In Defense Of 9-String Guitars

This year at NAMM both Schecter and Ibanez showed off 9-string guitars, the C-9 and RG9 respectively. This naturally led to some scoffing. “9-string guitars? Pfsht. What”s the point of that?”


And look, I”m as old and as cranky as they come. In fact, this was precisely my reaction to 8-string guitars when they first started popping up. I’ve owned plenty of 7-strings, but they’ve never really stepped firm-footed into the full bass register like an 8-string, which really can negate the need for a bassist. In fact, it should negate the bass. It goes down to F#. You have those frequency ranges covered. So don’t feel the need for a dedicated bass just because the Beatles and Sabbath had one. You are the bass. You just also have some high strings.

So why not a 9? We’ve already set the course, so why not commit? If I’m going to be covering that sonic territory then I want to cover all of it, and not just most. It’s already a bass. Animals as Leaders and Meshuggah (in the studio) already eliminated their bassists. Actually, let’s be honest, most metal bands have eliminated their bassists in the studio in all but the most technical manner of speaking.

So here we are. The prophesy of …And Justice For All has been made manifest. The guitarists in the genre have been steadily co-opting all that low end for decades. So if we’re doing this, let”s do it whole hog. No half measures. This is metal. Since when do we do things part-way?


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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.

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  • Uh… Meshuggah still have their bassist in the band. He plays bass and a big part of their tone is actually coming from him, not from the 8 strings guitars.
    Anyway, I’ll be ok with 9 strings guitar when they will release them with a more usuable scale length… From what I’ve heard on youtube, the 9th string sounds like crap on the schecter.

    • I’m pretty sure that on the original version of Nothing before the remix there was no bass guitar, just the 8-strings.

      • I’m pretty sure Fredrik plays the bass on the original version of Nothing. This is more noticeable on some songs than others, and I can hear it for sure on perpetual black second, closed eye visuals, glints collide or organic shadows…

      • You can’t hear the bass most of the time because he’s in the same fucking octave and also plays with a pick, but in the case of meshuggah that’s exactly what they’re going for. Before they had someone make them 8 string guitars they were planning on having all three of them play a bass.

        ~BowTie, bass player for Encasing Embrace

  • TL;DR – why 9-strings? why not?

    Sorry Chris, but that’s hardly a defense that holds up.

    What are we really talking about here – the fact that a 9-string guitar happens to cover some of the sonic territory a bass guitar does? If so, that implies that we’re okay with just that bass frequency range being covered one way or another. That’s not what bassists are for – they bring the groove to a song, and act as a bridge between the beat and the melodic instrumentation.

    TL;DR – play whatever the hell guitars you want – you can’t not have a bass player.

    • That bass role, not in just frequency range but rhythmic role, has long been co-opted by low-tuned guitars in a lot of genres of metal. Not always but often. All the disciples of Meshuggah are essentially just playing bass on their guitars. And that’s left their bassists with very little to do except double the guitars in the same frequency range. So a dedicated instrument for lows exclusively has limited use in those styles.

      That said, I play more often than guitar nowadays, and most of the bands that I’m referring to above bum me out. But you’re thinking of “bass” and “guitar” in a very old-fashioned way. For some genres strict “the bass is the groove” and “the guitar is the melody” roles are just not the case.

      • What about tuning the bass down one octave as well? a la vildhjarta or Humanity’s last breath? sounds good to me. Also, just because a guitar is tuned to the same octave/frequency as a bass, doesn’t mean they have the same tone, and the bass can very well be playing other stuff than the guitars.
        In the case of bands just chugging 0’s and 1’s on the low string and the bass playing along with that in the same frequency, I kind of get what you’re saying, but I’m guessing bands getting 9 string guitars aren’t after just chugging.

        • Tuning the bass down an octave would put the lower string(s) below the limit of human hearing. F to F# is about as far as you can get.

          • you do still hear it though, due to the strength of the first harmonic tuned high-low B F# (here on below the range of human hearing:) C# G#

          • Just personally, I thought the low C# sounded like crap. Nothing to do with the argument on the page, it just sounds flabby and lacks definition. In my opinion, once you’ve lost the fundamental, what’s the point?

