To find the supreme axe for the 7-string lovers, in other words the best 7 string guitar on the market, we tested six of the finest guitars out there and found that the Ibanez Prestige RGDR4427FX is the best overall 7-string available today.
With so many great guitars available out there, it’s difficult to make heads or tails of the best options. So, we’ve given these guitars a proper bench test to help you decide on the perfect axe for you.
Each guitar represents an excellent choice, and depending on the music you play and your personal preferences, you may find that one is a better fit than the others. The Ibanez Prestige that wins our top honors offers the ideal blend of premium build quality, top-of-the-line electronics and hardware, and aggressive tone that’s perfect for today’s modern sound.
Read on as we cover each of these guitars in detail and share some important advice for how you can select the best 7-string guitar for the way you play.
Top Six 7-Strings: Our Reviews
- Body: Swamp ash body with poplar burl top
- Neck: 5-piece maple and walnut
- Fingerboard: Ebony
- Neck Profile: Thin-C
- Frets: 24 narrow XJ
- Pickups: Diamond Decimator humbuckers
- Bridge: Hipshot string-thru hardtail
A truly gorgeous axe that’s perfect for anyone who wants custom shop looks without the custom shop price tag. The Reaper-7 is packed with luxury appointments that you rarely see on a sub-$1,000 seven-string.
This guitar features a swamp ash body with an elegantly figured poplar burl top. A 5-piece maple and walnut neck ensures rock-solid stability, while the ultra-thin C-shape provides guitarists with the perfect neck shape for shredding.
The Ultra Access neck joint is virtually non-existent, allowing guitarists to enter the guitar’s upper register without a bulky neck joint getting in the way. An ebony fingerboard with reverse offset fret markers completes this beautifully appointed 7-string.
One of the most eye-catching features of the Reaper-7 is its multi-scale design. The frets are offset throughout the scale length, which improves how well the guitar plays in tune throughout the entire instrument. If you’ve never played a multi-scale guitar before, this feature alone will make you a believer in the Reaper-7.
The Reaper-7 is outfitted with Schecter’s Diamond Decimator blade-style humbuckers and a 3-way selector switch with coil-tapping. You can coax a broad range of tones from this guitar, thanks to the coil-tapping. But the pickups do hold this axe back a bit; they aren’t anything worth writing home about.
- Showstopping looks
- Multi-scale design provides precise intonation across the full scale of the instrument
- Premium hardware and construction
- Mediocre pickups
- Body: Mahogany
- Neck: Mahogany
- Fingerboard: Roasted jatoba
- Neck Profile: Thin-U
- Frets: 22 XJ
- Pickups: ESP designed humbuckers
- Bridge: Tune-o-Matic
This Les Paul-style single cutaway is perfect for guitarists who want classic style in an extended range guitar. The EC-257 offers plenty of performance and luxury features, and it boasts the craftsmanship and playability that ESP is known for at a budget-friendly price.
The EC-257 features a mahogany body and neck with set-neck construction, so you’ll enjoy unbeatable resonance and sustain from this guitar. A jatoba fingerboard outfitted with abalone flag inlays and 5-ply binding on the body and headstock further complement this beautiful instrument.
The classic controls are a nod to the Les Paul, with independent volume controls for each pickup, tone control, and a 3-way pickup selector on the upper bout. Jet black tuners and a tune-o-Matic-style bridge complete this distinguished 7-string.
Like most of the budget-friendly 7-strings on the market, the pickups in the EC-257 leave a lot to be desired. These pickups offer the high-output most guitarists look for in a pickup for a 7-string, but they’re a bit muddy and lack the definition necessary to bring this guitar to life. But, if you drop an excellent set of pickups into the EC-257, this guitar can sound every bit as good as an axe from ESP’s custom shop.
- Mahogany body and neck provide warmth for days
- Classic tune-o-Matic bridge is familiar and provides excellent stability
- Set neck construction delivers endless sustain
- Mediocre pickups
- Single cutaway restricts access to the upper register
- Body: Ash with Richlite top
- Neck: 5-piece Maple and Wenge
- Fingerboard: Macassar ebony
- Neck Profile: Wizard-7
- Frets: 24 Jumbo
- Pickups: Dimarzio Fusion Edge 7
- Bridge: Ibanez Monorail
Ibanez has been at the forefront of 7-string guitars for decades, and their Prestige line represents the highest in quality and craftsmanship. Whether you’re looking for a punishing metal performer, or you’re looking to explore new sonic territory for lead or solo playing, this RG is well worth a closer look.
