John Petrucci Explains What It Was Like to Use an 8-String Guitar on Dream Theater Album for the First Time

In his recent interview on the Iron City Rocks podcast, Dream Theater guitarist and founding member John Petrucci reflected on using an 8-string guitar and what the experience was like. Petrucci thought about the idea for a while, hyping prog metal fans in the process, and he eventually employed his Music Man Majesty 8-string guitar on Dream Theater’s 2021 record “A View from the Top of the World.”

When asked how using his 8-string guitar affected his songwriting approach, Petrucci replied (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“Well, here’s the thing: honestly, it didn’t really change things at all, which was my intent.

Ernie Ball Music Man: John Petrucci Majesty 8-String Guitar

In order to give a fuller picture, Petrucci also looked back on when he started using a 7-string guitar back in the mid-1990s:

“Way back on the third Dream Theater record, ‘Awake,’ when we went in to record that record, or write that record, I got my first seven-string. I came into the studio. I’d never played a seven-string before; I was always a six-string player.”

“And then we started writing with it, and I wrote ‘The Mirror’ and ‘Lie’ and ‘Caught in a Web’ and all these songs that are on ‘Awake’ that just became these cool fan iconic Dream Theater moments. I didn’t think much of it. And so I wanted it to be seamless. And it was.”

Dream Theater - Lie (Lyrics)

Fast-forward to the early 2020s, Petrucci says that it was the same experience with just one string added to the equation:

“So when it was time to kind of consider, what would an eight-string bring to the table? What would an even more extended range do? I sort of wanted to have that same experience.”

And, as John further adds, in order to keep things as unaffected as possible, he decided not to play an 8-string guitar at all until he got it done by Ernie Ball Music Man:

“So I purposely didn’t play eight-string at all — I never played one — until I got the prototypes of my Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty eight-string. And then I really had the same kind of experience.”

Ernie Ball Music Man: John Petrucci "Awaken The Master" 8-String Majesty Demo

“We wrote the song ‘Awaken the Master’ that’s on ‘A View from the Top of the World’; that was the first thing I wrote on it. And so just because it was one of my signature guitars, it felt really familiar.”

“The extended range and the things about it that are different didn’t throw me, but it kind of just helped open up a new world of dimension and range with the instrument. So, [it’s] so much fun.”

Back in 2020, John Petrucci discussed the idea of using an 8-string in an interview with Ultimate Guitar. At that moment, Petrucci was preparing to release his solo album “Terminal Velocity.” Asked whether he used an 8-string guitar on this record, John replied:

“It didn’t, no. This album is all six-string, except for ‘Temple of Circadia’ which is a seven-string. So there is no eight-string on this record. The eight-string project with Ernie Ball Music Man is something we are working on and hoping to have developed as this year goes on.

John Petrucci - Temple of Circadia (Official Video)

And it was then that Petrucci confirmed that everybody would finally get the chance to hear him play one on the upcoming Dream Theater album, the one that we now know as “A View from the Top of the World”:

“I’m hoping that on the next Dream Theater record I’ll be able to explore that, but no, not on this one. This record was my Ernie Ball Music Man Majesty, mostly the 2020 models that just came out, and then my signature Mesa Boogie JP-2C head through a Boogie Recto 4×12.

During that same interview, Petrucci was also asked why he decided to stick with Ernie Ball Music Man guitars for so long to which he replied:

“You know, it’s been 20 years, so it’s crazy. We actually celebrated our 20th anniversary. At the time, when I was playing Ibanez, which I played for about 10 years.

JOHN PETRUCCI 1999 Ibanez Clinic

“As you know me now, I’m really into the gear development side, the R&D. I have signature products that are the result of working with companies that I really love and very talented engineers and artists and trying to get my thoughts, as a creative person, across as far as how I think an amp could be better or perform better.

“So I started to get into that headspace several years into the Ibanez deal. I really just couldn’t make those ideas happen in that respect.

“At the time, my favorite guitar player in the world was Steve Morse and he was playing Ernie Ball Music Man and I had a relationship with them from using their volume pedals. I was just ready for a change.

John Petrucci - Lines in the Sand Solo - Ibanez JPM

“I always really admired their guitars. Whenever I would pick one up in a store, they just played great and they were pieces of art — just incredibly beautiful guitars.

“My tech and a good friend at the time, Mark Snyder, told me I should check out this company. So I made that connection and had a conversation with Sterling Ball and I made the change and never looked back.

“It was over 20 years ago. I wasn’t in a position where I was looking to shop through guitar companies and compare offers, I just went straight in with the Ball family and I’ve stuck with them because they are an incredible, amazing family.

Ernie Ball Music Man: John Petrucci Presents the 2021 Hydrospace Majesty Guitar

“They’re the real deal in every way. They’re passionate about what they do — the innovation, the guitar building, and together we’ve been able to create this unbelievably fulfilling and successful line of signature instruments with my name on it.”

“I couldn’t see doing things any other way. It’s been incredible. It’s one of those moves in my professional career where I’m just really very thankful that it happened. It was a big turning point in my professional career.

“I talk with those guys on a weekly basis, so it’s a very close relationship. Even as we speak, we’re working on what’s coming next – you brought up the eight-string, and that is one of the projects. So it’s just a continuing creative relationship that is unbelievable.”

Photos: Andreas Lawen, Fotandi (Dreamtheater – Wacken Open Air 2015-1619 (cropped)), Ernie Ball Music Man


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.