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.