If there’s one artist that put 8 string guitars on the map for metalheads around the world, it’s the incomparable act of guitarists Marten Hagstrom and Fredrik Thordendal: the one and only, say it with me now… Meshuggah!

Few artists have a list of musical credits as substantial and diverse as them: bringing 8 string guitars to the mainstream, pioneering incredibly technical and precise groove metal, unintentionally giving birth to the controversial “djent” movement, and being quite possibly the most precise live act in the known universe (but let’s face it, aliens probably love the ‘Shuggah).

This past October they released their new album The Violent Sleep of Reason, performing an extremely rare feat in metal these days: tracking the entire album live off-the-floor – a jaw-dropping achievement to anyone who has heard but a few seconds of Meshuggah’s work proving that they live up to their Hebrew name (translated as “crazy”).

A new record means new gear, so let’s see what these masters of progressive music are using to make their masterpieces come to life.


Everything starts with the signature Ibanez M8M,which we recently reviewed. This guitar is all about simplicity and tone – everything you need, nothing you don’t. Specializing in incredibly low tunings, the guitar is designed with delivering punch and clarity across the entire range of the instrument. The biggest standout feature of this instrument is the 29.4’’ scale length, delivering unbelievable tightness and note clarity. To round out their signature sound, the guitar has a single bridge humbucker – a ceramic magnet passive Lundgren M8 pickup.


As for the construction, the guitar is a departure from Ibanez’s standard basswood bolt-on design, utilizing an alder wing body with a 5-piece maple/bubinga neck-through design for increased sustain and punch. A 5-piece neck allows for greater rigidity, increasing tuning stability and preventing the neck from shifting due to temperature changes – a must-have for any touring artist going in and out of extremely hot venues night after night.

To take it to the neck level of stability, the guitar is equipped with the familiar FX Edge-III double locking bridge from the 8 string that Fredrik and Marten originally started on: the incredible Ibanez RG2228 (check out our review of it here). Rounding out the hardware is a set of Schaller strap locks, Ibanez brand tuners, and a simple single volume and single tone knob setup. They use .09-.70 strings tuned a half step down (from low to high, F-A#-D#-G#-C#-F#-A#-D#). Marten uses a customized version on stage as well, with identical specs to the M8M but a 28’’ scale length.

Fredrik and Marten also use their much cheaper model – the Ibanez M80M – on tour as well, with the differences being minimal between it and the M8M. This guitar utilizes an ash body, and maple/walnut bolt-on neck, with a Lundgren M8P pickup. The M8P is essentially a design upgrade to the M8, the only difference being a different material being used for the outside of the pickup to prevent it from warping, there is no tonal difference whatsoever.

Fredrik also has two very sleek custom Los Angeles Custom Shop models, called the Ibanez Stoneman. Some fans may recognize this guitar as something Fredrik has owned for a while, but some of you may not know that he actually owns two of them. Make no mistake, this guitar is not an M8M with a different look, this one has plenty of new tweaks to it.


We don’t know everything about this guitar, but what we do know is enough to induce some pretty heavy wallet pains. Instead of the massive 29.4’’ scale length, it’s been downsized a touch to a more standard 28’’ length. Compensating for the shorter length, he strings this guitar up with .09-.46, .54, and .72 strings. Continuing with their love of experimentation, the body is swamp ash with an alder top, and the neck is a fascinating combination of maple, bubinga, and purpleheart woods. Instead of the single M8 in the bridge position, Fredrik has chosen a 3-humbucker setup of Lundgrens, rounding out the hardware with the FX Edge-III bridge

Fredrik has a second version of this guitar as well, with True Temperament frets and a custom bridge design from German company ABM, which looks like a cross between the FX Edge-III and a Tune-O-Matic style bridge. It is essentially a TOM 8 string bridge, but with the inclusion of fine tuners on the stoptail piece. This model is 27’’ and has a more traditional two-humbucker setup (with Lundgrens of course), and finished off with a locking nut like his other models.


Meshuggah’s amp rigs have been ever-evolving, some of which include the Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifiers, Line 6 Vetta II, and Fractal Audio AxeFX II XL. One thing that is consistent is that they embrace change and experimentation. Most recently they’ve used custom amp heads from designer Mike Fortin of Fortin Amplification. In the words of Fredrik Thordendal, the amp is “…like having the whole arsenal of amps used on ‘The Violent Sleep of Reason’ record built into one head…”

It sounds like the only thing this amp can’t do is make coffee, but if it could it would have extra ‘Shugg–… nevermind..

The amps are an original single-channel design, built from the ground up. Each head is 50 watts and includes some NOS (new old stock) parts, primarily tubes and capacitors, meaning there is a slight chance it could put a damper on our hopes of these being mass-produced any time soon. There are two gain controls, not unlike the “Girth” and “Grind” knobs on one of Fortin’s previous designs for Ola Englund: the Randall Satan (although Fortin has explicitly stated they are NOT the same controls). The amps are boosted by a custom prototype Fortin pedal, which cuts some lows and provides up to 20db of gain into the input of the amplifiers.

The AxeFX II units still see some use on tour, handling all the clean tones and effects duties, while the Fortins head up the rhythm sounds. Both of these units are fed directly into Two Notes Torpedo Live units running custom IR’s for their direct to FOH feed.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out some more! We upload new articles, guides, reviews, and interviews daily, such as our Tosin Abasi piece!

Also, we are a dealer for many beloved brands such as PRS, Ibanez, Mayones, Schecter, ESP, and more! Feel free to stop by our shop and we can help you find the right guitar for you at the best price possible.

This article was written by Connor Gilkinson, our editor located in Canada.

Photo credit to Maclyn Bean Photography

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