The Meshuggah Guitarchive: 8 string guitars


Meshuggah started with normal 6 string before shifting to the use of 7 string guitars for a few albums, but are most associated with their use of baritone 8 string guitars. Although the 8 string guitar isn’t new and was mostly used by jazz/fusion players (usually using Conklin guitars), without them bringing it to a wider audience we would not have commercially-made 8 string guitars available today from a number of manufacturers – beginning with the world’s first mass-produced model : the Ibanez RG2228GK in the spring of 2007.

As Ibanez endorsees, they received their first custom RG8′s from LACS in 2003, an upgraded main RG version in 2005, Iceman 8′s in 2008 with a smattering of odd customs in between, and now have their own fantastic signature guitar – the new M8M, released in 2012.

Fredrik Thordendal’s Nevborn Sleipner 8XL, no s/n

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 3 pc Neck-through Maple/bubinga, rosewood headstock overlay
Neck Width: @nut – 2.148″, @12th – 2.813, @24th – 3.125″   Neck Thickness: @1st – .822″, @12.922″
Fingerboard: Ebony
Frets & crowns: Dunlop med-jumbo
Body: Alder wings, thickness 1.759″
Finish: Charcoal stain
Pickups & Elec: Lundgren M8 prototype
Misc. Hardware: Hand-milled brass bridge and tailpiece w/ finetuners, Gotoh tuners, 2pc lock nut, strat-type shovel jackplate, single 500k volume
Notes: The guitars that started it all…The album Nothing was originally intended to be an all-basses experiment, but it was the first to feature their guitars tuned down to low F and beyond, and was first recorded on extremely down-tuned, 27″ scale 7 string guitars, prompting them to consider going towards a baritone 8 string for tonality and convenience. A young Swedish luthier named Fredrik Nevborn who liked building unusual designs was contacted to build these before the band headed out on tour to support the new album. These guitars were employed by Mårten and Fredrik for a year or so before being ‘retired’ due to tuning stability issues while on the road. As with the Nevborn 7′s, these also featured the appearance of the first Lundgren 8 humbucker, later named the M-Series Meshuggah sig pickup.

Mårten Hagstrom’s Nevborn Sleipner 8XL, no s/n

Notes: This guitar is identical in specs to Fredrik’s, but does show some more wear.

Fredrik Thordendal’s 2003 Ibanez LACS RG8, s/n LA101403

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5pc Neck-through Maple/bubinga
Neck Width: @nut – 2.188″, @12th – 2.840″, @ 24th – 3.172″  Neck Thickness: @1st – .773, @12 – .837″
Fingerboard: Rosewood, 16″ radius, no inlays, side dots
Frets & crowns: 24, .061″ H, .111″ W
Body: Alder wings, 1.805″ Thick, rounded inner corner of lower horn
Finish: Rough brushed black shellac, white slash logo
Pickups & Elec: Lundgren M8, 1 vol, 1 tone – both 500k, Switchcraft barrel jack
Misc. Hardware: Custom fab 2pc Lo-Pro Edge FX8 and 2pc bolt-through lock nut, Sperzel open-back tuners
Notes: These first examples from Ibanez proved to be much more reliable instruments in terms of tuning stability. This very instrument was used to record “I” and Catch 33 – and is called the “Catch guitar” by Fredrik himself. Humorously, he recalls the head designer at Ibanez’s LACS (Los Angeles Custom Shop) being appalled at their request for the finish to look “as raw, primitive – just slapped on with a brush – like it had been through a war or something, not some beautiful, slick finish”. I think this guitar has a ton of mojo, and is one of my favorites.

Fredrik Thordendal’s 2005 Ibanez LACS RG8, s/n LA092405

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5pc maple/bubinga neck through, ash headstock overlay, chrome logo
Neck Width: @nut – 2.171″, @12th – 2.817@, @24th – 3.144″
Fingerboard: dyed rosewood, 16″ radius, no inlays, side dots
Frets & crowns: 24 – .113″ w, .055″ h
Body: Alder wings, 1.784″ Thick, rounded inner corner of lower horn
Finish: Charcoal stain, oiled
Pickups & Elec: single Lundgren M8, 500k vol/tone, Switchcraft barrel jack
Misc. Hardware: Custom fab 2pc Lo-Pro Edge FX8 and 2pc bolt-through lock nut, Sperzel open-back tuners
Notes: This is Fredrik’s main “workhorse” 8 string, being used on every tour since receiving it in 2005, only to be replaced now (as of May 2012) by the new M8M signature model for live work.

