My first ERG guitar... buy the right one !

Discussion in 'Extended Range Guitars' started by grigou, Oct 16, 2017.

  1. grigou

    grigou SS.org Regular

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    Hello fellows !

    I'm really glad to create my first topic and be part of the family after months reading this forum.
    It's really a gold mine of information for ERG guitars !

    To introduce myself, I'm a french guitarist, composer and teacher in a music conservatory in France.

    I love drone music, shoegaze and metal band like my TOP 3 : Gojira, Meshuggah and Animals As Leaders.

    My current gear is :
    - G&L S-500 guitar with very low action
    - Fender YJM NPS 008-046 String Set (008 - 011 - 014 - 022 - 032 - 046)
    - 2 Vovox jack
    - Axe-FX XL+
    - MFC-101 foot controller

    In past years, I was using a Hiwatt Custom 20 (and Vox AC15) and few effects pedals : reverb EarthQuaker Ghost Echo, overdrive Fulltone OCD and distorsion MXR Fullbore Metal.

    I'm a solo artist and I don't like to play in a band, so I already know that I will never join or create a band in my life. I play in concert with electronics sounds diffusion and interactive video projections.

    Now, I want to buy an additionnal guitar to complete my G&L that I love !
    I'm looking for a ERG because I have new composition ideas that requires that extra range, and I want also to explore new possibilities of chording and arpeggios. I always play 6 strings guitars, but I have big hands so it's not a big deal.

    I play most of the times with a clean sound because I play mainly with tapping and percussion, but I will also use this guitar with distorsion. To give you an idea of what I want to do : Tosin Abasi is my biggest influence.

    And now, it's the time I need you (sorry for the big introduction...) !

    I've already some precise ideas of what I want. My perfect guitar will be :
    - 8, 9 or 10 strings with extra low strings only (no high A)
    - fanned fret for intonation
    - lowest action and string tension possible
    - 27 frets
    - vibrato
    - killswitch

    First of all, I hesitate between a 8, 9 or 10 strings guitar. For now, a 9 strings seems to be the best choice for me. I'm pretty sure that I will be quickly unsatisfied with a 8 strings, because I know myself... I'll NEED those extra low notes that a 9 strings can do. :D

    So why not a 10 strings ? Because I have doubts on the lowest string clarity. I want to play very low notes but I also want them to be precise and clear. But I'm not an expert at all in ERG guitars, so maybe there some 10 strings guitars with good precision in the very low range.

    For now, I searched in the most common brands (I'm considering the luthier option too). I saw the Schecter Hellraiser C-9 and the Ibanez RG9 but both don't have fanned fret. I saw Agile guitars, but since I live in France, it will be costly because of import taxes...

    I saw also Legator, but I don't know this brand. Ran don't make guitar with more than 8 strings (and I don't really know them as well).

    I running out of ideas... since I don't know a lot of brand that produces ERG guitars.

    For you, with brand is the best for guitar like the one I want ?

    Big thanks for reading that big first post and for helping !
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2017
  2. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire gearwhoricus americanus

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    If you're going fanned fret then I'd stay away from anything with a kahler tremolo (ie most of the high end agile ff guitars). Barring that, finding a guitar with 27 frets really limits your options in terms of production line ERG guitars (the caparison brocken 8 is the only one I know of).
    If you're fine with going custom then Ran, skervesen, Mayones, Blackat could all easily make a fanned fret 8 string for you, though you'd have to ditch the vibrato since most don't offer vibratos on fanned fret guitars.
    If you're looking at a fanned fret 9 string then your options are more limited. Waghorn, XEN, and Skervesen are the only reputable custom shops that I know of that will make a fanned fret 9 string (there's likely others but those are consistently highly rated). Stay away from legator, they tend to have really bad quality control.
     
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  3. grigou

    grigou SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for your advices KnightBrolaire !

    27 frets is hard to find, yes. But the guitar I describe is the perfect one like in my dreams :)
    So, I think the only solution to have it is custom.

    Why the kahler tremolo is bad with fanned frets ? Which kind of vibrato can be used with fanned frets ?

