Tuning a 7 string guitar is easy if you already know how to tune a 6 string guitar.
There are many different tunings you can use for your 7 string guitar. This guide will go through the most popular 7 string guitar tunings as well as songs to check out in those tunings.
After you read this guide, check out these useful resources for 7 string guitars:
- 6 String vs 7 String Guitars Compared
- 7 String Guitar Exercises
- Best 7 String Guitars
- 7 String Guitar Songs Worth Learning (With TAB)
Check out this guide on guitar tuners if you don’t already have a good quality tuner to use with your 7 string guitar.
How to Tune a 7 String Guitar
The standard way to tune a 7 string guitar is to tune it to B Standard. The strings are tuned from lowest to highest: B E A D G B E. This tuning takes the standard 6 string guitar tuning and adds a low B string.
Tune the lowest string to B, then tune the rest of the strings like a 6 string guitar: E A D G B E.
Here is a diagram of how to tune a 7 string guitar in standard tuning:
This is the most common tuning for 7 string guitars and it is used by a lot of guitarists. If you are just getting started learning to play a 7 string guitar, it’s a good idea to start with this tuning.
If you are learning how to play a 7 string guitar, there is a very good reason why you should try B Standard Tuning.
B Standard tuning allows you to play a lot of 7 string songs, but it also allows you to play any 6-string song tuned in standard.
This means you can learn standard guitar chords, scales, guitar riffs, or songs that are normally played on a 6 string guitar. A 7 string guitar tuned to B Standard gives you a lot of flexibility – it’s like two instruments in one.
If you know how to play any songs or chords on a 6 string guitar, try to play them on a 7 string guitar tuned to B Standard. Once you get used to seeing the extra string on the fretboard, you’ll see how useful this tuning is.
Here’s how a 7 string guitar’s tuning compares to a 6 string guitar in Standard Tuning:
You can see in the above diagram how easy it is to remember how to tune a 7 string guitar. Just tune the thickest string to B, then tune the other 6 strings the same as a 6 string guitar.
Learn more on how a 7 string guitar compares with a 6 string guitar in this guide.
B Standard Tuning Fretboard Diagram
Here is a fretboard diagram showing a 7 string guitar in standard tuning:
The low B string has been highlighted in blue to show how the standard tuning for a 7 string guitar compares to a 6 string.
If you have already memorized the notes on the fretboard with a 6 string guitar, then learning the notes on a 7 string guitar in standard tuning is simple.
All you need to do is get used to having the low B string and the other 6 strings are exactly the same as a 6 string guitar in standard tuning.
Songs in B Standard Tuning
As you might expect, there are a lot of 7 String songs in B Standard tuning. It’s a great tuning to learn if you’re starting to learn how to play a 7 string guitar and plenty of guitarists stick to this tuning.
Here are some 7 String guitar songs in B Standard tuning:
- The Dark Eternal Night by Dream Theater
- Weeping China Doll by Steve Vai
- Demanufacture by Fear Factory
- Seven String by Joe Satriani
- Temple of Circadia by John Petrucci
- Shogun by Trivium
The artists mentioned above commonly use B Standard when playing 7 string songs. So if you like any of the above songs, check out other 7 string songs from each artist for more examples in B Standard Tuning.
Check out this lesson on 7 String Guitar Songs for some more examples in B Standard including TAB.
Alternate 7 String Guitar Tunings
There are many different ways you can tune your 7 string guitar just like you can tune a 6 string to many alternate tunings.
Here are the most common tunings used on 7 string guitars:
- B Standard: B E A D G B E
- Bb Standard (Half-Step Down): Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb
- Drop A: A E A D G B E
- A Standard: A D G C F A D
- Drop G: G D G C F A D
- G Standard: G C F A# D# G C
There are many more tunings possible and you can even make your own tunings up based on popular 6 string open tunings. But let’s focus this guide on the most common 7 string tunings you are likely to see.
Let’s go through the above tunings so you can figure out whether you want to use any of them.
Bb Standard Tuning 7 String (Half-Step Down)
With 6 string guitars, it is very common to tune all six strings down a half step (learn about Eb Tuning here). You can do something similar with 7 string guitar by starting with B Standard Tuning and tuning all strings down a half step.
The strings on a 7 string tuned to Bb (B Flat) Standard are tuned to: Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb
Here’s how to tune to ‘Bb Standard’ tuning:
Some guitarists sometimes call this tuning ‘A# Standard’ and will name the strings: A# D# G# C# F# A# D#. But the more common name is Bb (B Flat) Standard.