Mårten Hagstrom’s 2005 Ibanez LACS RG8, s/n LA092305

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5pc maple/bubinga neck through, ash headstock overlay, chrome logo
Neck Width: @nut – 2.186″, @12th – 2.830″, @24th – 3.144″
Fingerboard: dyed rosewood, 16″ radius, no inlays, side dots
Frets & crowns: 24 – .113″ w, .055″ h
Body: Alder wings, 1.782″ Thick, rounded inner corner of lower horn
Finish: Charcoal stain, oiled
Pickups & Elec: single Lundgren M8, 500k vol/tone, Switchcraft barrel jack
Misc. Hardware: Custom fab 2pc Lo-Pro Edge FX8 and 2pc bolt-through lock nut, Sperzel open-back tuners
Notes: This is Mårten’s main “workhorse” 8 string, being used on every tour since receiving it in 2005, only to be replaced now (as of May 2012) by the new M8M signature model for live work.

Fredrik Thordendal’s 2009 Ibanez LACS RG8, s/n LA043009, “Motherbucker”

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5pc maple/bubinga neck through, dual truss rods, ash head overlay, white Prestige logo
Neck Width: @ nut – 2.194″, @12th – 2.807″, @24th – 3.134″
Neck Thickness: @1st – .782″, @12th – .857″
Fingerboard: dyed rosewood, 16″ radius, no inlays, large 4mm luminescent dots
Frets & crowns: 24, Dunlop 6100 Jumbo
Body: Alder wings, 1.751″ thick, rounded lower horn, single control cavity, UV-style jack
Finish: Charcoal stain, oiled
Pickups & Elec: custom Lundgren triple-coil, 500k vol/tone, Switchcraft barrel jack
Misc. Hardware: Kahler 7228 tremolo, Sperzel open-gear tuners, Kent Krune rubber-damper mod
Notes: Nicknamed “The Motherbucker” for it’s custom Lundgren triple-coil humbucker (with ‘secret’ specs ;-) ), this axe has a few different features compared to the normal ‘workhorse’ RG 8′s.

Fredrik Thordendal’s 2008 Ibanez LACS IC8, no s/n

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5pc maple/bubinga, dual truss rods, ash head overlay, chrome logo
Neck Width: @nut – 2.176″, @12th – 2.841″, @24th – 3.168″
Neck Thickness: @1st – .810″, @12th – .896″
Fingerboard: dyed rosewood w/binding, 14-16″ compound radius, no inlay, 4mm luminescent side dots
Frets & crowns: 24, Dunlop 6100 jumbo
Body: Swamp ash wings, 1.480″ thick, inside of lower horn beveled
Finish: Charcoal stain, oiled
Pickups & Elec: single Lundgren M8, single 500k volume, Switchcraft barrel jack
Misc. Hardware: Edge 3-FX8 bridge, Sperzel open-gear tuners
Notes: Wanting something different, Fredrik and Mårten ordered Iceman 8′s. Very popular with fans, but turned out to be quite neck-heavy and rather uncomfortable to play for live use. The strap pin was relocated to help with neck dive earlier on. Despite these few caveats, Fredrik maintains that tone-wise, this particular guitar is actually the best sounding 8 string overall in his collection.

Mårten Hagstrom’s 2011 Eir Omega 8, no s/n

Scale: 29.25″
Neck: Solid 1pc Malagassy Ebony, ash head overlay, 4 carbon fiber rods, DA truss rod
Neck Width: @nut – 2.231″, @12th – 2.767″, @24th – 3.030
Neck Thickness: @1st – .802″, @12th – .835
Fingerboard: Ebony, 16″ radius
Frets & crowns: 24, Dunlop 6100
Body: Bubinga, ash top, black bound, 1.432″ thick
Finish: Thick Nitrocellulose, natural on back, ‘negative’ b/w top, Tru-Oil on neck
Pickups & Elec: Single Lundgren M8C, 500k vol/tone
Misc. Hardware: Kahler trem, Sperzel tuners
Notes: Given as a gift to Mårten, the most interesting aspect of this guitar is it’s solid ebony neck – something you don’t see everyday. This was also one of the heaviest (in weight) 8 string guitars I’ve ever picked up, partly due to it’s ebony neck and very thick finish.

Fredrik Thordendal’s 2008 Ibanez LACS IC8, s/n LA031808

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5 pc maple/bubinga neck through, ash head overlay, dual truss rods, chrome logo
Neck Width: @nut – 2.182″, @12th – 2.840″, @24th” – 3.170″
Neck Thickness: @1st – .790″, @12th – .888″
Fingerboard: bound dyed rosewood, 14-16″ compound radius
Frets & crowns: 24, Dunlop 6100
Body: Ash wings, 1.482″ thick
Finish: charcoal stain, oiled
Pickups & Elec: Lundgren M8, single 500k volume, Switchcraft barrel jack
Misc. Hardware: Edge 3-FX8 bridge, Sperzel open-gear tuners
Notes: The second, neck-heavy IC8.

