If you have landed on this page you’re likely looking to add an 8 string to your guitar collection. We do recommend going for a 7 string first if you are upgrading from a 6 string but we aren’t the boss of you. Get what you want.
These bad boys are perfect for metal. They allow you to hit those chunky low notes without having to detune your guitar and get floppy strings. With that said, these do have a longer scale length than a normal guitar. You could arguably go for a baritone guitar if you want low notes and are more comfortable with 6 strings.
I have taken a long look at what is out there for 8 strings and have compiled a list of my 7 favorites. Most of the guitars in this article are the ones that are reasonably priced. You could spend thousands on an 8 string like the Boden 8. I reckon if you’re here it’s likely your first foray into 8 string territory. Let’s stick to a max of around $1500.
You could spend an absolute fortune on an 8 string. Particularly if you want the best of the best. This guitar is the one that we believe delivers the best bang for the buck to avoid making you go broke.
You get all the main features of a premium guitar that you need with the M-1008. You will have a guitar that will last you for life if you take care of it. It is also sonically capable of anything you throw at it.
The body of this guitar is solid mahogany. It also comes with a flamed maple top giving it a versatile starting point for its tone.
It comes with a 5 piece maple and purple heart neck. The purple heart reinforces the maple making it super resilient.
The ebony fretboard is great for fast players but may take a little longer to master for an 8 string beginner.
The pickups in this guitar are both Seymour Duncan. There is a 3-way selector and push-pull tone knob to control the pickups. This configuration gives you command over your tone. Having such controls means you can produce a range of crystal clear clean tones.
They are active pickups from one of the most trusted brands in the industry. Given this fact, you can be sure this guitar sounds great on the high gain channel of your amplifier.
The locking tuners are great for keeping your guitar in tune during your set. It would have been nice to see Grover tuners or similar but the LTD branded ones do a surprisingly good job.
The string through hipshot bridge gives this guitar awesome sustain. The solid bridge also assists the quality tuners in keeping your guitar firmly in tune.
You won’t need to spend anything upgrading this guitar in the future. It has quality hardware that is comparable to much more expensive guitars.
Ibanez was one of the first brands to start mass-producing 8 string guitars. With this head start in the game, they now produce a wide range of 8 strings. The RGMS8 is their cheapest multi-scale 8 string. Don’t let the price fool you though it comes with a bunch of great features.
The RG series from Ibanez is definitely their most recognizable. This design is also a consumer favorite. This guitar runs the standard RG scale length of 25.5” for its higher strings and gets up to 27.2” for its low strings.
This guitar has a 5pc maple walnut neck on a jatoba fretboard. There is a gentle taper to the neck. This allows for fast playing but is also forgiving enough for new 8 string players.
The 5-way pickup selector allows for a broad range of tones to be accessible. The pickups themselves are passive but are still designed to get heavy. They won’t be as aggressive as some other pickups out there because they're passive. Their clean signal is excellent for a budget guitar and the high gain is decent for the price too.
You could always upgrade the pickups on this guitar later if you wanted to. They are a good starting point but this guitar could be much more of a beast with more expensive pickups. The same applies to the tuners. Locking tuners would add a lot of value to this guitar.
Jackson is another guitar brand that has a focus on guitars for metal and its sub-genres. It’s no surprise that they have a large range of 8 string guitars.
The X Series DKAF8 MS is their budget multi-scale 8 string. It comes equipped with gear that is definitely good enough to get you started.
It shares the same issues as the budget Ibanez. These are a lack of locking tuners and passive pickups. As mentioned, you could upgrade these parts at a later date to help you stay on budget for the time being.
The maple neck is solid and great for beginning your 8 string journey. The rosewood fingerboard provides a perfect base for dark tones. It also helps to create decent sustain for a budget guitar.
The blade pickups in this guitar not only look cool but have a pretty good sound for stock brand pickups. They are hot enough to get a decent growl with some distortion and have clarity on the clean channel.
The pickup switching is a 3-way toggle. This is not as versatile as the Ibanez but gives enough control to find the tone you're looking for.
