#1
Hi all.

I just want to know if it's possible to tune all sets of strings to octaves as opposed to the last set of 4 on a 12 string guitar. (eEaAdDgGbBeE * b and e strings still tuned higher like standard tuning, just can't note it on the keyboard) the as opposed to eEaAdDgGbbee. Are there string sizes thin enough to get an octave higher, would the extra tension be too much for the neck, would they have terrible intonation?

I just got my first 12 string, always liked playing them but now owning one I have an issue that's slightly annoying. I've played classical guitar for many years and it shows in my "conventional" style (not as in using finger style, I'm using a pick strumming and picking in this instance). I'll play a base note and a chord in the low strings while playing a melody in the high strings.

On a six string I'm really liking how it's coming along but on a 12 I'm having an issue that instead of adapting my style I'd like to manipulate the instrument to incorporate it. When I'm playing the melody on the high e and b strings (which on a 12 are unison) all is well but if I carry the melody onto the g strings (octave) rather than changing my hand position to play it on the b string and most likely sacrificing the chord it forces me to play the high octave G which in my opinion ruins or takes away from the melody. I primarily play ascending and descending motions and if I'm descending, the high g string kind of interrupts the motion when all the sudden there's a high note in the mix again after a descent, and with ascending phrases it makes for a weak introduction when there's high notes in the beginning but after going up to the b string the high notes are taken away.

As a remedy I've just removed the high G string but if it's possible I think it'd be really cool if I could make the b and e strings in octaves instead of unison. I'm tuned to D standard at the moment, if not possible at D could I down tune it further, and how far down would I need to go?

Thank you very much, really excited to see your opinions. Baller on a budget at the moment, ideally I'd just tune it up and see if what happens but I'd rather not needlessly waste strings if they're going to just snap, especially if it would be damaging for the instrument or if by doing so the intonation would be way off.
Last edited by mepmep at Jun 10, 2015,
#2
I know of no available string gauge which will tune to G5, B5, & E5 on a 25" scale and survive. I have personally, (accidentally), tuned the G octave string, (which should be G4), to G5. It never quite gets there.

You really should be tuning your 12 string, D-d. Put a capo on if you need to be at E-e

A 12 string isn't a classical guitar. I suggest you find material suited to the 12 string, as opposed to forcing your will on it. Since the bass strings also have an octave doubler, play the melody on them at a different position, instead of crossing from G-3 to B-2 and losing the octave sound.
#3
It's not really possible. In order to increase pitch by one octave, it must vibrate twice as fast. Faster vibration means higher pitch. To make it vibrate faster you need to either make a string shorter (which is effectively what fretting does), tighter, or thinner. Changing the length isn't possible and you can't really make the string tighter, which means that you need to make the string thinner, which you already know.

Thing is... in order to make a string vibrate twice as fast, you would need a string approximately half as thick. So if your high string is an 11, you would need about a 5 or 6, though this isn't always exact. But if you look at the gauges of 12 string sets, the octave strings are usually about half as thick +/- .002 or so.

A .005 would have three main problems.

-extremely prone to breakage
-very poor tone and volume
-few companies offer .005s

And honestly I think a .005 would be too tight to not break... you might need a .004, and I don't know if anybody makes strings that thin. I know I have seen .005s though.

Even with a D, you would need probably a .005 which is too thin.

I think that for practical purposes on a standard scale length, a .006 or .007 tuned to A would be the highest you could go, but I'm not sure. That would require dropping everything 3.5 steps.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#4
Quote by theogonia777
It's not really possible. In order to increase pitch by one octave, it must vibrate twice as fast. Faster vibration means higher pitch. To make it vibrate faster you need to either make a string shorter (which is effectively what fretting does), tighter, or thinner. Changing the length isn't possible and you can't really make the string tighter, which means that you need to make the string thinner, which you already know.

Thing is... in order to make a string vibrate twice as fast, you would need a string approximately half as thick. So if your high string is an 11, you would need about a 5 or 6, though this isn't always exact. But if you look at the gauges of 12 string sets, the octave strings are usually about half as thick +/- .002 or so.

A .005 would have three main problems.

-extremely prone to breakage
-very poor tone and volume
-few companies offer .005s

And honestly I think a .005 would be too tight to not break... you might need a .004, and I don't know if anybody makes strings that thin. I know I have seen .005s though.

Even with a D, you would need probably a .005 which is too thin.

I think that for practical purposes on a standard scale length, a .006 or .007 tuned to A would be the highest you could go, but I'm not sure. That would require dropping everything 3.5 steps.


Very informative answer, thank you very much. I'll try tuning it to A, hopefully it works, if not I'll just keep it as it is and drop the high g. Or force myself to adapt haha, time to teach an old dog new tricks.
#5
Putting your acoustic down to A is probably not the best idea either though, since you would need some very thick strings on the bottom end... probably like at least a .070. Your tuners, nut, etc might not take a string that wide. You would be better off 86ing the high G.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#6
Quote by mepmep
Hi all.

I just want to know if it's possible to tune all sets of strings to octaves . . ..


No
#8
Quote by Captaincranky
I like it. It's succinct, and leaves very little room for debate!


Thanks