Mårten Hagstrom’s 2008 Ibanez LACS IC8, s/n LA061108

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5 pc maple/bubinga neck through, ash head overlay, dual truss rods, chrome logo
Neck Width: @Nut – 2.231″, @12th – 2.861″, @24th – 3.179″
Neck Thickness: @1st – .785″, @12th – .872″
Fingerboard: bound dyed rosewood, 14-16″ compound radius
Frets & crowns: 24, Dunlop 6100
Body: Swamp ash wings, 1.550″ thickness, arm contoured, lower inside horn bevel enlarged
Finish: Charcoal stain, oiled
Pickups & Elec: Lundgren M8, single 500k volume, Switchcraft Jack
Misc. Hardware: Edge 3-FX8 bridge, Sperzel open-gear tuners
Notes: Because of neck-heavy issues with the earlier Iceman 8′s, they commissioned LACS to build this successful culmination of ideas in correcting the balance and comfort issues -  the neck was ‘shifted’ inwards on the body, with the ‘join’ now at the 15th fret instead of the 17th fret on earlier models, along with moving the bridge farther back on the body. An arm contour was added on the lower bout, and the inside bevel on the horn was enlarged slightly for a bit more weight relief. Upper fret access was sacrificed slightly, but this wasn’t a major issue for Mårten as it was for Fredrik compared to having a balanced instrument for live use, and wound up switching guitars. Fredrik explains: “We got two…I got mine and Mårten got this one. We thought they were too neck-heavy so we had two more made where the neck was moved more into the body…
They are not as neck-heavy but as I found out I could not play lead guitar on mine we actually swapped guitars… I got both the Neck-heavy ones and he got the other two” The latter pics below show the differences between this and the earlier model.

Fredrik Thordendal’s 2006 Ibanez LACS RG8 Piezo, s/n LA031606

Scale: 27″
Neck: 5pc maple/bubinga, bolt-on, ash head overlay, chrome logo
Neck Width: @nut – 2.160″, @12th – 2.809″, @24th – 3.133″
Neck Thickness: @1st – .757″, @12th – .852″
Fingerboard: dyed rosewood, 16″ radius, no inlay, only side dots
Frets & crowns: 24, med-jumbo
Body: Mahogany, rounded inner edge on lower horn
Finish: Charcoal stain, oiled
Pickups & Elec: Lundgren M8, Graphtech Acoustiphonic preamp, Switchcraft stereo jack, DPDT mini mix toggle, 500k Vol/tone
Misc. Hardware: Custom Lo-Pro Edge trem with piezo saddles, Sperzel open-gear tuners
Notes: Another special guitar with a few features not found on any other LACS Meshuggah 8 string: a mahogany body with an 8 string, piezo-equipped Lo-Pro tremolo. A very cool guitar, and sounds GREAT!

Mårten Hagstrom’s 2006 Ibanez LACS RG8 Piezo, no s/n

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5pc maple/bubinga, bolt-on
Neck Width: n/a
Neck Thickness: n/a
Fingerboard: dyed rosewood, 16″ radius
Frets & crowns: 24, Dunlop 6100
Body: 1pc Swamp ash
Finish: Charcoal stain, oiled
Pickups & Elec: Lundgren M8, Graphtech Acoustiphonic preamp, Switchcraft stereo jack, DPDT mini mix toggle, 500k Vol/tone
Misc. Hardware: Custom Lo-Pro Edge FX8 with piezo saddles, Sperzel open-gear tuners
Notes: Mårten’s piezo RG8 is a bit different from Fredrik’s – Ash body, fixed bridge and the normal 29.5″ scale. Will get more detailed photos soon on another service visit.

Fredrik Thordendal’s 2011 Ibanez RG2228 Fretless, s/n F1030696

Notes: Another interesting guitar. This Fujigen-made and LACS modified RG2228 model has one major difference: it’s fretless!

Mårten Hagstrom’s 2010 Ibanez LACS Destroyer 8, no s/n

Scale: 29.4″
Neck: 5pc maple/bubinga, neck through, Prestige logo
Neck Width: n/a
Neck Thickness: n/a
Fingerboard: Rosewood, 16″ radius
Frets & crowns: 24, Dunlop 6100
Body: Sapele wings
Finish: Natural satin
Pickups & Elec: Lundgren M8, single 500k volume, Switchcraft jack
Misc. Hardware: Kahler trem, Sperzel open-gear tuners
Notes: Gadzooks! Mårten always wanted an 8 string Destroyer, so LACS came up with this awesome creation. It too has balance issues, is very heavy in weight, but sounds thunderous. Will try to get more detailed pics and info in the near future. 