    • Or to rephrase my last post more succinctly: do you really think most of these 8-string or immensely downtuned guitarists who just chug 1s and 0s on their deepest string are playing melodies that need a bridge to the beat?

      • I see your points here Chris (would’ve loved to have read them in the article itself :-) ) –
        I think that advanced instruments and the innovations and developments behind them should be driven by experienced musicians and craftsmen, not by scenesters who are more concerned with trends, than with pushing the envelope in writing and performing.

        Imagine a highly proficient musician looking for an extended scale guitar – most of his choices in the 9-string dept. are actually made to satisfy the needs of inept players who just want to be able to tune lower and lower — and there’s a chance that details like appropriate scale length (as commenter @koneko_angel:disqus mentioned) might be overlooked. It’s great when folks like Tosin Abasi get behind such gear, but naturally these instruments are then marketed to kids who just want to jump on the bandwagon – marketed as ‘extreme gear for extreme musicians’. I guess it’s the same with every category of equipment- I’m also a photographer, so I frequently come across ads for bigger/better gear aimed at amateurs who don’t need that kind of stuff.

        Do we really want to saturate the market with instruments that don’t make sense, and allow mediocre bands to gain exposure simply because they’re using novel instruments? It’s obviously not in our hands, but I wish someone would point out that a 6-string is fine too.

    • lol bass players.

  • That you can doesn’t mean that you should.

  • Masterbation, when you play with yourself. I’d rather have some company.
    Will this eventually lead to bands being redundant? I have a band that has no drummer, if the bass is abandoned (which we are actually considering… I play bass btw) it means the band could be done with just 1 member. Or none if you just press play. That’s my point basically, I’d rather play music with other people.

  • this 8 string 9 string shit NEEDS to stop. djent is such BAD music maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.

    • *implying that you can only use 8’s and 9’s for djent*
      tsk tsk tsk

      • implying that it’s what its mostly used for.

        • Bro, do you even jazz?

          • shame on a guitar who try to run game on a bassist

          • Listen to Portal kthx

          • well that was awful….

          • DO YOU???

          • Jazz is for dummies who think they can play

  • This article says absolutely nothing helpful. Why use a 9-string? “Because you ARE the bassist, man!” Well ok not really, my instrument will sound different, and perform a different role. Just because it’s in the bass register doesn’t mean it’s a bass. But that’s fine, it probably doesn’t interfere with what I’m going for, why else should use a 9-string? “…”

  • just get a bass & guitar doubleneck like Boris did years ago (and many others, but wanna name drop Boris because they are fucking dope 10/10 shit, fanboy for life) look, even their drummer has one

    • Didn’t they do a bunch of splits with Sunn O)))? Does that make them a boring drone band?

      • They do all kinds of stuff. Mostly rock/metal. Also few drone things.

      • They have some drone, they have some sludge, the have some dark ambient, they even have a goddamn j-rock album. They are the definition of experimental

  • I call bullshit. If I remember, Misha did the first AAL album, but regardless, whoever did it said that “We took the guitar and pitch-shifted it down an octave”, and that was the bass for that album. 50% of Meshuggah’s tone IS the bass guitar run through both a guitar and bass rig. When they didn’t have a bassist (Pre Dick, Post Gustaf) which was Nothing, Fredrik played bass. AVH guitar repair stated a specific bass was used from Nothing to obZen. They just tune it in the same octave as the 8 string.
    “Actually, let’s be honest, most metal bands have eliminated their
    bassists in the studio in all but the most technical manner of speaking.”
    This is probably the polar opposite of true. When I listen to metal records that have been hits longer than I’ve been alive, you know what I can’t hear? The bass. You know what I can hear in modern records? The bass.

    TL;DR: Everything arguing in defense of the 9 strings is based off of false information, and so I laugh very much.

    • Pretty bad band if they have a bassist and they mix him out on records. Well, I guess black metal bands do it a lot, but that is also because of the lo-fi production.

      • They’ll mix out the low end, but compensate by driving & dirtying up the tone so it bites and rips along with the guitars.