This RG features an innovative body made from ash and Richlite, which delivers a striking look that’s unlike any other 7-string on the market. The contoured ash body is carved to accentuate the aggressive lines of the guitar, while the Richlite top lends an almost stone-like appearance to this axe.
The neck is a 5-piece maple and wenge masterpiece with the Wizard neck profile, which is exceptionally thin and playable. An exotic Madagascar ebony fretboard lends even more elegance to this gorgeous guitar.
The premium appointments on this guitar include Gotoh tuners, an Ibanez monorail bridge, where each saddle is individually mounted for improved resonance, and Dimarzio pickups. Ibanez went with the Dimarzio Fusion Edge pickups, which deliver the incredible clarity and precision that your music deserves.
- Legendary Wizard neck profile
- Excellent Dimarzio pickups deliver character, clarity, and definition
- Unique looks and body construction
- Oddly located pickup selector switch (you’ll either love it or hate it)
- Body: 3-piece maple and mahogany
- Neck: 5-piece maple and walnut
- Fingerboard: Ebony
- Neck Profile: Soft-D
- Frets: 24 Jumbo
- Pickups: Caparison PH7
- Bridge: Floyd Rose FRTS-200K double-locking tremolo
This little-known brand produces some of the world’s best 7-string guitars, and they’re favored by some of metal’s biggest players. The Dellinger 7 is their flagship axe, and it delivers in every sense of the word.
This guitar features a three-piece maple and mahogany body that offers the brightness and response of maple and the warmth and sustain of mahogany in one package. The five-piece maple and walnut neck is rock solid and features a soft D-profile that feels like an extension of your hand when you grip it.
The Dellinger 7 offers a compound-radius ebony fretboard that’s just begging you to shred it. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a guitar that feels better or is more playable than this gorgeous axe from Caparison.
Premium appointments include Gotoh tuners, a genuine Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo, and Caparison PH7 humbuckers with 5-way switching. Most guitar manufacturers who try to bring pickup production in-house fall way short of the benchmark; that isn’t the case with Caparison. These pickups are warm, responsive, and punchy. Perfect for today’s metal.
- Premium components – Floyd Rose bridge, Gotoh locking tuners
- 3-piece body provides the warmth of a Les Paul with the playability of a Strat
- Stock pickups sound awesome
- Heavy as a brick
- Body: Poplar with quilted maple top
- Neck: Maple
- Fingerboard: Amaranth
- Neck Profile: Jackson Speed Neck
- Frets: 24 Jumbo
- Pickups: Jackson-designed humbuckers
- Bridge: Jackson string-thru hardtail
Shredders on a budget are used to being iced-out of the premium instrument market, but that’s changing thanks to excellent and affordable guitars like the Jackson Dinky JS22Q-7. This guitar offers premium features and a stage-ready look that will have you doing a double-take at the paltry price tag.
This guitar features a poplar body with a beautiful quilted maple top and a maple neck reinforced with graphite. Considering Jackson’s propensity for razor-thin neck profiles, that graphite reinforcement probably goes a long way. A maple neck with an amaranth fretboard cap off the build on this gorgeous 7-string.
This Dinky features Jackson humbuckers which deliver convincing metal tones, even if they’re a bit muddy and poorly defined. A hardtail string-thru bridge helps provide additional sustain and resonance, which helps to make this affordable Jackson one of the best values in the business.
- Premium look at a budget price
- String-thru hardtail bridge provides stability and improved tonal character
- Super thin neck shape is off-putting for some players
- Cheap nut is prone to buzzing
- Body: Meranti with flamed maple top
- Neck: 3-piece maple
- Fingerboard: Jatoba
- Neck Profile: Wizard II-7
- Frets: 24 Jumbo
- Pickups: Ibanez Quantum humbuckers
- Bridge: Ibanez Edge Zero II-7 locking tremolo
For guitarists ready to take a step up from their entry-level axe, this Ibanez RGA offers the perfect blend of performance and custom shop looks to deliver what is arguably the most compelling 7-string under $1000.
The RGA7420FM offers an innovative meranti body that provides fantastic resonance and a beautifully figured flame maple top with white binding. A 3-piece maple neck and jatoba fingerboard round out the build specs of this awesome axe.
This guitar provides Ibanez’s familiar Wizard II-7 neck shape, which metal guitarists across four decades have favored. An Edge Zero II-7 tremolo system helps keep your tuning rock-solid as you divebomb to your heart’s content.
Ibanez’s Achilles heel has always been their pickups, and that holds true for the RGA7420FM, too. The Quantum pickups Ibanez uses for this guitar are an improvement over some of their past works, but they still leave players wanting more punch and definition. Swapping out the pickups immediately elevates this guitar towards the level of Ibanez’s Prestige line of guitars.
