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Julian J. Ludwig

The Seven-string guitar

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A seven-string guitar is a guitar with seven strings instead of the usual six. Such guitars are not as common as the six string variety but a minority of guitarists have utilised them for at least 150 years. Some types of these instruments are specific to certain cultures (i.e. the Russian and Brazilian guitars).

There are eight-string and ten string guitars in use as well, but these are even less common.

violao_sete1_especial_pinho.JPG

The Brazilian 7-string guitar is an acoustic guitar used primarily in choro and samba. It was introduced to Brazil in the early 20th century as a steel string guitar. The style of "baixaria" counterpoint and accompaniment technique was developed throughout the 20th century, especially by Dino 7 Cordas and Raphael Rabello. In the early 1980s, guitarist Luiz Otavio Braga had a nylon string version made, and this has become the norm for most contemporary choro musicians. The Brazilian 7-string guitar is typically tuned like a classical guitar, but with an additional C below the low E as follows: C-E-A-D-G-b-e; although some musicians tune the C down to a B resulting in B-E-A-D-G-b-e.

Lamentos do Morro - Raphael Rabello

Yamandu Costa - Disparada

1 x 0 (Pixinguinha / B. Lacerda)

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From what I hear and see, most contemporary Brazilian 7-stringers tune mostly to low B. Yamandu sometimes uses low C, and occasionally low A.

As a jazz 7-stringer, I use low A most of the time, low B for some Brazilian arrangements, low C for classical and Baroque when useful.

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Hi RonJazz, welcome to the forum. Would you please elaborate a little more on how you use the 7-string guitar on Jazz?

Regarding the tuning, there's a distinction between the traditional school (Dino 7 Cordas, steel strings), where most musicians almost invariably tune the 7th to low C and the new generation (Rabello, nylon strings), where they pretty much tune it very much the way you described.

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Hi RonJazz, welcome to the forum. Would you please elaborate a little more on how you use the 7-string guitar on Jazz?

Regarding the tuning, there's a distinction between the traditional school (Dino 7 Cordas, steel strings), where most musicians almost invariably tune the 7th to low C and the new generation (Rabello, nylon strings), where they pretty much tune it very much the way you described.

For jazz, the 7th string tuned to an "A" provides another 5th of "real bass" range, so I either do walking basslines and chords for accompaniment, or I can alternate root and 5th for latin styles, or, like the Brazilians, I can create a counterpoint in the bass. A real advantage of the 7th string in jazz is that the keys of Db, D and Eb now have a good, fat bass root. the 7th string is especially valuable for gigs where I am accompanied by a percussionist or a horn player, where i can get a good, full sound, or even for my solo gigs where i might want to sing some bossas. I play both electric archtop 7 and nylon 7.

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