Why Does More Strings or New Things = Moral Outrage?

EDITORIAL ALERT! Prepare for hurt butts.


I know the world is a scary place. I know that everything seems to be changing at ever increasing speeds, and that technology (music and otherwise) is exponentially compounding on itself. No one is more critical of Skynet than we are. There is shit going on that would have been worshipped as dark magic 30 years ago that is simply the work of miniaturized tech.

But why, why, why in the name of all that is holy is there a fucking MORAL outcry whenever a new creative tool comes out?

I am PERPETUALLY seeing this shit:

Too many strings.

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Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 12.25.04 AM “Too Low”

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Not enough strings.

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This guy is afraid of being replaced by robots:

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On the Ibanez RGKP6 with integrated Kaoss Pad:

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“kids these days”

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Yah, I’d really hate for two of my favorite things to be combined.

And from Slipknot’s Mick Thompson: “Seven-string guitars are gay – they’re nothing more than a trend. How many guitarists use all seven strings anyway?”

I can’t imagine that the day someone added a claw to the back of a hammer there was somebody who walked into the smithy and loudly complained that “Claw hammers r gay” “If you need a claw on your hammer, you’re just trying to mask the fact that you’re a terrible carpenter” “Jesus was a carpenter, and HE didn’t need a claw on HIS hammer!”

The problem is a Dad problem. And no, I’m not talking about a male human who has copulated and borne young, I mean the mindset of “Why do you need to change? The way things are now is good and I feel safe and now that things are changing I need to complain and get outraged about cool new things because I don’t understand them.” Which I have shortened to Dad, to save internet ink.

Here’s a hilarious video demonstrating this Dad mindset – it’s 8 minutes of a luthier who just cannot comprehend that a guitar with 8 strings exists:

There are 2 more videos where he capitalizes on the controversy of this first video, and much to the delight of Dads everywhere, really shows us whippersnappers how it’s done by challenging 8 string guitarists to play Johnny B. Goode and then proceeding to not play it right. There are so many dad utterances I lost count immediately.

Dad response: “I miss the days….” “Remember when….” “Whatever happened to just plugging your Les Paul into a Marshall and ….” “AC/DC didn’t need 7/8/9 strings to ROCK!”

Sure, AC/DC has had great success plugging their Gibsons straight into their Marshalls and making the same fucking album 17 times. But they also REFUSED to sell their music anywhere on the internet for a very long time, and thought that this music video looked good. Also, AC/DC already exists. They’re not going anywhere, and even if (when) they all die, their music has been uploaded to the internet whether they like it or not and will therefore never die. So you or I doing something new won’t affect their legacy in any way.

Technology won’t make you a better musician. A fun new gadget won’t replace hours sitting on the edge of your bed playing that one lick over and over til you get it right. But creativity requires tools, and tools change over time. The guitar wasn’t always the guitar. According to Wikipedia (a bastion of infallible information, to be sure) “The modern guitar was preceded by the gittern, the vihuela, the four-course Renaissance guitar, and the five-course baroque guitar, all of which contributed to the development of the modern six-string instrument.” That means that at some point, some luthier decided to add strings to a previous instrument to create what we know of as the guitar. Do you think some Renaissance dad proclaimed that “No one will ever need six strings! This instrument is an abomination against God!”? I’m sure they did. And history has proven him to be the douche. And it will prove you to be the douche as well, only this time there will be written proof on the internet of your Daditude.

Imagine the first time somebody decided to take the various pieces of percussion used in the orchestra – a snare, a bass drum, some cymbals – and rigged it together so they could play them all at the same time. The very first drum set. Imagine how the 4-5 percussionists who were usually needed must have screamed.

Listen to these stupid statements, same as the above but applied to other things:

“There are too many words in this language. I think you should be able to make poetry with a vocabulary of only 1,000 words, and stick to the easy ones that I understand.”

“Anyone who needs an 88 key piano isn’t a good pianist.”

Intentionally restricting yourself can actually be very artistically freeing, and I find that it’s actually critical to the creative process. Arbitrary restrictions from other people, on the other hand, are just pure unnecessary tyranny. Keith Richards plays with 5 strings on his guitar, Max Cavalera plays with 4, are they somehow morally or musically superior to someone who plays 9? If that’s true, then THIS guy is king:

Oh, you think he sucks? Or that his one string instrument is stupid? Then I guess we have to draw the conclusion that number of strings has fucking NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Yah, kids these days are SO lazy that they took the time to build an instrument from scratch and learn a song all the way through and film and edit it. They’re SOOOO lazy that they decided to learn an instrument that didn’t even exist ten years ago and has more strings than you need to play “Smoke on the Water” that you only learned the opening riff to before you gave up and went to dentist school (so now you can afford a Gibson!).

