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Welcome to the Acoustic Guitar Community.


I am new to this board and I hope to get acquainted with all of you in the coming time, and I hope to further my knowledge in guitar with the help of this board!

A quick introduction,

I'm 28 and I've only been playing for a year, and while my guitar teacher (with 40 years experience) tells me I've exceeded the majority of his students in learning curve, number of songs, technique, chords and clarity; I'm a modest person. I believe I'm a novice even though I can play such songs as Cat's in the Cradle, Caroline (John Butler Trio), Blackbird, Hey Jude and Here Comes the Sun to name a few. 


I have a question that has been bugging me for awhile now. I have been wanting to purchase a 12 string lately, but I have no idea what to look for when shopping.

I've picked a few up and I've tinkered around with some, but nearly all of them sound out of tune and I'm not sure how to tune them up, or if they really are out of tune. So I end up putting them back on the rack and waiting until another time hoping that one will be in tune. 

I have found one that sounded great, with surprisingly little effort to press down on the strings (much easier than my 6 string). But it was about 1500 bucks. Not in my realm.


What do I look for when looking at 12 strings? That is besides the obvious "get what works best for you" and "what sounds best to you" things. I'm thinking more technical, like size of the body, manufacturer, things I should look out for when deciding to search.


Also, if I come across one that's out of tune, how would I go about fixing the tuning with or without a built in tuner? I hear that tuning 12 strings is no easy process, so I understand it may be difficult, especially to someone like me. 


Any help anyone could give would be great because I'd really like to give this 12 string thing a try!

Tags: 12, help, searching, string

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Tuning it is the same as a 6 string, E,A,D,G,B,E the only difference is that the top string on the low E,A D, and G is an octave higher but it's the same note.  The two B will be tuned the same, and the two high E strings will tuned the same.  These are not octave higher but the same notes.


Some tune down a whole step to D,G,C,F,A,D because some say the string tension puts to much pressure on the neck, but a good twelve string this shouldn't be a problem, and it usually is personal preference in sound.

You might want to look at the Tak 523SC12. Not to expensive and not cheap either.  I have the 6 string version and it's a pretty nice guitar.  Sounds outstanding plugged in and plays very well.  Kinda tingy for me unplugged, but it was one of my first nicer guitars and I was just wanting a jumbo and a nice guitar.  I have played the 12 string version and its a really nice guitar.  It does have a built in tuner.


I acquired an old 1972 Martin Sigma 12 string a while back and it needed a little work on it, and I fixed it up nicely and it plays and sounds great.  I don't play it that often, but it is a nice thing to have around.

I have an Ovation Standard Balladeer 12-string (6751) and it sounds great alone or plugged in.  It was the 12-string that really talked to me when I was looking for a new one.


I agree completely with Judgestone's comment about string tension.  If it's a 12-string, it has to be engineered to handle all the extra tension.  In fact, you will likely create intonation issues by tuning a 12-string (or any stringed instrument) down a whole step.  The design is for a specific tension and when it's not there the neck will relax thus creating problems.



So 12 strings are built for the extra tension on the neck? So then it should be okay to keep it in EADGBE? Or is it advisable to tune it down a whole step like Judgestone said?


Also how tight will the extra strings be when I tune them up an octave? I feel every time I restring my current guitar, it feels like it's about to snap by the time I get the strings to the right note. Of course, they're always okay and last a few months, so it's probably my inexperience in guitars.


It's funny you mentioned a Takamine because that's the guitar I have. I am unsure of what kind I have, but I know I really like the way it sounds

Thanks guys for your input!

Judgestone didn't advise to tune it down a whole step.  He just stated that some people do it but he didn't think it was necessary with a good 12-string.

What brand/model 12-string guitar do you have now?

I would not tune it down. 

Issues can occur if humidity is not monitored.  Whether 12- or 6-string the relative humidity level should be between 45%-55%.  This is more a concern in areas that have dry winters when humidty can get to be less than 10%.  At this low level wood dries out, shrinks and glue joins can fail.  High humidity can also be a problem as well because wood expands with similar issues.  Signs are cracks in the body with the most common area being behind the bridge, the bridge pulling up, guitar doesn't tune well, intonation is out, etc.

Well I don't have a 12 string yet. I'm looking for advice on what to look for when deciding to buy

I own an Ovation and I'm very pleased with it.  Other considerations are Taylor or Martin.

You said $1,500 was too much.  So what is your budget?

Congratulations, Nick...


On FINALLY deciding to take up the guitar! ;~}


Seriously, the instrument is tougher to play than a keyboard but most here would agree that it is more rewarding. You never really feel a piano vibrate and quiver in your arms, do you? Good job on taking lessons from the start. You may have really given yourself a jump-start on many who trudge through years of learning without guidance.