    I checked Waghorn, Xen and Skervesen. I forgot about Xen, but I've already go to their website years ago ! There's nowhere on their site a form for custom shop so I don't know their custom options.
    Skervesen provides wonderful design ! I love the chimera style. Unfortunately, their custom shop (as Waghorn's one) don't provide any choice for number of frets.
     
  4. Narvic57

    Narvic57 SS.org Regular

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    Skervesen might be willing to do a 9-strings 27 frets but that will cost you a lot since it is way out of their standard custom option.
    I know Ormsby have 27 frets on their SX model, but they don't offer 9 string thought, maybe through the custom shop. But again, it custom, so I hope you have spare kidneys :)
     
  5. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire gearwhoricus americanus

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    The multiscale kahler trems are notoriously bad at staying in tune and a lot of people hate them. Not only that but they apparently don't have the best range for dive bombing or pullups on the trem bar. They're really the only option on the market for a fanned fret trem other than Technology for Musician's trem system which is meant for a headless guitar. T4M makes super high quality bridges though I've never used the trem version. I'd say shoot an email to Waghorn, they're very flexible with specs and could do 27 frets no problem.
     
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  6. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    ormsby will probably build one through the custom shop...other then that 27 frets is gonna be hard.
     
  7. PBC

    PBC Composition Ontology

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    To give another perspective on this, I enjoy my multi-scale Kahler trem, though in general I prefer the feel of Kahler's over Floyds. They are okay staying in tune as long as: the guitar's nut is set up and lubricated properly, locking tuners, none of your wound strings have a tension below 10lbs, and you pull back enough on the trem so it gets back into place (unlike a Floyd where you more or less can let go). It does however have limited range, about +/- 1.5-2 semitones up and down depending on the string. I'll have to check the range of my Floyd and Straight Scale Kahler when I get home and update this post. With cautious behest, since I lack the experience, I would recommend the Schecter C-8 FR; their 8 string floyd rose model. It has a 28" scale which is enough to get good intonation and tone, unless you're going super low. The biggest issue is that for 9 and 10 string guitars Kahler are the only trem on the market at this point, so you don't have much choice once you get into that range and furthermore you should probably have longer scale lengths to accommodate C#1 or even G#0. However, this puts strain on the higher plain strings. A trem on a guitar tuned to standard on the top 6 strings will most likely break the high E4 on a 30" pretty regularly, a non O4P string at this scale will break just at or before G4, causing endless frustration. Then the next logical step is to fan the guitar; Kahler's have a maximum fan of 3" at the bridge, and then you find yourself coming back full circle. The schecter is probably the best compromise on all these issues. One other benefit of the Kahler is that with a simple screw on the bridge, it can be locked so that quick tuning changes are possible, other you have to do the standard Floyd blocking with a tremolo-no, battery, pennies, what-have-you.

    Fanned fret for intonation is more to do with the lowest strings rather than the highest and influences tension (plain string timbre) and "better leads" (whatever that means). So a Schecter DP 9, 30", will most likely have better intonation than a 30-27 fanned fret (disregarding build quality, frets, and bridge/hardware). Although you stated you know yourself and want to go 9 string, I've increasing found over the years that knowledge is not equivalent to experience, and most of the time my hypothesis is proven false and I learn. Since the schecter is less than 1000 Euros (in your case). It'll be a good in between getting your feet wet into ERG territory and whatever that custom is in the future. Custom guitars are earned through years of trying everything, discovering your tastes, your tuning, and improving skill. You see too many people, not just here, spending $2000+ on some elaborate custom with specs they think need (attempting to get the best in one go, that "one guitar to rule them all"), only to turn the guitar over after less than a month because of some lacked foresight and inadequate experiences of their preferences with a new type of instrument. Take the steps, you'll be glad you did in the long run.
     
  8. UnstableinLINY

    UnstableinLINY SS.org Regular

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    I had a 9 string multiscale agile with a kahler and I f-in hated it.

