#1
I've long admired the sound of a well played 12 string guitar. I'd like to get one for myself but have a few questions first:

1. Tuning - what is the standard tuning?
2. What are some good models that won't set me back too much money? I'm eyeballing the Epiphone DR 212 and an Oscar Schmidt model, but open to suggestions for other good 12 stringers.
3. How much of a transition switching from a 6 string to a 12 string model?
4. I still finger chords the same, right? Except have to be careful about pushing down both strings?
#2
I owned 12 string for many years, but haven't owned one for a long time.

1) You can use any tuning you like, but remember to keep gauges relatively low so that string tension doesn't get too high.

2) Because of the design of 12 string bridge, and the higher total string tension, there is a risk of major sructural deterioration in 12 strings. I've seen inexpensive ones where the bridge has rotated so much that the strings on the back row of pins have lifted clear of the saddle. I think you take your chances. I would be sticking a flying brace (eg JLD Bridge Doctor, I make my own) in it from the start to reduce bellying and bridge rotation. I would also be looking for one with a good neck angle (unless it is a Taylor). - I reckon that could well be more important than make or model.

3) I can swap fairly easily, just a few minutes to get used to it, but I don't often attempt barres.

4) Chords depend on your tuning. If you tune to E standard, they are the same, if you tune to D standard, a C shape becomes Bb, and so one. One way to make life easier with a 12-string is to tune down, then use a capo. This reduces string tension and finger reach, and also avoids issues with badly cut nut slots.
#3
Thanks Tony. Taylor probably has a "can't-miss" model, but probably it's quite expensive.

I'll keep an eye out for a good deal on a higher end model.
#4
The thing about Taylor is that if the neck angle does go bad, it can be very easily and cheaply fixed with a couple of special shims and a hex wrench. They also have nice slim profile necks, which is oarticularly good for 12-strings. CC has a Taylor 150, the basic 12-string. I've tried that model and like it a lot. I don't know how the price compares with the models you mention, but you sure aren't paying for unnecessary cosmetics.
#5
Quote by TobusRex
Thanks Tony. Taylor probably has a "can't-miss" model, but probably it's quite expensive. .
OK, first the Epiphone DR-212 is a $200.00 guitar. The Taylor 150e is pretty much a "can't miss model", but it is $750.00. Anything else Taylor offers in a 12 is a whole lot more money. That notwithstanding, is that amount of money in the budget, or could it be procured for the budget?

The Epi usually gets a pretty good write up, especially in view of its price.

Taylor hardens off its 12 strings, doing pretty much the things Tony suggests as it's being built

But, that not withstanding, I take Taylors claims of their twelves being able to be tuned to concert pitch, (E-e), as more advertising bluster than fact. I tune mine to Eb-eb, a semitone down. The bass can get a tad sloppy @ D-d on light strings, but I still use that tuning on my other 12 strings.

Anyway, I'm not going to blabber on about the Taylor until I"m sure it's in the budget.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Oct 2, 2015,
#6
Hi Captain. I'd like to keep it under $500 if I can. I can go higher if something blows my socks off.

I've read that Seagull makes a pretty solid 12, hoping maybe I can find one of those on Craigslist. I could swing $750 for a brand new Taylor, but I'd have to fall in love with it first (a tall order!).
#7
Quote by TobusRex
....[ ]....I've read that Seagull makes a pretty solid 12, hoping maybe I can find one of those on Craigslist. I could swing $750 for a brand new Taylor, but I'd have to fall in love with it first (a tall order!).
Well first, you could probably get the Taylor on somebody's coupon sale for less than $750.00. (The "MAP)"

12 strings are hard to play, You actually have to play them frequently, to stay in shape for playing them. Taylor's or anybody else's. Second, you sounded concerned about the width of the Seagull S-6's neck. I can assure you, any 12 string neck is going to be much wider.

Full depth 12 string dreadnought bodies tend to be boxy sounding when you tune light strings to D-d. I never bonded with my Crafter D-8-12 because of that. But, I can't say for certain if a different set of strings would alleviate that or not. The "Korean 12 strings" they shipped it with sounded terrible. A set of EXP's improved that immensely. But, D'Addario PB strings, seem to go too dead and dull too quickly for me, coated or otherwise. But, that might be my old ears, who Knows?

12 strings are kind of "out of style", which limits the "over the counter, hear it first" selection. Then too, you have to hear a few to compare them, and the "quest" becomes harder still.

The Taylor 150e isn't boxy at all. Nobody I'm aware of who has bought one, has ever had a bad thing to say about it. Most of these were bought right online, without a test drive, so to speak. Taylor limits the depth of most of their dreads, the 150e being no exception. It also has a molded back, similar to old Guild 12 strings, which are known as some of the best in the world. (Although they were practically impossible to play because the necks said "Louisville Slugger" on them).

So, is the lack of boniness on the part of the 150e the design, or the atrociously expensive Elixir strings? Don't know. Haven't had the need or inclination to change them yet. I do know some people have taken the Elixirs off, put on D'Ads, and been happier with the guitar. It's really something for each individual owner to experiment with.

