When I started playing 8 string (all 6 weeks ago or so) – I knew from the get go – that I was looking to have a full range instrument that went from a low B (below the 6th string E) and a high A (above the 1st string E). When I checked out the Marshall Harrison video, he mentioned that he was using a .005 for the A – which was a little too high for me – but I decided to investigate the Octave 4 Plus string brand he was using.
Octave4Plus – are handmade strings for extended range instruments (up to 40 inches!). Since there’s really no way to try before you buy – I figured I’d take the plunge and put an order in.
When ordering individual strings, the minimum purchase number is 5 strings. Additionally, there is an online form you will need to complete which goes over some specifics of information needed to make your string (scale length of the instrument, whether the string is front or top loading in the bridge, etc.). There is a several day time limit that you need to complete the form in – or your money gets refunded. This might seem a little draconian, but given the small batches that the strings are made in – I imagine that hunting down people for information is a case of diminishing returns financially, so I understand it at least.
When I made my order, I got the strings with a “Type 2” thread wrap. While this is recommended for guitars with a string tree, I found that it’s also recommended if your guitar “… loads the string through the back, has a steep break angle, a sharp edge on the nut or tuner, or a string tree.”
The website does a good job of explaining a number of specific for string ordering – but as an FYI – if your scale length is 26.5” – you’ll need to order the 28” scale strings.
Payment is made on the website via PayPal and is a relatively painless process.
Here is the pricing for the order I made:
“Guitar .007 plain steel ( 28” ) $4.75 each A440
5 strings @ $23.75
Type 2 strings – $10
Shipping and Handling – $10
Sales Tax $3.17
$46.92 (or about $8.20 a string including the test string [see below])
Shipping And Delivery
My order was put in on Thanksgiving day and came on Christmas eve. The time frame for delivery is somewhat vague on the website – but 4-8 weeks seem to be a reasonable time frame.
The package was shipped priority mail. The contents were well packaged and included a copy of the order form, photocopied directions for installation, and 6 individually sealed strings (5 strings and a test string which was a nice touch).
The Ball End
I’ve never used a handmade string before. I was particularly intrigued with the allen wrench nut that serves as a proprietary ball end.
Ball end close up
There are specific instructions for installation, but it’s a very clever design that works well.
The installation instructions are clear and well written, but reading and doing are two very different things. Right off the bat – you will probably notice that getting the string through the bridge can be tricky as it’s sooo thin. (I can’t imagine trying this with a .005!)
While the Schecter Omen I installed this on didn’t have a string tree – I used the thread winding as an entry point for the string to go into the tuner, with the idea that it may help with any potential burrs.
In installing the string, the directions state that bringing the string up to pitch too quickly will result in the string breaking at the ball end.
Given the general instability inherent in attempting to get a string to stay at a pitch of high A over a 26.5” scale – this seems reasonable.
You should expect to spend 2-3 hours getting the string to pitch if you follow the directions verbatim.
Needless to say – this path isn’t for everyone. If you break one of these on stage mid set – you’re not going to be replacing it between songs. But this is a generality that applies to the circumstance – and is not specific to the Octave4plus string.
Since I started with a test string – I used the directions I outlined in my Omen review for bringing the string up to pitch – which worked fine – and took about 45 mins to an hour.
As a bonus tip: I also let it stay a ½ step below pitch overnight before playing it – and that seemed to help a lot with stability.
I didn’t have a lot of time to get into it as almost immediately I got a call from Mike Reagan to see if I could add some high adrenaline lead playing to an X-box track he was working on. I decided to bring the Omen and my FNH and see what happened.
While I don’t know about the material of the string, it definitely seemed more stable than the D’Addario .007s I was using. In bending I easily got ½ step bends with no issue. From the 12th fret on – I got whole step bends – which made me pretty nervous – but he was so excited by the pitches on the high A string that he wanted me to play a lot of bent melodies on that string. The string finally broke after about the hour mark and (having broken one of them in getting it to pitch) – I finished the session with the D’Addario.
From an economic standpoint, it’s easy to balk as you could get 60 D’addario .007 strings from just strings for $42 with shipping. And if you don’t follow the instructions – those 6 strings are going to break pretty quickly.
If you’re playing something like an Agile – with an even longer scale length – this is pretty much the only game in town. But even on the 26.5” scale, I liked this string a lot. The construction quality is certainly there, and I really admire what they’re doing.
I’ve been pretty delicate with the D’Addario – so it hasn’t broken since the session – but when it does – I’ll give the Octave plus4 more of a chance than the few days it had before.
Thanks for reading!