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Extending Your Musical Reach With 8 String Guitars (Guitar Lesson)

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Kris Norris

Extending Your Musical Reach With 8 String Guitars

Kris Norris takes a look at 8 string guitars and their possibilities. He demonstrates the versatility of an 8 string with jazz and metal applications. Kris also performs a short improv jam at the end.

Taught by Kris Norris in Kris Norris Artist Series seriesLength: 10:34Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:46) Introduction Kris Norris lays down some low and ugly riffs with his ESP LTD 8 string to kick off lesson 12. In this lesson, Kris explores the practical applications of an 8 string guitar. He also explains the key differences between playing a 6 string and a 7 or 8 string.
Chapter 2: (02:13) Practical Uses 8 String Overview

The origin of the 8 string guitar dates back as early as the 19th century. Custom guitar builders have produced them in very limited production since then. The first regular product line of 8 string guitars was released by the Ibanez company in March of 2007. Since then, a few additional companies such as ESP have introduced production lines of 8 string guitars.

8 String Classical Guitar

Classical guitars with 7 or 8 strings have become increasingly more popular over the last several years. An 8 string strung with nylon strings is typically tuned differently from an 8 string electric. Typically, two extra bass strings tuned to B and D are added to an 8 string classical. Most 8 string electrics feature a low F# and a low B. Often, the two lowest strings are tuned to alternate pitches depending upon the piece being played. Many players choose to add one low bass string and one high treble string. In this scenario, the low string is typically tuned to a low A, B, or C. The extra treble string is usually tuned to an A. This A note is the same pitch produced by the note located at the 5th fret of the first string when the guitar is played in standard tuning. Paul Galbraith and Alexander Vynograd are two classical guitarists that frequently employ these 8 string tunings.

8 String Electric Guitar

The 8 string electric guitar is primarily used by metal artists such as Meshuggah, the Deftones, Dino Cazares of Asesino (formerly Fear Factory), Korn, Divine Heresy, Bludgeoned, High on Fire, and After the Burial. In addition, many jazz players such as Charlie Hunter have been known to play 8 string guitars.

The extended bass range of an 8 string is ideal for jazz, because it enables a guitarist to play walking bass lines in the absence of a bass player. Typically, walking bass lines are limited to the higher end of the bass range. The low B of a 7th string matches the 2nd fret on the A string or the 7th fret on the E string of a 6 string bass. With an 8 string, the entire range of the 6 string bass is covered with the exception of the notes E and F. however, these notes can be utilized if the 8th string is tuned down a whole step to E.

Manufacturers (8 String Guitars)

Ibanez
Novax Guitars established by Ralph Novak
Conklin Guitars
ESP Guitars
Schecter Guitar Research

Manufacturers (8 String Pickups)

Seymour Duncan Custom Shop
EMG
Lundgren
Swineshead
Bareknuckle

8 String Users

Charlie Hunter
Fredrik Thordendal
Martin Hagstrom
Dino Cazares
Ihsahn
Rusty Cooley
Matt Pike
Scott Hull
James Shaffer
Stephen Carpenter
Paul Galbraith
Kris Norris
Martin Blanes
Tosin Abasi
Chapter 3: (02:11) 8 String Logistics The size of the neck on a 7 or eight string will definitely seem awkward at first. The size of the neck is more similar to a classical guitar. To compensate for the extra neck height, the back of the neck is flatter and not quite as rounded as traditional 6 string guitars.

In addition to the size factor, the extra strings will be disorienting at first. Familiar chord shapes and scale patterns will undoubtedly cause problems. However, after a brief adjustment period, you will become accustomed to the extra strings.

String Gauge

Most 8 string guitars produced by Ibanez or ESP are setup at the factory with a very small string gauge. The low 8th string (F#) is typically a .068 gauge on guitars made by these companies. This gauge is extremely light and may not be an appropriate set for jazz players that prefer thicker strings. A .068 gauge string will also produce a floppy, muddy tone when picking aggressively with a high gain sound.

EQing the Amp

The EQ on your amp will most likely need to be adjusted to accommodate the extreme low end of an 8 string. A scooped sound is ideal for playing riffs on the low strings. Most high gain amps have a scoop feature that cuts out the mids and emphasizes the highs and lows. This helps produce a tight, metal rhythm tone.
Chapter 4: (02:13) More Than Metal Possibilities Alternate Tunings

In this scene, Kris has tuned the 8th string up to an A. It is now tuned one octave lower than the fifth string. Tuning the 8th string down to E gives you one octave less than the range of a piano. Hypothetically, this tuning would allow you to play classical piano arrangements on an 8 string guitar with a clean tone.
Chapter 5: (00:43) Wrap-up Kris will frequently use his 8 string guitar in future lessons. All of the material taught in these lessons can be performed on a sixth string guitar. The low 7th and 8th strings will not be used.