  • Im a bassist, have been for 15 years. This article can go fuck itself. Sure, a 9 string can hit those low notes, but feel and tone are entirely different matters

    • Also, if you’re a bassist in a band that COULD easily be replaced by a ridiculously low-tuned guitar, you need to step up your bass game

      • Exactly. Sadly, I’ve found that a large majority of bass player don’t know what the fuck they’re doing, hence why bass players get a bad rap and we get assholes trying to phase them out completely with bullshit articles like this.

        • Well, everybody thinks that the bass should be getting down like Beyond Creation but a real bassist is the backbone of the band and should (in most cases) play the pocket with the drums.

    • Yes the guy who wrote this is a moron more than seven string is ridiculous bass guitar is a part of music

  • The problem isn’t having a 9-string guitar. The problem is the amateur teenage “metal-heads” that are just going to mindlessly chug open string riffs for every song because it sounds “brutal.”

  • There are so many things wrong with this article it’s not even funny.

    First off, a 9 string guitar will never replace Bass guitar. Both are different instruments that output completely different frequencies. Even if you are playing the lowest string on a 9 string, you’ll still be pushing mid-range frequencies like any other guitar, due to pickups. There will definitely be some extra low end, but nowhere near what a bass guitar can achieve. Unless you install bass pickups in your 9 string guitar, you’ll never get that low-end that a bass achieves.

    Second, unless your guitarist has 4 hands…good luck replacing a bassist worth their weight. Even if these extended range guitars somehow managed to do what a bass does in terms of filling out frequencies, you’d have some pretty weak bass riffs. Are people still oblivious to how much a bassist can affect your sound?

    Third, Meshuggah hasn’t abandoned bass in the studio…did you listen to Koloss?

    “…most metal bands have eliminated their bassists in the studio in all but the most technical manner of speaking.”


    • yup, to me this guitz is more of a gimmick… that one dude that plays that double neck acoustic guitar.

      • It’s gimmicky for most people, but I’m sure there are some players who want/need that range and actually use it.

        • Yes, Jason Richardson, the lead guitarist on the Born of Osiris album titled “The Discovery” and the current lead player for the band Chelsea Grin is a great example of someone that actually utilizes these extended range guitars to their full potential. The guy is by a dramatically wide margin more skilled on guitar than ANY famous guitarists anyone can name. Reason being that he started out by mastering the violin, so upon trying guitar for the first time it felt super easy to him. Of course he also has the unfair advantage of being a musical prodigy, making any instrument he ever attempts to touch sound like he’s been a master of it for decades. He plays 7 and 8 string guitars in super low tunings, BUT he still utilizes the higher strings and plays melodically, even on the low strings. He always utilizes melody, never reverting to the crapfest of constant half-step intervals that most radio metal bands that fancy themselves as “technical” or “heavy” play. To hear his lead playing at it’s best, check out the previously mentioned album titled “The Discovery” by Born of Osiris. The way Jason Richardson has written his parts make the 7 and 8 string guitars demand respect. In truth, an 8 string guitar utilized in this manner has SIGNIFICANTLY more sonic capabilities than the over-hyped standard 6-string. I myself benefit from my extra 7th string because my low to high tuning of A,D,G,C,F,A,D allows me to play any song in any key on one single guitar because of it’s large range, eliminating the need for switching through multiple guitars on stage every time I need one tuned to a specific key. I have one 7-string always in the same tuning, and I use that one guitar to play any song in any key. It helps that I have learned how to play songs without the average guitarist’s crutch of relying on having the bottom string tuned to that song’s key signature’s root note. I learned to play in different keys on different areas of the neck.

  • A bassist in a 7-9 string band has the job to add even more crunch and punch to the low register sounds.

  • Uh, sure, guitars TOTALLY eliminate the bass, because we all know bass players just jerk off instead of actually doing anything, right? This is the exact kind of thing that makes real musicians think metalheads are complete idiots. Basses sound COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than guitars. Just because a guitar is playing the same pitch that a bass can play, doesn’t mean they’re playing the same frequency. The bass is there to actually give some low end to the band as a whole and round out the sound. All a guitar does is make everything sound muddy, or if they have a really clean setup, the band would just sound empty. And what about when the guitar is shredding? That’s not bass at all. And sure, you can have a rhythm guitar player, but that eliminates the option of harmonizing. You could always just get a third guitar player, but why the fuck would you want three of those assholes in a band together? Just have a bass player. Their instrument is much more suited than your flashy 9-string. Just get a bass player and have him tune down, you’ll sound HEAVY AS FUCK. Basses are good at sounding super heavy, so why wouldn’t you want that in your supposedly “heavy” band? Dumbass

    • Seriously ask Scale The Summit what they think about the bass or Long Distance Calling.