Jens Kidman’s Vapula JKV8 prototype

Scale: 28″
Neck: 5pc maple/wenge neck-through, burl walnut headstock overlay
Neck Width: @ nut – 2.183″, @ 12th – 2.805″, @ 22nd – 3.077″
Fingerboard: Ebony, no inlays, black horn nut (because it’s more metal!)
Frets: 22 jumbo
Body: Alder wings w/ burl walnut top cap
Finish: Gloss black with tinted clear gloss on walnut top.
Pickups & Elec: single Lundgren M8, 1 volume
Misc. Hardware: Custom ABM T8M JK Edition Tunematic bridge, Hipshot locking tuners, custom brass cavity cover with graphics
Notes: In keeping with Jen’s love of V axes, this first prototype of his new signature guitar from Sweden’s new Vapula guitars, this beauty has some interesting construction features, like the countersinking of the tuners and the unusual neck profile. And this mighty V sounds as heavy as it looks – a very cool axe, I love it! ;-)

Mårten Hagstrom’s Jackson Custom Shop 8, no s/n

Scale: 27″
Neck: 2pc maple bolt-on
Fingerboard: Dyed rosewood w/ black binding, no inlays
Frets & crowns: Dunlop 6100
Body: Basswood w/ bookmatched flame maple top
Finish: Natural oiled
Pickups & Elec: two Lundgren M8′s with rosewood bezels, 1 vol, 3-way toggle
Misc. Hardware: Hipshot bridge, Gotoh tuners
Notes: Presented as a gift at the 2012 NAMM show

Jens Kidman’s J. Nilsson JKV8 Flying V Custom 

Scale: 27″
Neck: 5pc Maple/Walnut neck-through, bound headstock
Neck Width:
Neck Thickness:
Fingerboard: Bound Ebony, MOP block inlays & “J V8 K” at the 12th fret
Frets: 22 Jumbo
Body: Swamp Ash wings, 5-ply binding
Finish: Gloss black with trans black top.
Pickups & Elec: 2 Lundgren M8, 2 vol, 1 tone, 3-way toggle
Misc. Hardware: ABM T8M JK-Edition bridge, Hipshot Grip-lock tuners w/ Gibson-style tulip buttons, Graphtech nut, custom aluminum V tailpiece & pickup rings, 5-ply pickguard & jackplate, Gibson bell knobs
Notes: Inspired by Gibson’s custom shop Flying V Custom, this is a fantastic 8 string take on a timeless classic.

Jens Kidman’s Vapula JK Empire Explorer 8

Scale:
Neck:
Neck Width:
Neck Thickness:
Fingerboard:
Frets & crowns:
Body:
Finish:
Pickups & Elec:
Misc. Hardware:
Notes: Specs coming soon…

 

The M8M Prototypes

Unveiled at NAMM 2012, The new M8M Meshuggah Signature guitar is a detailed reproduction of their LACS custom RG8 models, impeccably hand made by the luthiers at Sugi in Japan. These are available only on a to-order basis from Ibanez dealers, and will represent one of the company’s finest collectable investment pieces. I’ve had the opportunity to closely inspect and scrutinize the four prototypes, and compare them to the final released version I inspected at Musikmesse 2012, and can say without question the meticulous quality of the production pieces to be top-notch and exact to the final two prototypes shown below.

Fredrik Thordendal’s 2011 Ibanez M8M Prototype #1

Notes: The first two prototypes of the M8M were made at Sugi, with specs very close to the original custom RG8′s. The new model featured the exact same finish and basic specs, but hardware changes included using the Edge 3-FX8 bridge from the old Lo-Pro FX8, and the switch from Sperzel to Hipshot open-gear tuners.

Mårten Hagstrom’s 2011 Ibanez M8M Prototype #2

Fredrik & Mårten’s 2011 Ibanez M8M final prototypes

Notes: Sugi made. Fearing premature wear due to the original’s hair-thin, bare charcoal finish, for durability the finish was first stained deeper and darker than before, and then dusted with a very light clear sealer coat. Look carefully, and you’ll notice the satiny semi-gloss to the finish compared to the matte originals and the first two prototypes. Sterling side-dots were also added. These are the versions made available to the public, and are FANTASTIC instruments – very lightweight, resonant and stable, with beautiful workmanship.

To be continued… :-)

 

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