I have some extra money and wanted to buy a guitar I could experiment with. My idea is to buy an electric 12-string (thinking about a Danelectro) and to have all the strings doubled (as the B and high E strings normally would be). Thus, not having octaves for the lower four strings but something closer to a mandolin sound. My goal is to have this guitar be a "wall of sound" of its own, imitating the weird tunings used by artists such as Velvet Underground or Sonic Youth.

Has anyone done this/is it possible? If not, what modifications would I have to make in order to make this setup work? I've been trying to do some research on this but haven't been able to find anything.

Thanks for the help! <3
I've never heard of doing that, but I would guess just based on my general knowledge of guitars, that having the lower strings doubled would just make for way too much bass. With an electric guitar, you might be able to counter that with pickup height adjustment and/or EQ after the guitar. I imagine that isn't done with acoustics because there'd just be no way to not have the bass overpowering and muddy. A mandolin gets away with it because even the low notes aren't really that low, and the body of the instrument is tiny, and not producing much bass anyway.

Plus, I imagine the string tension would be tremendous with doubled low strings. Unless you tuned low with light strings.

If you want to try this, you'd probably just need the nut filed down for the thicker strings on the low 4 pairs, and throw the strings on. I'd say be very careful bringing it up to pitch, though, and keep an eye on the neck. Would probably want a pretty tough neck.
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The closest I know of to what you're talking about is Matt Pike's First Act custom 9 string, and I don't think he doubled the low strings. Here is an excerpt from an interview he did with Premiere Guitar:

PG: You’re also a big proponent of First Act guitars. Most people only know them for their entry-level guitars, but they make some very nice custom instruments.

MP: Man, they’re just the coolest guitar company ever. Bill [Kelliher] and Brent [Hinds] from Mastodon told me about them first, then Kurt [Ballou] from Converge. I called up John McGuire and Jimmy Archey at the company, and we’ve had an awesome relationship ever since. They hooked up me and Bill up with our nine-strings at the same time.

PG: The top three strings are doubled, like a 12-string, right?

MP: Yeah. I was hanging out with Bill one night, and we thought about how cool it would be to have a nine-string guitar. We both called them in the same week, and they were a little pissed because we didn’t have a design. They told me that I had to design it. So I had to go to the drawing board, and I thought to myself, “So, I get to design it, and Bill gets to play it. Cool!” [Laughs] I always really liked those Yamaha SGs that Santana played years ago, but I wanted a thicker guitar. I’m a man, I’ve got man hands, and I’m a big dude, so I need some weight and durability—because I’m gonna throw it around and beat it up or whatever. So I had them make it a half-inch thicker than a Les Paul Standard. I wanted a baseball bat neck, because I wanted to have big-ass strings on it—I need to punish with it. The pickups are from Kent Armstrong, and are really strong.

And here's a brief vid on it:
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Last edited by dannyalcatraz at May 22, 2015,
some problems that come to mind

string spacing

buzz from said string spacing

strings not fitting in the nut

strings not sitting in saddles properly

truss rod snapping in half


maybe get one from guitar center and return it if you dont think its possible?
I don't see this working, that's an insane amount of tension, and the low strings will just rattle together like crazy. It'll also be harder to play because your're going to have twice the amount of weight to push down when fretting. The only thing you could do is change the tuning for each of the strings, Jared Dines made a video with a guitar tuned with 6 low E 70 gauge strings, however these were tuned extremely low (both E strings were an octave down).
Last edited by Jimjambanx at May 22, 2015,
I'm sure something like this could be constructed. After all, there are things out there like the Hamer Chapparal


...and all those broad-boarded mega string tap guitars. You know, the ones with 15+ strings?

But like you say, the challenge would probsbly be in the playing, making the strings close enough to fret properly while ensuring they don't smack together.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Thanks for the advice, guys! I really like the idea of Matt Pike's 9-string, that's pretty much the same concept I'm going for. Maybe I can avoid the tension/weight/strings buzzing issues by still using lighter gauge strings for some of the doubled ones. Not as light as a normal 12-string, but light enough, you know?
If you are going to go for it, I suggest that you go with some kind of synthetic neck - graphite; carbon fiber, or some such material - to avoid problems with string tension. You would also need a wider-than-normal fretboard and string nut, but it could be done. Be ready to spend some serious cash in order to make it work, though.
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Quote by jmo74
My goal is to have this guitar be a "wall of sound" of its own, imitating the weird tunings used by artists such as Velvet Underground or Sonic Youth.

Been done. I think there were a few of these tried in the '70's and at least one in the '80's, and I don't think you'll be pleased with the results. It tends to be a sort of Spinal Tap thing; a talking point more than a sonic solution.

There are some 10-string basses out there as well.

Rather than carving up some cheap guitar, there are some other options.

One is to pick up an older Variax (like the 500 series), which can emulate a 12-string. You can probably use the editing software to set it up with secondary strings that are simply tuned the same.

Another is to try one of the "dual picks", a pair of picks separated by a few millimeters that provides the same kind of dual attack sound but with much better playability.