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Since this topic was brought up in comments I figured I'd start off a discussion on the topic.

The kind of strings used on my 12-string guitars (2 of them) hasn't really be thought about much.  I have an Ovation Balladeer 12-string (6751) and a Vantage 12-string.  I don't play them as much as the 6-strings so that adds to my not changing the strings very often.

I had a bridge issue with the Vantage a couple years ago that led to my getting the Ovation.  The bridge was reattached but I'm not that pleased with the work the guy did.  I want to be redone, this time by someone who really knows what their doing. 

Anyway, strings.  The Vantage still has the strings from when it was repaired.  They were D'Addario's.  Not sure of the weight.  The Ovation still has the original strings from the factory. 

I do have a set of D'Addario EXP38 Lights that I will be putting on the Ovation soon.  I've pretty much convinced myself that I want coated strings on all my guitars.  Does anyone else feel the same way?

What other brands, sizes of 12-string sets does anyone else use?  Why?  Is the tone good?  Bright?  Dull?  Etc...

Does anyone use certain kinds of strings based on the material a guitar is made of?  Why?


Tags: 12-string, guitar, preferences

Views: 6149

Replies to This Discussion

I've tried quite a few... on my Taylor 355 (Jumbo 12.) Settled on the Elixir extra lights... nice balance with the Taylor brightness.... Look out, though, for that really skinny G!
Take a tip from Kottke. Tune down a step or 2. Saves a lot of strings. My Taylor's not so bad, but the Martin consistently snaps the 9's. The Martin now stays 2 steps lower.

Oh yeah, The Taylor likes Elixer Lights and of course the Martin likes Martin extra lights, if you don't mind black finger tips.
After experimenting with a host of brands over the years, I've settled on John Pearse Phosphor Bronze, light gauge ("1400L") on my Taylor 555. They maintain their tone longer, last longer, and have never broken on me. In fact, I still have a pack of high Gs from over five years ago I kept for emergencies when I used other brands, but their only purpose has been to give to other players who pop a string.

For comparison purposes, my three main venues are: church, coffeehouses and small group gatherings. At church, I'm amplified (I use a B-Band UST), coffeehouses can either be amp'ed or acoustic, and the small group gatherings are strictly acoustic.
I've had my Yamaha FG720S-12 for just over a year. I had the original strings on it for about 3 months. I thought they still sounded pretty decent when I took them off. Yamaha doesn't tell you who makes them, they just say they're lights and they're coated.

I replaced them D'Addario's EXP38 lights and I thought they reproduced the sound of the original strings to a virtual tee. I've tried the uncoated as well and they sound just as good, but the EXPs lasted longer.

I tried a set of Martin SP PB lights once and not only was the sound not quite there but they didn't last very long. About 3 weeks and I noticed a big difference.

Strings are really subjective, just like tone woods and brands of guitars. We can only suggest based on our personal preferences. To try and prove who's right is like shoveling shite against the tide.
I use two different sets and gauges on my 12-strings. I have one that I keep at standard "E" and I use the lightest Adamas sets they make. That one is used mostly for plectrum-style work, flatpicking and strumming. My other 12-string is tuned a whole step down and I use Martin Silk and Steels for it. I play that one fingerstyle and I'm trying for that old Leo Kottke sound from the "6 & 12 String" album.

I used to use D'Angelico lights, which are actually about a medium gauge. I've developed a little arthritis in my left hand, so I've had to go down to lighter gauges in the past year or so.
I'm up for trying anything, but I usually end up back with D'Addario Lights. Tried & true. It won't be long before someone convinces me to try something else again. I did like the coated ones too, but kinda pricey.

The biggest problem that I have with trying different strings is I always buy two packs (At least) so I have;one to put on the guitar, and a backup set just in case. Just last weekend I gave an oddball pack to a young lady who broke a string (.008) tuning. She only wanted one string but, what was I going to do with 11? I haven't broken a string in years. Knock wood...I'm playing a Taylor 355CE.
I have a Seagull 12 string and I use Godin strings because that is what came on it and I wish to keep the same tone. That is not to say I wouldn"t experiment with string in the future
A good tone is what you like.
And even if not played, strings still need to be replaced from time to time simply because of age and time being streched. With that being said, strings need a breaking (or stretching) in period when first put on the instrument.
I used to think that manufacturers put whatever strings on their guitars that produced the best sound for that guitar. I have since decided that most of them simply put on whatever is cheapest or most convenient. In my mind that is a pisspoor way of doing it.
I just changed the strings on my Ovation 12-string with D'Addario EXP38 Lights. Considering the plain strings were blackened from age (yuck - how did I put up with it!) the sound coming from it is great.

I'll be tuning it for awhile until the strings settle it. I normally pull the strings taught as I'm winding them to help with slippage. While that helps its not perfect. I guess the only thing to do with a new set is to keep tuning until the strings settle.

I usually tune the guitar and then let it set for a day or so. The next time I pick it up, I tune it and then things seem to settle in pretty well without the need for a lot tuning there after.
I've also heard that you can pull, somewhat gently but firmly, on each string after you tune it, then re-tune it and that will accomplish the same thing. I saw this trick on the Taylor website.
I buy my strings in bulk. They are Martins, 80/20 bronze. I'm not particular about brand, but they are the brand that my supplier uses. I don't like coated strings.

80/20's are a little bright when new, but they sound good once they are played in for a few hours.

I use a medium 6-string set (.013-.056) for the primary strings, and the first four strings from an extra light set (.010-.047) for the octave strings. So my set goes 13/13, 17/17, 26w/10, 35/14, 45/23w, 56/30.

I tune to DADGAD, but four half steps low. So those D's are all the way down to Bb. I have four 12-strings and I use this set-up on all of them. Although the guitars are regular scale (25.5" / 650mm) I tend to think of the 12-string as more of a baritone instrument.


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