- Showstopping looks
- Comfortable and modern Wizard II-7 neck profile
- The Edge Zero II-7 trem might be Ibanez’s best locking bridge since the original Edge
- Famously average stock pickups
7-String Guitar Buying Guide
Before you head to your favorite music store and purchase the first 7-string you pull off the shelf, there are plenty of considerations to make to ensure you’re choosing the best guitar based on the way you play. Here’s what you’ll want to look for.
What a guitar is made out of has a profound effect on how it’s going to sound. While today’s high-gain amplifiers and modeling software can make a tin can sound like an expensive guitar, there’s still no substitute for quality, and it’s something you’ll be able to hear.
While there are no hard and fast rules about construction materials to look for or avoid, you’ll want to look for guitars made from tried-and-true tonewoods like maple, mahogany, or ash. There are plenty of excellent exotic woods being used by manufacturers these days that are equally as musical as the classics, but you’ll want to play one first to see how it feels to you.
As for the neck, look for models that offer a five-piece neck construction with reinforcements of walnut, wenge, or graphite. A 7-string puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the guitar’s neck, so rock-solid construction in this area is critical if you need a guitar that’s going to play well for the long haul.
The electronic components are perhaps the most important thing to look for when shopping for an instrument. Pickups are expensive, and one of the easiest ways for a manufacturer to lower the price of their instruments is by cheaping out in this department.
The trouble with virtually all of the budget-minded 7-string on the market is that they’re plagued by poor quality pickups that are muddy and lack definition and quality. It’s easy to swap out stock pickups, but a quality set can run you north of $300. If possible, look for a guitar that includes excellent pickups from the factory so you can sound your best without worrying about replacing them.
Hardware is another critical component of a quality instrument, and it’s another area that manufacturers can cut corners on to reduce the price of their instruments. Some manufacturers use name-brand hardware, while others have private-label hardware produced for them, sometimes in the same factory that the name-brand stuff is manufactured.
If you see the hardware is from Gotoh, Hipshot, Floyd Rose, Grover, or Schaller, that’s an indication that you’re getting quality components that will stand up to a lifetime of playing. Generic hardware can be equally as good, but it’s something you’ll want to try before you buy.
Ensure that the bridge feels solid and has no buzzing and that the tuners feel smooth and precise without any skipped gears.
Look and Feel
How well a guitar plays and sounds should always be the true determiner of a quality instrument. But that doesn’t mean you don’t want your axe to look and feel as good as it sounds. If you’re looking for something a bit more flashy than a solid finish, you’ll find no shortage of guitars with gorgeous figured tops or aggressive body lines.
Flame or quilted maple are perennial favorites, with exotic burled materials becoming increasingly popular as guitarists look for new ways to stand out from the pack. Choose an instrument that you or your audience are going to love looking at.
You also want to ensure that the guitar you select feels like an extension of yourself when you’re playing it. It seems like every 7-string today has a beautifully sculpted body that’s designed as much for ergonomics as it is for looks. Be sure to play each guitar you’re considering while sitting or standing so you can be sure that it feels great no matter how you play.
A critical yet oft-overlooked part of the buying process is the scale length of a guitar. The scale length refers to the distance between the bridge saddles and the nut on the guitar’s neck.
If you plan on keeping your guitar in standard tuning, you can go for whatever feels most comfortable for you. But, if you play in dropped tunings, you’ll want to pay close attention to the scale length of the guitar, especially if you’re planning on dropping your tuning by a step or more.
A longer scale length creates more tension on each string, which translates to a tighter and more focused sound from the instrument. If you use drop tunings, you’ll be able to hear a substantial difference between a guitar with a shorter scale length compared to a longer one.
You’ll come across guitars with fanned frets, which are often called multi-scale guitars. These guitars have angled frets that alter the scale length of the guitar. While a longer scale length is usually preferred when playing a 7 or 8-string guitar, an extended scale can make playing on the upper strings a bit more uncomfortable.
A multi-scale guitar reduces the scale length on the treble strings, while increasing it on the bass strings. This feature provides the best of both worlds, offering players with the extra tension they need on the low strings without affecting the playability of the treble strings.
As we mentioned early, the Ibanez Prestige RGDR4427FX wins top honors as the best 7 string guitar. This axe offers premium components like Dimarzio pickups, a hardtail monorail bridge, and breathtaking looks that are sure to set the stage on fire.
If you’re looking for something a bit more budget-friendly, check out the Ibanez RGA7420FM.