What are the best cheap 7-string guitars?
While 7-string guitars aren't really my thing, there are a lot of other players out there who like them, but are looking for something cheap and good, and that is what this article is about.
The guitars I'm going to list range from $200 to $500 USD, and the one pictured above is the most second most-expensive on this list, the Schecter Omen Extreme-7. I'll talk more about that in a moment, but for now, let's start with the cheapest first and go from there.
The M-17 is pretty much as low as you can go in price while still getting a good guitar. I've never seen them in any other color but black, which for keeping a "metal look" is just fine. Bolt-on neck, chrome hardware, and a 5-way switch which would indicate coil-split pickup selections are available without the need for a push/pull knob.
The only bad part is that all strings are angled after the nut, which can cause strings to go out-of-tune more often. However, if you keep the nut clean, that shouldn't be an issue.
This guitar is the same price as the M-17. The advantages over the M-17 is that it has high-output humbuckers, strings that are only slightly angled after the nut for better tuning stability and an arched top which some players really like.
Yes, it is a bolt-on, but is best described as a "slim bolt" of sorts, as there is a contour cut at the heel for really fast high-fret access. If you play up on the high frets often, this one feels better than the M-17 will. While it may only be a 3-way toggle instead of the M-17's 5-way, the saddle style (Fender Strat-ish) is a lot easier to deal with.
Oh, and the best part. The guitar looks expensive, especially with that modernized Jackson headstock.
I can say easily that this Jackson is the best value 7-string on the list, mainly because it's a player's guitar. It's cheap, nothing fancy, plays fast, looks good, looks expensive but isn't, and sounds good. And if you don't like the sound of it, swapping out the pickups and putting in a set of 500K CTS pots (best for humbuckers) is easy to really make this a screamer.
Once again, this guitar is the same price as the above two. Think of this one as what would happen if you combined the above two guitars.
You get a 5-way toggle here, great neck, hot-output humbuckers, proper bridge saddles, and the big advantage is that every string is straight after the nut, meaning it will hold tuning very nicely with minimal string "kinking".
The only downside? It doesn't look as good as the Jackson does. However, if you want that fast-neck Ibanez feel on a budget 7-string, you can't really do better than this.
Now we're getting into more expensive territory. Looks-wise, this guitar totally nails it with it's carved top in Walnut Satin finish. Other colors are available, but the walnut just looks really good. The custom inlays also add to the "looks expensive" look as well.
Schecter is well known to build some seriously good guitars, and even though the Omen-7 is on the lower end of the price spectrum, you definitely get more than your money's worth.
But is it better than what's listed above? That's debatable, because a lot of what you're paying for here is appearance.
This guitar is a signature Michael Angelo Batio signature series, hence "MAB" in its model name. Whether you know who that is isn't important, because this is about the guitar.
On this axe, there is a Floyd-Rose tremolo system on it, namely a Floyd-Rose Special. So if you want a good 7-string with FR, this is it. The other huge advantage of this guitar is the block inlays on the neck. If you play with a band in dark stage environments, this will come in really helpful to know where you are on the neck under low-light conditions.
Another big advantage is the larger top horn, which helps a lot to prevent neck dive. If you've had problems with 7-string neck dive with other guitars, this one will stay put. While the extended top horn may look a bit odd to some, it's there specifically to prevent diving.
If you took a JS22-7 noted above, added on a look-at-me finish and better electronics, put extra contours on the body and put binding on the neck, you get the JS32-7Q.
I can't say this guitar is really any better than the JS22-7 other than the fact you get some minor upgrades. If you absolutely have to have that bound neck, then yes, get the JS32-7. But if you can live without it, the JS22-7 has the goods where it counts and can be upgraded easily (and cheaply) to JS32-7 status. It just won't look as cool as the JS32 does.
This the guitar listed at the very top of this article.
Bound body and neck, proper inlays that can be seen in low-light environments easily, great look, great finish, great sound.
Electronics include a toggle with a push/pull for coil tap, so as far as versatility goes, you can basically get any kind of sound you want out of this guitar. All strings go straight after the nut which promotes better tuning stability, and the tuners have super-smooth operation.
The only problem with this guitar is that like the regular Omen-7, it has a Tune-O-Matic style bridge that may dig into your palm while playing, depending on where you rest it.
This is the priciest guitar on this list before it starts going into "too expensive" territory for most people.
Looks-wise, Ibanez is one of the very few who can produce a white guitar and have it look amazing. Most electric guitars look terrible in white, but the shape of the Ibanez RG really makes it work.
The two things about this guitar that make it great is the "Edge" system (Ibanez's version of a Floyd-Rose) and that oh-so awesome Wizard II neck.
For those who like to solo a lot, the Wizard II makes you realize instantly why this guitar costs a few extra bucks to get. In addition, this is one of those "nothing needs to be upgraded" guitars, even though it's reasonably priced. Out of the box, you just set it up to your liking, plug in and go.
My personal pick?
The Jackson JS22-7 Dinky. If I were in the market for a 7-string, I'd consider the Jackson. It's cheap, good, has the string saddle type I like better than Tune-O-Matic and would be easy to work on if I wanted to change anything about it.
My only knock against that guitar is that it only comes in Satin Black. I wish there were others colors offered. Other than that, the JS22-7 would be the one I'd get.
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