I've never heard the Seagull, so I can't speak for or against it. I do know the TAylor has supplanted it in popularity.

And please, call me by my first name, "Cranky".
Last edited by Captaincranky at Oct 3, 2015,
#8
I've owned an Epiphone F-112 (1964, Kalamazoo MI) for around 50 years, and the top is starting to bow beyond the point where I'm comfortable, so I only play it occasionally. My "go to" 12-string is a Martin D12x1. It has laminate sides and back with a solid wood top. The action is nice and the sound, while a bit on the brash side, is very much to my liking. Street price is around $650.
Dave Bowers

Instruments
Martin D-28
Martin/Sigma DR12-7
Martin Dreadnought Junior
Washburn EA25SNB
Epiphone F-112 Bard
Epiphone Les Paul Special II
Last edited by davebowers at Oct 3, 2015,
#9
Quote by TobusRex
Hi Captain. I'd like to keep it under $500 if I can. I can go higher if something blows my socks off. . . . . . .


You'll be needing a PacRim made one then.

Look out for: Cort, Crafter, LAG, Recording King, Tanglewood, Vintage, Washburn, Yamaha.
#10
Quote by davebowers
I've owned an Epiphone F-112 (1964, Kalamazoo MI) for around 50 years, and the top is starting to bow beyond the point where I'm comfortable, so I only play it occasionally. My "go to" 12-string is a Martin D12x1. It has laminate sides and back with a solid wood top. The action is nice and the sound, while a bit on the brash side, is very much to my liking. Street price is around $650.


I expect to live maybe another 30 years, so if I get the Epi 12 stringer and it falls apart 50 years from now...I'm good with it.

I have found a Harmony 12 string model locally with a hardcase for $100. Harmony is lower down the totem pole than Epiphone, right?
#11
I tune my 12's one step down to D-D with medium strings and use a capo most of the time, easier on the fingers. Don't need to use lights with lower than standard tuning, with medium strings the sound and volume remain good.
I use my thumbnail for picking style on 6's and side of the thumb for 12's. If more volume is to your needs a thumb pick is good for getting both the paired strings at one strike but picking with the other fingers upward seems to miss the lighter paired a bit.
I couldn't buy a guitar without trying it first. Every single one is an individual but keep in mind that the strings on it could make or break it.
#12
Yes the Harmony is probably a step down from the Epiphone, but they can fool you too. Some old Harmony guitars have a very good reputation. Most were beginner level guitars, on the inexpensive side, but the 6 strings held up well. I have a 1966 Bobkat electric still very playable but the neck is a bit hefty.

So if you can check it out first, the Harmoy is at least worth looking at.

I don't remember if you ruled out used, I've seen some pretty good 12 strings in pawn shops - Ovation, Yamaha, Epiphone, Fender, Martin, Sigma are all found now and then in good condition.

The other guitar player in my band has an Ovation 12 string, keeps it tuned to concert E, no problems and I'm pretty sure it's at least 10 years old. Probably older.

What is standard tuning - Octaves except for the 1st and 2nd strings, which are each in unison. Any tuning can be used, I've seen 12 strings tuned to open G and open D.

Switching between 6 and 12 is not hard, I haven't done it in year, but our other guitar player uses both 12 string acoustic and electric. He has no problem switching all night onstage. TO be fair, he only uses electric on mayb ea half dozen songs, most is rhythm parts on 12 string. (He'll be getting a new 6 string Ovation very soon)

Chords are played exactly the same, yes you have to be careful to fret both strings. Barre chords are more difficult. You also may have a little trouble muffling a string or two here and there for a few days without meaning to. Work with it a little, that can be cleared up with a bit of practice.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#13
Thanks Pete for answering all my questions. I'm definitely not ruling out used, I'd love to find a good used 12 stringer for a low price. I could MAYBE go $750, but I'd have to go nuts over the guitar. Not that I can't afford more, but I can't really justify it to myself when I don't even know if I'll enjoy 12 string enough to stick with it.

I'll go take a look at the Harmony. I've also got my eye on an old Stella. Not a 12 stringer, but I'm getting into blues more and I"m curious about the type guitars those guys used. Most were pretty cheap, lol.
Last edited by TobusRex at Oct 7, 2015,
#15
Quote by Tony Done
Just to emphasise. - If you go used, check carefully for belly bulge, bridge rotation and low neck angle. - All the things can make it unplayable, and could be too expensive to fix.


Thanks Tony. I'll definitely handle any guitar personally so playability, at least short term, will be assured. I know how to check for cracks, crooked frets, etc, but I sure don't know how to check the neck angle, except maybe by the action.

While looking at 12 strings I found the Ovation Adamas. Damn that is a pretty headstock on that guitar! Bet that guitar sounds clear as a bell too, but for $4,000...it better I wonder if the headstock is more prone to breakage because of the cosmetic decoration at the tip? I sure like the way it looks...classy!

http://www.amazon.com/Ovation-Adamas-2088GT-5-12-String-Acoustic-Electric/dp/B005SH3ADY/ref=sr_1_3?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1444245512&sr=1-3&keywords=ovation+adamas+guitar
Last edited by TobusRex at Oct 7, 2015,
#17
Quote by Tony Done
I'm not an Ovation fan in general, but I tried a deep-body Adamas shortly after they came out, and really liked it. Horrible ergonomics if you play seated though. I like the carbon fibre idea, but pricey.


