Which Band Brought the Seven-String Guitar into the Rock-Rap Music?

by Patria

The seven-string guitar, traditionally associated with genres like jazz and classical music, gained prominence in the rock and metal scenes due to its extended range, which allowed for deeper, heavier sounds. However, its introduction into the rock-rap style of music, also known as nu-metal, marked a significant evolution in both the instrument’s usage and the genre’s sound. This article explores the pioneering band that brought the seven-string guitar into the rock-rap fusion, analyzing their influence, techniques, and the broader impact on the music industry.

The Rise of Nu-Metal

Nu-metal, a genre that blends elements of metal, hip-hop, alternative rock, and grunge, emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is characterized by heavy guitar riffs, aggressive vocal styles, and the incorporation of DJ techniques and hip-hop rhythms. Bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park became synonymous with this genre, pushing the boundaries of traditional metal and rock music.

Korn: The Innovators of Seven-String Guitar in Nu-Metal

While several bands have contributed to the development of nu-metal, Korn stands out as the true innovators of the seven-string guitar within this genre. Formed in 1993 in Bakersfield, California, Korn’s unique sound quickly set them apart from their peers. Guitarists James “Munky” Shaffer and Brian “Head” Welch were pivotal in integrating the seven-string guitar into their music, creating a distinctive sonic signature that became a hallmark of nu-metal.

The Introduction of the Seven-String Guitar

Korn’s self-titled debut album, released in 1994, was a groundbreaking record that showcased the potential of the seven-string guitar in a rock-rap context. Tracks like “Blind” and “Shoots and Ladders” featured down-tuned, heavy riffs that provided a deeper, more resonant sound than the standard six-string guitar could offer. This innovative use of the seven-string guitar not only defined Korn’s sound but also influenced an entire generation of musicians.

Technical Aspects of the Seven-String Guitar

The seven-string guitar differs from the standard six-string by including an additional low B string, which extends the instrument’s range. This added string allows for heavier, more complex riffs and greater versatility in songwriting. Korn’s guitarists utilized this extended range to create their signature low-end crunch, combining it with aggressive rhythms and dissonant chord structures to produce a raw, powerful sound.

Impact on Nu-Metal and Beyond

Korn’s integration of the seven-string guitar had a profound impact on the nu-metal genre. Their success inspired other bands to experiment with extended-range guitars, leading to a proliferation of heavier, more aggressive music. Bands like Deftones, Slipknot, and Limp Bizkit adopted similar techniques, further popularizing the use of seven-string guitars in the rock-rap style.

1. Deftones and the Seven-String Guitar

Deftones, another prominent band in the nu-metal scene, also embraced the seven-string guitar, although their approach differed from Korn’s. Guitarist Stephen Carpenter began using the seven-string guitar on their 1997 album “Around the Fur,” incorporating it into the band’s unique blend of atmospheric melodies and heavy riffs. Tracks like “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)” showcased Carpenter’s ability to blend the extended range of the seven-string with the band’s signature sound, further cementing the instrument’s place in the genre.

2. Slipknot’s Adoption of the Seven-String Guitar

Slipknot, known for their chaotic, aggressive sound, also utilized the seven-string guitar to enhance their music. Guitarists Mick Thomson and Jim Root incorporated the instrument into their playing, adding depth and intensity to their already powerful compositions. Songs like “Wait and Bleed” and “Spit It Out” exemplify how Slipknot used the seven-string guitar to create a more menacing and layered sound, contributing to their status as one of the most influential bands in the nu-metal genre.

3. Limp Bizkit and the Seven-String Guitar

Limp Bizkit, another key player in the nu-metal movement, integrated the seven-string guitar into their music, although in a more subtle manner compared to Korn and Slipknot. Guitarist Wes Borland occasionally used the seven-string guitar to add extra depth and complexity to the band’s sound. Limp Bizkit’s fusion of rap, rock, and metal elements, combined with Borland’s innovative guitar work, helped to further popularize the instrument within the genre.

The Broader Influence of the Seven-String Guitar

The adoption of the seven-string guitar by these pioneering bands had a ripple effect throughout the music industry. As nu-metal gained mainstream popularity, more and more musicians began experimenting with extended-range guitars, leading to a wider acceptance and utilization of the instrument in various genres. Today, the seven-string guitar is a common tool in modern metal, progressive rock, and even some forms of experimental music.

Modern Bands and the Seven-String Guitar

In the years following Korn’s introduction of the seven-string guitar to nu-metal, numerous modern bands have continued to push the boundaries of the instrument’s capabilities. Bands like Periphery, Meshuggah, and Animals as Leaders have embraced the seven-string (and even eight-string) guitar, incorporating it into their complex, technical compositions. These bands have further expanded the possibilities of the seven-string guitar, demonstrating its versatility and enduring appeal.

1. Periphery: Pioneers of Modern Progressive Metal

Periphery, a band at the forefront of the modern progressive metal scene, has extensively used seven-string guitars in their music. Guitarists Misha Mansoor, Jake Bowen, and Mark Holcomb have utilized the instrument’s extended range to create intricate, polyrhythmic compositions that push the boundaries of modern metal. Tracks like “Icarus Lives!” and “Scarlet” showcase their innovative use of the seven-string guitar, blending technical precision with melodic sensibility.

2. Meshuggah: Masters of Polyrhythmic Complexity

Meshuggah, a Swedish band known for their complex, polyrhythmic music, has also played a significant role in popularizing the seven-string guitar. Guitarists Fredrik Thordendal and Mårten Hagström have been using seven-string guitars since the early 1990s, long before the instrument gained mainstream popularity. Their groundbreaking album “Destroy Erase Improve,” released in 1995, featured the seven-string guitar prominently, influencing countless musicians and helping to establish the instrument’s place in modern metal.

3. Animals as Leaders: The Future of the Seven-String Guitar

Animals as Leaders, an instrumental progressive metal band led by guitarist Tosin Abasi, has taken the seven-string guitar (and even eight-string guitars) to new heights. Abasi’s virtuosic playing and innovative techniques have redefined what is possible with the extended-range guitar. Tracks like “CAFO” and “Tempting Time” highlight his ability to seamlessly blend technical proficiency with creative expression, pushing the boundaries of modern guitar music.

See Also: Top 18 Hardcore Rap Albums of All Time


Korn’s introduction of the seven-string guitar into the rock-rap style of music marked a significant milestone in the evolution of both the instrument and the genre. Their innovative use of the extended-range guitar set the stage for the nu-metal explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s, influencing countless bands and reshaping the landscape of modern rock and metal music. As the seven-string guitar continues to evolve and find new applications in various genres, its legacy as a tool for innovation and creative expression remains firmly rooted in the pioneering work of Korn and the nu-metal movement.

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