Regarding tuning a 12 string, the finest advice I have ever heard came from (the late) John Denver, who stated, 'the secret to tuning a 12 string is FIRST to identify the string that is out of tune, THEN tune all other 11 to it!'


Regarding which 12 string to purchase... for me the question is simply answered:


Buy a Guild 12 string. Guilds are THE standard by which all others are measured. Personally, I would buy a USED Guild 12 string via ebay, Craigslist, Gbase, Elderly Instruments, etc. There are enough of them available at super-reasonable prices to make paying for a brand new, but cheaply made, knock-off a questionable exercise. Older Guilds have not one, but TWO truss rods running down the neck. While a little heavier than other guitars, the greater mass in the neck lends itself to a real palp[able playing difference, one that Guilds are famous for. Most guitarists pick up a Guild 12 for the first time and make silly statements about how easy they are to play like, 'Butter!', or Silky Smooth!', or {other indistinguishable utterings of delight}. Not to mention they typically sound amazingly awesome!


I have owned and played dozens of 12 strings in the past 30 years, of several makes and models. My 2 favorites of all time both happen to be older Guilds, one has maple backs and sides, the other has rosewood backs and sides. Both have spruce tops. They both sound great, are easy to tune, and are wonderful to play.


Regardless of which guitar you land on, I wish you well on your 12 string adventure. It is a great choice!





Yeah 1500 dollars is too much at this point. I could afford such a price if I haven't just spent an exorbitant amount of money on moving to a new place. But it sometimes takes me months to get back up to speed when I spend that much.

Anyway, my budge for right now is about half that; give or take a few depending on the type I decide to get. I keep hearing a lot about ovations, so I might check it out. Though I do have an ovation lent to me right now and I'm not sure about it. I don't like the plastic back on it. My uncle is letting me borrow it because he's never used it. His son won it as a prize I think a long time ago. I'm rambling now...


Thank you Chris for all your input! I just spoke with my teacher today about what kind he would suggest and he also mentioned a guild. I didn't even think to ask him until after posting on this board. Oh well, I still consider all your input as well.

I agree with you on the lessons. I was going to teach myself, but after a month or so I started to lose interest which I didn't want, so I went to a teacher and things really picked up and I can't put it down now :)


I'll check out the Ovation, Guild and well...pretty much any others that were mentioned on here, but what about Seagulls? Are those any good?

Nick, did you get your 12-string yet?  I see your original post was way back in May...

I have a Seagull model M12 and it is a great guitar.  I cannot compare it to the Guild models, but my budget, like yours was a lot less than Guilds command.  I can tell you that the Seagull M12 is a solid wood guitar and has a strong neck (very important).  Further, the neck is adjustable in heigth unlike the Japanese and Taiwanese instruments.  This I find is so very important because most guitars come from the factory set too high for comfortable playing.  The mfg wants to make sure you don't get any string buzz so they set it up a little high.  I took mine to a luthier and told him I wanted to play it with a flatpick so please set it up accordingly.  It now plays better than my 6-string.  From this I conclude that a proper setup makes all the difference.  Strings also make a big difference in tone and playability.  You will have to experiment some to find the strings that bring out the tone you like.

As to tuning, Seagulls are probably easier than most due to the peghead shape.  Yes it takes longer to tune a 12 than a 6 but after my strings have taken a set, I rarely have to adjust more than one when I begin a playing session.  I would buy another Seagull in a minute - no hesitation.

hope I'm not to late with a little help for you,


No you're not too late. Even though it's a year later, I still have not gotten a 12 string guitar. But I still think about it all the time. It's taking so long because I bought a computer and a DSLR camera that I need to pay off in chunks. I do plan on seriously looking within the next few months though once those payments are finished.

I heard about Seagulls since the last time I made a post on here and have checked a few out. They seem pretty good for their price. Guilds are awesome, but the one I looked at was like 2400 bucks. As great as it sounded and looked...that was just too much!


I never looked at the model the seagull was that I played so I'll keep my eye out for an M12. How are the necks adjustable?! Also another newbie question: what's a luthier? I assume someone who specialized in customizing guitars?

And it's true on guitar strings. I've been trying a whole bunch of different kinds/brands and still haven't found one that I like. The best strings I've had were the ones that came with my Takamine when I bought it. I just wish I knew what kind they were :(

My next trip to the guitar store though I definitely plan on checking out a seagull 

The Seagull Coastline Cedar 12 string is Seagull's only current 12 string. The M12 is an old designation...


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