Author Topic: Advice on playing 12-string guitars  (Read 3689 times)

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Offline Jozsef

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Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« on: December 20, 2019, 08:40:35 pm »
Hi Everyone,

I started to play the guitar about 4 months ago after finding out about Justin's website. Though being a beginner, I had some rudimentary knowledge of different guitar types/brands and could distinguish between characteristic tones (e.g. Strat vs Les Paul, 6 vs 12 string).

As most people, I'm playing 6-string guitars (an acoustic and an electric), but I'm wondering if there are any special playing techniques or skills/knowledge (e.g. tuning, music theory, maintenance, etc.) required for playing a 12-string. For example, would all Justin's lessons presented on 6-string instruments be readily applicable to 12-string ones? Would chords be twice as intense as on a regular 6-string?

I've always found the sound of 12-string guitars fascinating, so I'm toying with the idea of buying one (preferably an acoustic) around the 1st anniversary of me playing the guitar. I'm open for any advice, suggestion, recommendation or opinion on this topic.

Thanks a lot in advance.

Cheers!
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

Offline stitch101

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2019, 09:09:58 pm »
6 and 12 string guitars are exactly the same except a 12 string has an octave string
for every string. the chords and notes are the same. although some people tune 12 strings
down a half or whole step but this is not necessary.

Also the neck is wider to accommodate the extra 6 octave strings. 

As a beginner of only 4 months I advise going and playing one at a store for a few hours to
see if your fingers are ready for one.

There is no reason to play a 12 string any different than a 6 string.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=34&v=FeL5OjShg18&feature=emb_title

Offline DarrellW

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2019, 11:47:58 pm »
6 and 12 string guitars are exactly the same except a 12 string has an octave string
for every string.
Also the neck is wider to accommodate the extra 6 octave strings.
There is no reason to play a 12 string any different than a 6 string.
Not quite, Octave for EADG and unison for B & e!
The only thing that makes it more difficult to play is that you have 2 strings to press down instead of 1 which makes barre chords much harder to play.

Offline close2u

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2019, 12:00:38 am »
One big recommend is to tune down all strings a semitone.
Then to play in 'standard' tuning, just place the capo at fret 1.
The string tension across all will be lower so slightly easier on the fretting hand.

You need to get your hand on the neck as - already mentioned - they are larger / wider to accommodate more strings.

Offline Jozsef

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2019, 09:35:20 am »
Thanks a lot for all the replies so far!
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

Offline agj

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2019, 09:38:27 am »
One big recommend is to tune down all strings a semitone.
Then to play in 'standard' tuning, just place the capo at fret 1.
The string tension across all will be lower so slightly easier on the fretting hand.

You need to get your hand on the neck as - already mentioned - they are larger / wider to accommodate more strings.

I tune down a whole step and use capo on 2nd fret which is, I believe what Justin recommends in his 12 string video.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Texas Special pick ups, Kit built Telecaster, HB ST57 DG Strat Modified, Ibanez GIO Bass, Boss Nextone Stage 40 Amp

br />My Roadcase http://www.justinguitar.com/forum/index.php?topic=18937.0<br

Offline close2u

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2019, 10:11:28 am »
I tune down a whole step and use capo on 2nd fret which is, I believe what Justin recommends in his 12 string video.

Yes - this too.
Same idea, releases even more tension across the strings for 'easier' work.

Offline agj

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2019, 10:38:21 am »
Yes - this too.
Same idea, releases even more tension across the strings for 'easier' work.

And really helps you not break that octave G
Squier Affinity Telecaster Texas Special pick ups, Kit built Telecaster, HB ST57 DG Strat Modified, Ibanez GIO Bass, Boss Nextone Stage 40 Amp

br />My Roadcase http://www.justinguitar.com/forum/index.php?topic=18937.0<br

Offline agj

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #8 on: December 25, 2019, 12:01:48 pm »
Something I find helps is using a thinner, more flexible pick, bear in mind I play an electric 12 string however I normally use the Dunlop Green or Yellow picks for most of my playing, including acoustic but on the 12 string I really prefer the Dunlop Red picks, orange at a push.
Squier Affinity Telecaster Texas Special pick ups, Kit built Telecaster, HB ST57 DG Strat Modified, Ibanez GIO Bass, Boss Nextone Stage 40 Amp

br />My Roadcase http://www.justinguitar.com/forum/index.php?topic=18937.0<br

Offline Matt125

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2019, 04:13:47 am »
If you have a second acoustic you could try Nashville tuning.

See Justin's lesson here:





You could buy a set of 12 gauge strings and just use the light gauges.

Offline Jozsef

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2020, 11:37:42 pm »
Thanks for your posts so far, it's all very useful for me.

I've just found this video of Justin's on YouTube by chance:





I tried to search for this particular lesson on the site but couldn't find it (TE-501 leads to "How Harmonics Work", without a video). Any idea where it's hiding?
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

Offline close2u

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2020, 07:11:52 am »
@jozsef
Yes - that came out a few years ago.

Can I ask a favour of you and anyone reading ... if you find a broken / incorrect link please report it in this thread ... thanks https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=35369.0

edit

Sorry - I pasted the sticky instead of the thread section itself ...

Try:
https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?board=25.0
« Last Edit: January 15, 2020, 08:12:31 pm by close2u »

Offline Jozsef

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2020, 06:13:40 pm »
Can I ask a favour of you and anyone reading ... if you find a broken / incorrect link please report it in this thread ... thanks https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?topic=35369.0

I don't seem to be able to post in that thread.
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

Offline stitch101

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2020, 06:41:58 pm »
@ close2u
The thead you posted seem to be locked.