  • This article has to be one of the most close-minded pieces of writing I’ve ever seen.
    I’ve been a bassist, a drummer, a guitarist and a vocalist all at one point in my life. Being a guitarist in a metal orientated band at this current point in time, it’s heavily important to realise the importance of a bassist, no matter how many strings you shit out or how low you tune.

    In all honesty, it doesn’t matter how far you extend into the bass clef on a guitar. You’re not going to get any closer to sounding like a bass because of the fact that it IS a guitar – using pickups made for a guitar. Bass has an entirely different timbre than a guitar.

    You have clearly just gone and written an article about a load of shit that you know fuck all about and then trying to frantically post-research to save it from sinking.

    • Excellent reply my man.

    • Good reply. Thx for sporting that shirt! m/

    • I agree with you as long as you promise never to pronounce “timbre” correctly. Ever.

    • Well, yeah, except that the extended range guitars that are designed to reach into the bass register are typically equipped with pickups designed specifically for that purpose. However, I still passionately agree that bass guitarists absolutely ARE necessary, because even with the current pissing contest modern bands are playing called “my guitar is lower and penis is bigger than yours” the bass STILL has it’s own defined, unique tone and overall sound, not to mention the different way a bass player would play a bass still separating it from the way a giutarist would play his 80-string penis extender. I say all that and make fun even though I play 7 and 8 string guitars myself. Point being that despite the fact that I play guitars in a much lower than standard tuning (but still avoiding the 1-fingered tunings, my 7-string Universe tuned low to high: A,D,G,C,F,A,D) I still prefer to have an actual real life bass player playing a real life bass guitar alongside me at all times, regardless of my tuning. That’s because I (gasp!) still utilize the higher strings on a consistent basis! Melody is vital to a good song, I can’t stand music that is one way only from start to finish. It gets boring quick. That’s why I don’t write repeating parts, not even choruses, in my songs, they have a progression from start to finish without annoyingly revisiting the same parts you’ve already heard. I despise songs that are so quick to repeat and only have 3 changing parts that expose you to the song in it’s entirety by the time it’s 30 seconds into it because everything repeats after that. It’s bad writing, and it’s complete b.s. that it’s become the only song structure accepted for radio and pathetic that the masses don’t notice their entire music collection consists of 5 minute songs, each with only 15 seconds of music, edited in a manner that tricks the average dope into thinking they’re getting 5 minutes of material. Man I went WAY askew with the topic. Sorry.

  • And lets get it straight. I’m extremely young, not old and cranky. And I pretty much live and breathe ERG’s.

    I still think 9 strings are ridiculous. What more are you going to do on a 9 that you can’t do on an 7 or and 8 that doesn’t sound like utter shit?

  • The 9s won’t replace the bass–and what does it matter anyway? 7, 8, 9. . . all the way up to 12 individual strings; the bass has reached up into the guitar’s register just as much as the guitar is reaching down into the bass. They’re practically the same instrument, when you consider some of the coinciding variations.

    But that’s besides the point.
    The 9-string shouldn’t and won’t replace a proper bass; when used properly, it’s just another (in my opinion, more interesting) approach to the art of being a guitarist.

    I, for one, am looking at a 9-string and thinking: “Oh, hey, I can get a deeper Cm/G chord out of that,” and NOT “I can chug ALL THE OPEN STRINGS!”

  • Even if I employed a 9 string, I would want a bassist. Sure it can play notes that are as low as those played by a bass, but an actual bass goes even lower and stays there. A 9 string is all over the place. It can do 2 jobs, but not both at the same time that I and many want done.