Our Editor in Chief wrote two stellar articles defending 9 string guitars, which you can peruse here and here, to which there was much outcry. Mostly the article was responding to the age-old “Well why don’t you just play a BASS?” to which the world eventually responded with Extinction Level Event, a metal band with 3 bass players and no guitar.

The takeaway is this: escalation is a constant. All of life is an arms race. But adding or subtracting strings or using electronic means to enhance the sound of your music (sampling, amp sims, triggers, plugins) doesn’t hurt anybody, so why the MORAL superiority? Where does the urge come from?

I’m not just being glib, I really want to know.

I get not understanding maybe what you need it for, some confusion perhaps, likely curiosity, or even just plain not liking it, but moral outrage is un fucking called for. I don’t come to your Mom’s basement and tell you your Alienware gaming computer has too much RAM, or to your law office and tell you you’ve got too many fucking staplers, or to your job on a fishing boat and tell you your net is too big (I can do this all day, there are many jobs that people do ISN’T LEARNING NEAT?). A Marshall and a Les Paul were once new technology, and plugging one into the other probably incited more moral outrage than anything I’ve mentioned here so far. How fucking stupid is that?

I’m also aware that the internet is full of trolls and anonymity breeds loudmouthed assholes and this may not represent the views of the general public. But I feel like this is a general Daditude I hear about loads of different kinds of art, and not just music. Aesthetics just isn’t subject to morality. The color blue or the vibration of 80hz never hurt anyone, and neither will a 10th string or a new plugin.

I’ll leave you with this: This is Christopher Cardone talking about his 24 string bass, and how trolls called him a “fucking prick” for building a bass. In this video he says the best thing I’ve ever heard about the topic:

“Anyone who uses the words “too much” in creativity doesn’t know what they’re talking about. There’s no such thing as too much when it comes to expressing yourself and being creative.”


Written by

As Editor-in-Chief of Gear Gods, I've been feeding your sick instrument fetishism and trying unsuccessfully to hide my own since 2013. I studied music on both coasts (Berklee and SSU) and now I'm just trying to put my degree to some use. That's a music degree, not an English one. I'm sure you noticed.

Latest comments
  • Awesome article man! I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said in this!

  • I don’t think it has as much to do with the number of strings as it does how they are used. When you have 9 strings but hang out on that low c# and your tabs look like binary, it seems useless to have those extra notes available. And yes, boring uninspired music can and does happen on a six, but tradition man. Personally I have mostly 6s, with one 7. I can play it fine but just don’t as much, and I find 8 to be uncomfortable, but I like to play thumb over the top.

  • With an 8 string, you can have the lowest string tuned down to F1, and you still would be able to have a bass guitar tuned all the way down to F0 (at around 22 Hz) that would just barely, barely be within the audible range of the human ear.

    What I don’t understand is having a 9 string guitar with a low B, since you obviously couldn’t go an octave lower than that on bass, unless of course you just don’t plan on having a bass player. Come to think of it though, cutting out a bass player entirely doesn’t sound like such a bad thing…

    • After the burial uses 8/9 strings and a bass tuned in the same octave, and a wicked hipass to cut out the C# flub

    • And the bass has to copy the guitar an octave below why? :)

      • because he can :)

    • Bassist of Meshuggah is tuned in F1 (like the guitars).

    • The note is still creating harmonics at higher frequencies, so even if the fundamental is 22hz or any other note below human hearing you will still be able to hear the higher frequency harmonics. (Im not talking about natural or pinch harmonics but the harmonics produced by sound waves. Wikipedia harmonics for more reading.)

      Real world example: A characteristic of djent guitar tones is high passing the low end of the guitars so that all low end below a certain frequency is cut off (high passing is a standard mixing tool used on most metal albums for years.). A 7 string in standard tuning has a low b of approx 60 hz. Running a hi-pass filter above 60 hz does nothing detrimental to the note to the human ear….other than taking away some low end.