    Here was my issues:
    - BUZZ, the thing buzzed because of the long extended saddles. They are just not rigid enough and they vibrate against one another no matter how tight you make them. If you space them out to not touch the strings will not sit over the fretboard.
    - Multiscale kahler does not have a lock on an agile. It s a regular angled nut.
    - Trem on a low tuned 9th string was just kind of stupid. If you went with a Higher string on the 9 instead of a lower string you could possibly break the string with the trem so either way I would stick to an 8. I had the lower string (ie B0) and when you dive the trem down it just becomes a floopy mess and sticks to the pickup due to magnetic force and makes A LOT of noise.
    - Overall tone. The thing had a banjo-ish kind of tone (unplugged) and I don't know if it was just that guitar and I got an unlucky dud but there was some sympathetic resonance that was driving me crazy. Some notes just had crap sustain.

    I have a 2528 pendulum with fixed saddles and it plays great. I don't think this is an agile thing, it is just the nature of having a kahler multiscale trem. I can't talk to their regular trems as I am guessing it probably works decent if everything is setup correctly.

    You are going to have to make some kind of compromise here and you need to decide which features are more important to you. I agree with the above that if you want a trem get a schecter hellraiser C8-FR (get em now bc they are discontinued). I have that exact guitar and I like it even more then my Strandberg Boden OS8 (still love my boden though).

    I don't really understand the need for 27 frets but what the hell its an extended range thread so have at it if you can get away with it.
     
  9. Schectersilence

    Schectersilence SS.org Regular

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    One thing to note, my Waghorn 9 string has 26 frets, and is fanned. Tom will happily make you a 27 fret 9 string, it just doesn’t say so on the custom guitar builder..

    I’ll also say that Waghorn are by far the highest quality guitar I’ve ever touched. Nothing comes close so far, so I wouldn’t hesitate to ask him!

    I’m now going for an 8 string, headless, tremolo Waghorn, using T4M hardware. I was going to go down the Floyd route, but I think the 1000 series would let what would be an otherwise flawless instrument down badly.

    So yeah, Tom is quite capable of building whatever you want in my opinion..
     
  10. grigou

    grigou SS.org Regular

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    I'm back ! Thanks a lot for all the help !

    Price doesn't matter, it's not a problem for me and not a criteria.
    The only thing that bother me it's the import taxe because it's a total waste of money.
    It's good to know that even in custom shop there's another layer of custom possibilities ! :D

    Thank you for the advice !

    You're right on your advice and I agree with you. I think about that "perfect" guitar since more than 15 years (a 8 strings guitar) but I never buy one. After all these years, I see that I have always the same needs. I said that I know myself also because I am a composer. I never make covers and never play in bands. I always work on my own creations so I know very well my current and future needs.

    But as you said, I think it will be hard to have only one guitar to do everything...

    I thought about my priorities and I made this list (from the top one priority to the lowest one) :

    1 - intonation quality
    2 - low range
    3 - lowest action and string tension possible
    4 - 27 frets
    5 - vibrato
    6 - killswitch

    For the same reason I want an extended low range : for melodic purpose.
    By the way, I choose 27 frets, because I saw that it's oftenly the most common number when checking for guitars with more than 24 frets, but if I can have more like the 36 frets Sky guitar of Uli Jon Roth, I will be glad.
    Unfortunately, I think that if I ask for a 9 strings in fanned frets + 36 frets, it will be impossible to find strings sets for this beast ! What do you think about it ?

    Great ! Just to give me an idea, what is the price of your guitar ?
     
  11. Schectersilence

    Schectersilence SS.org Regular

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    I think you certainly could get a 9 string with a trem (though you’d have to go for T4M or Kahler, and I think T4M are a better make) with 36 frets. Any 9 string set would be fine (La Bella and Kalium are excellent). The intonation on the higher frets wouldn’t necessarily be great. I guess you need to decide what you actually intend to play on it. The higher frets would definitely get in the way of Tosin style thumb technique unless you have particularly small hands, for example. The second thing is what kind of vibrato you intend to do with the bar. I’d guess Dimebag squeals might be off difficult, but subtle would be fine.