There is a standout feature that sets this guitar apart from the Ibanez. It has staggered individual saddles for its bridge. This provides a lot of control over the setup of your guitar. Control over your set up means you can get it comfortable and adjust over time if need be.
If you like Jackson guitars but have a much bigger budget for a multiscale 8 string we recommend the SLAT8. It comes loaded with EMG pickups, a set through neck, and locking tuners. All welcome additions to this already great guitar.
This is the true budget option for an 8 string guitar. It is from a reputable brand with decent features. It has the bonus of being about $200 cheaper than comparable multi-scale guitars. It is a great choice if you are on a super tight budget and can forgo having a multi-scale neck.
The body of this guitar is poplar. Poplar has a solid mid-range and capable bass response. If you pump the mids on your amp, poplar is a good tonewood choice for you. The amaranth fingerboard atop the maple neck is nothing outstanding. It is, however, sturdy and reliable.
The pickups are Jackson branded humbucking pickups. They do a fine job but as you can expect from an entry-level guitar. They are passive and are not particularly impressive. This is only if you compare them to pickups such as EMG or Seymour Duncan.
The controls for the pickups are simple with a 3-way switch, a single tone pot, and a volume pot. Nothing fancy to report here, but there is enough control to work your way around a tone that works for you.
The 26.5” scale length provides enough length to get the strong lows you are expecting from an 8 string. It's also still short enough to not impact the high strings adversely.
This is a great entry-level guitar. You do get a lot for the money but it has fewer features when compared to more expensive guitars. If you're willing to spend a few hundred extra dollars you could get something from the Jackson X Series like the DKAF8.
Like its multi-scale brother, this guitar is a suitable choice to buy now and upgrade later. It has a solid foundation but would benefit from better pickups and locking tuners.
Schecter makes beautiful guitars with designs that are for metal. Their 8 string guitars are no exception to this rule.
The Hellraiser series has got to be one of their most popular guitars. You may have seen similar guitars to this one in 6 and 7 string versions. If you have, you will know the high standard these guitars are held to.
This Hybrid guitar is a combination of the Hellraiser series and their SLS series. Both of these guitar types have premium inclusions. You get the best of both worlds with the C-8.
This guitar has a very solid construction with a quilted maple top on its mahogany body. The neck has carbon fiber reinforcement. You are unlikely to suffer any warping over the life of the guitar because of this feature. You would have to treat your guitar with some serious disregard to have any neck issues.
The EMG pickups included with this guitar are metal standards. They are active with very high output and are more than capable of driving high gain riffs. They sound great when used on the clean channel too. These pickups do a great job of switching between soaring melodic sections and heavy high gain riffs.
The locking tuners are another inclusion that is important for on-stage shenanigans. You don’t want to come out of tune while on stage and these tuners will help to prevent that from happening.
This is an all-round great guitar and is just over $1000. It has everything you need for a fair price.
The eclipse model from ESP is a metal classic and it's very likely we will see many reiterations of it for years to come. The EC-258 is the budget-friendly 8 string version of these guitars.
It does not come with some of the standard inclusions of the more expensive eclipse models. Inclusions missing include things like EMG pickups and locking tuners.
It does have ESP designed passive pickups that do a decent job of emulating passive EMGs though. It is not quite the real deal but they sound good for shredding and have a decent clean tone too.
This guitar has extra jumbo frets. This can be a godsend when you are learning to master those two extra strings. The inlays are the standard Eclipse type. These are a cool touch for a budget guitar and a little more interesting than plain dots.
The set through neck is not common amongst 8 string guitars in this price range and is a great inclusion.
The bridge and tuners are nothing fancy but provide enough tuning stability to work with. The combination of these with the mahogany body help to provide decent sustain especially for a budget guitar.
If you love the look and tone of ESP Eclipse guitars, this is a good entry-level guitar to get you close to that.
If you have a much bigger budget we recommend the EC-1001. This has all the great things from this guitar. It also has upgraded pickups, tuners, and fretboard. It's a real metal machine.