Chapter 6: (02:25) 8 String Jam Kris demonstrates some heavy metal applications with his ESP 8 string guitar.

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Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


iammusicmaniammusicman replied

that solo was awesome

andybonaparteandybonaparte replied

Awesome Solo at the end

illucid1982illucid1982 replied

Yeah, I saw Animals as Leaders with Tosin Abasi on April 1st in Pontiac MI. Dude almost set fire to the fretboard on his ibanez 8 string.

elee05elee05 replied

Kris, Lets see more 8 string stuff! That's why I joined JamPlay!

kevinacekevinace replied

Check out the phase 2 artist series with Tosin Abasi - he exclusively uses an 8 string.

epiphoneslashepiphoneslash replied

It looks cool, but I will never buy one

heavydheavyd replied

Damn im gonna get one of theese sooner or later.. i guess ater since there already are two expensive guitars i want

beck_flanderbeck_flander replied

can you tell me the point of double neck guitars that have six strings and a twelve strings?

heavydheavyd replied

12 string has a much richer sound

jc110188jc110188 replied

Ridicules that’s the only thing that I can think of saying about this lesson ridicules……

SylviaSylvia replied

This is NOT normal guitar!!

mrporcupinemrporcupine replied

Dude, do you have any tabs for the last jam. It was insane!

AaronMillerAaronMiller replied

Sorry man no tabs at the moment.

snowdadsnowdad replied

Kris, very cool. Thanks for keeping us informed. I had no idea such a beast as an 8 string existed. I see that as just another advantage of JamPlay, knowing what new equipment is available and how it can be used and applied.

jesseboy000jesseboy000 replied

Thats awesome. Someday....someday...

souldksouldk replied

OMG sick... awesome jam in the end kris:D

vmfa122vmfa122 replied

Maybe after I learn to play the 6 six string, i might think about it.

J.artmanJ.artman replied

Awesome! I love these Kris Norris lessons. Fantastic!

Kris Norris Artist Series

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Kris Norris kicks off the JamPlay.com Artist Series with a wide array of ideas and lessons; from changing strings on a floyd rose, to advanced sweeping / legato techniques and soloing applications.



Changing Strings - Floyd Rose StyleLesson 1

Changing Strings - Floyd Rose Style

Kris Norris demonstrates how to install new strings on a guitar equipped with a Floyd Rose tremolo system.

Length: 13:43 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Warm-up Exercises with KrisLesson 2

Warm-up Exercises with Kris

Kris Norris shows you his favorite warm-up exercises. These exercises will prepare you to play the guitar from a physical and mental standpoint.

Length: 12:16 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Scalar Exercises: Left and Right Hand SynchronizationLesson 3

Scalar Exercises: Left and Right Hand Synchronization

Kris covers chromatic and scale pattern exercises. Also, he explains some variations on these exercise and provides you with the knowledge to create your own variations. Now you don't have any excuse...

Length: 20:23 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Scalar Exercises: LegatoLesson 4

Scalar Exercises: Legato

Kris shows you the in's and out's of legato playing. These examples will benefit beginners and and advanced players alike. The patterns Kris uses in this lesson are based on the examples shown in "Scalar...

Length: 11:01 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Chuggin' n Skippin'Lesson 5

Chuggin' n Skippin'

Kris covers right hand techniques such as palm muting, tremolo, palm muted string skipping, and upstroke accents.

Length: 13:26 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Advanced Sweep Picking ApplicationsLesson 6

Advanced Sweep Picking Applications

Kris covers the right and left hand components of sweep picking separately. Then, he shows you how to synchronize the two. Three string arpeggios and five string arpeggios with hammer-ons are both included...

Length: 35:40 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Remaining Foolish: Arpeggios & Scalar LinesLesson 7

Remaining Foolish: Arpeggios & Scalar Lines

Kris presents excerpts from his song "Remaining Foolish" from Icons of the Illogical. He explains the arpeggio patterns used in various parts of the song and also talks about alternate picked arpeggios....

Length: 17:40 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Sweep Exercises Based on Canon in DLesson 8

Sweep Exercises Based on Canon in D

Kris uses Pachelbel's "Canon In D" as a way to practice arpeggio sweeps. He shows how to sweep and alternate pick arpeggios.

Length: 10:08 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
Counterpoint: A Shift In NormalcyLesson 9

Counterpoint: A Shift In Normalcy

This lesson is about the concept of counterpoint and harmony. Kris explores contrapuntal examples from his song "A Shift In Normalcy" off of his solo record Icons of the Illogical.