@Jozsef and anyone who finds a bug on the web site
Go to the website and enter the lesson in the search.
When it comes up scroll to the bottom of the advertising there will be a
Report A Problem button
Click it and report the problem.

Offline close2u

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2020, 08:13:24 pm »
I meant to link to the forum section not the locked sticky - sorry

the link I intended is
https://justinguitarcommunity.com/index.php?board=25.0

But also - follow the advice stitch gave too

Offline Jozsef

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2020, 06:17:51 pm »
Thanks for your help, I reported this issue both ways as advised.

So, back to 12 string guitars  :)

As for myself, I tend to lean towards a fully acoustic one, but plugging in wouldn't be an issue now that I have an electric guitar as well. However, I wouldn't perform in public, so the instrument's own volume would be perfectly sufficient, I think.

Do you have any preference regarding fully acoustic or electro-acoustic models?
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

Offline close2u

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2020, 06:31:20 pm »
...I tend to lean towards a fully acoustic one, ... I wouldn't perform in public, so the instrument's own volume would be perfectly sufficient, I think.

Do you have any preference regarding fully acoustic or electro-acoustic models?

I think you've answered yourself there really.

If you buy electro-acoustic, then a chunk of the purchase price goes on the on-board electronics.
Pound for pound you can pay the same money and get an intrinsically better built all acoustic as the money is going in to the wood and the construction and the essential hardware.

Electro is there to plug in and you only need to do that if playing to an audience or in a large space.

Plus there are detachable pickups if there is any chance of a one-off situation where you want to play plugged in.

Offline Jozsef

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2020, 12:36:36 pm »
If you buy electro-acoustic, then a chunk of the purchase price goes on the on-board electronics.
Pound for pound you can pay the same money and get an intrinsically better built all acoustic as the money is going in to the wood and the construction and the essential hardware.

Electro is there to plug in and you only need to do that if playing to an audience or in a large space.

Plus there are detachable pickups if there is any chance of a one-off situation where you want to play plugged in.

Actually, I was curious whether the differences between the two kinds of guitars are mainly about the hardware, and how deeply these affect the sound or the character of tone. Maybe I didn't phrase my question properly, sorry for that.

However, I've never heard about detachable pickups, that's completely new to me. :)
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

Offline close2u

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2020, 01:02:59 pm »
However, I've never heard about detachable pickups, that's completely new to me. :)

Look up Seymour Duncan Woody for a modest price point selection.

Offline Twin Six

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2020, 02:57:40 am »
Finding myself in the odd situation of having only a twelve-string to learn guitar again from scratch, I can offer a few observations. My practice always begins with the basic exercise for picking individual strings in time to the metronome but without muting the strings, and never looking. Not muting the strings lets me hear that I'm striking both strings of each course, which is more difficult on the up stroke than the down stroke, and requires a loose, relaxed grip on the pick. Picking the DU & DUDU patterns clearly on both strings of each course so they ring out musically requires a balance of the conflicting demands of relaxation & control. It's easy to miss the smaller steel string and only strike the larger bronze string.
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Offline Twin Six

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2020, 09:11:13 pm »
String it with extra-light strings to save your fingers a bit of pain.
1986 Alvarez Yairi DY-76 (twelve-string) "The Twin Six"
1989 Alvarez Yairi DY-39 (six-string)
1993 Hiren Roy & Sons sitar
Fender Squier Bullet Telecaster
Vox Valvetronic VT20X

Offline Jozsef

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #21 on: June 09, 2021, 01:28:02 pm »
Thanks a lot for your insights!
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

Offline Jozsef

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2021, 12:27:03 am »
In the past few days I got back to my search for a 12 string acoustic, and based on price and availability here in Hungary (not requiring shipment from abroad) I would be able to choose one of the following models:

Sigma DM12-1
Sigma DR12-28
Yamaha FG820-12
Yamaha FG820-12 MKII

They are roughly in the same price range (c. 460-550 USD) and all seem to be good instruments. I tend to lean towards the Sigma due to the bone nut and saddle, but the Yamaha models have rosewood fingerboards.

However, there are some characteristics which I don't know much about as these exact models were not in stock recently so I could not try them. These are:

- The fingerboard of the Sigma is made of Micarta. According to Wikipedia, it's a kind of plastic. Might this be on the level of a fingerboard made of real wood?
- The nut and saddle of the Yamaha are made of urea. It seems to refer to urea-formaldehyde (UF) which is a kind of resin. I would assume bone is better suited to guitars, but lots of guitars have plastic nut and saddle. Have you ever used an instrument with parts made of UF?

Basically, these are my dilemmas at the moment. Of course, I mean to try these instruments once they are available at guitar stores. I could try only 2 electroacoustic models (Ibanez ones, if I remember correctly) which were surprisingly comfortable to play even in standard tuning (due to the light strings, I guess).

Thanks in advance for your help.
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

Offline close2u

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2021, 01:04:40 am »
The issues you raise I would classify as minor in the overall decision. You can have a nut and a saddle changed for bone quite easily after buying if you really are determined to have bone. You cannot change a neck / fretboard. But, due to environmental protection (CITES) rosewood alternatives are being used on many more guitars - including all sorts of creative materials. If you have any doubt then go for the Yamaha with the option to change nut and saddle at some point if you want.

Offline Jozsef

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Re: Advice on playing 12-string guitars
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2021, 07:57:15 pm »
Yes, these are indeed minor issues in the great scheme of things :) I'm not fixated on a bone saddle and nut but I've heard that many players prefer them for their sound. Not that my Fender CD60 has any of these :)

Thanks for the bit about CITES. I wasn't aware that these materials are used as a means to protect the environment.
I started my guitar journey on 28 August, 2019.
Fender CD-60 acoustic (my 1st guitar)
Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop Pro
Fender Mustang I (V.2) combo amp

 

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