Eight-string bass guitar

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An eight-string bass guitar is a type of bass guitar with double course strings normally tuned in octaves, with both strings in a course usually played simultaneously. As on a 12-string guitar, this produces a natural chorus effect due to the subtle differences in string timbre. Such approach has been extended with the introduction of 10-, 12-, 15- or more-string bass guitars, which either double the strings of standard 5- or 6-string basses or even triple the strings of normal 4-, 5- or 6-string basses.

8-string bass guitars[edit]

The 8-string bass guitar was invented by electrical engineer, bass player and musician, Eric Krackow, who had played with Al Kooper's early band, The Aristo-Cats, in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It bothered Eric that 50% of the quartet would be tied up with the guitar doubling the bass line while playing tunes like Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression." Eric, finding it too awkward to play the unison octaves himself on complex songs, remembered the 12-string guitar principle and made a prototype 8-string bass from a modified four string bass. In 1967, Eric and a business partner (Steve Wittels) brought it to Sid Hack of Univox Corp. on Long Island, which company was the importer for Hagström guitars. Sid liked the idea and ordered a trial run of 500 units. The success of that test run resulted in further production and sales.

The first 8-string bass guitars were made by Hagström, from 1967 to 1969 with a total of 2,249 being manufactured. An 8-string bass guitar is strung with paired, octaved strings, similar to those of a regular 12-string guitar. Standard tuning is usually as so:

  • high e, low E,
  • high a, low A
  • high d, low D
  • high g, low G

Chris Squire of Yes often tunes his Raney 8-string bass eE-aA-aD-dG, so that notes played on the upper two courses sound as open fifths.

8-string basses are usually fretted; however, fretless 8-string basses have been known to exist, though would usually be a custom make. Though once rare, many well-known guitar manufacturers now make 8-string basses commercially available, such as Dean Guitars, ESP Guitars, Hamer Guitars, Schecter Guitars, Washburn Guitars, Rickenbacker and Hagström among others.

Often, the 8-string bass guitar is played with a plectrum so to have a better attack and to increase the 'ringing' of the higher-register strings, but is not essential. Many funk players have used finger and slap and pop techniques with the 8-string bass (such as Victor Wooten). Some other bassist of note who have utilised the 8-string bass are Abraham Laboriel, Mark Egan, Nick Lowe, Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, Paulo Pinto of Sepultura, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, John Entwistle of The Who, Mike Rutherford of Genesis, Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Gary Shea of Alcatrazz, Bent Sæther of Motorpsycho, and Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick. Guitarist Jimi Hendrix also played 8-string bass on tracks from his Electric Ladyland album, namely "Crosstown Traffic" and "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)".

10-string bass guitars[edit]

10-string basses incorporate a high b and low B string (like that of a regular 5-string bass, but double stringed). Dean Guitars perhaps make the most affordable commercially available 10-string bass. Michael Manring plays a 10-string bass made by Zon Guitars. He uses a variety of tunings, but rarely uses octaves, instead preferring 3rds, 4ths and 5ths.

  • high b, low B
  • high e, low E
  • high a, low A
  • high d, low D
  • high g, low G

12-string bass guitars[edit]

Main article: twelve-string bass

The first known 12-string bass guitar, the "Hamer Quad", was designed by Jol Dantzig and built in 1978 for Tom Petersson by Hamer Guitars. Commercially available 12-string basses such as those from Hamer Guitars and Dean Guitars are strung in triple courses such as:

  • high e, high e, low E,
  • high a, high a, low A
  • high d, high d, low D
  • high g, high g, low G

Bassists of note who have utilised the 12-string bass guitar are Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, Frank Bello of Anthrax, Jason Newsted of Metallica, Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick, Doug Pinnick of King's X, Eric Brittingham of Cinderella, Tim King of Soil.

15-string bass guitars[edit]

Fieldy from the nu-metal band Korn has used a 15-string bass in recording their eighth studio album, however none of the tracks where it was used made the final cut. It is a tripled five-string bass and was custom by Fieldy's longtime endorser Ibanez and called the K-15, in tradition with Korn's other signature instruments the Ibanez K5 and the Ibanez K7.

  • high a, high e, low A
  • high d, high a, low D
  • high g, high d, low G
  • high c, high g, low C
  • high f, high c, low F[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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