  • It still can’t register the low bottom like a true bass. I will never listen to a band that has no bassist, it’s just stupid to restrict yourself like that and it ads more environment. Being a bassist, I have noticed the fact that guitarist think they can do it all including running a band into the ground but ya can never do what I do, my bass is twice the size of an 9-string guitar, try doing something other than djent with a shit ton of strings, ya can’t.

  • It’s a waste of strings, I’ve never seen/heard anybody play all of the strings. We used to just put a high bass string on a guit-fiddle to get that low tone and it actually sounded better than most of these djenty pieces of shit.

    • Tosin abasi says hello.

  • I feel like bassists are outdated, very strongly actually. They dont bring “groove” anymore, there are far easier methods of achieving the same outcome as far as tone and groove go. As far as technical metal goes, basses drown out the guitar, ridding the clarity that was there before the bass. I LOVE the Rings of Saturn approach to base though. Record the base in the studio and then play it on the same back track as the 808s. That way you ALWAYS have the perfect tone for it and it really does just accent their guitar playing and add a whole new level of brutality to their breakdowns. I will say that 9 strings are overkill. I play a 7 string and am fine on that and my other guitarist plays an 8 for those extra low notes that we need some time. We record base and then when we play live we have a great base sound on our backtrack.

    • You should probably be able to spell “bass” before speaking on the behalf of it. This indeed, makes me reach the conclusion you are a moron. More bass drops right? You would ask for that. Ditch the 7-string, go buy your “DJent stick.”

    • If you’re bassist is drowning out the guitars then you guys don’t know how to properly set you’re volume levels. The bass should be loud enough to thump, and the guitar can easily get loud enough to cut through that.

      ~BowTie, bassist for Encasing Embrace

  • As a drummer of 15 years, don’t you dare take away my bassist.

  • The only thing this should mean for bassists is that they should be demanding technology that lets them more clearly dig into the sub bass frequencies.

    • What for? So we can play dubstep? All of this down-tuning nonsense has gotten ridiculous. I play in a thrash metal band and we play in standard tuning instead of dropping to the point where everything just sounds like distorted mud.

      • The only reason why things sound like distorted mud is, well, distortion. I’m not sure about Meshuggah specifically, but Misha in particular isn’t lying when he says his guitar tone is barely distorted at all, it’s just equalized really well, which is why you can tell what damn notes he’s playing. If distortion is the problem, turn down the gain.

  • Soon the Electric HAARP shall be brutal!

  • People have already pointed out how big a role Meshuggah’s bass plays in their sound, but Animals As Leaders? They may not use a bass player live, but they do in the studio and it’s especially prevalent on their new songs. Rather than phase it out, they seem to actually be expanding it’s influence on their sound. I love extended range guitars, but they will never negate bass any more than extended range bass will negate guitar.

  • You know what has more strings? A Harp.

  • Unless it’s fan-fretted, 9 string guitars are pointless, and this is coming from a guy who owned 7 and 8 string guitars.

  • Is this guy saying that we should get rid of bassists? If so he’s a retard that clearly knows fuck all about the differences between a guitar and a bass.

    • As a guy who’s been in a bunch of bands over the years, I agree, get rid of all bassists. As Dale Crover says, they’re usually causing problems.

  • This is the worst article I’ve read in a long time. You sound like a bigot, your facts are not researched or valid, and you should’ve probably study sound waves before writing this. This is the farthest thing from metal, “DJent” is to Metal what Disco was to Funk.

  • This article seems to assume that the kind of metal those cited bands play are the only kinds of metal out there. Sure, it works great for Animals As Leaders, and maybe it could work for Meshuggah. But could you imagine a band like Between The Buried and Me without the intricate bass lines? Would a band like Protest The Hero sound the same without the frantic virtuoso bass playing? I don’t think so.

  • This retard has no idea what he’s talking about and any mixing engineer would laugh at this nonsense ”article”.

  • to argue the fact that basses and guitars sound totally different, I present this clip from a thread on comparing the same tuning through the same rig with a guitar and with a bass, flipping back and forth between the two.

  • Bassist’s should start playing 9 string Basses and eliminate the guitar!

  • Surely it’s distortion guitar pan left, distortion guitar pan right and clean/crunch bass spread in the middle, regardless of the amount of strings, have as many strings as you want!