Steven Carpenter is a pioneer of guitar textures for the alternative metal scene. As the guitarist for Deftones, he has made many tones his own and in a versatile manner. It would make sense that his signature guitars are also versatile. The SC-608B is our favorite of his two 8 string signature models.
The Fishman pickups in this guitar are awesome. Neither pickup is actually at the neck position so it is more like having a bridge and a center pickup. These pickups have 2 voicings. The first is similar to the standard Fishman Fluence. This pickup is sick for cleans and high gain applications. The second voicing is more toward a signature Stephen Carpenter sound. They run extremely hot and produce powerful high gain tones.
One control knob included on the body of this guitar uses a push-pull function. This is to switch it between a volume and tone pot. So it technically has two-tone pots and a volume even though there are only two pots.
The maple set through neck is fast and unforgiving. You may take a little time to master this guitar but it will reward you for your effort.
The locking tuners are great for guitar branded tuners. However, I think for the price of this guitar they could have come with even better tuners. That's the only real gripe I have with this guitar though.
Guitars with fanned frets are multi-scale. They have this name because they have a different scale length for the lower and higher strings. Manufacturers achieve this by having the bridge and frets angled. These guitars have a number of benefits for 7, 8, 9 etc. strings.
One reason for multi-scaling is to allow longer scale length for the low strings. To help understand, let’s consider a bass guitar. Bass guitar strings need to be longer than a standard guitar. This is because they need more room to vibrate to create their low notes. The thickest strings on your 8 string also need an extra bit of length. They are thicker and need this space to help them get down to their lowest notes and sound good.
The fanning of the frets also allows the scale length of the thinnest strings to be shorter. This helps with the accuracy of the notes played on those strings. The reason for this is the strings can get full tension over the shorter scale. The notes played should therefore sound brighter and clearer.
Another reason for multi-scale guitars is to improve ergonomics. You may have noticed before when you play guitar your hand naturally curves into a direction. This curve changes at certain points on the fretboard. Multi-scale guitars have a fretboard designed in a way that compliments this.
A classically trained guitarist holds their hand straight behind the entire fretboard. This makes the ergonomics of a fanned frets unsuitable for such people.
For most people that are self-taught, fanning the frets makes it much more comfortable to reach certain notes.
Straight fret style 8 string guitars are usually of a baritone scale length. This means that their design is capable of hitting the low notes you want. They do so without sacrificing string tension.
It's actually the high notes that can suffer a bit in their clarity due to the longer scale length. This is because a shorter scale length is better for high notes. Given that you will likely be using a lot of distortion, this problem is negligible for most users. It is worth noting nonetheless.
To summarize, whether you need a multi-scale fretboard or not depends on your playing style. You should keep in mind that multi-scale guitars have better string tension. This means you will get more accurate notes across the fretboard.
Yes. You won’t be able to play a gig with it straight away unless you are a guitar god. It will take some practice to figure out where your chords are and to get your fingers in the right spot. It is worth it though. You will be able to play more complex leads and the fattest rhythm.
You have a greater sonic range on an 8 string. This makes them superior to 7 strings for low tunings and varied playstyles.
If you are in the market for an 8 string guitar you probably play prog metal or djent. This means you likely need a high output pickup. Active pickups are always going to be the best for this but you can find some passive pickups that can cut it.
You will need to spend more to get active pickups so it is a question of budget.
Changing the battery for active pickups can also be annoying. If you can't trust yourself to change the battery often and to have a spare at gigs it may be worth opting for passives.
8 string guitars are not as popular as a standard guitar or even as a 7 string. They are therefore more expensive.
You should stick to a trusted guitar manufacturer and not order something from China. This will help to avoid disappointment.
A reasonable starting price for a single scale 8 string is around $400.
For a multi-scale guitar, you will need to fork out a little more than a single scale 8 string. $600 for a lower-priced option should keep you out of trouble.
Obviously, the more you are willing to spend the better features you will get with your guitar. Pickups, tonewoods, and other hardware will all be better with more money laid out.