Bb Standard gives your 7 string guitar a slightly darker tone compared to B Standard. If you find that your 7 string guitar sounds a bit plain, tuning down to Bb can be just enough to give you a fresh sound.
Because each string is tuned down lower than ‘standard’, you will find that there is a slight decrease in tension on the strings.
If you don’t like the lower string tension, you can buy a set of heavier gauge strings to bring the tension back up.
A nice advantage of this tuning is that you can play any 6-string songs that are tuned to Eb Standard Tuning. Eb (E Flat) Tuning is popular with some classic rock and blues guitarists, so if you enjoy that style of music, you might want to experiment with this tuning.
Here are some 7 String guitar songs in Bb Standard tuning:
- Future Breed Machine by Meshuggah
- Jato Unit by Jeff Loomis
- The Heart Collector by Nevermore
- God of Emptiness by Morbid Angel
- Racecar by Periphery
Both the Meshuggah and Jeff Loomis songs mentioned above are covered in this lesson on 7 string guitar songs (TAB included).
Drop A Tuning 7 String
Think of Drop A on a 7 string guitar in a similar way to how you might think about Drop D on a 6 string guitar.
With Drop A Tuning, you start with your guitar in standard 7 string tuning (B Standard: B E A D G B E), then you lower the B string down to A.
The strings on a 7 string tuned to Drop A are tuned to: A E A D G B E
With this tuning, you can play power chords with one finger on the lower three strings in the same way as you play them in Drop D on a 6 string guitar (see the fretboard diagram below).
Notice that the other 6 strings are tuned in the same way as a standard 6 string guitar. So this is a very versatile tuning as you can play any standard 6 string guitar song as well as access some low notes on the low A string.
I personally really enjoy this tuning and you can easily go back and forth between B Standard and Drop A Tunings.
Drop A Tuning Fretboard Diagram
Here is the fretboard diagram for Drop A Tuning:
Notice the power chord shapes you can play on the lower three strings. Try coming up with some chords that stretch over all of these strings and you’ll see how useful Drop A Tuning can be.
Drop A Tuning can also be useful if you want to play songs that are normally played on a 6-string guitar tuned to Drop A. The songs will feel different and the last few strings won’t be tuned the same, but you’ll be able to play all the rhythm and riffs the same way.
For example, many Slipknot songs are played on 6 string guitars tuned to Drop A. While Slipknot never uses 7 string guitars, you can easily play those songs on a 7 string tuned to Drop A. The songs will feel different when played on a 7 string guitar, but they will sound right.
Here are some 7 String guitar songs in Drop A tuning:
- Kingdom and The Crown by Mandroid Echostar
- Bioluminescent by Keith Merrow
- Thetys by Conquering Dystopia
- Citizen Erased by Muse
A Standard Tuning 7 String
‘A Standard’ 7 string tuning takes the standard 7 string tuning and tunes down a whole step (2 frets distance on guitar).
A Standard feels the same to play as B Standard, only with a darker and lower tone. Korn plays all of their songs in A Standard on 7 string guitars and if you try to play their songs in B Standard, you’ll hear how dropping the tuning down helps give them their darker tone.
The strings on a 7 string tuned to A Standard are tuned to: A D G C F A D
Here’s how to tune a 7 string guitar to ‘A Standard’ tuning:
With this tuning, you’re also able to play any 6-string song tuned in D Standard. Try playing Sad But True by Metallica in this tuning to get a feeling for what it’s like to play a 6 string song on a 7 string.
Keep in mind that because all 7 strings will be tuned down a whole step from standard, the string tension will decrease. You may need to switch to heavier gauge strings to keep the tension up.
Using a .060 gauge string on the low A string is a good starting point. From there, you can figure out whether you prefer something heavier or not.
Try these Dunlop Heavy 7 Core 10/60 strings if you want to tune to A Standard.
A Standard Tuning Fretboard Diagram
Here is the fretboard diagram for A Standard Tuning:
If you were to place a capo on the 2nd fret, you would be able to play any 7 string song in B Standard tuning.
Here are some 7 String guitar songs in A Standard tuning:
- Freak on a Leash by Korn (all Korn songs use A Standard tuning)
- Descent by Fear Factory
- Illumination Theory by Dream Theater
- Facebreaker by Divine Heresy
Drop G Tuning 7 String
Drop G Tuning takes the 7 string ‘A Standard’ tuning and drops the low A string down to G.