Length: 8:52 Difficulty: 4.5 Members Only
A Closer Look At Pick ThicknessLesson 10

A Closer Look At Pick Thickness

Kris analyzes different pick sizes and their effect on his playing. Using a slow motion camera, he is able to point out the differences in pick thickness.

Length: 32:24 Difficulty: 0.5 FREE
Satriani Inspired TappingLesson 11

Satriani Inspired Tapping

Kris Norris explains how to play a Joe Satriani inspired tapping etude.

Length: 11:13 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Extending Your Musical Reach With 8 String GuitarsLesson 12

Extending Your Musical Reach With 8 String Guitars

Kris Norris takes a look at 8 string guitars and their possibilities. He demonstrates the versatility of an 8 string with jazz and metal applications. Kris also performs a short improv jam at the end.

Length: 10:34 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Neoclassical InspirationsLesson 13

Neoclassical Inspirations

Kris teaches neoclassical examples from three of his favorite guitar players.

Length: 29:17 Difficulty: 5.0 Members Only
Rock & Metal Chicken Pickin'Lesson 14

Rock & Metal Chicken Pickin'

Kris displays some adventurous ways to use chicken pickin' in a rock and metal environment.

Length: 15:25 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Exotic Embellishments In The Style Of Marty FriedmanLesson 15

Exotic Embellishments In The Style Of Marty Friedman

Kris teaches arpeggio examples that use notes outside of a scale. He also demonstrates an example using the Chinese scale.

Length: 12:19 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Connecting Scale PatternsLesson 16

Connecting Scale Patterns

Kris shows you how to connect the patterns of a G major scale together.

Length: 15:28 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mastering Modes: Basic Scale Theory PrimerLesson 17

Mastering Modes: Basic Scale Theory Primer

This is the first lesson in the "Mastering Modes" mini series. Here Kris explains the fundamentals of scale basics.

Length: 19:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mastering Modes: IonianLesson 18

Mastering Modes: Ionian

In this lesson, Kris explains the history behind the modes and then explains the Ionian mode.

Length: 9:59 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mastering Modes: DorianLesson 19

Mastering Modes: Dorian

In this lesson, Kris covers the Dorian mode, which is the second mode of the major scale.

Length: 13:39 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mastering Modes: PhrygianLesson 20

Mastering Modes: Phrygian

Kris explains the basics of the Phrygian mode, which is a minor sounding mode of the major scale.

Length: 7:43 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mastering Modes: LydianLesson 21

Mastering Modes: Lydian

In this installment of the "Mastering Modes" mini-series, Kris covers the Lydian mode. This is the fourth mode of the major scale.

Length: 9:47 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mastering Modes: MixolydianLesson 22

Mastering Modes: Mixolydian

Kris explains the basics of the Mixolydian mode, which is a major sounding mode of the major scale.

Length: 10:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mastering Modes: AeolianLesson 23

Mastering Modes: Aeolian

Kris explains Aeolian, which is the 6th mode of the major scale. This is also known as the natural minor scale.

Length: 7:32 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Mastering Modes: LocrianLesson 24

Mastering Modes: Locrian

Kris covers the Locrian mode, which is the 7th mode of the major scale.

Length: 5:48 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Song Workshop ExperimentLesson 25

Song Workshop Experiment

Aaron Miller sits down with Kris in the JamPlay studio to discuss songwriting techniques.

Length: 78:38 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Song Workshop Experiment - FinaleLesson 26

Song Workshop Experiment - Finale

Kris Norris and Aaron Miller are back to finish up what they started. Get ready for more songwriting, playing tips, and inside information. Enjoy

Length: 32:00 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Picking Practice With Drum RudimentsLesson 27

Picking Practice With Drum Rudiments

Kris shows how some drum rudiments can be used to make exercises for your right hand.

Length: 18:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Sliding ArpeggiosLesson 28

Sliding Arpeggios

Kris teaches how to use sliding techniques with arpeggios. He uses an example in the Lydian mode and also plays over a backing.

Length: 15:11 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Left Hand Finger IndependenceLesson 29

Left Hand Finger Independence

Kris teaches exercises focused on getting the left hand fingers to be more independent.

Length: 26:19 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Building Triad ArpeggiosLesson 30

Building Triad Arpeggios

Kris explains root triad arpeggios and their first and second inversions.

Length: 25:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Practicing Triad Arpeggios ChromaticallyLesson 31

Practicing Triad Arpeggios Chromatically

This lesson focuses on sweep picking major, minor, and diminished triad arpeggios chromatically.

Length: 16:33 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Re-voicing Progressions with InversionsLesson 32

Re-voicing Progressions with Inversions

Kris shows you how inversions can be used to create smooth voice leading within a progression.

