Re: Considering buying a 7-string
Here's a few things to consider if yer new to 7's:
Are you going to be playing in standard or lower tunings?
If you want to drop your tunings lower than standard 7 string tuning (by more than half step i should say), try out a longer scale neck...26.5, 27 inch. It's not absolutely necessary, some people get by on thicker strings, but once you try it you see the advantages after getting used to it. (doesn't take as long as you'd think)
For standard BEADGBE tuning, I wouldn't even look at the longer scales...string tension becomes a serious issue, at least at the string gauges I tend to use. (.10's or .11's)
Now as for brands and all that shit...I'll consider your price range at around 4-700 bucks. With 7's especially, I find it's down to the necks and the country of origin. I'd avoid Chinese made guitars, but I effectively always did, even with 6's. Yeah some people rave about their chinese LTD's and Epi's and shit... And for all intents and purposes...shit, everyone has a good day. But really, for better quality control at your price range, look more towards Korea, or even better...look used for JAPANESE made axes... There's a ton of excellent used Ibanez's for sale out there from the nu-metal period when everyone wanted a 7 but didn't end up sticking with it in the long run. (Or alternatively, 7 string users who are moving onto even higher end axes)
The ultimate holy grail would be if you can find a used CARVIN 7 string... They can occasionally be found used for 5-700 bucks. They're American made tone beasts. I'm taking my Carvin to the grave. This is really the only American made 7 string guitars I can see you getting for under a thousand bucks.
Personally I'm also a fan of :
(Kor) Schecter/LTD - Beware though, In Schecter's case many don't like their older/std necks, as they're not the thinnest. I come from using an LP, so I'm good with them. They did release a new "SLS" (slim line series) a while back with slimmer necks...They look good, but I'm not sure if they're still made in Korea or if it's all made in their Chinese and Indonesian factories. I'd love to try one out, but really I can't GAS for any more new axes for a while lol.
Though I've never played any, I heard that Korean Ibby's are pretty good. Mixed reviews as always on the chinese made ones.
Another thing to check out is: http://www.rondomusic.com
This dude sells Agile Guitars exclusively, which are made in Korea....Now, I only have a 6 string Agile, but it's really nice even after a year of daily use(and it was dirt cheap). They have a huge fanbase among 7 string players. In fact the dude that sold me the better of my two Schecter's, sold it to me to buy an Agile.