Another way to think about this tuning is that it takes Drop A tuning and lowers all 7 strings by a whole step.
The strings on a 7 string tuned to Drop G are tuned to: G D G C F A D
Here’s how to tune a 7 string guitar to ‘Drop G’ tuning:
If you like playing your 7 string in Drop A tuning but want a darker tone, Drop G is worth trying out.
Keep in mind that the low G string is two whole steps lower than standard, so you can expect the string tension to decrease significantly. You may need to switch to a heavier gauge string to avoid the string feeling mushy.
Use a string gauge heavier than .060 on the low G string to avoid it sounding mushy.
Try these D’Addario NYXL 7 String 11-64 strings as a starting point. Then you can decide whether you want to go heavier or not. Using .064 on the low G string means you can easily raise it up to A if you want to play songs in A Standard without having to change to a lighter gauge string.
If you want to stick to Drop G Tuning, you may prefer something closer to .070 on the low G string for extra tension.
Also keep in mind that the low G string is almost as low as the lowest string of an 8 string guitar, which is tuned to F# in standard. So if you like the seriously-low-pitched sound of the low G string, you may want to see what an 8 string feels like to play.
Drop G Tuning Fretboard Diagram
Here is the fretboard for a 7 string guitar tuned to Drop G:
Have a look at the low G string and you’ll see that E is on the 9th fret. This means when you tune to Drop G, you’re getting nine notes lower than what you get on a standard 6 string guitar. That’s a seriously wide range of notes to play with.
Here are some 7 String guitar songs in Drop G tuning:
- Episteme by Kadinja
- Hickory Creek by Whitechapel
A nice alternative to Drop G is Drop G#, which tunes all 7 strings a half step higher than Drop G. Periphery use Drop G# tuning on almost all of their 7 string songs.
G Standard Tuning 7 String
If you’re looking for something very close to what you would hear with an 8 string guitar, you might want to play around with G Standard tuning.
The strings on a 7 string tuned to G Standard are tuned to: G C F Bb Eb G C
Here’s how to tune a 7 string guitar to ‘G Standard’ tuning:
This is a very low-pitched tuning and you will need to switch to heavier gauge strings to avoid having mushy or sloppy feeling string tension.
Try these D’Addario 10-74 strings meant for an 8 string and just don’t use the thinnest string. This will give you .074 on the low G string and .013 on the high C string.
See how you like the string tension. You shouldn’t feel the need for anything heavier than this and you may even want to experiment with some lighter strings on the higher end.
This low tuning also works best with a long scale length guitar. It is possible to play this tuning on a 25.5″ scale length guitar, but longer scale lengths will work best.
Learn more about scale length in this guide.
G Standard Tuning Fretboard Diagram
Here is the fretboard for G Standard tuning on a 7 string guitar:
You can see that the standard 7 string notes start on the fourth fret, so you have a lot of extra-low notes to play with.
If this tuning is a bit too low, tune each string a half step up to bring it to ‘G# Standard’. Not many guitarists tune to either of these two tunings as most prefer to move to 8 string guitars to access these low notes.
Playing around with this tuning is a good way to see whether you might enjoy playing an 8 string guitar or not.
7 String Drop D Tuning
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of non-standard tunings you can try out on your 7 string guitar. This ‘Drop D’ tuning is an example of something different you might want to try out.
The idea here is that you tune the higher 6 strings to Drop D while keeping the low B string standard. So the strings are tuned to: B D A D G B E.
Here’s how to tune a 7 string guitar to ‘Drop D’ tuning:
The idea with this tuning is that you can play any song written for Drop D tuning, but you’ll also have access to the low B string for lower notes.
This tuning may feel weird at first, but if you are used to playing Drop D on a 6 string guitar, you’ll quickly see how useful it can be.
7 String Drop D Tuning Fretboard Diagram
Here is the fretboard for a 7 string guitar tuned to Drop D:
Here are some 7 String guitar songs in ‘7 String Drop D’ tuning:
- CAFO by Animals as Leaders
- Cold by Crossfade
Check out these useful resources for 7 string guitars:
- 6 String vs 7 String Guitars Compared
- 7 String Guitar Exercises
- Best 7 String Guitars
- 7 String Guitar Songs Worth Learning (With TAB)