  • Hey, You keep coming up with these low end guitars, how bout coming up with amps that can handle the lower frequencies of these new guitars !!!

    • Bogner Ubershcall Twin Jet, Orange Thunderverb 200, and Fryette Deliverance. Or an Axe-FX into a KT88 power amp like a Fryette 2/90/2.

      • Also Verellen Meat Smoke.

      • I was nodding along until you dropped the axefx bomb.

      • Thank you for the listing Chris I appreciate it

  • all I know is I’ve heard bands try to play without a bassist and it does not work. it sounds like shit. plus, if a bass player is that easily replaced, sorry buddy. you must really suck. the way I see it, there are many bands that are heavier and more “evil” sounding then these bands that use 8 string guitars so if you need a different instrument altogether to get the mood and tone in a song that you want, you can’t be that good. it’s like a drummer saying I NEED a huge drum set with the best drums and symbols to be good. well then you aren’t good buddy. I was always against any guitar that went past 7 strings but this is rediculous

  • U can’t get rid of the bass palyer, so ur sayin that Geddy lee and Chris Squire, geezer butler and Steve Harris are all but excluded in the studio’s, and Meshuggah’s bass player Dick Lovergn is very edident on their new album, and as for animals as leader they are the onlyones I know of who all but got rid of the bassist in the studio. Bass is alive and well and its not going anywhere. Just ask Les Claypool and Jeff Berlin. U might not here john campbells bass on LOG albums or u might not here ttroy saunders bass on Mastadon albums but their there and they are not going any where, what would the drummers think. Im a drummer and I wouldn’t be to pleased! And Ohh yeah as the guy said below this article can go @#$% urself!

  • so what it can get low freqs? there are bands using 6 string guitars with one from the bass set. it can get as low as hell, but the point of bass is not only low freq, it has to work with drums etc. it should create another dimension in music. I know there are plenty of metal bands using bass to to play as lower tuned 3rd. guitar but it’s lamie! listen to killing on adrenaline dying fetus album for example. Those guitars must be because of this new wave of nu mental!

  • Just so you can see it again, look at this INCREDIBLE Ibanez 9-String with Lace Pickups. Everything looks like it’s just so high quality. It’s on my list of things to save up for for sure.

  • This article seems like it’s another iteration in a long tradition of rock and metal pundits really not “getting” what bass is for. Basically any “killer guitar tone” is half bass tone anyway, provided for by a specialised instrument with its own uses that a guitar can only half-ass.

    And the whole “you can’t hear the bass” thing just confuses me. I know metal has a thing for things being as overblown and obtrusive as possible but the idea of rock bass mixing is that it’s cohesive – it fills out the other stuff and emphasises dynamics. People “can’t hear the bass” because they don’t know what they’re meant to be listening for.

    But as for 9-string guitars, sure. There’s probably cool things you could do with tunings. Mostly it’s gonna be something for easily-impressed Guitar Center kids to waste their money on, but I’m curious to see what Josh Travis or Tosin Abasi could do with one.

  • This article makes not much sense, After The Burial is even lower dan F cause theyre in C#
    Without their bassist they would not have achieved such fat sound and the contribution of the bass guitar is very evident.

  • Already 8-string guitars are MORONIC, not to mention 9-string guitars. There is two separate reasons for that: (i) VERY FEW guitar amps are designed to handle 8-string guitars, they simply are not being made to handle the lowest frequencies, period. This is a bass territory 95% of *guitar* amps are not supposed to handle. (ii) I’ve yet to hear an 8-string guitar — let alone a 9-string guitar — that doesn’t rattle like a rattlesnake. The sting buzz produced by the lowest string(s) is APPALLING. Putting the sponge around the nut is not doing the trick, as it’s the whole lowest string that is rattling agains almost entire fretboard. It sound horrid! (Yes, T. Abasi’s guitar buzzes like hell and sounds horrible, have guts to admit the obvious). So, unless you can play gently like a bass player on the lowest 8th and 9th string (very much UNLIKE on the 6th string) and you either play through an adapted bass amp or a specially designated guitar amp for 8/9-string guitars, FORGET IT! (7-string guitars are WHOLE different story, they are cool and all guitar amps will handle them.)