I'm really getting high on the idea of a carbon fiber guitar, but damn those things are pricey. Agreed, I dislike that slippery bowl design. I'd have to use a strap on an Ovation!
#18
The Ovations usually have a non stick pad on the bottom of the body so it won't slip out of your lap.. The early ones didn't, it was added due to the problem of slipping.

Tony brought up some good points, check used ones close for warpage and such. Lots more common with 12 string than 6.

Some of the old Harmony, Stella, Silvertone, Kay, Teisco and a few others can be good, many were just el cheapo beginner instruments. Some though, especially Harmony, made some better quality guitars that were used by some pros. Some were also intermediate level guitars that are worth having. Just check it over close and see what it sounds like. I've played plenty of those old things that were low price but pretty decent guitars.

And nobody has mentioned Takamine...Shame on us...
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
#19
Thanks for the tips guys, much appreciated. I've expanded my search and found that Seagull has multiple 12 string models ranging from $399 (new) up to $700+. I've found several Godin 12 string models as well in approximately the same price range. They are Seagull's "parent" company so they should be better than Seagull, right? Their guitars have the same headstock. I really like the looks of the walnut models.

I've decided that I'm not going to go "cheap", unless I really like that Harmony (planning on seeing it this weekend). I've also decided that the Taylor 150 is within my price range (even new), but I'd surely love to save a few hundred. I'd prefer it not to be an acoustic-electric, but that isn't a deal breaker. Cutaway bodies mean nothing to me (yet), I never get real high up the neck.
Last edited by TobusRex at Oct 8, 2015,
#20
Just a thought. If you can find an old 12-string with a tailpiece, the structural problems associated with high string tensions can be compensated by raising the bridge. This is because the lower bout goes concave in those, it doesn't belly up as in string-to-bridge designs. I had a Gibson 25-12 built like that, no non-fixable geometry problems at all, in spite of living in a very harsh climate.
#21
Somebody snagged up that 12 string Harmony I was eyeing, so I went to a local shop to try out the 12 stringers today. I played around with them for awhile, didn't care for the clubby necks, and decided to see what else they had in stock.

First I played the "Merlin" made by Seagull. The top 2 strings are right next to each other, so it's essentially a 3 string guitar. I could see how those might become addicting (it was fun!)...but it was still just a toy, so I moved on.

I played a couple guitars made from alternative materials to wood. Picked up the Cargo and fell in love immediately. What a sweet little guitar! It handled like a baby, producing a full rich tone. The size of the neck was perfect. Action was impeccable. The size of the body and it's shape...it was quite easily the most comfortable guitar I've ever handled. I have to say that little guitar was even easier than my BigBaby to handle. The salesmen told me it sounded even better amplified. It's a "travel"/parlor size guitar...but it doesn't sound like a small guitar.

Then I played a Rainsong dreadnaught with Black Beauty strings. It looked like the guitar Darth Vader would prefer. The action on IT was perfect as well...buttery smooth to play with a perfect neck size. The sound wasn't quite as sweet to my ears as the Cargo (which had Elixirs), but overall the sound was deeper and well balanced. The Rainsong played just as smoothly as the Cargo.

I'm going to do it...I'm going to pay over $1,000 for a guitar now.

Any experience with either of these guitars? Any complaints about tuners, bridges, nuts, etc? I'm having difficulty nailing down a price on the Cargo. The guy at the music store said $1,600 (but he thought he had a for sure sale, I was gushing) after he'd initially told me $1200 (he said "prices had gone up since he priced it before).
#22
Quote by TobusRex
Somebody snagged up that 12 string Harmony I was eyeing, so I went to a local shop to try out the 12 stringers today. I played around with them for awhile, didn't care for the clubby necks, and decided to see what else they had in stock. ...[ ]....
So the short version here is, the 12 string was the best idea ever, until you were confronted by actually having to try and play one?
#23
Quote by Captaincranky
So the short version here is, the 12 string was the best idea ever, until you were confronted by actually having to try and play one?


Really? Did I say playing a 12 was the "best idea ever"? Please cut and paste that for me, thanks.

12's are on hiatus until I try a Taylor, don't want a guitar with a neck like a baseball bat.
Last edited by TobusRex at Oct 9, 2015,
#24
Quote by TobusRex
...[ ].....12's are on hiatus until I try a Taylor, don't want a guitar with a neck like a baseball bat.
Oddly, I've been through 7 12 strings in the past 25 years, and only one had, "a neck like a baseball bat". The other 6 simply had, "necks like a typical 12 string".
#25
Quote by Captaincranky
Oddly, I've been through 7 12 strings in the past 25 years, and only one had, "a neck like a baseball bat". The other 6 simply had, "necks like a typical 12 string".


Then I suggest you hie yourself over to Hubbard's Music and try THEIR twelves.

Dick.
Last edited by TobusRex at Oct 9, 2015,