      Many djent albums feature guitar tones with high pass filters in the 150 to 200hz range to help produce the tone associated with the genre. Playing notes below this does not make them inaudible due to how all the higher order harmonics that sound with the fundamental to produce the note you’re hearing.

      Hope this helps you to understand!

      • I require ALL the overtones though, just ’cause I’m all about that bass.

        • Lol at the joke, BUT, if mixers did that there would be no definition to your favorite metal albums. Guitars are high passed (reducing low end frequencies) to make the bass guitar and kick drum more clear. The low end produced by these instruments is more desirable in a band context. This is why you hear mixers and professional bands with studio time stressing that you dont need a ton of low end in most guitar tones.

          • Sludge life bro. High passing above 20 Hz is selling out!

  • I honestly think people need to just relax and let people play what they want, espically in the “metal” community. I see more dispute between my fellow metalheads, than I see between Democrats and Republicans or between people who prefer their toilet paper over the top rather than under(and vise versa). In reality, so what if you see people playing with 38 string guitars? Yeah, it’ll be hard to play, but this of how cool that would be? It is a bass and guitar mixed. I mean, I don’t see people bagging on the dual guitars, or(sorry I forgot the name), it’s like fretboard in like a metal stand(It was used in Areosmith sometimes) ot the Keytar. I mean, they probably got hate when they came out, but then you have the people who ENJOY it and like the innovation and imagination put into it. I, myself, want to see these crazy, wacky, insanely awesome guitars! I think it makes it a lot more interesting to see it live.
    That’s my Mini-rant xD
    Have a wonderful day!

  • That 8 string video was a joke. A little research will show that, don’t set up a dude having a bit of fun as a bad guy.

  • Maybe it’s not the addition of strings, but the subtraction of talent it takes to pedal on the lowest of them over and over in goofball patterns.

  • I can’t imagine that the day someone added a claw to the back of a hammer there was somebody who walked into the smithy and loudly complained that “Claw hammers r gay” “If you need a claw on your hammer, you’re just trying to mask the fact that you’re a terrible carpenter” “Jesus was a carpenter, and HE didn’t need a claw on HIS hammer!”

    ^ this is a bad analogy.

    “Anyone who needs an 88 key piano isn’t a good pianist.”

    ^ this is a good one.

  • It’s not microtonal as well. It’s not all that extreme.

  • I haven’t got any shit about having 6 string bass, people have said things like, “I didn’t know they were a thing”.

  • Who gives a shit what you use to make the music you love, as long as you’re having a bit of fun doing it and not being a dickhead. More tools = more creativity. More strings = more possibility. If you don’t like it, don’t use it.

  • “Who is Wolf Marshall?”

  • No, we just don’t like shit deathcore music from talentless losers.

    • Ever heard of Tosin Abasi? Greatest guitarist in the world uses an 8-string. Try the song CAFO or An Infinite Regression. Creativity exists on any instrument with any strings.

      • Never heard of him, does he even Bill Steer?

        • Well, that explains all we need to know.

          • Glad i could be of service.

          • You get the ignorant dickhead award!

          • You mean the truth award?

          • Nope. You talk bad about topics you obviously know nothing about. Definitely an ignorant dickhead award.

          • No, i just point out talentless kid music.

          • You can say that about an entire genre of music? All talentless…… You definitely got the award. Dick.

          • It’s general knowledge that all deathcore bands are talentless.

          • So you didn’t make this opinion yourself…. You’re a sheep, you let others make opinions for you.

          • Im the shepherd

          • Stop feeding him butthurt, it fuels his douchebaggery

          • Sorry lol. I was having fun pointing out what an ignorant dickhead he is. I need to get back to work anyways.

        • What an ignorant fuck. They’re very different. Please, listen to Tosin and maybe you can survive this wave of idiocy you just created. Dweeb.

          • Sorry, I don’t listen to nobody’s. Twink.

  • Kudos to anyone that can handle that many strings. I have enough problems with just 4… :)

  • I think guitarists in general are afraid of new things. Just go look at the comment sections for the Misa Kitara videos on youtube.

  • The claw hammer example is just fucking stupid, not the same thing at all.

  • It cannot be a definitive answer…It is the eternal fight between punk an prog :)

  • 10 string acoustic. And he uses all the strings.