  • Just gonna quickly dispel some of the confusion: Basses and guitars are different instruments, if you have a piano in a band you don’t throw every other instrument out of the band because it covers all of the root frequencies of all of the other instruments, that would be idiotic. So a producer will pick which instrument produces the strongest or most important frequencies and cull the frequency range in the other instrument, this is called mixing. For example meshuggah who play in unison with their bassist have their tone high passed quite aggresively to allow the bass to control the root tones. Hope that helped. Also this article is dripping in satire, he isn’t being serious.

  • I think it is awesome that big manufacturers have introduced production nine string guitars. I think that any discussion about what any modification to a specific instrument does to the role of any player of any other instrument as a whole is ridiculous from the start. Like others who have commented, I have been a guitarist, bassist, drummer, vocalist, keyboardist, etc., at various points in my career. I’ve played all sorts of different numbers of strings and different tunings, etc. Any time you spend complaining about what the other guys in the band are doing with their tuning can always be better spent deciding what you are going to do with your instrument for your part in the band. So many on line discussions about whether the bass player should tune an octave down into infrasound or play in unison – why not let the bass player decide, and if it works, roll with it, and if it doesn’t work, have him work out something else on his own or fire him. To paraphrase Frank Zappa, just shut up and play!

    • The wisdom is strong in this one

  • Lots of defensive, but Meshuggah have a bass, it’s the feel and tone etc comments here. There are plenty of pieces of music without “bass” in it though. Countless recordings of solo flamenco guitar pieces and so on. Solo piano and any other given instrument. All of these “but you have to have a bass because my dad had one ” arguments are null. The real argument is the function of bass. Now if you are going to have an ensemble and you want someone to play counterpoint basso continuo you can have a guy playing what we think of as a bass in that register, or you can have a guy playing it on guitar in that register. On the other hand you can have a guy with a 12 string bass, like Jean Baudin, for example covering the range of guitar and bass on a “bass” instrument. So really whether it’s a bass or not it is whether the music calls for the function and which instrument plays it. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter who does what with what. I am primarily a bass player, by the way.

  • I love a guitar that can go as low as physically possible… why wouldn’t I? And I love metal… a ‘low-capable’ guitar is and should be the main character in the genre, in the past, now and forever. Still this article is –pardon me– pure crap.

    The “…And Justice for All” example is laughable and disproves your point completely: the only really bad thing about that album is EXACTLY that you cannot hear the bass. The enhanced bass version roaming around YouTube is (un)believably (so much) better. I play both guitar and bass guitar. Thinking that the timbre and temper of a guitar could replace (or does already, pffft) the tonal capability of a bass guitar is hilarious to say the least. Stating otherwise is an explicit declaration of “not knowing sh*t” of what you’re talking about (physics, metal, music in general… whatever).

    And, dear Sir, it also means you don’t have ears connected to your brain (and heart, so to speak).


  • Meshuggah eliminated their bassist in studio?

    wtf are you talking about

  • Wow, this article really got bass guitarists defensive! I’m one too, by the way, but also a guitarist. I don’t understand why these whining bass guitarists don’t just pick one up and judge the 8 or 9 string at it’s own merit. Or are you scared that you might not be able to do something new and creative with it? Rules in music are to be broken, instruments to be experimented with. With that conservative mentality we would still be playing the double bass and the saxophone banned. Of course it’s an apples to oranges comparison, that’s the point! Ever heard of the fantastic rock duo Royal Blood? Their music rocks, there are no guitars, just drums and a single bass with a ton of octave ups, downs and fuzz. Their music is awesome. Now start bitching that his bass shouldn’t sound so high, because it doesn’t sound as good as a guitar. Shall I let you in on a secret? Whispering …….. It’s not the instrument it’s what you do with it! Now shut up and play great music however you want and prefer!

  • Chris Alfano, no need for a bassist? What planet are you from? Try and tell that to the face of some of the greats like Stanley Clarke, Flea, Marcus Miller, John Patitucci, etc… Sting might actually smack you right in the head for this line!

    A wise man once said: “You think that playing bass is easy? You just don’t play it right!!!”

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