string guitar.  

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Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.