Length: 14:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Dual Tonality PentatonicsLesson 33

Dual Tonality Pentatonics

Kris shows how to combine pentatonic scales from different keys to form new and interesting sounds.

Length: 24:06 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Betcha Can't Scale ThisLesson 34

Betcha Can't Scale This

Kris shows you how to learn scales vertically and horizontally on the fretboard.

Length: 16:11 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Neapolitan ChordLesson 35

The Neapolitan Chord

Named after the "Neapolitan School" from the 18th century and not ice cream, this chord is a major chord built on the lowered 2nd scale degree.

Length: 7:13 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Diatonic Chords In G MajorLesson 36

Diatonic Chords In G Major

Kris shows the diatonic chords of G Major.

Length: 19:42 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Diatonic 7th ArpeggiosLesson 37

Diatonic 7th Arpeggios

Kris teaches you how to play diatonic 7th arpeggios and their inversions in the key of G major.

Length: 15:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Tapping 7th ArpeggiosLesson 38

Tapping 7th Arpeggios

Kris shows you how to play seventh arpeggios with tapping, legato, and string skipping.

Length: 7:45 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Popular Chord ProgressionsLesson 39

Popular Chord Progressions

Kris shows some common major and minor chord progressions.

Length: 27:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Quick Connect EMG Active PickupsLesson 40

Quick Connect EMG Active Pickups

Kris installs these new EMG pickups into his guitar.

Length: 26:15 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Workshop With ChodypthLesson 41

Workshop With Chodypth

Kris Norris sat down with Chodypth, aka Cody, and this video is the result of a day of jamming and practicing.

Length: 77:35 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Kris Norris

About Kris Norris View Full Biography Mr. Kris Norris was born August, 31 1978 in Canton, Ohio. He began playing around the age of 14. Early on the self-taught guitarist took an interest in metal and began playing in a local Virginia metal band. Kris' early influences were rooted in Swedish metal, bands include In Flames, Dark Tranquility, and Edge of Sanity. Norwegian Black metal also played a part in Kris' interest including early Mayhem, Emperor, and Ulver. Kris started Disinterment with future Darkest Hour bandmate Ryan Parrish. Disinterment lasted over 6 years and developed a local following in the Virginia metal by being some of the first players to incorporate Swedish metal and 3 guitar players.

College Days
When Kris was 17 he attended Virgina Commonwealth University School of Music (VCU). He studied Music composition and focused on film with world renowned composer Dika Newlin. Kris also studied classical guitar with John Patykula, prize student of Jesus Silva who was the prize student of Andre Segovia. Kris left the University after 6 years of studies. After college, he began his teaching career instructing private students and giving lessons at Mars Music. Kris' teaching career would eventually be put on hold to join Darkest Hour.

Darkest Hour Days
Kris' first album with Darkest Hour ,Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation, the 2005 release was recorded at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg, Sweden with producer Fredrik Nordstrom. Ironically, the same studio facilitated many of Kris' influences 10 years prior.

Darkest Hour's next release, Undoing Ruin allowed Kris to stretch his wings and show what he could truly do on the instrument with the addition of several solos. The record was produced by Canadian metal mastermind Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, Steve Vai). Townsend was a big part of pushing Kris to his own musical potential on Undoing Ruin and even more so on the follow up record, Deliver Us.

Deliver Us was released in 2007 and debuted at 110 on the Billboard Chart. This would be the last Darkest Hour record with Kris as a member. The album like its predecessor was also produced by Devin Townsend, who was able to take a bigger hand in its production. Devin pushed Kris to experiment with his own playing and to hone in on his strongest abilities.

Kris' career with Darkest Hour spanned 6 years, 23 countries, 4 continents, countless tours, 3 albums, near 200,000 album sales, and many lifelong friendships made along the way. With the birth of his son in 2008, Kris felt he needed to take his career closer to home while still focusing on music and guitar. In order for Darkest Hour to devote 100% to their music and touring, Kris came to the decision to amicably part ways with the band.

His Future:
As of early 2009, Kris has full sponsorships from ESP, EMG, Peavey, DigiTech, InTune, and Morley. Currently, Kris is producing and mixing aspiring metal acts while also working for Final Symphony Studios out of Charlottesville, Virgina. Kris also edits records for James Murphy (Testament, Obituary, Death) at Safehouse Productions. Kris has released his first solo record through Magna Carta Records, entitled Icons Of The Illogical. His solo effort was recorded at Karma Productions with Cory Smoot (GWAR) and features vocals from Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe.

Kris is excited to be an addition to the JamPlay Instructor Roster. Lending his metal chops and thorough education to his lessons make him a valuable teacher. Kris is excited to be making lessons for JamPlay and just as stoked to learn new things from our other instructors. Check it out and stay Metal.

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