    All I’d say is, don’t go for a custom guitar unless you absolutely need to. The current production 9 strings don’t have the scale length that I felt I wanted so I went for Waghorn. If you just want an 8 string trem, maybe a used Schecter C8-FR would be fine. Then again, you may want something higher quality in which case go for a trusted luthier. Or 9 strings with a trem, or whatever. But it’s worth speccing out exactly what you need. That being said, I’ve not played a guitar that matches the quality of a Waghorn, so if you can afford it, that’s a good enough reason..

    My 9 string Waghorn cost around £3K I believe in the end.

    Hope that all helps in some way!
     
  12. grigou

    grigou SS.org Regular

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    Great ! By the way, I don't know at all T4M. Why is it better than Kahler ? You also said that Waghorn are by far the highest quality guitar. On which point you think they are better than other brands ?

    For example, I checked Strandberg guitars and I really love their design. But I found the Ion body shape from Waghorn and it's quite similar to Strandberg design.

    Good to know !!! For you, which number of frets would be ok for keeping a good intonation in very high range ?

    Simple : a lot of two-handed tapping (90% of the time), a lot of arpeggios and melodic phrasing (that's why I want a very low range and high range above 24 frets), a lot of sound design with Axe-FX (another reason for the low and high ranges), mostly solo guitar work, mostly clean tone (75%) and high gain (25%), and additional techniques like slap and percussion.

    Sorry, but I don't understand what you mean... By the way, I have big hands, so I can do big stretches easily.

    I use the bar for subtle effects and melodic phrasing like Steve Vai or Jason Becker. I rarely do dive bombs or extreme detuning.

    At first, I consider the Schecter Hellraiser C9, but it's hard to find 9 strings with fanned frets and all the little specificities I want. That's why I checked for custom.

    This price is close to what I thought. I discussed with the luthier from Mermet Guitars and the price estimation he gave to me was close to that (a little highter). A concert classical guitar from a luthier cost more that 10K, so 3K is really nothing for a custom guitar like that. It's the price of a student classical guitar.

    A big thanks to all for the help ! For now, it's hard to make a final choice, but all the anwsers in this topic really help me !
    I'm reconsidering the 8 strings option and I hesitate between Waghorn and Strandberg, but Skervesen is also on my list.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2017
  13. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    This man gets it. you win the anti whiner of the year award.
     
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  14. grigou

    grigou SS.org Regular

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    haha ! Thanks diagrammatiks :D
     
  15. prlgmnr

    prlgmnr ...that kind of idea

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    Has anyone tried one of the Strandberg Original 8s yet? Just as the OP I'm trying to decide between getting one of those and going with a Waghorn.
     
  16. diagrammatiks

    diagrammatiks SS.org Regular

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    i mean the difference in price is soo much.
    I'm not really a big fan of the classic 7 and 8 just from a design perspective.
    the 8 really needs to have slanted pickups and the 7 has a wonky scale length.
     
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  17. grigou

    grigou SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys !

    My ideas become more clear day after day !
    I'm in touch with a luthier near my town (1 hour !), so I think he could make the instrument.

    I thought A LOT about the number of strings and I saw a huge amount of 8, 9 and 10 strings demo / reviews.
    By the way, I found that guitar and I love it : http://www.negriniguitars.com/shen.html

    I now there is compromises to do when searching for an extreme instrument. So for now, here is my new guitar expectations :
    - headless
    - no vibrato
    - multiscale (26,5 - 28 or 29)
    - 8 strings
    - tuning E B E A D G B E
    - 36 frets
    - fretless (above 27 frets)
    - 1 or 2 split humbuckers
    - rosewood fingerboard
    - volume knob
    - tone knob
    - killswitch
    - luminlays

    Not definitive yet ! But what do you think about it guys ?

    Why those change ?
    I'm afraid to lose too much intonation quality with a vibrato, and if there's so much 8, 9 and 10 strings without vibrato it's for a reason, right ? I'm sad for the vibrato, but intonation is the most important criteria for me, so...

