#1
I've been noodling around playing different guitars that last few days. Got to play an expensive Guild 12 string model. Played something I knew and it sounded like absolute hell.

On the 12 stringer am I not supposed to hit each of the paired strings? Perhaps the guitar wasn't tuned properly, several seemed out of tune in there. Tried fingerpicking and it was miserable.
#2
it was probably out of tune. even being off by a little bit when you're dealing with octaves is gonna make a really disgusting sound since a given tone is going to be destabilized at an exponential rate as the proximity between the two tones approaches, but does not meet, a perfect match

it just comes with the territory as most people at guitar stores either a) don't know how to tune a 12er or b) the employees don't go around and check the instruments to retune them on a regular enough basis to counteract people janking around on them

in general, a 12 string is just a 6 string, but with another, thinner set of strings an octave higher. it usually creates a chorus-like effect, but it can be hard to utilize efficiently. personally, i think octaved strings work better on bass instruments, but it all depends on your goals and style really. most people who do own 12ers tend to use them for like 1-2 songs or have them as novelty pieces more than anything
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#3
-in standard tuning e and b are tuned in unison and all the rest are tuned in octave.

-not always store employees messing up the tuning. a lot of times it's "customers" trying to "fix" the tuning.

-usually one plays both strings at once but with a pick you can play the strings individually.
#4
The strings are not really supposed to be played individually.

Check the tuning before playing. I mean, that's what you would do with a regular 6 string guitar too, wouldn't you?

It's tuned exactly the same way as a normal 6 string guitar. Or you can tune it the way you want, but that's how it's usually tuned.
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#6
Quote by TobusRex
I've been noodling around playing different guitars that last few days. Got to play an expensive Guild 12 string model. Played something I knew and it sounded like absolute hell.

On the 12 stringer am I not supposed to hit each of the paired strings? Perhaps the guitar wasn't tuned properly, several seemed out of tune in there. Tried fingerpicking and it was miserable.


I have to use strobe tuners to get my 12 strings in tune. For 6 strings, I use a crap-o Snark, and do a bit of fiddling.

Guild was / possibly still is, notorious for producing the finest 12 strings in the world. Moral here is, you are the problem, not the guitar.

Not all songs are suitable for a 12 string, but some 6 string songs cab be rearranged to sound better on a 12. "Diamonds and Rust", which Ms. Baez plays on her 6 string Martin, is a whole lot more haunting when played on a twelve

If you're playing a melody, when you cross from from G-3 to B-2 you lose the octave sound, and it's going to sound like crap. So, you drop some things a full octave, and that turns the melody to a bass line / melody, which sounds pretty cool.

I could give you more musical examples of songs which never were 12 string songs yet sound better on the 12, some where it doesn't really matter if you use a 6 or 12 string, and some where you should avoid a 12 string altogether. But, it takes more than a few strums to figure that out.

12 strings have an entirely different dynamic response than 6 strings, and in general, need to be played more softly, or they just "load up". Playing an arpeggiated style tends to de-emphasize tuning errors, whereas strumming brings them to the forefront. That's pretty much why you'll hear Roger McGuinn doin' a bunch of pickin' on the Byrds albums.

It is quite a bit more difficult to finger pick a 12. Your thumb is moving downward and hits an octave string first, while the fingers are moving upward, contacting a prime string first. One assumes that would be enough to throw off a newcomer's expectations of what he or she is supposed to be hearing, quite a but

To a certain degree you should be considering music from the hip era as 12 string material. Back then, everybody played twelves, even Pete Townshend. That's the reason nobody seems to be able to tab the Who's "Substitute" correctly. The notes they think are coming from the e-1, are actually occurring on the octave string of the D-4.

FWIW, Leo Kotke, (and a couple of other truly gifted players), could actually pick out all 12 strings separately. That notwithstanding, the other 99+% of us, needn't even bother to try..

Kotke also was forced to stop playing for several years, due to injuries incurred from over doing it with his 12 strings.

Does any of that help?
Last edited by Captaincranky at Aug 25, 2015,
#7
Set up has a major effect on how 12 strings feel to play, as does neck profile. If I ever bought another, I would be looking carefully at both those things. Fingerpicking is OK once you get used to it, but it feels "heavy"at first.

FWIW, I thought that the Taylor 150e sounded good and had a nice sleek neck profile. Because of the neck attachment system, set up would never be a problem.
#8
The first guitar I ever purchased way back in 1974 was an Ibanez Fender copy 12 string with a horrible droopy headstock. I wanted to play like Leo Kottke, which took a looooong time to play anything decent, considering that back then I was a rank beginner.

It was a lovely guitar, easy to play with a nice tone and action, despite the horrible metal adjustable bridge piece (who remembers those??).

The intonation was good and it played in tune very well - which is the point here. A 12 string must be perfectly in tune and have good intonation. I expect that with the Guild it was just out of tune.
#9
Food for thought:

I think Pete is about to aunch into, "Stairway to Tommy's Holiday Camp"...

And who could forget those headstocks:

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I vaguely remember what a trapeze tailpiece is, but the image of that Villager head stock, overwrote it.
#10
Quote by Captaincranky

I think Pete is about to aunch into, "Stairway to Tommy's Holiday Camp"...


Always freaks me out when I see him. His face is so looooong it looks like it's been Photoshopped.
#11
I'm not accusing the guitar of being a piece of shit, believe me, lol. I've never played 12 string and only know a little about it. The Guild 12 stringer was there within reach at Guitar Center (big mistake, lol!). The shortcoming here I'm sure is mine. I was attempting to fingerpick a 12 string guitar like a 6 stringer. I have no doubt the guitar wasn't properly tuned, but my question was more regarding differences of 12 v 6 string guitars when playing, that's all Seems like a complete different animal, when it should be pretty similar.
#12
Quote by TobusRex
I'm not accusing the guitar of being a piece of shit, believe me, lol. I've never played 12 string and only know a little about it. The Guild 12 stringer was there within reach at Guitar Center (big mistake, lol!).
Well, nobody thought you were calling the Guild a POS. Nor did anybody here think it was either. It's just ironic that you picked one of the most revered names in 12 string guitars to simply "not get".

Quote by TobusRex
The shortcoming here I'm sure is mine. I was attempting to fingerpick a 12 string guitar like a 6 stringer. I have no doubt the guitar wasn't properly tuned, but my question was more regarding differences of 12 v 6 string guitars when playing, that's all Seems like a complete different animal, when it should be pretty similar.
You're never really quite ready for the amount of fretting force required by a 12 string. You pick the damned thing up, it's always at least a little bit out of tune, and you're not getting a string here or there fully fretted. Your chords are off pitch and the damned thing is buzzing, so it is a crappy experience. I have to remind myself to play my 12's, basically to stay in shape.

Even at that, a 12 string is challenging to play, and cowboy chords are your best chances to play cleanly. Finger picking is challenging, and the "best" approach, (at least for starting out, IMHO), is developing a playing style which utilizes a flat picked arpeggio style.

I had one of the old Guild jumbo 12 strings, had it built in 1993. I'd swear they had to sand "Louisville Slugger" of the neck before they attached it to the guitar. The sound though, was exquisite.

Read my post #6 again. And while you're at it, watch the John Denver (*) video in this thread: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=702670 post #19. He's rocking a Guild jumbo 12 string.

(*) Watch the video, whether or not John Denver is even close to your preferred style of music. It'll do you good.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Aug 30, 2015,