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Seven-String Quickies

by Alan de Mause

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Seven-String Quickies

Is 7-string guitar really such a big deal? It's just a guitar with an extra string that happens to be lower than the rest, isn't it? Yes, and yes. And more. Using a 7-string guitar gives you not just an extra low string, it also gives you the ability to play a low pitch and relatively high pitch also.

Figure 1


Managing 7-string ledger lines

To avoid having to read notes so low that I trip over them, I instead use this system: Any note below the E below middle C will be written an octave higher than it sounds, with a circled 7 ( 7 ) indicating that the-

Figure 2

Figure 3


Using tenths as 7-string core

Mmm, yummy tenths

There is something especially satisfying in the sound of major and minor tenth intervals; likewise major and minor thirds. Since the days of stride, pianists have used tenths with their left hand as harmonic support. Since you will want to back singers and instrumentalists, you will want to master tenths. it takes some work, but I assure you that it is worth it.

Figure 4


Parallel Scales

Tenths in scales can be played across the neck, up the neck, or with mixed movements. The example below shows open strings across the neck. Because of the very nature of fingerstyle seven string, you will have more fingering possibilities that a pick player.

Figure 5


One set of strings only

Staying on one set of strings allows you to use repeating pairs of fingers. This example uses fingering in one direction in order to move quickly up the neck on one set of strings.

Figure 6


Tenth variations

Staggering tenths harkens to the days of boogie-woogie piano. Note the chromatic half-step movement.

Figure 7


Ain't Miss Bee Haven

Here is a variation on the above tenth pattern using part of a familiar chord progression. The title might help.

Figure 8


Parallel tenths with some chromatic movement

Watch the fingering. Have I mentioned that before?

Figure 9


10ths with triplets

It is common to have slower moving tenths at the bottom with a faster moving melody on top-tripelts in this case. Here are three similar patterns using the cycle of fifths. The first note of each triplet along with the quarter note in the bass form tenths. Don't get confused about the tenth double octaves.

Figure 10
Figure 11




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