    Why 8 strings ?
    After listening a lot of 9 and 10 strings demo/review, I found most of the time that those very low notes lack a lot of definition and clarity. Some notes with 10 strings are barely audible. I know that YouTube videos are not the best way to judge, but I have no way to play myself on ERG guitars where I live.

    The only other things I see for 9 or 10 strings is to use a weird tuning with the 9 and 10 couplet of strings tuned close to another couple of strings. A condensed tuning, for example : E1 F#1 B1 C1 E A D G B E. Or maybe doing the opposite for the highest strings : E B E A D G B C E F
    In my composition, I used a lot of chords with stack of major and minor seconds, so this kind of tuning can be really useful for me.

    Why 36 frets with fretless above 27 frets ?
    For this, I think about the only 3 solutions I found.
    1 : semitones spacing with diapason size enough long so that the fret size wouldn't be too small
    2 : whole tone spacing above 27 frets or more so that the fret size will be bigger (but I don't like this option because I lose semitones possibilities)
    3 : fretless above 27 frets so that fret size problem is solved without losing semitones possibilities

    With 8 strings tuned to E B E A D G B E and 36 frets, it give me one more octave in low range and one more octave in high range.

    For pickups, most of 36 frets guitars have only one pickup, but on some (like Uli Jon Roth Sky Guitars) there is 2 pickups and even neck pickup put under the fingerboard.

    I have not yet decided the guitar woods (except fingerboard) and the pickups brand.

    I want a guitar with mostly warm and rich tone, but also with some brillance. I don't like when the sound is too crispy so I choose rosewood fingerboard like on all my guitars. With my G&L, I use 90% of the time a bridge+middle position and a neck+middle position for the 10% left, so if I can't have 2 pickups, I think I will use the tone knob to soften the sound. Not the same as a neck pickup, but it's ok. Anyway, on a 36 frets guitar, I think that 2 pickups will be more like bridge and middle than bridge and neck.

    I want to have the power when doing some meshuggah stuff with hi gain, but also a good clarity for warm clean tone. Any advice for the pickup choice ?
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  18. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire gearwhoricus americanus

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    36 frets is going to be very veryyyy crowded, especially if you want the neck pickup in the typical location for guitars (ie very close to edge of fretboard). I guess you could mitigate that by putting the neck pickup in the middle position and then having more room for more frets.
    There's a lot of pickups that can nail meshuggah but the best is probably the lundgren M8 (which is what they use in meshuggah). 2nd and way more affordable option would be an agile cepheus pickup. otherwise I'd say talk to adam at elysian pickups, his modern wind is pretty tight on the low end and has really great clarity overall, plus he can tweak his pickups based on what qualities you're looking for.
     
  19. grigou

    grigou SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the help.
    Yep, with a 36 frets, the upper frets will be small, that's why I thought about a fretless fingerboard above 27 frets. Maybe tough to play accurate pitches, but there's no more problems with the small frets size.
    What do you thing about that idea ?
    My luthier told me that I could only have one pickup with 36 frets.
     
  20. grigou

    grigou SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys,

    Me again with another thought.
    36 frets with one pickup ? Or 27 with two pickups ?
    Hard to decide and again : compromise, compromise, compromise... :)

    - headless
    - multiscale (26,5 - 28 or 29)
    - 8 strings : E B E A D G B E
    - 27 frets (29 if possible)
    - 2 split humbuckers
    - rosewood fingerboard
    - 1 volume knob
    - 2 tone knobs (lowpass and highpass)
    - killswitch
    - luminlays

    Also, in concert I always need to trigger events (sounds and videos).
    I use a MIDI pedal to do that, but it's tricky.
    I must oftenly change guitar sound and trigger videos + sounds at the same time.
    So I thought about adding MIDI controller on the guitar to trigger events.
    Just one button to trigger events and on/off button to launch/stop event.

    I use Ableton Live and Max/MSP, so I wonder if it's possible to have some MIDI button on my guitar and map them to Ableton Live functions ? And how to send MIDI value to my computer from the guitar ?
     

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