  • To me, the whole “More strings is pointless blah blah blah” argument is more or less guitarists venting out their frustrations. They spent time learning the 6 string, that was already a pain in the ass; there is already the whole ego shit that no matter how good you get at shredding or playing in general, someone is out there that completely dwarfs you. You’re playing something you took the time to learn and to you, it’s really good, then you see some other guy playing something even better.
    That’s the problem with guitar beyond the standards, if you just play chords you’re not trying too hard and nobody will give you shit for it, you’re no worse for the wear. If you riff and write complex stuff, then you have to deal with the idea that it is not good enough. Then you suddenly have to think about if what you’re writing even sounds good, then you have to write other overly complex riffs to compliment the overly complex riffs you’ve already written. Combine all that shit and you have yourself a solid effort, unfortunately there is some guy out there who’s guts you hate writing something that makes what you wrote feel like shit.

    Now, that’s only with 6 strings, suddenly you add more strings and more ways to play and there is someone out there playing a more difficult version of the instrument you’re playing better than you can even play the 6 string. If you’re comparing yourself to someone like that, you may as well give up because it is no longer even a competition, you’re been blown to bits and no amount of effort will ever amount to anything.

    As for the Dad Rock guy, it apparently took him a lot of time and effort to play AC/DC and Johnny B. Goode, stuff that to some of us is incredibly simple (slightly beyond simple power chords) rock. He’s so dumbfounded by the 8 string that he can’t even put it into words, his existence as a whole has been broken.

    There is an ego that comes with playing guitar, that ego gets more and more swamped every time another string is added and another guitar player masters it. Some people should just stick to songwriting for fun, like I do. Guitar at times becomes much larger than it should be, it’s all about perception.

    • You could be right IF adding strings would mean ADDING complexity, which, in fact, talking about modern metal-rock, is untrue. I’m a drummer, playing guitar since 3 months, the first song I learned with the guitar was “stengah” by meshuggah (played with a lower tuned 7-strings of a friend of mine). Polyrhythms were not unknown for me, and the fingering is very simple and it is a single note playing and it is the lower strings playing in open 1st, 2nd, 3rd fret for all the time. I love Meshuggah, but there’s something more than that in music. And, of course, there’s place for just one band to play in that way, and not for all those djenty hipster shitty bands that use the riffs that Meshuggah dumps. Playing those 0 0 0 1 00 2 0 1 0 2 0 3 riffs is NOT DIFFICULT, or at least it is not more difficult than playing a neat barre chord, or playing a clear F#/D chord. It isn’t even difficult as playing the house of the rising sun.

      • And also, I think those “dad rock guys” with a brief study can learn easily to play a periphery song, but those “djenty” guys would fail hard with some difficult chord positions of some old stuff from the seventies

        • I would say they’d both struggle an equal amount. The weird chords and jangly strumming of some 70s rock don’t translate well to syncopated palm muted riffs at 170bpm. Unless your talking scorpions or rush or mercyful fate, those probably translate easier. I think the real struggle for both is the feel.

          • I don’t think so, because the “dad rock guy” has anyway those techniques, at least in nuce (haven’t you never heard about funk-rock?). 8 over 10 of those djenty kids don’t know how to play open chords (true story bro!)

          • Are you seriously defending “dad rock guys” lol, you must REALLY hate djenty kids. I personally find both to be pretty shitty personally, but yeah.

            In the end, the “dad rock guy” isn’t going to be playing anything interesting. Funk rock? Seriously? That guy isn’t going to be playing open chords or anything, he’ll be playing the opening lick to Sweet Home Alabama and worshipping the ground Slash walked on, then heads to his room to listen to more Neil Young singing out of key.

            Not gonna say he’s worse than the black haired, lip pierced tattooed band-t shirt wearing kid who thinks playing in a drop tuning on a guitar with more strings takes more skill. But seriously, it’s a scale, both sides are covered in shit, who cares how much they weigh, they’re shit just the same.

      • The best part about it, is you have the choice not to listen to it.

      • Yeah, really you’re right on that point, but do you really think someone like the people who get pissed off at this kind of thing understand this?

        The argument kind of bores me, it’s less about the instrument itself and more about what you do with it. There is an ego with guitar, but my point is that if you get one to this extent you should chill out, lol.

        I mean, if you think of more strings as a concept on paper, it’d seem more complex, more intimidating. Like, oh fuck that guy is going to do sweep picking tapping shit on 11 strings instead of six, well consider me on the barstool for this one. But yeah, in the end most people just play chuggy open music with heavier guitars with more strings, lol.

