I have been fascinated by the 7-string guitar ever since the first time I listened to Steve Vai’s Passion and Warfare record and, of course, that particular period in the late 90s when I listened to KOЯN and other bands of its nu-metal ilkage. Even a friend in Sheffield owned an Ibanez RG-7620 once and I wasn’t too sure if I could get used to playing one, let alone see its utility in my never-busy music schedule as a non-performing guitar sometime player.

And here is one. After 25-odd years, I thought to myself why not.

Say hello to Ayumi-chan.

The >6-string guitar is still relevant today if you are into a particular genre of music that’s defo not country & western. I found one on the cheap[1] and as I have a penchant for ESP-related guitars, this is an LTD SC-337 which is no longer on the market. I think this is the cheapest Stephen Carpenter (of Deftones) signature range by LTD that has active pickups, and it also has a dedicated 9V battery chamber at the back.

Her lovely arched body is made of basswood, unlike the mahogany in her more expensive siblings by LTD and ESP. The neck is bound which is a bonus for a budget guitar, and after experiencing great QC from LTD in their SE Asian factories, I think this is a well built guitar and well set up, although I have to admit I am uncertain if the previous owner had her set up prior to the sale. The fingerboard is rosewood and has no inlays, which I really love.

Ayumi came with ESP-designed active humbuckers and since I got her for a relatively cheap price, I had some extra to spend on an upgrade. I have had my guitars modded with Seymour Duncan and EMG before, but I was curious to hear what Stephen Carpenter’s signature Fishman Fluence humbuckers sounded like.

eBay did the trick again this time and I bought it from a seller in California whom I bought my EMG Het set from last. The schematics for how Carpenter has his wired can be found on the Fishman website. The bridge pup is ceramic while the neck one is Alnico V. What his pup set has was that the setup has two differently-tweaked tones which can be selected with a push-pull pot (comes with the set). The tones are dubbed Voices 1 (a tad of added midrange) and 2 (“extra heat and edge” – yup, whatever that means)[2]. I had Ayumi’s pup mod done by Steve Robinson and we chose the ESP-preferred wiring as it’s a pity to not utilise the second voicing for both bridge and neck pups.

One minor non-tone altering mod I did was replace the bridge to a TonePros TOM. Found an ESP hard case for a Horizon, as well as a camo DiMarzio Cliplock® strap, Ayumi-chan is good to go. Where, I don’t know.

Here is a little flavour of what she sounds like prior to the pickup mod:

I haven’t done a video of Ayumi with her SC pups yet. I’ll update this post once that’s done.

BODY Basswood
NECK Maple
FINGERBOARD Rosewood, 24 XJ frets w/ White Binding
SCALE 25.5″ / 648mm
NUT (width) Standard (48mm)
INLAY None, with SC-337 at 24th fret
JOINT Bolt-on Construction
BRIDGE TonePros Locking 7-String Tune-O-Matic
PICKUPS Fishman Fluence SRC Signature PRF-MS7-SC1
CONTROL Master Volume, Master Tone, 3-Way Toggle PU Selector

[1]eBay. Where else?
[2]Their description can be found here.