8-String Guitar

Having played a lot of lute music over a twenty-year period, and having recently sold my lutes to return my focus to guitar playing, it soon became apparent that an extended-range guitar might be useful for me. The question was how many strings, 8, 10 or 11? Commissioning an instrument is an expensive way to find out. Then I noticed an 8-string classical guitar by Ibanez, a blemished, lower-priced model – really inexpensive. I took the plunge…

So, this page is dedicated to my exploration of and experimentation with the 8-string modern classical guitar. The first video below was made after having the instrument for only two days. I put it in what lute manuscripts in Scotland called ‘Harp Sharp’ tuning, that is: (treble to bass) c# a f# d a e d b. It’s an unusual tuning, not one you are likely to slip into during a concert, but the music for it is very beautiful, and worth the effort.

The guitar is an Ibanez G208CWC, and although Ibanez are not paying me to say this, I heartily recommend it for anyone ready to experiment with added strings. I got a blemished model at a lower price, but it’s in near perfect condition. I like its soft bass sound – you don’t want a long-sustained bass for lute music, you’d have to keep stopping the string after playing it.


Here the guitar is tuned like a baroque lute, but down a tone, mainly a Cm chord: eb c g eb c g C D

The tune was thought to be Bach, but research has revealed the composer as Petzold – a now famous Minuet. HERE is a pdf of the tab, but in French lute tablature.


I’m looking forward to seeing what other possibilities there are for eight strings.