12 String Stringing!

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12 String Stringing!

Postby SHADADDICT » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:25 pm

Here' s a little puzzler!! ... Does it make any difference which way round you string a 12 string guitar?? . and by that I mean whether you put the thin string on first or the thick one. Mine at the moment is as it was from the shop and the thin string is first. Is it like that for a reason, is there some reason you can't string the thick first. :? Can any of the experienced 12 String players give me some input please??

TiA Tony R
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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby Dance with Shadows » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:34 pm

Look at how a 12 string Rickenbacker is strung and listen to the Beatles LP A Hard Days Night and all will be revealed grasshopper.

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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby JimN » Mon Feb 21, 2011 1:59 pm

SHADADDICT wrote:Here' s a little puzzler!! ... Does it make any difference which way round you string a 12 string guitar?? . and by that I mean whether you put the thin string on first or the thick one. Mine at the moment is as it was from the shop and the thin string is first. Is it like that for a reason, is there some reason you can't string the thick first. :? Can any of the experienced 12 String players give me some input please??
Tony R


The reason you can't string the other way round (like a Danelectro or a Rickenbacker) is that the nut and bridge saddles are cut for the way it is strung now.

If you want it paired like a Rick, you can do that, but you'll definitely need a new nut fitted and you may need to move bridge saddles around.

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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby Bill Bowley » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:20 pm

Tony,

What type (brand etc) 12 string are you using? ;)
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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby cockroach » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:31 am

The usual configuration of octave string on top tends to make the high note of the two strings very prominent when the pair of strings is played.

You tend to lose quite a bit of the lower frequency large string as a consequence, which is why I've always thought teh Rickenbacker arrangement sounded better and more full and balanced. Quite simply, your plectrum or finger strikes teh heavier string first, just a tiny period before teh high octave string sounds.

Make up a spare nut, and maybe grab a spare bridge too, then try it out- you can always reverse the procedure if you don't like it.
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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby SHADADDICT » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:33 pm

Hi Mike, Jim, Bill & John.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my silly question, and for explaining the reason behind the 'standard' stringing.
The beastie in question is an acoustic 12 that I'm thinking of converting to electro. So I dont have any real problems with swopping the Nut and Bridge saddle as suggested by Jim & John to give it a try.
Just as long as I'm not gonna do any damage to the guitar by changing the positions. and, like mentioned, if I don't like it , it's easy enough to change back. So thanks guys, I'll give it some more thought when I get to doing the work converting and see what happens. ;)

Tony R
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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby Bluesnote » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:46 pm

If you are going to try make a nut and saddle by yourself Tony, use bone(if you dont already know), it sounds way much better than the usual plastic most guitars have fitted 8-)
Its easy peasy to do and if you make a mess of it, it does'nt cost much anyway to buy more.
I did it with my classical and flamenco guitars and what a difference it made.
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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby geoff1711 » Wed Feb 23, 2011 12:26 am

Hi

I've often re-strung Rick style, all I did was open out the nut a little where it was tight, those strings in wider slots don't seem to move, but in that event a little strip of Rizla paper and some super glue will act as a good hard filler, the super glue soaks into the Rizla paper, once it's gone off you can file or use a fine saw blade to open it up to string size if need be.

If your 12 string has 12 saddles with their own intonation adjustment, simple enough to loosen off and reset, if each pair of strings shares a saddle then by swapping them around nothing changes.

Often I string my 12 strings bottom 6 E A D in octaves but the top 6 G B E in unison you still get that 12 string sound when strummed but in my view sounds better for solo's which generally you can get away with on the top 6, also from the 12th fret sounds quite mandolin-ish although tuned differently, but sounds good for things like Maggie May.

The other advantage is that the high G is always the one that breaks, when you're tuning in unison it doesn't.

You may not have realised but the string sets are worked out very cleverly for tension on each string bend any of the octave strings and as they go up in pitch they stay in tune but if you mix strings from different sets with different string gauges the slightest bend puts it all out of tune, I found this out when trying to overcome the high G breaking by trying varying string gauges.

So be warned if you want to try this make sure both Gs are the same gauge.

I sometimes think I ought to get out more!!!


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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby SHADADDICT » Wed Feb 23, 2011 2:14 pm

Hi Geoff & Hugh,
Thanks for the tips guys, they have eased the mind about whether to change string positions or not. Hugh :- Good point about using proper bone saddle and nut, they really do make a big difference in the sound quality, & I now have a pair on order with the same kind of saddle as is already in place. Geoff :- To hear from someone who has already swopped the strings around is brilliant, and your point about keeping the octave tuning for the bottom six but having the top six in unison sounds a good idea, I must admit I've not tried that, but I'll have a go before hand, so I can see what it'll be like. Great stuff, thanks for all your help. :clap:

Tony R
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Re: 12 String Stringing!

Postby dusty fretz » Wed Feb 23, 2011 8:32 pm

As as Geoff says, the octave G string is prone to breakage problems and his unison tuning is certainly a very valid alternative. However, I've used this in the past and feel it means some of the typical 12-string chime is lost because of the absence of that high G- above-E inversion within chords. My solution is to maintain the normal intervals but tune down to D overall. The octave G is now F, i.e. only a semi-tone above high E and therefore well within the usual gauge's breakage tolerances. In addition, the lower tuning adds some pleasing deep grunt and still allows plenty of scope for open string work.
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