Every guitarist knows about the famous six-string guitars as they are common in the field but to crank up the notch, an additional string has been added making a seven-string guitar. This guitar is also named as the Grote guitar in its electric composition. In this article, we are taking you on the rollercoaster ride where you will learn all about the Grote guitars and how they have become the ultimate guitars for the beginners. So, let’s start the ride!
All About Grote Guitars
Grote guitar is another name for seven-string guitar and the seventh string is added to amplify the bass range and increase the treble range. Commonly, a low B is added to the standard six-string guitar. There are two ways of adding an additional string. The first one to increase the width of the fingerboard that an additional string is set up in the fretted version on the left hand.
On the other hand, the fingerboard is left behind and no changes are made which adds a floating bass string to the configuration. In this case, the extra string is added to the existing bass string. However, the free of the fingerboard stays the same as it does in theorbo and archlute. These bass strings were commonly called bourdons and diapasons in the past. There are some seven-string guitars that remain the patent of culture such as Brazilian and Russian guitars.
This is the old-times tale because seven-string guitars originated almost 230 years ago. During the 1400 to 1600 CE, the renaissance period was created where the European guitars would have four courses. Each of the courses had two gut strings. In addition, each pair of strings was tuned as a single unit in each course.
Coming to the dates of 1600 to 1750, the baroque period started with which the guitars had five courses. There were multiple tuning options in the guitars while some had the comebacks. However, six double-strung courses were already making bounds in the early eighteenth century. At this point, wherever you looked, the string instruments would have the gut strings.
There are over 1800 different material qualities were available for wire strings. These strings weren’t only durable but their tuning was stable and long-lasting. In addition, the sound created by these guitars was louder as compared to other strings. The metals strings were implied on a huge scale. This configuration and sound motivated people to experiment more and more.
This notion of the loud volume was used by luthiers to make more single-string courses within their existing instruments. First, the six single string guitars were launched in a shorter span of time but within a few years, these guitars became the standardized guitars. As a performer and a music-interested person, you can see that variations in the number of courses were implemented for the prime reason that players wanted to ramp up the range of instruments.
Also, the development could be seen similar to the lute in starting days but it is needless to say that these developments played an essential role in the creation of seven-string guitars. When we look at Europe, they weren’t very welcoming towards the seven-string guitars as they hardly used it. However, some performers started using the instrument to create notes and tunes and the work was astonishing.
Napoleon Coste, a French guitarist had huge plans for the development of sounds created by seven-string guitars. Coming forward to Mario Maccaferri, the Italian guitarist was working actively on seven-string guitars because he had already been named as the advocate of bass strings. The adaption to seven-string was pretty high in Russia as they became popular within days and the schools were teaching it already.
However, in the mid 20th century, the six-string instrument became more common which created a setback for seven-string instruments. However, when we look at the Russian demographics, seven-string guitars are still commonly used musical instruments. For instance, they are 14-string guitars named guitarra septima where two courses of seven-strings were added. These guitars have been used in abundance in Mexico since 1776.
In the areas of South America and Brazil, the seven-string guitars can be found in abundance. At the start of the 19th century, these instruments became a part of choro music. However, this abundance underwent the renovations and revival back in 2015 but the saturation remains the same.
There are multiple electric versions of seven-string guitars which are named Grote guitars in modern time. In the section below, we have added the multiple types of electric designs made for the guitarists and music enthusiasts!
Hollow and Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitars
In the late 1930s, George Van Eps, the jazz guitarist, had the seven-string guitar which was designed by Epiphone Guitars when he was playing in the United States. In addition, he had a signature Gretsch seven-string instrument in the late 60s and 70s. This signature guitar might be the first seven-string electric guitar that was created regularly and it is notable that he tuned the 7th string with an A.
Coping the footsteps of George Van Eps, multiple other guitarists started using the seven-string guitars. These names include Howard Alden, Bucky Pizzarelli, John Pizzarelli, Chance Russell. However, Lenny made a change by using an added treble string along with the seventh string on the seven-string guitar. He also tuned to the A above E from the high course.
However, he was using the piece of monofilament fishing line of the gauge to make the A string because no manufacturers were currently working on that. However, the La Bello Company started developing the custom string for A in the high course in forwarding years. In terms of the seven-string semi-acoustic archtop guitar, they were abundantly used by Ralph Patt who is a jazz guitarist in 1964.
He implied regular tuning which created major thirds in the open strings as the intervals. However, the first seven-string electric guitar was designed in the semi-hollow or hollow body archtop styles where the guitars were designed with a chamber that had a resonating central part. However, this configuration ensured the integration of richness and breadth to the jazz tones. However, the feedback as created at high volumes. This couldn’t be right for the rock guitar players.
Solid Body Electric Guitars
The National String Instrument Corporation designed with a seven-string version of lap-steel guitars in the early thirties. This guitar was first used by Lenny Breau which was designed by Kirk Sand back in 1983. This guitar came with a high A string. Coming forward to 1987, Fender started working with Alex Gregory in the name of an agreement.
According to this agreement, the Stratocaster was developed with high A string but there were no public united developed aside from the prototypes. Then, Steve Vai got a signature model that was first mass-produced. The model name was Ibanez UV7 and it was used by Korn, John Petrucci, and Reb Beach. The prime reason for this guitar’s popularity lied in the availability of additional strings.
In the 1994 debut album of Korn, Ibanez Universe guitars were used which were the most-used and most adapted seven-string guitars. Back in the 1990s, Epiphone and Squier were manufacturing the seven-string guitars. By this time, the guitarists were already coming in contact for these guitars as it was optimal for heavy riffing.
Long gone the 19s because, in the early 2000s, C.F. Martin & Company worked with Roger McGuinn to manufacture seven-string folk guitars. These guitars would be tuned as the standard guitars but the strings were made from steel. However, the third-string (yes, we are talking about the G string) was made as a high octave string.
Even in the twelve-string guitars, G strings were used in abundance which helped in the creation of main melodies. Given this forwarding notion, seven-string guitars were designed to ensure extended range playing. This design eliminated the need to double the sixes on the guitar strings. Coming forward to 2010, Inox Guitars was created as a mixture.
In this mixtures, the Russina semistrunka and Brazilian Viola caipira were used to create two bass strings. In addition, there were five treble courses and was implicated for open tunings. The open tuning course was as GDGDGBD.
When you are talking about the modern practices regarding the tuning, seven-string guitars are using the lower B settings on the lower string. The string used is named as B1–E2–A2–D3–G3–B3–E4. However, there are other tunings as well. For instance, metal and jazz tunings are used from dropped A tuning. the string tuning used is A1–E2–A2–D3–G3–B3–E4 that eases up the power chord.
This integration will improve bass lines. In terms of Russian guitar tunings, these tunings are used on a huge scale. However, there are some guitarists that are interested in opting for treble string, and for that, they use E2–A2–D3–G3–B3–E4–A4 scale.
Be it rock or jazz, classical or heavy metal, the seven-string guitars are used in abundance. Be it the solo performance or band settings, these guitars can be used anywhere. So, if you find yourself with a knack for seven-string guitars, we have shared everything that was essential to get started!