  • The fact is that guys with 9 strings guitar compose music mostly playable with that 1 string guitar in the video above.

    • I love these new instruments. But musicians just need to spend more time on them. das all.

      • That’s right. If you have a 9 string guitar, play something which is playable with actually 9 strings. But, if we want to be totally sincere, 6-7 strings are enough for one single instrument put in a band. Or, at least we could accept that a widening in the other direction (the higher portion of the spectrum) is more rational. That analogy of the 88 key piano is very stupid, because the piano can be a solo instrument, but put in an orchestra or a band they start to “narrowing” the portion in which they play a piano. In a band that has already a bass player, there’s no space for other bass instruments, expecially if you put that lot of gain on those guitars. Or at least, you can do that but then you’ll have to accept that your music will be dumb, based just on a fake and recurring rhythmic “complexity” but in fact, harmonically dumb, one million steps behind those ‘ol Led Zeppelin and Chicago songs (just for keeping the talk in the “popular” side, I’ll not mention classical music). Like another said, it’s “pedaling on the lowest of them over and over in goofball patterns”

        • In fact, there’s too many 9 strings guitar but too few 12 strings guitar in modern music, and 12 strings guitars are a very smart instrument.

        • What if I decide I like a guitar and it has nine strings and I only use two of them and don’t care what you think? You get annoyed and I still don’t care is all.Your time would be better spent playing what you want or listening to what you want than rationalising why others should behave in ways you approve of.

          • You can do what you want, but having a 9 strings guitar and only using two of them is talking by itself: you don’t need a 9 strings guitar. We’re in a free world and you can do what you want, and so I’ll do I listening how dumb is that kind of music.

          • Sorry but you’ll need to use actual sentences or I won’t understand you.

    • It’s art, who are you/we to decide why someone should or shouldn’t play a 9 string guitar. I guarantee there are plenty of bands, that if you did not see them play, you wouldn’t be able to tell if they played on an 8 string or if it was a detuned 6 string. It’s all about the music which is auditory first and foremost.

  • You want to see moral outrage in guitar players, just mention Min-E-Tune.

  • What is all this butthurt on all sides? I don’t personally care about if you’re playing 1 or 100 strings, just make some music and let it flow. Inevitable conservative criticism was laughable enough already but having to “defend” the case of more strings on an instrument with a teary-eyed ‘article’ like this is just plain corny. To anyone who’s reading this: If you’re this concerned over people’s opinions on your creative process or moreover the gear which you use, maybe you’ve forgotten something essential along the way. Go back, just play and enjoy!

  • What is the difference if someone paints with one color vs many colors as long as the end result is beautiful. And the best part about art, is that it’s all subjective.

  • You’re all fucking retarded. “You need to use all the strings or it’s pointless” blah whinge blah. I bet if someone criticized your shitty version of Sweet Child O’ Mine you would be appalled. Sure, there are bands playing crappy music, blame them, not the instrument. I don’t care what you play, if it sounds good to my ear I’ll listen. Stop wanking each others egos off and get back to playing that riff you’re learning because you actually sound like shit.


  • dude, what you put into your music will always be MORE relevant than how many strings/accesories do you use… is not the how, is the WHAT, that matters… cool stuff. I got a 6 strings bass, and two regular 4 string bass guitars, and love them as what they are: different. I love making music, and what it makes me feel. that´s the point

  • I’ve got no problems how many strings you play on. Play on one string. Play on ten. Makes no difference to me. I’m not the one who’s got to play the thing.

    But that worries me is that I’ll put in the time and effort to learn how to play my “lowly” six string guitar and someone will look down on me because I don’t have the “proper” brand, or the “right” gear, and because I apparently lack the talent to play anything beyond a mere six strings (right now it would be a Christmas miracle just to be able to properly play ONE string, let alone all six). I Just don’t want people bringing ME down over what I’M doing.

    As for “electronic guitars” and other fads, it falls under the same category. There is a certain value to the “old ways”, and when a new fad comes around, you tend to worry that people will gleefully abandon the old in favor of the new, and look down on anyone they see as being “old fashioned”.

    It’s not moral superiority, it’s the fear of the things you love not only being forgotten, but being willingly trampled and insulted by people who don’t know any better or even CARE to know better, resulting in an emotional backlash.

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