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Sam Bell - Extended Range Secrets Part 2: Seven String Guitar Approaches

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 70 **

For those of you who have been following Guitar Interactive Magazine for a while, you may remember I did a series on Extended Range Guitar playing for a good 15 issues! Its my pleasure to once again present another instalment of extended range goodness for your ERG senses. This column is in association with Cort Guitars, the model in particular I’m using for this Column is the KX500MS, a highly affordable and quality multi scale 7 string instrument. There is a full review of this particular guitar available here at Guitar Interactive Magazine.

Sam Bell continues our series of lessons, stepping into the world of extended range guitars. Brought you by Cort Guitars.

Seven String Approach: If you don’t own a 7 string, no problem! I hope this column inspires you to perhaps check one out, or at the very least understand just a few ways that a 7 string can be utilised. If you do already own a 7 or an 8 string then this column is me sharing my own approach to riff writing on an extended range guitar. As always, please refer to the TAB and of course the most important aspect of this column, the video explanation and performance! I wrote this example to demonstrate several concepts, using the 7 string’s range both horizontally and vertically in standard tuning (7 String, Low B, E, A, D, G, B and E) and to also demonstrate using chord progressions as the underlying formula for writing riffs in a progressive metal context. First of all the basic outline of the chord progression for this example is as follows: Bm7, GMaj7, F#m7, Em7. Bm7, GMaj7, Em7, CMaj7. Bm7, GMaj7, F#m7, Em7. Bm7, Gmaj7, Em7, CMaj7, FMaj7

These chords underly each part of the riff. Rather than focusing in the lower register of the 7 string for the extra low notes, I am using some notes higher up on the Low B string in order to have access to some extra upper range within a fretting hand position, this makes it easier to find more harmonic options for Progressive Riff writing.

Bars 1-2 (5-6, 9-10, 13-14) These bars follow the first part of the chord sequence, outlining first of a Bm7 Arpeggio (1,b3,5,b7 – B, D, F#, A) using the open low B string to start the riff off. Then I set about outlining the root, octave and 7th of each chord following (GMaj7, F#m7) I wouldn’t be able to comfortably play these particular arpeggios if I started for example on the 3rd fret E string, so here I am using the positional advantages the 7 string can give us. This also makes the riff easier to visualise!

Bars 4-5 (11-12) Here the chord progression moves to an Em7 arpeggio, here I am using a 2-1-2 arpeggio (2 notes on a string, followed by 1 etc) which moves through two octaves before ascending a GMaj7 arpeggio, I am still thinking of Em however, the GMaj7 is a super imposition over Em to give us Em9. Watch out for the use of Legato and Slides for the position shifts.

Bars 7-8 Here we ascend the notes from a Csus2 arpeggio (C,D,G – 1,2,5) using the full range of all 7 strings. This run goes up using 5th style shapes. The intervals of the run look like this over 3 octaves, 1,5, 1,5,1,5, 5, 9. Then to round up bar 8, we have a quick ascending 16th note phrase outlining a CMaj7 arpeggio over two octaves.

Bars 15 -16 In the final bars of the example I’m playing a more riff/chordal style approach to CMaj7 and Fmaj7. Playing the root note on the low B string and using a Power Chord 5ths shape to grab the 3rd and Maj7th above each root note. This enables us to get some clarity between these nice interval clusters and also gives us some cool rhythmic/dynamic opportunities.

So there it is! I’d like to thank Guitar Interactive Magazine and Cort Guitars for making this column possible. I hope it inspires you to find some of your own unique ideas, even if you don’t own a 7 string! If you’re interested in learning more about 7 string guitars and writing prog metal. I have a lesson course available over at LickLibrary called ‘Seven String Secrets’. In the course I break down in more detail my approach to 7 string fretboard visualisation of scales/arpeggios, I showcase 3 of my own compositions (Solo and Mask of Judas) with backing tracks and full breakdown of approach to writing/ playing the examples and of course approach to Tone and Slap guitar.


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